Tuesday, March 29, 2005

a little snapshot

Yesterday when I was riding my bike somewhere, the people in this little store were waving at me and saying hello. I smiled and waved and kept going, one of a hundred hellos I get in a day, shouted out car windows, by people walking by, from stores along the road....
Today the man from the store stopped me and turns out they actually had wanted to talk to me! Boy did I feel bad....
Anyways, they were curious about our English classes and want to send their teen and a couple of friends to our Saturday class, how exciting!
That's all.

Monday, March 28, 2005

My good friends Amy and Annie ready to party!  Posted by Hello

Fu huo jie

Easter morning started for me like it started for many others around the world and throughout history... getting up while it was still dark and making my way out of town before the sun rose. Hope and I rode out to a hill and read the account of Christ's resurrection, and then sang a number of songs. It was different to watch the sun rise over the mountains, since for the past four years I've been watching it across the expanse of Saskatchewan hay fields. It had its own beauty though, forever mirroring in a small way the wonder of new life and the constancy of God. Also different was that I was in a light cotton shirt, not bundled under layers of clothing, and when I returned it didn't take me an hour to stop shivering...

I went to breakfast and then got ready for church. It was a nice service, but I do miss Caronport Easters... it's really a blessing to be among so many amazing teachers there. At church, Coco gave me two letters they'd received, Easter cards from my family and from Kaia! It was perfect timing, and such a wonderful suprise! I have heaps of stuff to mail out... one of these days....

After lunch we had egg dyeing part II, which was quite successful! Eight children and three adults (2 moms and Dr. Su) came to our party where we colored eggs and ate Easter cake. Oh yeah, and Hope and I ate Kinder Eggs beforehand in honor of the holiday :)
It was the first time any of the kids had dyed eggs, so it was quite exciting for them! It's fun to be able to share little bits of our tradition with them.

Before I sign off and leave you to look at pictures of the events described above, I'll mention my most recent culinary experiment: Minestrone with Taiwanese characteristics.... it's not bad actually... but the only beans I could find were soybeans, and there was no tomato soup, paste, or even canned tomatoes to be found, so I bought some (not so fresh) tomatoes from the grocery store, and used some vegetable soup stock. I'd have to say it smells better than it tastes, but all in all, it worked pretty well, and I'll be eating soup for a few days....

It was fun to celebrate Easter in Yuli Church. They are generally quite energetic. We discovered there is a Taiwanese version of "Christ the Lord is Risen Today" Posted by Hello

Hope and I after church... please ignore the wierd expression on my face... another squinting into the sun picture, reminiscent of half of our family photos (which of course were widely distributed) Posted by Hello

All dressed up for Easter.  Posted by Hello

Our living room before 8 children descended upon it!  Posted by Hello

Annie and April. April was the youngest girl that attended, but has amazing English (on account of her dad being the owner of the cram school). She was asking us questions like "what are you afraid of?" and "what do you like to do?" amazing.  Posted by Hello

Gigi is from church and also in my class at Yuli Elementary Posted by Hello

Look at all these artistic little friends (xiao peng you) Posted by Hello

Samuel, Mary, Hope, Joey Posted by Hello

Yen Ting and Echo Posted by Hello

May and Amy were busy covering balloons with something like paper mache. Posted by Hello

The kids got to color two kinds of eggs.  Posted by Hello

The kids with their eggs.  Posted by Hello

A final picture of us with our proteges... L-R Gigi, me, Hope, Mary, Dr. Su, April, Yen Ting, Echo, Joey, Samuel, Annie Posted by Hello

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Easter Art. Posted by Hello

Saturday, March 26, 2005

I have two Kobes in my class and two Michaels. My boys really like basketball! Posted by Hello

Some of my adorable elementary school students! This is Amy from Zhuo Feng. Posted by Hello

Some my students really don't like getting their pictures taken! Posted by Hello

Look at that attitude! Actually, Steve is one of the best and most helpful students in my San Min 7/8 class.  Posted by Hello

Lily from San Min, her name was Jessie last semester.... I guess they don't get too attached! Posted by Hello

Jacod, from San Min Posted by Hello

what do you do with 64 eggs?

