Ni Hao, Jia Kai!
Hopefully this will be an adequate recollection and re-creation of ...
the longing after something's lost
i will give proper due to the random 6th grade chinese student who gave me a teacher's day card with this quote in it. besides some chinese, there was only this written in it, thus i surmise this is a bastardized translation. broken english? perhaps. oddly profound? that's a yes. thank you, female chinese student.
*addition: my friend adam returned to his dorm this evening and found a teacher's day card from his junior 3 students saying, "if there's anything you need all you have to do is say you know you satisfy everything in me." i think i almost died reading his text about that.
while i cannot yet say that i have had a full week of teaching, i'm going to pat myself on the back for getting through a four day week of teaching, hooray! i missed teaching three classes yesterday because of this teacher's day celebration we were invited to at the civic center in futian (2 1/2 hours of education bureau people droning on in chinese; there was no reason for us to be there other than for appearance's sake, which is fine). otherwise, i taught 12 classes this week and let me tell you, that's plenty for me. as i said in my earlier entry, i taught only 4th, 5th, and 6th graders this week, and for the most part all the classes went well. in one 5th grade class the computer did not work, so that was kind of awkward, today a 6th grade class just could not figure out how to put themselves, by name, in alphabetical order, and all around there is a certain level of rowdiness that's to be expected with kids this young. however, even by the end of this week i'm getting a good idea of what works and what doesn't. i think after another week of these classes i'll be feeling pretty confident about controlling them and figuring out the right activities and pace for each class. side note: i believe i have now had five kids named lion, and probably just as many koko/cocos and yoyos. i have no idea why these are such popular names for them to choose. i think there was also a kid named win. so far, nothing remotely approaches the "false teeth" and "old cat" of my friends' classes, but somehow i'm managing okay.
today is national teacher's day, and while many schools have planned banquets and other celebratory measures for today, my school had its banquet earlier on in the week. while walking over to the restaurant with my contact teacher, we had a conversation about food, and some culinary differences between the u.s. and china. he was curious about what americans eat, whether i prefer sweet foods or salty foods, and the names of certain foods. i find it funny that i get so caught up in trying to find out things about china that i don't realize a lot of the chinese teachers are just as curious about what america is like and what the english words are for different foods, etc. trying to explain what a box mix of cake is to my contact teacher was definitely amusing; i still don't know if he understood what i meant. i laughed to myself when he asked if i often put grapes in cakes i make, which turned into me trying to describe pineapple upside down cake(?) and other, more baked goods-appropriate fruits.
as for the banquet itself, it lasted two hours, with the last hour principally being drinking time. the food was okay, the wine was sweet and pretty delicious, and beer was even eventually brought out for me (everybody say hooray!). my contact teacher was dipping into the bai jiu immediately after we arrived, and made his way around different tables, toasting teachers, his mini pitcher of that abhorrent, clear liquid in tow. by the end of the dinner, the head of general affairs was plastered, forcing me to drink more red wine and beer. his pants were soaked from some still-unknown alcoholic beverage and he was wiping his face on the tablecloth after we toasted some drink or another. it was a rip-roaring good time, that's for certain.
other crazy events in the evenings that followed included:
-a trip to dong men, the insane, labyrinthine shopping marketplace in the neighboring district of luohu. seriously, anything you can imagine buying there, you can. there's even a dunkin' donuts in the area. boo, globalization, yet somehow i think starbucks is okay. tisk, tisk, hypocrite.
-an insane thunderstorm that night from about 10:30-2 a.m. with near constant lightning, thunder, pouring rain, and wind. while i initially thought it was a typhoon (the thunder shook my building), apparently it was just a thunderstorm. i fear what a typhoon is like if that was not even a tropical storm. last night more lightning, rain, and thunder awoke me around 2 a.m., and i believe there are storms projected for this weekend as well. this is not surprising given the soaring temperatures and ridiculous levels of humidity. blech.
-last night, i had a crazy, initially worrisome-sounding dinner with molly and a random english teacher from her school she had never met that turned out to be HILARIOUS. we met about 10 other teachers from her school at a restaurant, had a delicious meal, learned they may have been trying to set her up with an art teacher who is clearly WAY older than her, and drank wine and hennessey. yep, hennessey. not my favorite, but when someone says gan bei, dammit you drain your drink and show them the empty glass (sort of the 1-2-3-drink! of china methinks). i think my favorite person there, besides the art teacher who has the beginnings of a rat tail and was described as bringing molly and i "many pleasures", was a male teacher in a nike t-shirt, fanny pack, dress pants, and loafers, whose combed hair got progressively messier/windblown as he imbibed more spirits. it was an utterly enjoyable experience, and we're going to go to ktv (karaoke) with the english teacher, jennifer, on sunday. i'm thinking since it's at 2 p.m. that it will be a sober affair, in which case i can assure everyone it will be horrendous on all fronts. watch out.