I did not realize that it has been five days since I last entered anything on my journal/blog. I guess I have been busy. Some of the highlights of the past five days were:
- The boss lady invited myself and some friends to her new home for dinner. It is a small apartment style home in a high rise here in Beijing. By the looks outside, you would not think it would be very nice. But, that is the way it is in China. The hallways, elevators, and general outward appearances are never kept up very well. Once you enter a home, it is another story. Chinese people hire someone to “decorate” the home. Basically, the word decorate means everything from bare bones. Paint, fixtures, furniture, flooring and everything in between. She has her house decorated very nicely. Although her kitchen is very small (again…most Chinese kitchens are in high rises), it is decorated very nicely. The dinner was wonderful. We had some western style foods like a lettuce salad, french fries and Chicken nuggets. And, we had some Chinese food like mushrooms, fish, and beef ribs. But, the feature of the meal was Peking Duck. Wonderful. A little greasy. But, I understand that it is supposed to be that way.
- I made an exam for the students to take. It was not for an official grade. It was merely to show me what they had learned during my two weeks there. I originally wanted to have them take the exam in a larger classroom to separate them. But, the room was not available. So, as good Chinese students, they did what came naturally for many of them. They cheated. After a futile attempt to prevent this behavior, I finally collected the exams and gave them the last page of the exam back. I threw the exam away in dramatic fashion and told them that they needed to only do the last page. It was an essay asking them to write about three things that they learned or experienced in Beijing. The results were about what I expected. The grammar was not all the wonderful. And, they praised me and the other teachers. A few surprises were things they said about Beijing, the culture differences between America and China, and pollution of China.
- This morning, I had my final class with them. It was at the gymnasium. I played a few teambuilding games with them. One game is that everyone has to stand on a bed sheet. Without getting off the sheet, they have to flip the sheet over. Sixteen students on a small bed sheet. It was challenging. But, they figured it out well. On the same bed sheet that was folded twice in half, they now had to figure out how to get all 16 people onto the sheet without stepping off. Again, they figured this out very well.
- This afternoon, six of my students wanted to take myself and another staff person out to lunch. Their treat. It was a very nice lunch in a restaurant. We had some good laughs and much fun. These are all great kids. They are typical teenagers, facing typical teenager issues, along with some Chinese teenager issues. They have learned to stick together and figure out life together. I love them all.
I am sure that there are other things I am forgetting. I will say that Beijing residents seems a bit more modern in their behavior. I was about to say the word civilized. But, I realized that is not entirely correct. I have not seem little children drop their pants on the streets to use the toilet. Beijingers seem to form lines. Their attitudes are not like that of a smaller city. I guess they are used to seeing foreigners all the time. They do not seem as friendly. It is definitely dirtier and more polluted here. I know I would not want to live in Beijing. I am very happy to come for a visit now and then and work with students. But, I am more than happy to be returning back to Ganyu tomorrow. It is my home now and I am more comfortable there.
Over all, my time here was a success I think. The students seem to have grasped the concepts I was teaching to them. And, I will see them again in about 5 months. They will be attending the summer camp. It will be a great time in July to see them again. I will miss them while we are apart.