I must say that the rest of this week has been pretty eventful so far. When I think of my life here, I am overflowing with thankfulness. We know so many wonderful people who take care of us really well. Almost every time we go out, we get to see people we know.
I only had two Jr. High classes on Thursday, which were ok. My one class has some discipline issues, but when I asked the teacher how she normally disciplines the class, she said "well it's my first year of teaching them and i am trying to be their friend, so I don't really discipline them... many of them have bad pronunciation or can't understand, so they don't want to learn.."
Well that was NOT really what I wanted to hear, but anyways, I'll deal with it. I wish I could communicate that their pronunciation is not going to get any better if they won't practice... Oh well, I really do like the class, they are my most energetic class (which accounts for some of the problems too haha). There are some really unique personalities including Ava, who has written me a few little notes and gave me a picture of herself, and Yuki whose first words to me were "Are you free tonight? I don't care! I don't care!" I'll should put up pictures of some of my students aww.... I haven't taken pictures of this class yet.

Thursday night we taught our adult class, the topic was activities. We played kind of a team X's and O's to review and introduce new vocabulary (asking the team a question and if they got it right they could put an X or O on the board). Every now and then someone wouldn't be paying attention and would put their symbol on the wrong spot (allowing the other team to win) and there would be a lot of excitement! I started playing pictionary with my beginners at the end, and it got pretty funny when I started saying things like "dancing" and "kung fu" at which point they were asking me: How would YOU draw that/?? hahah so much fun. At the end of class they were like what? It's over already?

Friday morning I went for my first day at Yon Feng elementary, which was quite an enjoyable experience. It takes about a half an hour to get there, so from now on, I'll be sure to bring some other work or reading to do on the way. The students were from 3-6 grade (in two classes). I'll take pictures next week! I was impressed with their English ability... this is not to say they'll be writing essays next month.. but they all knew the ABC's, "hello, my name is" "I am __ years old" and "sit down/stand up" it's nice to come the first day finding out that they know at least that.

When I got home, Hope and I went on an Easter Egg hunt! Well not really... but we did go to buy eggs and other dyeing supplies. Why? Well since we were able to get some dye (from Hannah), we decided to let our English club students color Easter eggs as part of our Easter lesson on Saturday morning! It worked quite well, though it required a lot of preparation. Last night when we were making some sample ones, Jeff and Sherly came home, so we let them do some as well, Hen Hao Wan! (So much fun!).

Only one problem.... I forgot to bring my camera along to class this morning :( I know mom, Carissa and others will be quite ashamed and outraged to hear such a thing.... think of how many Easter scrapbooking pages I could have done ;)
Fortunately, all is not lost, we will be inviting some kids from church to our house on Sunday afternoon to dye the rest of our 64 eggs (we may even go buy some more.... i'm sure the store people though we were crazy).

Thursday, March 24, 2005

i can write an update, i can do that, cuz writing weekly updates makes me happy inside out...

Yesterday was our first day of class at Yuli Elementary. We have class there from 12:50 -1:50 and then have to boot it over to Yuli Jr. High for 2:10. Fortuately, Yuli Jr. High has midterms at the moment, so we didn't have to worry about that.
My class is 1st-3rd grade, and they are really cute!! I think they all know the ABC's though many of them can't write them yet. It spent quite a long time just to get them all wearing name tags and giving some of them English names. I'm anticipating this will be the case at my first class tomorrow at Yon Feng elementary, though hopefully not since there I am teaching 3-4th grade and 5-6th grade. The kids here are always really excited to see pictures of my family and Canada that I bring in. They are excited about snow, and shocked at Zeke's height. They are always quick to point out which one is me, I think that is their favorite. I brought in some pictures to illustrate the four seasons.

In the evening, I was supposed to teach my English teacher's class, had a killer pronunciation lesson planned and everything, but since there are midterms and what not right now, I only had one teacher show up! It was ok though because he was able to ask me some questions about a textbook he's teaching from and about how he can personally practice his English. That's part of what I had envisioned for the class too! A place to discuss problems and ideas and help each other as teachers.

Hmm... well that's all I have to say for now, I'll go update my sidebar.

If reading this didn't help you procrastinate enough, check out this website, it's pretty amusing. It's about April fool's pranks that have been played in the past. I'd have to say my best April fools prank was last year when Vanessa and I put live goldfish in Rachel's bathroom sink for her to find in the morning... oh what an eventful night that was! Any prank stories to share? Leave me a comment!


Tuesday, March 22, 2005

time flies

... whether you're having fun or not!

