every day's the first day

i'm not sure i have any really good excuse for my lack of updating last week.... i have been quite busy, but i suppose mostly i just haven't known where to start telling of everything that's happened. I guess if I'd been updating daily, you'd all be party to the whole drama of things rather than hearing my brief (or not so brief) summary of events.

It all started a week ago today.... (play chime and cut to out of focus screen with clouds around the border)

I'd found out the night before that my reading centre class started at 7:30pm. Prior to that, I had to have a lesson/ministry meeting from 8-10 with Dr. Su, then teach at an elementary school in the afternoon. So I was a little flabbergasted with it all.... anyways, the day didn't exactly go well.... in my elementary class i played a game where i had ball that i threw to different students when it was their turn to answer a question. But then one of my students threw the ball kinda hard (though it's impossible to cause injury with this type of ball) at a girl and she go upset, and then didn't want to answer the question, which caused the classroom teacher to get mad at her.... at the end of it the poor girl was in tears. during the class break she came and apologized to me :( the boy on the other hand was giving major attitude for the rest of the class, and since there's only 12 students in the class, it definitely affected the atmosphere.
After that not so great experience (which was 100x better today by the way), I went to this reading centre for jr. high students who gave me the impression they'd rather be doing their milirary service walking across Taiwan in the rain than learning English in my class.... tough crowd... anyways, i later mentioned to Dr. Su that the class hadn't gone too well, and he brought up another reading centre that had wanted a teacher. So now I had to consider ending that class and taking the other one instead. After much discussion and confusion (does Hope or Charlotte like to teach children... oh they BOTH do! amazing! actually i had originally thought I'd be working with mostly kids, and until now we've been working almost exclusively with Jr. High students...). Things change so fast around here, though I think most of that appearance of things changing all the time is that we often aren't informed of things until shortly before they're going to happen (if we're lucky). So on our Tuesday morning meeting THIS week, we decided that I'd teach this class for the month, and then start teaching at the other centre in April. THEN just before I went to teach the class, I found out that it would be the last one. Craziness... now I was feeling kind of bad for not giving these kids too much of a chance (maybe it was just "first day" shyness?), but then yesterday, there were only 5 students, and only 2 of those 5 really participated in class, so I was really ok with being finished there. Though who knows what the other class will be like! LOL

Anyways, what else happened this crazy week? Friday we taugh our first class at Yu Dong, which thankfully went really well, though there were some funny moments.... 1. I wanted to take pictures of my students so I could better learn their names, but I found out that Taiwanese teens are even more camera shy than Canadian teens. Now I DO remember going through the phase where I wouldn't let anyone take my picture, and I still prefer to be the photographer, but wow... i wasn't expecting it to be such a big deal! 2. I had them make up questions to ask me, which was a lot of fun, the hardest one being "Why do you like English" hmm I never thought too much about that before, it's just always been my best subject.

On Friday night Hope went to Fuli which is about 20 minutes away, and I had dinner with Robert and his family. Robert is the buxiban owner, and his children have amazing english, especially since they are so young. They are really cute and quite likable. After dinner, we ended up going to see a play being put on at the elemetary school about some aboriginals (maybe) who settled on one of the mountains nearby. I caused quite a stir when I arrived (shortly after the play had started) as some children who knew me ran over to say hi, and everyone turned to look at the waiguoren (foreigner)... fortunately the attention died down pretty quickly, so I didn't steal the show for too long!

On Saturday, we had a practice run through of English club.
well, ACTUALLY, it was supposed to be the first day of class... but we only had two students! We were quite dismayed, and not totally sure what to do! But it turned out alright, and we did the lesson with our students anyways. The next day, we found out that our students had been told class would be at the library, while all the teachers had been told class was still in the same location: at Yuli Church.... that is one of those times when we didn't find out at all about changes that directly affected us... anyways, we felt terrible for our students, especially since there was no one there to meet them at the library, but hopefully next week, we'll get off to a better start!
On Saturday afternoon we went to Liz and Phil's last teacher training seminar, and at the end everyone in the room gave a speech, foreshadowing the coming opening ceremonies tomorrow at our adult class... oh haven't I mentioned this yet? We found out that the librarian has decided that since they are working in cooperation with us (letting us use the building and advertising somewhat for us) that the first class should be a big event, complete with reporters, speeches, and an "opening ceremony" I must say, part of me is dreading it! I'm sure it won't be so bad, but what started out as the first 15 minutes of our class now is the first 30 minutes of our class... i'm not sure if we will be called on to make speeches, but i have a back-up plan if so, i'll just recite one of ORTV's motivational songs... "If you want to learn more English, here's the way. Here's the way. Speak a little English, just speak a little English, every day. Every day" (now think: to the tune of "Frere Jacques" Just kidding! I guess Hope and I will have to be on our best behaviour. Anyways, as far as I know, our class actually has more students than our original maximum limit, plus all the people who are going to come for the first day festivities. I'm a little nervous about the whole deal, so I'd appreciate all the prayers I can get!

WOW where was I, back to Saturday. In the evening, we met the newest foreign teacher in the area. Her name's Jen, and she arrived maybe Thursday or Friday. It was fun to meet someone just arriving here and remember my own experiences. I remember when I could only say ni hao (hello) and xie xie (thank you).... wow... I'm understanding more and more these days, which is really exciting! Maybe not for my students lol... they asked me if I speak Chinese, and I told them yi dien dien (a little), and then i said, I understand more than I speak though, so be careful what you say! Now that scared them! hahaha

Sunday was church, and then in the afternoon we played badminton with Michelle, David and Jen (David and Jen are both Canadians) at the community/old folk's centre we have recently been frequenting, as Hope and I have decided to take up racquet sports. Hope's been teaching me tennis, and we've been bumbling our way through badminton. It was a lot of fun, and to quote Hope, "we have been providing hours of entertainment for the folks that hang out there"
Whew.. i'm almost done this post... is anyone still with me???

Monday we went to Hualien, along with most of Yuli, who we saw or talked to throughout the day.... if we'd known this earlier, we could have saved ourselves NT300 for the train ticket!
Anyways, my elementary class went so much better this week. I figured out that in all, we have 7 "first days of class" this week! In some ways I think the first day is the most stressful... you have to establish routines and get to know your students, who are feeling pretty shy because it's the first day, and how it goes can set the tone for the whole semester....

SPEAKING of the first day of class.... we found out yesterday about a class we didn't know we were teaching!! Well we kind of knew, but not... here's the story... we have been planning to have a special class for English teachers, but found out that we would probably have to wait at least a month before it started. Thus, we put plans for that class on the back burner until further notice. So you can imagine our suprise yesterday when one of the teachers at Zhuo Feng showed us a flyer about the class that was apparently starting TODAY! Anyways, we have managed to stall that class for a bit, though I discovered that there are already 5 teachers signed up for it! wow... we're really busy all of a sudden.

Meanwhile, back in Canada, my family (or half of them anyways) has successfully moved to Alberta, and my college friends survived youthquake (not to mention Tammy and the youth from the church! the year she FINALLY gets to go again I'm gone, go figure!) , and Adam and Erin had their baby!! Isn't life exciting?