Visiting Friends in Xinpu

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I spent the past two days in Xinpu. I went to my friend’s house. His name is Jack. I had not seen him in a long while. So, it was time for a visit. He is a good friend. Jack lives in a small town called She-Shan. It is a small community. Jack is trying to find his place in the world. He wants to make his own future. In China, the parents or the education system dictates the future for you. Jack’s English is pretty good. Not great. But, enough to understand what he is wanting to say. Last summer he had a summer camp for some of the kids in the town. And, he tried to start a training school. But, he forgot some important things. He did not know how to teach and was never trained to be a teacher. He had never had a business before. And, he had no experience, other than the summer camp. As a result, the parents soon figured out that Jack’s skills were not enough to justify paying him to teach their kids. The school closed 3 months later. In the year I have known Jack, he has had a few jobs. He will quit them when he is not satisfied with them. When I went for a visit this time, his brother was there. His brother quit his good paying job in another city. From what I understand, his boss changed the position duties and the brother did not like it. Now, they both live at home, unmarried, and no income. The father is the only one bringing in the money for the family. And the mother tries to earn money by baking bread and making pizzas to sell in the community EVERY day. To a westerner, this looks like children being spoiled. We would think the parents would set the baby birds free from the nest and survive on their own. But, this is China. This is how things happen.

Don’t get me wrong, both of them are good boys. They help whenever they can around the house. They do the cooking and cleaning. They repair things when they go bad. I am sure, eventually, they will find their way in the world.

It was a good visit. Jack and his brother cooked lunch for me. We had a beef dish with cooked greens. We also had a dish with cooked tomatoes and egg. Jack and I spent much of the day talking and just enjoying each other’s company.


The following day, I went and had lunch with 19 of my summer camp students. We get together every few months. It was a great time of laughter and family. We are family. They will not go to the summer camp this year because they will be going to Australia for a month. This is the trip that they had prepared for the past 4 years. It is the reward at the end of the English program they are in. It should be a great trip for them.

I am teaching in my school now. I have been gone for nearly two months. So, I am doing review with them. I am happy to report that they have remembered the English program I have taught them. And, I am teaching them the Ah-Ha Moment I learned in Beijing. The Ah-Ha Moment is the point of the program in which the student realize that they can and are speaking English in class. It may not be well spoken English. But, they can now have confidence in themselves that they have the skills to speak English. Now, I have to create a program to further improve their speaking and listening skills. This English program I developed seems to be always a work in progress. But, I like that. It keeps my job interesting. And, I am even surprised at the revelations I have developing the program. I usually come across things accidentally. Much like the Ah-Ha Moment part of the program. I had the Ah-Ha Moment when I realized how to show the kids they were learning from the program.

If you read my journals and read my blog, you know I am always fascinated about kids doing their toilet business in the streets and in the open. I just think it is funny and a unique culture thing here in China. Yesterday, I saw something kind of new. It made me laugh some. As I was walking down the street, I saw two girls doing their business out of the sidewalk. Of course it is no longer a surprise to me to see a bare-assed child going to the bathroom on the street, in a restaurant, or anywhere else. But, this was the first time I had seen this. Both girls were squatting, facing each other, and having a conversation like they were two friends meeting on the street. I just began to laugh. How could I not? TIC.

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