Not to worry, i'm having fun for the most part! What have I been up to? What else? planning lessons, teaching lessons, talking about lessons i just taught.... it's a vicious cycle really.. lol
I must say, I have even more respect for my past teachers now that I've joined their ranks. Especially elementary teachers who are with the same students all day, every day.
I'm really enjoying the change to teach more children this semester, though I'm getting a little sick of teaching ABC's. Two more classes to start with this week!

Saturday was a really busy day, since we were teaching 3 classes morning, afternoon, and evening. Saturday night we were able to share with the Young Holistic group about "Getting a Global Vision" It was a lot of fun, we sang the chorus of "I could sing of your love forever" In Chinese, English, and Portuguese. We each shared about our experiences and how we felt God leading us to be missionaries. I brought my pictures from Brazil for the students to look through. At the end we got into groups and prayed for the different continents. Over all, I think it went pretty well.

In other news, I have mosquito bites on my FEET! They are itchy. I think I got them when we played tennis yesterday since I was wearing my sandals (not flip flops, don't worry).

On Sunday, we visited Mt. Carmel church, where our landlords and a number of other people we know go! It was pretty fun, especially since the pastor had relatives visiting from America, so all the songs we sang had both English and Chinese AND they read the scripture in English... actually it was Jeff (our landlord) who read it... *sniff* so proud of him! oh yeah, and the pastor's uncle translated the sermon for us.

I know I missed a ton of stuff in there, i'll try to update more regularly! I think I say that on a weekly basis! Life is quite exciting for the next few weeks. This weekend is Easter, and we have some friends trying to track down food coloring for us, and we might dye eggs in our teenager English cub or with some of the children we know. We are going to try to do Easter lessons for our classes this weekend. Next weekend there is a holiday, and we're planning to visit Taidong, where Faith, a girl from Moose Jaw (who got in touch with me through a Briercrest friend) , has been teaching for almost a month. The weekend after that we're going to HONG KONG!
wow.... that means that we've almost been here for 6 months... time really does fly!

Monday, March 21, 2005

Spring is in the Air... even here...

I have a ton of stuff to update, but for now, I'll just share a really funny story with you!

In our adult class on Saturday afternoon I was teaching the advanced students, and we were playing a board game. The topic was family, and so the students were having to share many things about their family. I had one student who was really capitalizing on the opportunity though! When answering one question, he mentioned how he wanted to get married soon and have a really happy family...
One of the aspects of the game was that if you landed on a space with a ? you had to ask someone else a a question about their family. In any case, I was a little shocked when this student asked one of the female students "Do you like me?"
She was suprised too, and didn't want to answer! He told her "You have to answer, those are the rules of the game!"
When she tried to protest that it wasn't about her family he smoothly replied "Well you may be part of my family in the future"

haha crack me up.... i guess if this English teaching thing doesn't work out, i could just start an English Dating service...

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

these days...

...things are going pretty well. I just returned from teaching my teachers' class.... it was a lot of fun, I think it will be one of the most enjoyable classes in the week. As always, it is a little odd to be teaching people who are older than yourself and in this case, who have been teaching longer than you, but anyways, their teaching methodologies are generally not very task-based, so I think they are learning something new. Also I'm focusing on pronunciation which means I have to brush up! At least we haven't gotten into grammar yet, though I do get some grammar questions from my teachers.
Our Yuli Jr. High classes were cancelled this week since they have midterms coming up... wow we just started teaching there it seems and they're having midterms already!
The rest of this week is going to be a bit of a whirlwind, so I probably won't update again until Sunday... sorry!
I have to prepare what I want to say on Saturday Night about being a missionary/getting a global vision so I can let Jack, who's translating for us look it over ahead of time. I have to finish putting together some more game boards for the game we're playing in our adult class, oh yeah, and decide what I'm going to do with my beginners! I have to finalize my lesson plans for San Min and Yu Dong, and finally, stuff for Let's Talk English Club... Hope and I had a really productive planning session this morning and I actually got a LOT accomplished... as Hope said, we should cancel class more often, look how much we get done! Of course that's kind of funny since today we would have only taught for two hours, but still most of the time beforehand would have been focusing on those classes, and not the other stuff. Sorry, this entry is a little boring! My elbow is healing, and I am become more ambidextrous, eating and playing badminton with my right hand!

