Tuesday, July 13, 2004

first full day of teaching

well, the first day is over. it went very well i think. i had a good time with my students. i taught for the first 2 hours about baseball, trying to teach them the rules and explaining all the different defensive positions and their role. then i asked them to give a one-minute impromptu speech with three reasons why they wanted to play a particular position. most of them picked pitcher, but a couple picked catcher [astutely, because that player can see all the other players in front of him], and one wisely picked first-base because she said she didn't run very fast and wouldn't make a good outfielder.

after baseball class, we had break, and then did the dialog class. it was talking about pets with friends. i played them the video of my friend mike and his dog loki, and of my friend dan and his three cats. loki's tricks were especially well-received [especially "bang-bang"] as was dan's ode to bucky: "i saw bucky in the kitchen he was eating some food...]. then i passed out the beanie babies i had collected before i came and had them partner-up and talk to each other about their "pets."

then came listening class. we listened to part of a baseball game and i taught them how to listen for the starting lineups and set-up a baseball scorecard, which i had printed up for them. the thing was, i had a tape of the Reds' announcers--marty and joe--and joe is slurring many of his words now...he has horrible pronounciation.

we had a 2.5-hour lunch break after that, and then i did my pets class. i mainly talked a lot about the vocabulary necessary to understand americans talking about their pets [humane society, breeder, neuter, spay, "fix," etc] then talked about why americans have pets and whether the word pets is a word that minimizes the sentient nature of what some people are now calling companion animals. i also worked through a moral dilemma with them: if your dog whom you love and your worst enemy are in a burning house, and you can save only one, who would you save? most said the human, but i was happy that some said their dog!

after teaching, some of us went down to the athletic field. it is a larger-than-full-size track, with open space in the middle, that is carved into the hill we are on. a very traditional and majestic building sits perched above the field. it makes me feel like i am doing something important, and that the chinese value fitness, to be creating such an unbelievable public facility for it. and there are always people of all ages out there simply exercising. there are also basketball courts, some gymnastic equipment, pull-up bars, and volleyball nets. also, people just come with their friend and play badminton with each other. they are outside, being active, in a public way. and not in a gym or health-club. i took my baseball gloves there, and while some of the other teachers played a basketball game, i approached 4 young men and offered a glove to one of them. he was initially bashful, but then his friends goaded him into accepting it. he honestly didn't really know how to put it on, and certainly didn't know how to catch with it at first. but he picked it up, and his friend would cheer him on ["good job good job good job"] when he caught the ball. then they each took turns. they were fascinated with this new sport. not unlike my students, who were also fascinated and played a little bit of catch in the classroom during our break. the people i have met here so far are people who will try things. it is a healthy curiousity and i appreciate seeing it.

after exercising, we came back to the hotel and had dinner. it is now buffet-style each meal, and there is a good variety ranging from plain tofu to spicy dishes. and my friend frank has managed to get the two of us some hot sauce to use with each meal. tonite we had breaded lotus roots, lo mein, a shrimp/celery dish, and a few others that i can't remember. the food is quite good again, and i'm glad that in the 4 days we've been here, we are back to eating traditional dishes.

oh, on the playground, when i was messing around on some gymnastics equipment [parallel bars if you really want to know], i was approached by an older gentleman in long pants and no shirt. he was quite a character and he had a little girl, seemingly his grand-daughter with him. after he was around for a minute or two, he asked about me in english. then he said he was an english teacher here himself. he had been a student here in the early-60s, and was hired to be a teacher after he graduated, but the university shut down during the cultural revolution until 1970, and that is when he officially started teaching. the little girl meanwhile, had also jumped up onto the parallel bars by now and was looking right at me. figuring that her grandfather was giving her a lot of tutorials in english, i asked her her name. she said very sweetly: my name is tina, T-I-N-A. then i asked her age. i am six years old. i started talking to the father again, and then Tina said something to him in chinese...he turned to me and said "she has some things she wants to tell you about her family." "my father is very tall. my mother is very ba-yoot-iful. my father has big eyes. he has a big nose. he has a big mouth. my father is very croo-el. my mother has big eyes. she has a big nose. she has a big mouth. my mother is very ba-yoot-iful." it was all incredibly precious, and i dismissed the cruel part after her grandfather laughed when she said that--i confirmed with him, did she say cruel or cool?--mainly because i figure the mother might have been putting those thoughts in her head :] after this, grandpa and tina said goodbye and walked away, and i got to thinking, this child was very lucky. she was learning english at 6 years old!! would that any americans were learning chinese at that age...she will learn so much about an important country and culture.

that's all for tonite. i'm exhausted. and oh, about the weather. it has been hot, but i don't think any hotter [maybe 90 degrees] that a hot summer back in ohio. we have had good rain and cloud-cover every day since i got here, so i hope that continues. ha!

keep in touch, blob

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