Cwray's Blog

October 16, 2010, 4:38 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

These are the doors that lead to my classes. Once I step through these doors I become a bit of a celebrity and believe me, anything is possible; this blog will discuss a few of those possibilities. My classes begin at 7:50 and for those of you who have had the chance to know me for any amount of time know that I do not like getting up early. Unfortunately for me my students do not know this, so upon my entering of the building and trying to make my way to the office I am immediately bombarded by students. These encounters can vary from the helpless “hello, how are you’” to the occasional hitting of various body parts that will go unmentioned. My clothes are tugged on daily, students enjoy jumping up and touching my head, and I am shot multiple times with imaginary guns. At this point in my day I am awake.

As I leave the office I am usually followed by a few students who again, spank my rear, tug on my clothes, etc., but when I walk into the classroom all these annoying little tidbits matter no more. I am greeted by smiling students who cheer for me and, depending on the teacher who accompanies me, they are quiet and still with almost military precision.

Now if you remember, I am more of an entertainer than a teacher, so my activities must be engaging. One of my favorite lessons so far has been on the topic of “directions”. These directions including “turn left, turn right, go back, go straight.” When I first saw this as a possible topic I was a bit unsure of how to make this entertaining but then I had an idea and armed only with my bandana I taught one of my most successful lessons. I started out the class easily enough; I had the students stand up and “go back, go straight, turn left, turn right.” I would then have a student go to the back of the room and have the class tell him how to come to me at the front of the class. The students enjoyed this as well, watching their fellow peers who are utterly confused at the directions being shouted at them, all the while bumbling about the classroom much like a pinball does in a pinball machine. Yes, students were eager to volunteer for this seemingly harmless, but fun activity, but their excitement grew immensely when I pulled out… the bandanna. You see, I kept the bandanna hidden from the students until I had established that my class had an understanding the day’s terms. I would then pick a student who would come up to the front of the class and from my back pocket I would pull out the blindfold. This in itself caused an uproar of laughter but not as much as the events that would ensue.

Now I’m sure you can imagine some of the things that can happen when someone is blindfolded and asked to navigate about a crowded classroom, but throw in the fact that these children also have to do so with directions in a foreign language and you have created quite the comical scene (so hysterical and loud that teachers from other rooms would come up to me after class and say “oh, you taught directions today”). I have had multiple students trip and fall (which, for the students his hilarious, but for a teacher…well I laughed too), I have hidden behind a door and had two students hit their heads on the corner of that door (again, roaring laughter), and I have sent students into the hallway and closed the door on them (although one student amazingly came in the other door still blindfolded). Needless to say the students are sad to see me leave when class is over.

After a successful class such as this I am then escorted back to my office by students who repeat the above mentioned actions, however, if I am unfortunate situation arises and the office happens to be locked the mob forms. Now, let me assure you, I am making no exaggeration when I use the word “mob.” I have been surrounded by as many as fifteen students at once, all the while being tugged and smacked where no sane human wants to be smacked, waiting desperately for a teacher to appear to save me (and my clothes) from the dismemberment that would no doubt ensue if not for her arrival. When they do I dash for cover in the office but if that door is left cracked, believe me, students will be there peaking in smiling, waving, and saying hello until they are told to leave.

Xiannzai (which means now, but I noticed I have used it to start half of my paragraphs already), I do my best to not use the restroom while teaching because of two things: massive amounts of urine and gawking students. The former is quite a problem and I do not understand why. Women, you all know very well that men have problems with…shall we say…aiming, but one would think this would not be an issue with trough-style toilets, but somehow it is. While this is a frustrating issue (and why my shoes come off immediately upon entering my apartment) the main reason I avoid the restroom is this this: no doors on the stalls. When you walk into the restroom, or should I say wade into the restroom, you can see someone staring up at you, fully exposed while taking a number two, all the while smiling at you and saying “hello” because you are a foreigner. I go to these stalls only partake in number ones so my back remains facing the students, but even this does not stop the curious from peering over the stalls (I assume to see if “it” looks the same) or from trying to squeeze in to join me, all the while saying “hello, what is your name?”

As you can tell, teaching in China is quite different from teaching in the United States; what constitutes an everyday occurrence for me would constitute sexual harassment and expulsion in the United States. Things are different here and school is no exception. Students are corporally punished (often times with sticks) but that has to be expected when students are in school for seven days a week (although I am told five is the norm elsewhere) from 7AM to 7PM for kindergartners (who are as young as three) and 8:30PM for the older students. Yes, things are quite different and part of me (all of me actually) feels pity for these students who are missing out on being a child. For them things are much more serious – getting into university is something like a 1:1000 chance for a child from the countryside and education is of the utmost importance. So I suppose the constant tugging of my clothes, smacking of my unmentionables, and my sometimes feeling like a zoo animal is worth it, if for those short forty minutes I have each week, I can take these students away from the stresses of their everyday lives and let them feel like…kids.


1 Comment so far
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An honest, and beautiful, post

Comment by Sarah

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