We'll be teaching the church youth "Give us Clean Hands" over the next few months, which is a great song! Here are the lyrics:
We bow our hearts
We bend our knees
Oh Spirit come make us humble
We turn our eyes
From evil things
Oh Lord we cast down our idols

So give us clean hands
and give us pure hearts
Let us not lift our souls to another
Oh give us clean hands
and give us pure hearts
Let us not lift our souls to another

Oh God let this be
a generation that seeks
Who seeks Your face, Oh God of Jacob
Oh God let us be
a generation that seeks
Who seeks Your face, Oh God of Jacob

Saturday, March 12, 2005

When the day is done, down to earth then sinks the sun

Our sick little puppy died today. She's been sick for a couple of weeks, probably longer actually. Good-bye, Frosty. :(

My sick teammate got better, and we were able to team teach our classes on Thursday night and today. They went pretty well. Our adult classes are really fun! It’s quite a change from the Jr. High students. Our Saturday afternoon class was really small, which is ok, though I wish some of our Thursday night students could come on Saturday! It’s a little disproportionate. Anyways, there was some kind of big dance exhibition/ competition going on at the school across from the library today, which everyone and their cockroach wanted to take us to. Anyways, we went for maybe 10 minutes after English club this morning, yet somehow managed to get on TV! Peggy told me later that she’d seen us on TV. Poor dancers performing while we showed up… they’ll have to wait another day for their 15 seconds of fame. Meanwhile we’re going on 5 months of fame… sigh… lol.

I’ve had to relearn how to use chopsticks all over again with my right hand, as my left arm doesn’t have full flexibility yet. Have I mentioned before people’s amazement to my being left-handed? I guess it’s really not common here, and most children are made to use their right hand, even if they are left-handed. I can always hear the whispers of shock on the first day of class when I start writing on the board. Although I had one person tell me they thought it was really “cool”.

So next week will get even busier here’s the schedule:
Monday: Day off
Tuesday: 8-10am ministry meeting and Chinese lesson with Dr. Su
2-4 Teaching at Zhuo Feng Elementary (Grade 5 and 6)
7-8:30 Teaching at Du Karel reading centre (Grades 3-6)
Wednesday: 2-4 Teaching at Yuli Jr. High
7-8:30 Class for English Teachers
Thursday: 3-5 Teaching at San Min Jr. High
7-8:30 Adult English Class
Friday: 3-5 Teaching at Yu Dong Jr. High
Saturday: 8:30-10am English club for teens
1:30-3 Adult English Class
7-9pm Teaching/Speaking at Yuli Church (youth group) on Developing a Global Vision

There is still one and possibly a second elementary school to add to this schedule, and planning time! Wow, I’m tired just thinking about it! Actually it’s a really great job though, I get to interact with so many different people, I get to learn so much every day, and I get to be stretched in my creativity, my teaching ability, my communication, and my world view. This week I’ve been feeling a little bit of pain from this stretching (not to mention my little “mishap” on the bicycle), but I need to focus on the positive and remember why I’m here. I’m not here for myself, to have a vacation or an easy job, but to impact lives, to give the people of this area a push in a new direction, to hopefully increase their scope of opportunity and thought. I’m here to show God’s love, and I can’t let that slip from my view, without that, nothing else has meaning.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

vegetables that sing and tell Bible stories

ok, I shall once more attempt this blog entry... i'll start with the most recent news before I return to previous events: I hurt myself!! I was riding my bike, and going a little too fast, and was riding on a curve when suddenly I somehow wiped out.... it was really scary.... I wasn't totally sure what was happening, but I think I kind of went over my bike and then it went over me... I've got some painful road rash on my left elbow and what will be a monster bruise on my leg, but that's all, but if you saw my bike you'd be amazed that I didn't incur further damages: the basket was almost totally imploded in a misshapen heap of wire and when the handlebars of the bike face the right direction, the front wheel is perfectly perpendicular to the rest of the bike... I have no idea how I managed that. Anyways, I called Hope and she came to my rescue along with Mr. Yang who (once again) loaded my bike into the van and then took me to Dr. Su's so I could be bandaged up... sigh....

So thus far today isn't looking a LOT better than yesterday, though I think it will be.
Yesterday was a really stressful day. First I went to Yuli elementary school to view some books they just bought and want us to use to teach when we start working there in 2 weeks.
It was kind of a confusing situation, but a large majority of the books they bought are much too difficult for the students... in fact they'd be too difficult for my Jr. High students. But we found out that the whole collection will be cycled through 10 schools, so there were only two books that whole class sets that we could choose from to use for the first two weeks. I'm afraid the schools may have just wasted a lot of money.... Anyways, we chose some other books for now, and we'll see how it goes.

