Time for catching up
The last entry left you all hanging concerning the return to China after the Chinese New Year holidays.
How is the English Center coming along? How has the new semester been going? What worthwhile events have taken place?
As always, time gets away from me. I’ll lead this new entry with the English Resource Center
The English Resource Center Still Not Developed
In February, Jackie and I landed back at school with great intentions of getting our English Resource Center (which is also our office space) cleaned and furnished. I had the funds; we both had the drive. Time to go shopping!
But then the English office teachers Mr. Yang and Mr. Huang threw a surprise at us: The school will provide everything for the Resource room which also combines as our office. Whatever we need, make a list and after approval, it’ll be ours.
Wow! Such generosity! What a wonderful gift!
Yang, Huang, Jackie and I sat down together to go over the list. Mr. Huang had been so enthused that he drew 3 diagrams to show where all the furnishings would go. Yang pulled us into our sad-looking, dirty office space to discuss things we wanted and where they’d go. The two young men even pulled out a tape measure and began eagerly measuring the room.
“List as many things as possible,” Huang suggested. “Maybe not all will be allowed but the more, the better. And you must give the measurements. We must provide the list, all with details, to the correct office. If it is accepted, then the school officials will buy what you want.”
“Well, can’t we go to buy the things with the person in charge?” I asked. “That way, we can get exactly what we need.”
Yang and Huang paused, thinking and finally frowning.
“No, that is impossible. The school will buy,” Huang said solemnly. “It is the way we do things. It is best if you take pictures of what you want, give exact measurements, send to Yang and he will send to the person who will buy the things. That is important.”
Not being able to shop for all we hoped for was a bit disappointing but Jackie and I weren’t about to turn down free everything. Obviously, the school felt this was important for the foreigners and the students so money was set aside just for this purpose.
Jackie and I busily collected photos and measurements of what we wanted, including several bookshelves, a huge flat-screen TV, stackable stools, desks, 2 couches, air-conditioning/heater unit, water dispenser and whatever else we could think of.
The outcome of this enthusiastic gung-ho excitement on our part?
All that frenzied fuss was 3 weeks ago. We haven’t heard a word since.
As always in China, requests sit on a desk for days, weeks, even months before (suddenly, miraculously), things get done. We imagine a phone call coming out-of-the-blue to announce, “Connie! Jackie! The furnishings are here. Please come to unlock your office door and the furniture company movers will come to put them into the office. You can tell them where to place the things.”
Jackie and I will then be dashing to our office building, frantically trying to figure out where shelves, desks, TV, and everything else should go. We have a rough idea but hard to place things until you actually see them and know how they’ll look in the room.
So that is where we are right now: Waiting.
Probably More Waiting
I expect there will be even more waiting as we’re having a 3-day holiday at the moment, Qing Ming Jie (Tomb Sweeping Festival). That ends on Tuesday with us starting up classes on Wednesday.
That’s not the end, either, of a hiatus in our teachign schedules.
Next week, we will be having the annual Sports Meeting from April 12 – 14. This is a mini-campus Olympics with a grand showing of all students parading around the field for opening ceremonies. These are complete with intricate dance routines and choreographed formations, plus many speeches by the school leaders. After that, Thursday and Friday follow with numerous sports activities and races. Track and Field, basketball matches, ping-pong and even silly exercise games for the teachers are in the line-up. Not everyone participates as you have to sign up but almost everyone comes out to cheer on their favorites. It’s quite a big deal and something every school in China does, from elementary to university.
No classes are held during this time but we as teachers are expected to make up the classes that are missed. We just have to go over student schedules and fit them in whenever students, and we, are free. It’s rather a pain to do make-up classes for all holidays and school functions but that is the way things are done here in China.
We can moan and groan about it (which we all do) but nothing to be done so we endure.
Looking Forward to One Particular Make-up Class: Easter Activity Night!
For myself, one particular make-up class I’m planning is actually not going to be such a painful experience .
My first years are doing our Easter lessons at the moment. Last week, we completed the religious part of this Christian celebration which leaves my Part 2 lesson for this one, the more enjoyable American traditions of Easter.
On Friday evening, for my make-up classes for both the Sports Meeting and Tomb Sweeping Festival, I am having a combined class for all 150 freshmen education majors that I have. We will be doing the U.S. customs for Easter, including egg coloring, the jelly bean contest (How many jelly beans in the bottle? The one who guesses the closest wins all!) and an Easter egg hunt of sorts in the classroom we’ll be using.
My plan is to place egg cut-outs under numerous seats. After enjoying all the activities planned, students will be instructed to search the room for the cut-outs. Only 1 cut-out per student. One person can’t hoard or collect all of them because that’s not fair.
The cut-outs they will give to me and in return, receive a chocolate, tin-foil wrapped ladybug (Couldn’t find the chocolate eggs here). I bought three small containers of these in Chengdu at a speciality chocolate store. They’ve been imported from Germany and are they good!
In total, there will be 30 cut-out eggs to find, which should be enough to keep the excitement of the search going for at least 5 minutes.
But the grand prize will be the gold egg paper cut-out. That one is worth a 50 yuan ($8) note.
This grand prize is due to a tradition in my hometown for children. We hold an Easter egg hunt, sponsored by the city, every year in the city park. There are many eggs to be found but the gold egg is worth 50 dollars.
My students and I have already gone over this tradition in our lessons so students understand the concept of the egg hunt. They just don’t know yet that they’ll actually be doing it, albeit in China and in a classroom. Wait until they find out the gold egg is worth 50 yuan! I can imagine all the shrieks of excitement and racing around the room as they look frantically for where that gold egg might be.
As I said before: Make-up classes are a real pain, and absolutely nothing we students or instructors ever look forward to in fitting into a busy weekly schedule. But in this case, my Easter activity night will be one make-up class no one is ever going to regret attending.
Until next entry, Ping An (Peace), along with many, many Easter blessings sent your way.