Building 3 is the third oldest classroom building we have on campus.
Building 3, with my classes on the 2nd floor.
It once belonged to the Number 1 Middle School, which was adjacent to the college until the leaders bought up the land for enlarging our school.
That was probably 20 years ago.
Along with the purchase of land came the classroom building and all its contents: desks, chairs, blackboards, et al. Since then, nothing has been replaced. The many years of high school students and then college students sitting on, writing on, standing on desks and chairs have taken their toll. Very few have remained in decent shape. The students are always hustling before class into other rooms, searching for chairs with backs, straight legs, screws tightly in place and with even seats. These they then drag, clang and bang into their classroom. Such harsh use only guarantees that the good chairs today will certainly not be the good chairs tomorrow.
Our classroom chairs , after years of abuse
The same problem with the desks, which are rusted and broken, the tops covered in graffiti.
Such furnishings have given us nothing to cheer about . . . until last week.
I was in my 8 a.m. class when the truck pulled up to the building. It was stacked with wooden seat covers and chair legs, ready for assembly.
Could we be getting new chairs?!
That same day, I had scheduled an evening make-up class and when I peeked in the room next to mine at 7 p.m., there were 3 of our school workers, all ladies, quickly putting together the chairs. One worked on the wooden seats, screwing them on to the legs, while the other two put on the wooden backs. They also had rubber gripping strips to be placed under the legs.
Our women workers, assembling the chairs.
In other words, a lot of work for 3 ladies.
They were going at lightening speed, over 400 of these to be finished by the end of the day, they told me. When I finally left at 8:45 pm, I was amazed to find they’d finished every one and neatly, ingeniously stacked them all.
“Thank you, thank you!” I told them again and again. “Those old chairs are terrible.”
The three laughed, even more so when I lined them up for a picture after their hard work.
A job well done. “Thank you, thank you, ladies!”
More to Come
I wasn’t sure why the women had worked so fast until the next day when yet another truck pulled up to our Building 3. This time, it was filled with desk parts.
Once again, our lady workers went at it assembling the wooden tops to the metal frames. They were done in a day, over 400.
The weekend brought steaming hot weather and yet another task for our campus workers, both men and women this time: Removing the old; inserting the new.
Monday morning, all of us, teachers and students alike, “Ahh!”ed as soon as we entered the classroom.
Neat and tidily arranged, all these magnificent furnishings greeted us. The tops of the desks glistened under the sunshine, the gorgeous, buffed wooden grain dazzling our eyes.
It was almost too much to take in. Do we even dare use them?
Aren’t these pretty?
This week, our classroom cleaning ladies have a new task: monitor and watch the desks and chairs.
Every classroom is supposed to have 60 desks and chairs, I found out. However, in one of my classes, I have 63 students who immediately went to “steal” chairs from the next room over.
At the end of the period, I was somewhat scolded by one of our cleaning ladies for not asking the students to take them back. Along with her other colleagues, she was in charge of making sure every room has the number allotted to them. If not, they get reprimanded by their supervisor.
With our previous situation, broken desks and chairs came and went without anyone caring. These spiffy new replacements are a different story and need to be well-cared for, I quickly found out.
Yes, after that first chastising, the foreigner got it!
Now after class, I find myself counting chairs to make sure they equally fit with the desks. When any of our cleaning ladies come in to check, I announce with a smile, “There are 60! I remember!”
I have always had a good relationship with the ladies. They just laugh and nod at my gustily spoken announcement.
But I do notice that, every single time, as I cheerfully whisk out of the classroom, one will always linger behind for no other reason than to count for herself.
Glistening away, all 60 present and accounted for.
From Luzhou, here’s hoping you’re having a great weekend. Until next time, Ping An (Peace)!