Greetings Friends and Family,
It's Wednesday 8:30 a.m. for me, 7:30 p.m. for most of you. I apologize for putting two days into one post again, I'm still lacking any sort of coherent schedule.
I know that this time at Brave Language Training Center will be a blessing. I can't say too much about the Big Man Upstairs on here, I don't want to get blocked. It's unlikely they would respond so fast, but no sense taking chances.
This morning I got up at seven. After eating breakfast and doing some writing I set out to walk to the school. I didn’t make it, at least, not by foot. John left his apartment later than usual, saw me and picked me up in the van.
Once at the school I spent a good hour figuring out how to connect to the schools wireless network. I finally got it to work. Anyone who knows about network keys will understand: John had written down the key, but written it on two lines so it appeared that I had two different codes; once I added the number of characters from the first line to the number of characters in the second line I saw that I had twenty-six, the correct number for a network key.
With the internet, finally, I was able to read my emails and I was able to instant message with Bristen. I actually had Cody Sumter, a friend of mine from Truman State in Missouri, call Bristen to let her know I was online. He said it was a highly amusing experience to make the phone call. I forgot to ask Bristen why he thought it so amusing.
Also I updated my website NoFreakin Way at nofreakinway.weebly.com. I added a separate blog for my time in China and put my picture on the homepage. Posted the last chapters of Fangirls and Elffriends MST, which I think are very amusing, if I say so myself.
Lunch was had in the cafeteria of the building that houses the school. (BRAVE rents space in a government building.) Fish was the main point. Not very good and full of bones; there’s a trick to eating it that neither I nor Mrs. Karamitros could figure out, and she’s been at it longer than me.
In the afternoon we handed out more flyers. I felt silly. Julie Ping, a Chinese employee/secretary at BRAVE said I needed to take advantage of the fact that I was a handsome foreigner; people would want to read what I was handing out. The other schools were there handing out flyers, mobbing the poor parents, but I handed out a great many, mostly to people who did a double take when they looked up at my “Hello.” A couple of the other people handing out flyers wanted to know how much I was being paid. Volunteer (zì gào fèn yǒng) is not a part of my vocabulary, so I was unable to explain why I wasn’t being paid.
I felt much better handing out flyers at the exhibition hall near BRAVE, which we did only briefly. No other schools were there to mob the parents, and they came out or went into the building one at a time, with their children. The children were delighted to speak a little English with me. Their pronunciation was very good.
For all the time I spent standing in the sun, I should have been burned, but I think we’re far enough north here that the sun’s rays are not direct enough to do damage as quickly as in Kansas.
After that I went to dinner with the singles group, plus Nathan and his wife. All of them are teachers at the ISC (International School of China). All of them are American. We went to a Korean grill; they bring you the meet raw and you cook it yourself, a dangerous task for a man not proficient with his chopsticks. No injuries were incurred though.
The best part of the restaurant was the tea. I don’t know how best to describe it, maybe a bit like an apple Jolly Rancher, but not so sweet. I thought it was absolutely wonderful, it’s the major discovery to date. Only one other person at the table liked it, so I drank most of the pitcher myself.
Since all the other singles (plus Nathan and wife) were teachers, they talked about teacher stuff. I was a little out of the loop. That’s okay; I ate plenty and listened.
A quick taxi ride home, then a phone call from my parents. I didn’t remember that I had given them my apartment’s number when I talked to them on Sunday night (they’re Saturday morning). It was good to talk to them again.
This morning bought breakfast from a lady near the school. John buys his breakfast there most mornings, so I knew it was safe to eat. It was quite tasty and fresh; she cooked it right there on her little griddle.
While parents brought their students in I kind of stood around and looked friendly and American. Shrug. It wasn’t very exciting, so there isn’t much to tell about that, except to say that everything seems to be negotiable in China. Parents were still unwilling to pay up front. They wanted to see the teachers in action. Mr. Wang was very busy dealing with the parents.
Once registration ended I took maybe an hour and a half to work on my computer. I failed to update this blog, so once again you’re getting two days at once. Sorry about that. But while I was on my computer I worked up a short skit for the beginning of Super Hero Fashion Show week, linked here: Super Hero Skit One. It’s short and ridiculous and I turned it over to the actual teachers to add vocabulary.
I spent the rest of the day helping with the advanced group of students. They’re a bright bunch and I’m glad to say they seem to like me. They went over a big set of verbs today. For one of the exercises they had to make up and ask each other questions. Jennifer asked Kiki, “Do you like Mr. Jesse?” They both broke into embarrassed giggles and Jennifer, who is eight, but the most advanced in the class because she’s from Chicago, amended her sentence: “Do you like Mr. Jesse as a teacher?” Kiki, I believe, is thirteen, and would have an attitude if she wasn’t paired with young Jennifer.
These names I’m giving for the kids are their English names that either their parents or their teachers gave them or they might have chosen for themselves. I wonder if I’ll get the opportunity to give a student an English name.
After camp I went shopping with Sarah. Or rather, she shopped and I went along for morale support. The store was like a multilevel Wal-Mart SuperCenter. Sarah told me that when we entered they might ask us to leave our bags (my satchel and her backpack respectively) at the door, and that I should just pretend I didn’t understand any Chinese at all. Fortunately they didn’t ask us to leave our bags, but I am prepared for next time.
On the way home from shopping I was stopped by a Chinese man who wanted to know something, but I don’t know what he wanted for sure. I caught “stomach/hungry,” “dinner” and “eat,” but was confused by the rest, though thinking back I’m beginning to think he wanted to know what I was doing for dinner/inviting me to dinner, though I really don’t know why, unless it was because I had offered to help push a kaput vehicle. Not even his vehicle. He wasn’t asking for dinner; he and I guess his wife looked well enough off. I was a little frustrated by the encounter; I think I should have been able to understand him, but he caught me way off guard. Oh well.
When I got to my apartment the gate was locked, and discovered the use of the little blue thing on my key chain. Swipe it over the gate lock and presto, it unlocks. Two embarrassments in one walk home. How wonderful I felt by then.
I was only at home for a few minutes. Alex and David and Aldwin and their Chinese language teacher took me to dinner at the Korean restaurant near my house. Once again cooking our own food. I don’t really understand the fascination, but it is good food. It was interesting to hear David, Alex, and Aldwin talk about their experiences with LDi. David is from Fiji, and Alex and Aldwin are both natives of the Philippines. Together with their Chinese Chinese-language teacher and we were a seriously multicultural group.
I’m getting much better with the chopsticks. I was okay before, but after three days using them constantly, I’m developing the fine motor skills which will ensure I don’t starve.
I’m home now. The weather is in the midst of a thunderstorm and downpour. It’s just like home. The more you travel, the more things stay the same.
Because I must...