Since Hope has influenza she didn't go teach at Yuli jr. high yesterday, thus they got the idea that Hope's students should just come into my class. Some of the students were playing a ball game, but I ended up having something like 37 students crammed into this classroom, which I must say is too many. The class didn't go that well. My second class, while better than last week, was still rather discouraging... I did the previously mentioned M&M activity with them and it went ok once I was able to communicate that they couldn't eat them yet! But I don't want to have to bribe these students with candy every week to entice them to learn English... anyways, hopefully things will improve at that school... right now it is my least favorite school to work at...

For supper we had this amazing pesto spaghetti that Peggy made and a yummy salmon soup. The best thing about it was that we were going to have pesto for lunch yesterday but discovered that the sauce Hope bought had gone bad because the seal on the jar was broken. After supper I had a Chinese lesson with Peggy which was really fun... I'm really encouraged at the amount of things I am able to communicate in Chinese now, though still acutely aware that my pronunciation isn't great and i still get the tones wrong a lot... While I was there, who should arrive but the library manager!! He came to tell us that our students were waiting for us at the library (the teacher's class), and could I please come for 20minutes and talk to them/tell them class would start next week. Well if you remember, this is the class we found out about by accident, and presumably still wouldn't know about it except for that event. But we discussed it during our meeting on Tuesday and confirmed that class would start next week, NOT this week. Anyways, the whole situation was rather aggravating for me. I'm sure things will improve, but I'd have to say on whole, yesterday was a bad day.

My classes did go well on Tuesday though, I like kids! The kids from the reading centre remembered me from the kid's rallies, and even knew the song I was going to teach them. It was really exciting. I'm looking forward to teaching there. I found out today that there is another elementary school we might possibly get to teach at! Though we are already quite busy, I must say, I'd much rather teach at elementary schools than Jr. Highs. Not to say all my Jr. High students are really bad... most of them are absolutely great.

So back to the vegetables, hopefully most of you guessed that I was talking about Veggie Tales. We decided that the song "I can be your friend" would be perfect for our Saturday morning English club, and so went on a quest to see if anyone had Veggie Tales movies that we could borrow. Now, imagine trying to explain Veggie Tales to someone who has never heard of them, and whose first language isn't English... they start to wonder if they understood you correctly "Did you say vegetables that tell Bible stories? And they dance and sing?" As you explain it to someone you can't help but laugh when you suddenly become aware of how crazy the concept really sounds....
i just spent about 30 minutes writing an entry which got erased when i went to save it... i will try to repost it when I am in a less agitated state.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

I had class at Yu Dong, and since Hope is sick, I went by myself. I really like my students there, and it's so great to have a smaller number of students for a longer period of time. I've also set up a system now that will benefit those students who want a little extra practice. They all have class notebooks, and I told them that if they write questions to me in English, I'll write them back. Only a few students have the confidence and skill to write me, and it's usually only a couple of sentences. Windy, who is the class leader, and has the best English of those students has written me both times. The first time she wrote "when you first see me, do you feel...." I wrote her back saying that I thought she was really kind and cute. This time she wrote "Are you feel bored in class break? Beacuse no body talk with you, and our English is not good. So, I think you're bored."

This class, though, had an incident that really disturbed me. The students were doing an activity where I had given them each an M&M and in groups they had to answer a question corresponding to whatever color they had. When one of the groups was finished, I went over to them and poured out some candies on one of the desks for the group to share. As I did this the girls in the group (maybe 4 out of 7 people) started laughing hysterically. I had no idea what could have caused such a reaction. I wondered if they were too shy to eat the M&M's in front of me? Or if I had missed something important that had happened. Should I give M&M's to the other groups? Finally I asked the classroom teacher what the problem was. She told me "The desk you put the candies on belongs to the boy they don't like. They don't want to eat them because they touched his desk. They think he's dirty." I felt a mixture of anger and sadness when I heard this. I knew the student was really shy, and often did not have a partner when we did classroom activities. But I thought this was due to his shyness. I had always made an effort to allow him to practice the target language with me while I'm circulating the room. I told the teacher that if that was the case, the boy could eat all of the candy and his group didn't get anymore. I distributed the rest M&M's to the other groups. But the sad look on this boy's face just made me want to cry.

