Hi everyone. I'd like to apologize for the irregularity of our blog updates. It's hard to not get into forgetful habits when your schedule is so busy. I'll do my best to send a blog entry in at least once every other week.
So lets see, what's been happening lately? Oh! I had my first open class at the kindergarten, which basically consisted of me teaching the first class for half an hour, then everyone goes to morning exercise, then Jenny (my Chinese teacher) teaches her half an hour class, then the parents went to the dance room to have a meeting with the Chinese teachers, and I stayed in the classroom as the kids drew pictures.I was really happy about the time of my open class, because the school broke the open classes up into groups so we didn't have a hundred parents tripping over each other all day. Big class and pre-school were Monday, no one Tuesday because all the foreign teachers had a meeting, middle class was Wednesday, small class was Thursday and mini class was Friday. So my class got it over with right away, and I didn't have to be concerned about that for the rest of the week..The downside to this week being Open class week is that it's been raining every day. Normally I love the rain. It smells so nice, cleans the air and gives us free water to give to the animals. Not in China. The water here is gross and acidic and I constantly want to have a shower every time I get wet. >.< it's not as pleasant as Canadian rain, and it's been causing our garden to flood, so getting to work has been uncomfortable. On the plus side, the hill that the kindergarten was built on that I have to walk up every day, kept the water from pooling so much, so it was way better there than Louxi.
Every Tuesday all the foreign staff have a meeting to discus anything that is coming up or if there are problems or questions that the teachers have; and on Friday I have a class meeting, which basically means my T.A. Bobo, Jenny and I sit on the students tiny chairs and discuss things. Mostly Jenny will let me know about things in my class that are working well or that I need to improve (which I am so happy she does because my class has gotten waaaay better since she started doing that); and I'll use the meeting to ask about the status of certain things, like if Jenny had scheduled any parent meetings, or if she'd heard any new information about upcoming events, and we swap information.Today's meeting made me very, very happy. Basically Jenny told me that none of the parents had any negative feedback about the Open Class, and that they wanted to meet me, and I’m managing to get every student to participate, and the quiet ones are significantly improving with their English (usually she'll let me know what's going well in my class before suggesting improvements, but today apparently there was nothing that needed improving, so I was like “SWEET!!!”). She also told me that I was doing really good with getting my weekly lesson plan and parent letters submitted on time (I've been doing them on the weekend and bringing them in Monday so I don't forget) she said that a lot of the other Chinese teachers complain that their foreign teachers don't hand in the paper on time, and she's like “my Foreign teacher is good, she hands it in on time” haha. (I felt bad though and apologized in the meeting, because I got the weekly plan for this week done like two weeks ago, but I didn't do the parent letter and forgot about it till Friday, and that doesn't give the Chinese staff very long to translate it for the parents. The deadline for the weekly plans and parent letters in Wednesday for that reason. Jenny didn't seem to mind me being late with the letter this week though.) so I basically I got to go to a class meeting where they told me I was awesome! Best meeting ever! Hahaha.
It's been raining like crazy this week and so Kenzie and I bought these Pj’s that are pants and a hoody, and they are extremely fluffy and warm.... it's the most comfortable sweater ever! I am starting to have trouble leaving the house without the fluffy sweater. In this chilly wet weather in a house that's built for heat and not cold, these pj's are fantastic. I even started wearing the sweater to work and Jenny really liked how fuzzy it was so I think I want to get one for her, Bobo and Dora for Christmas (Dora is the life teacher – she basically keeps the place clean and gets food and milk for the kids. Like a nanny) I just have to figure out what colours they like without being suspicious. I'd like to send presents home to everybody, but I haven't quite got the mailing system in China figured out so you may get a bunch of presents when we get back home.
Lately my Chinese has been getting much better. I was told that if you were going to learn different languages, the most useful would be: English, Chinese, Spanish and Arabic. If you learned those you'd pretty much be set to go almost anywhere in the world and be able to communicate. So Kenzie and I have started trying to learn them. We got apps on our phones and theIPod for learning languages, and I've managed to find people who are helping me learn them. Nick is from Florida and apparently there's a lot of Latino people there, so his Spanish is quite good, and he's lived in China for four years so he can speak Chinese as well (not fluent in either one, but he knows a lot), and then there's Li, my boss from the night school I've been working at. He worked in Japan at Honda for years, so he knows Chinese and Japanese. The school takes a while to get to and so he drives me home so I don't take the bus or metro. His English isn't very good and my Chinese isn't very good, so we've been teaching each other the languages on the drives home. So far we've been covering numbers and things you can do with numbers, like say the date on a calender and say the time. I now know how to count up to 999, but my record is about 350, I haven't learned the word for thousand so I can't count higher yet. We're starting to move into colours. And lastly my T.A. Bobo taught me some words, and she got me to practice sounding out the vowels and doing the tones. Yesterday in class I was able to pick out at least every fifth word that the Chinese teacher said to the kids. All in all not that impressive that I can slightly understand kindergarten Chinese, but at least I know I'm improving.
Over the weekend I hung out with a new friend we made named Danny. He's very adventurous and will wander aimlessly in Guangzhou and find the most random things; and he invites me along sometime. So we headed out to this stop on the metro that neither of us had been to before (we picked it because Danny's map showed a lot of green and we figured there must be a forest there). Once we got there it was so quiet my ears popped. I'm serious, I'm not sure how, but lack of sound made them pop. You don't realize how much sound gets blasted at you on a regular basis until there isn't any. It was also very empty. Where in Guangzhou and Panyu you will see at least fifteen people at all times, this stop we didn't run across someone till we got a little ways away from the metro, and even then it wasn't any more than two or three people at a time. That was very strange.The rest of the day involved us looking for odd shaped buildings to investigate and finding the coolest stuff. At one point we were on this big island, and saw a building across the river that had a roof that looks like a sting ray, or some kind of shell. So we found a bridge and it took us awhile to get across because we got side tracked by random things like we saw a family fishing with a huge net, and an art studio/display building that was very hidden by trees and was under a bridge. We crouched and climbed under a different bridge to continue walking and found two dead fish. We came across University City, which is basically a bunch of universities clustered together, and there were students practicing opera, and they were really good. Although, being outside and next to a small forest, they sounded like wailing ghosts. We also found three snakes. One ran away, one was dead and the last one was too tired to get out of the middle of the walking path. We walked down a deer path in the bush and found small gardens and sad houses that people had made out of scraps of metal and wood. There was a baby rat in the trees as well, he looked like he had been attacked by an animal but got away. It was the cutest little thing, and it appeared to be either a baby rat, or a huge mouse; but it's face was rat-like so I'm pretty sure it was a rat. And I totally wanted to bring it home because it was cold, hungry, scared and alone, but we couldn't because of the potential diseases it could have had. So that was sad.We found a school called “The China Normal University”, that was pretty funny, and we also found a science center. It's like the space science center back home, so I hear, but we only got to see some of the Da Vinci exhibit which was awesome. On the outside of the building there was a giant army of panda statues, that we had trouble figuring out what they were for because they were all wearing different clothes. Once we got close we figured out that they were for the different countries in the world. America was fine, their panda looked like a cowboy (but they obviously used Woody from toy story as a reference), but Canada's was extremely lame. Most of the countries seemed to have some sort of traditional clothing..... Canada's was wearing red overalls with maple leaves all over the place, creating the dorkiest panda that ever existed.... seriously, how hard is it to paint a Mountie? You Google Canada and get like 64 pictures of mounties!
I hope you are all having a great time in Canada. We miss you so much and can't wait to see you again.Love Brodie