Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Soccer, Sickness, Sadness, and Something Else

So far, this year has been a lot better than last year, despite the added workload. Having some experience, and knowing the curriculum really makes a huge difference, and not worrying about the kids' grades really takes a lot of the stress away. Sadly, this past week I've been a little sick, and with two classes that means that a huge amount of tests and homework has built up into a heavy and terrifying stack of sadness (see below). 

This past weekend we headed down to Dali for a professional development conference (about 5 hours closer than the conferences we had to go to last year) and got to meet all the rest of the new fellows, which was sweet! Good food and good people is an awesome combination. 

Being in Dali also meant that I had a chance to buy soccer balls for the girls' team that I want to start. Girls never seem to get a chance to play basketball or ping pong, so I really want them to have the chance to experience a sport, and all the awesome things that that can teach. Our field is really overgrown, and there's some construction going on right now, so I'm not entirely sure when I'll be able to start it, but I'm really looking forward to it.

In other unrelated news, there were a couple of relatively big earthquakes in my province, but they were pretty far away from where all the TFC fellows are, so everybody is safe and sound. 


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Class 83

This year, I'm teaching two bans, one of which is a little more trouble than the other. Jarlene, my co-fellow, came to observe me the other day, and took some awesome pictures! In lieu of writing stuff, and out of an interest to go eat lunch, here they are:

A shot of most of the 56 students in the class. 

I have no idea what I'm doing here, but it looks pretty stupid:
an accurate depiction of how I look the entire class

Helping a weaker student with his notes. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Class Thus Far

So, I'm currently on my second day of class (OK, that's a lie, but I wrote this when I was on my second day of class, so it totally counts), and I'm really excited about how things are going already. I've got a much better idea of what I need to be doing in the classroom, and getting started out on the right foot is going to make such a difference this year. Kids aren't going to want to give up at the beginning because they're convinced it's too hard, and both my classes seem like they're pretty on top of their game.

The other exciting thing is that I've got kids who were taught by other TFC fellows (Tim, Laura, Sasha) so those kids are pretty excited about English, and already know a decent amount. It's going to be fun to talk with them about how their former students are doing, and I think they're going to do great. One girl, Rachel, whom Sasha taught, has already really impressed me by greeting me, asking how I was doing, and being able to tell me her name in English. That's a lot, and it's awesome that she's being brave on the first day. 

The schedule is manageable as well. While I'm spending a lot more time in the classroom, I don't need to do as much prep work as I did last year. Grading is going to be tough, but I'll hopefully be able to come up with a system that has students doing some of the work, or, alternatively, I just won't have a life. 

Sleeping in Train Stations

So, on my trip back to my little town from the states, my flight from Beijing to Kunming (the capital of Yunnan, my province) got delayed, so we got in at around 2a.m. which was apparently a pretty regular time for flights to get in. Buses were still running by the time everyone got their checked bags, and there were plenty of flights that were just getting in then. Rather than get a hotel room, I decided to just hang out at the train station until the morning so I could get on the train back to Heqing, and I was really surprised when I got to the train station how many other people had made the exact same decision as I did. There were sleeping people everywhere! People just stretched out on cardboard or newspapers and conked out all over the station. I ended up deciding that, because I was foreign and travelling alone, it would probably be foolish to sleep, so I just hung out in a 24 hour dicos (kind of similar to KFC) with a whole bunch of other people, none of whom, it seemed, had actually ordered any food. 

My train left at 10am the next morning, and by the time I got to my town, I'd been awake for about 48 hours straight, other than the 2 hrs that I managed to catch on the international flight over. I was pretty dead, but I managed to rally myself, and after hibernating for about 12 hours, I headed to Shangrila with some friends, and got to spend more time on a cramped bus. 

The entire time I was travelling, I was carrying around a bag that had books that I brought back to study....it was a little heavy:

I believe I've said before that my bed it only about five feet long, and a little hard, but here are two pictures showing it. 

Headed to Shangrila on a sleeper bus (during the day)