Saturday morning we had English Club, which went pretty well, the group's pretty small, but most of them came last semester, so are a little more comfortable with us, and the class format.
Afterward I went for breakfast with Michelle and then had a few hours before our adult class. This class went quite well, and it was really nice to have the smaller number! We had about 15 students, though 25 were registered. The overall level of this class is a little higher, and we even had time to break into two groups. I have the intermediate students for this time period, and I know I'm really going to enjoy getting to know them better. After class, I had yet another request for one on one tutoring which I had to turn down. Now I have read in this culture that you are never supposed to say "no" so I've probably been offending people left and right, but

1. We're not really supposed to take individual students, and we're not allowed to accept money
2. I don't want to do a 1 on 1 class with a male
3. I'm busy, busy, dreadfully busy

Saturday night I decided not to go to Young Holistic, which turned out to be a good thing, because if I had gone, I probably would have had to sing in church with them today! whew.
Instead, I had a late supper and watched Much Ado About Nothing, sooo good.... makes me wish I was back at Briercrest so we could start reading it during "Shakespeare nights" *sniff sniff*

That's today! Church in the morning, which was pretty good. Afterward I was invited to a BBQ with the Buxiban teachers. They are such a fun group! I spent a few hours there with them. This was my second "Taiwanese BBQ" which as far as events go, I can take or leave. It usually consists of: various types of meat cooked over an open fire or hot coals and eaten on a stick or with bread, different vegetables cooked either in tin foil or directly on the grill, at least one kind of soup, and some sort of fruit. The two Canadians David (who works at the buxiban) and Jen (who arrived last week) were there. When I came home I took a nap, and then went out to eat hot pot. I was going to go to this one restaurant where I have a copy of the menu with the main dishes translated, but it was really busy, and I decided I wasn't in the mood for a noisy, crowded restaurant experience (which is the norm here!) and went to another place that was almost empty, which was quite peaceful and relaxing. As the great book I just finished River Town puts it, "The best aspect of eating hot pot was that it took so long - it was a slow, lazy meal," perfect for a cold night in a quiet restaurant. Now I'm listening to Cold Play, does it get any more mellow than this?

Oh a few words about this book. It's about an American who lived in China for two years, and I've found it to be a great read! Anyone who has spent time in Asia as a foreigner should read it! Anyways, there were so many experiences he had that I could relate to, and some that made me laugh out loud at the striking similarity. At the same time there are many differences, and I am very thankful to be on this side of the Strait, where there is so much freedom. I can't imagine what it would be like to have the police burst into my room in the middle of the night, though I've heard stories about that both from this book and Taiwanese who have lived in China. I'm thankful for freedom of speech and religion, and for the life that I have here in Taiwan.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

So there was this really scary situation... a lady came up to us and asked us if we could come teach at her school from 1-2:30 on Thursdays. Well we alrady teach 3 classes on Thursdays, and one of them starts at 3:00, so there's not really any way we could teach that class, since it takes about 20-30 minutes to get to San Min. Hope tried to very tactfully tell the lady that we already had a very full schedule, and that that time would not work for us. Well she wouldn't take no for an answer and kept insisting that her school needed us. Finally she informed us that she was a very important person in the community, and that if we didn't come to teach at her school, she would make sure our friend (one of our main coordinators here in Yuli) Coco got fired! At this point we had NO idea what to say or do, but fortunately Liz and Phil arrived and as we were beginning to explain the situation to them, I woke up.....
whew I think I was a little stressed out to dream about such a situation!

ANYWAYS.... everything's ok, our Jr. High class was cancelled today because the school wasn't quite prepared for us yet. Which gave us a nice afternoon to prepare for class and relax a little. It's been raining a lot this week, which is kinda yucky. Anyways, our adult class went much better than expected, though I was really suprised that I only knew a few of our students! The opening ceremony wasn't too dreadful, and there weren't reporters. We didn't have to give speeches, and were able to start promptly at 7:30. The seemed really impressed with our activities, and even more so with the concept of self-evaluation... what a big cultural difference there. In Canada we're taught that self-evaluation is a really important part of the learning process, here they are taught that only the teacher should be giving out evaluations! Anyways, most of the students wanted to be in the "beginner" class because they were afraid the other would be too difficult! Anyways, it balanced out by the end, and I'm really looking forward to teaching this class, even though it is really big! I think we had 39 students today, though something like 53 signed up! Anyways, I'm feeling good about the next few days, and it's almost the weekend! Yay!

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

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?