I’ve mentioned before that Saturday afternoons are my time for the xiao pengyou (little friends, or children) to visit. These campus kids come over from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. for snacks, play with my games, enjoy special activities (coloring eggs for Easter, making decorations for Christmas, baking) or just hang out. I’m not sure how this tradition got started but it stuck for most of my time here.
Joe and Friends Visit
My biggest fan is Joe, a junior high student who has always been very keen on speaking English. I visited his classroom twice to give lessons with an invitation from his English teacher, Ms. Nong. I also spent time with his family, who invited me over for dinner a few times.
This afternoon, Joe and Ms. Nong came for a visit because they know I’m leaving soon. Joe brought Tom, his friend, and Ms. Nong brought a huge watermelon as a gift.
We didn’t have much time together. Tom and Joe are finishing up their junior highschool years, meaning that they will be going to high school after the summer. There is a huge test which they must take at the end of this month. It will not only determine if they can move onward in their education, but what high school they can attend. In Longzhou, there is only one high school (mediocre) but in the capital city, there are excellent schools which demand high academic performances on their entrance exams. If students such as Joe and Tom do well on their test here, they have a chance (be it slim) of attending better schools in the big city. That’s why this entire year, every day, even weekends, have been packed with classes. Ms. Nong, as their teacher, has the responsibility of seeing to their studies and teaching their courses. She’s been just as exhausted and busy as the students tudents.
They dropped by at 5 p.m. but had to leave by 5:40 p.m. to make it home for dinner. Then from 7 to 11 p.m., they’d be in the classroom together. Ms. Nong would be reviewing testing materials and the students would be cramming all that extra knowledge into their overly tired brains.
Thus is the life of a Chinese student, and their poor teachers.
My hope is that I’ll have enough time to see them all again.
Last Week In the Classroom!
This is my last full week of testing and teaching, with Friday noon ending my teaching career in Longzhou. Saturday morning, I have scheduled all my classes of students in different time slots to have our closure lesson together. I could do this next week during our regular class time but dragging out the closure lessons for 5 days will really cut my packing time short. I need to be on my way back to Sichuan as soon as possible to have my new visa processed before this one expires. It’s a lot of paperwork and very tedious so the Luzhou school needs me there quickly. Having a full week to pack is necessary so I’m placing our testing follow-up days into one Saturday morning.
I have also made sure that every class has ample opportunity after we finish for pictures. They will be able to take as many photos with me as they wish, group and individual, to help them say “goodbye.” I’m sure there will be many thank you’s as well as tears from the more sentimental students. Always best to bring a box of tissues. You never know who might be needing them, which will probably include me as well.
From Longzhou, closing off for now with Ping An (peace) for your week.