Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Just Getting Started

This week I became a teacher.

It’s been quite an interesting couple of weeks here in China, with both good and bad experiences. I had my first visit to a Chinese hospital and my first trip out to the lake in the same week, but the big takeaway here is that this past Saturday I started taking over classes, which means that my teaching career has officially begun.

For those that don’t know, I’m teaching English in Jilin, China, at a training center called Kenneth’s English School. The “training center” part means that our students come to us after school hours to learn even more, hopefully putting them at an advantage within China’s competitive scholastic landscape. Kids here are under a lot of pressure; the norm is to be working constantly. Even after a full day of school, it seems most are on their way to other classes, whether it be learning an instrument or another language.  Even when I see children rollerblading, they aren’t just doing it for fun. They’re in Rollerblading Class, and that instructor is telling them to SLALOM THOSE CONES!

So far my classes are going really well. The kids are energetic and eager, and that enthusiasm fuels me and makes class much more enjoyable. The programs at Kenneth’s are high-energy and hands-on, and give me a lot of room to incorporate my own ideas. It’s more like camp than class in some ways, with lots of games and plenty of children yelling. Happy yelling. Happily yelling vocabulary.

I've picked up 3 classes so far, with more on the way. The kids are grouped according to their level of proficiency; my kids are at Level 1 and are around 6-9 years old. Also, they are at Stage 38 cuteness, which is quite high for their age bracket; I can’t even look at some of them without my heart quietly breaking inside. This school offers training up to IELTS classes, which prepares students to take an internationally-recognized English test, so I’ll have opportunities to teach English at all levels.
Photo by Greg W.
I’m looking forward to these challenges. Whether it’s becoming an efficient lesson planner, getting more comfortable in front of a classroom, or making sure the kids are learning a lot in an enjoyable environment, I have a lot to learn but I’m excited about the prospect of becoming an awesome teacher. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

See Spot Served in Soup.

This week I ate a dog.

Ok I don't think there was actually enough meat on the table to make up an entire dog, but this week my co-workers and I went out to sample the local dog offerings. I know some people are already white-knuckle-reading this tensely so I won't get too far into detail. There were three dishes: one big pot of soup that reminded me of chicken noodle soup, one small broiled dish with some fattier pieces and vegetables, and a salty, cold dish served with greens.

But don't worry! Overall it definitely was not my favourite meal or meat, and I won't be going around looking for it during my time here in China. It was sometimes salty, and usually stringy and chewy. With all the amazing food I've already had here, there's tons of animals I'd prefer to eat. I mean... I had silkworms on my first day, and I'd WAY rather go for those again. Dang those are tasty, crunchy little devils!
Goodbye Scout. Thanks for the dining experience, couldn't have done it without you. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

The 5 Biggest Things to Get Used to in Jilin

  I've officially been living in China for a week now, and I feel I'm more than qualified to hold a lengthy discussion about any aspect of Chinese history, culture, and the general nuances of being Chinese. The food is amazing, you can`t drink the water, the smoking is out of control, and I can't tell how old any of the women are, but all those don't compare with these: the 5 biggest things for me to get used to here. These are daily details that are at the very least interesting to experience, and can even be daunting at times. But don’t worry, I’ll guide you through- remember, I’m a Chinese expert.

1.   The Chinese Language
  Ok this one is sort of obvious, but seriously- EVERYTHING is in Chinese over here! The language barrier has been severe so far, leaving me pointing at restaurants and markets, ordering food like a spoiled monkey. The people are very kind about me butchering their language like a spicy duck neck, but getting around is difficult, and conversations are impossible. In addition to this, the written language is extremely hard to decipher and remember, which means I don’t know what any building is without actually going inside, and navigational landmarks are much harder to come by, as every sign just looks like colourful neon to me.
Here's where I live. Now try and find it in the dark, when these guys and their birdcages aren't there.