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|From Sanya to English Teacher Tad in Wenzhou!|
|Sunday, April 03, 2005 (10:00:00)|
|Well, dear reader and virtual traveler. |
I am going to summarize about 1000 experiences in a few short lines. So obviously, lots will be left out....alas, alas.
I had a very relaxing time in Sanya. Met great locals and foreign friends, including the world famous, Mr. Horneeman. New Years Eve fireworks exploded overhead as I swam in the warm coastal waters. Not bad. About two weeks there and then it was time to say some tough good-byes.
An amazing bus, mototaxi, ferry, overnight bus, 2 hours of sleep in a hotel, overnight bus marathon later I made it to Wenzhou. I am an Oregonian so Wenzhou weather made me feel right at home. Yes, cold rain on February 17th when I arrived in Wenzhou, not knowing a single person. All I had to connect me to this place was the business card of Jinwan Liu, who I met at Linfield College a few years ago. She invited me to come teach at Wenzhou University if I wanted to come back to China.
It is funny how a world can open up to you. In a mere forty days I have met 400+ students, a dozen foreign teachers, and another 53.4 staff members. I have made friends with the staff of about five local restaurants, from the muslim noodle shop to the wok stir fry place down the alley. I’m teaching two classes, Oral English, for elementary school teachers, and American and Canadian Culture. I have really enjoyed both. We play lots of games in the Oral English class which I used when I was teaching my students Spanish way back in 1997-99. These college students were a little nervous about jumping around and dancing to the “Hokey Pokey”, and flying like birds around the classroom but in the end I think there are enjoying the class and learning experientially how to teach English to kids in a way that kids will both enjoy the process and remember what they learn.
The American Culture class was a bit challenging a first as I grappled with very large classes (75+ students) and such a huge topic, trying to cram it into 90 minutes each week. Now, with the help of Powerpoint, my students are getting snapshots bits of America, such as the Grand Canyon, Mt. Rushmore, doggy daycare, speed dating, retirement centers, gay marriage, Christopher Columbus and the Arawaks, and why do American’s eat turkey towards the end of November. It has been great fun. I told them I would mainly tell them the truth (as I understand it) and that I would at least try to make my inadvertent fibs interesting.
One class of students took me to a local amusement park, called Wenzhou Paradise, which I thoroughly enjoyed, even getting soaked at the end of the water ride! For some reason I was the only wet one…hmmmmm. There are some great rocks and mountains to climb around here, enough to make my younger brother, Kip, a bit jealous.
There have been tough times too. I learned that one of my grandmas died while I was here. Late at night at an internet café I got the news from my mom via a voicemail message. It has been tough being away from the family and I know that I will probably miss her even more when I go home and see she isn’t there. I love you, Grandma.
There have been minor frustrations such as taxi drivers speeding through crosswalks at 40 mph. But when in Wenzhou, do as the Wenzhou Ren (people) do, so I have learned to stay alert, and enjoy the breeze as they speed by.
Peace, eyes open ,
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