Wednesday, Day 6

Trip Start Mar 14, 2008
Trip End Mar 31, 2008

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

We woke up late today, so breakfast and getting ready was a rush. We were late to school, although the classes hadn't started just yet.

Before class had begun, some students stood at the front of the room and conducted everybody as they read from their text. From there, the Chinese national anthem was played over the speaker, and everybody was saluting the front of the classroom. Our maths class was the first again. I found it amazing, the sums that they could do in their head, at their age. But they have to be smart. Soon, they have exams for the middle school, and it's important to do well. English class was next, and it focused on 'we should...' and 'we shouldn't...'. students stood up and said sentences like; 'we should clean our teeth every day' and 'we shouldn't drink too much pop (soft drink)'. It was quite cute. English class is where we are most popular, with the polite Chinese always saying 'excuse me, but is this correct?'.

We had morning exercise, which was again difficult for us novices to keep up. At the end of a certain song, they are meant to scream for effect, but as our friends explained, by year 6, it is no longer cool.

It's funny with all the differences between the schools, some things are the same! We had Chinese class where we did poetry and then computer class. In computer class, all the students had to wear shoe covers, much like what surgeons wear in theatre, as the teacher wanted the room to be kept clean, even though it was tiled. Computer class was meant to be 'learning about how to use the internet.' In reality it was whatever you want on the internet. This resulted in many people playing games and slowing down the system. The system was already pretty clogged with 40 people on the internet at once, with another class next door doing the same thing. The kids told me that they usually just play games in computer class. Computer class was the last class before lunch. We ate lunch again in the staffroom where we ate and mucked around. Laura amazingly found an earring I had lost yesterday when she was demonstrating her newfound aerobic skills. Mum told us about her classes that she has taught. She has taught 2 classes today with the story 'We're Going on a Bear Hunt' with the cute jingle. The kids were smart, and caught onto the rhyme quickly. They then asked questions. They were amazed that she had 4 kids, and they wanted to know her age. Mum thinks that they liked the lesson, if not a bit bizarre with her dramatic facial expressions to go with the story. She has come to the conclusion teaching a language is hard - maths is much easier. Lunch was over in an hour, but there was still 15 mins worth of announcements. After lunch, we had free homework time, where people were in groups, working things out. In between this and the next period, there were facial exercises. We do these exercises at the same time everyday. I'm not sure what the point of it is, but I found it relaxing. You 'wash your face without wetting it' (someone clarified that for me) and massaged your cheeks, eyes and neck.

The last period was homework time, and cleaning the classroom. Everyone helps to clean the classroom. All desks are moved to one side of the class. Some lucky students get to sweep and mop the floor. Then, one row at at time, the desks are moved to the other side of the class. The floor is swept and mopped again. Then the desks are moved back into their original rows. It was quite the delicate but well organised and practiced operation.

School finished early today, at 3:30, so the teachers could have a meeting. The centrepoint of this meeting, however, was mum. The teachers jotted down notes as she explained how she teaches, disciplines kids and praises them in Australia. Laura, Hayley, Elyse and I stayed in an office whilst this was going on. We could see, from where we were, that for many, classes were still going for those who did extra-curricular activities. It was fascinating to watch their own assembly, all lined up in rows before they began.
We went home in taxis, and decided to go out for dinner. We went to this little chinese restaurant, set-up similarly to McDonalds. They giggled at us as we came in, and ordered for us. We must have looked so lost. Dinner wasn't too bad, but it was quite spicy and the soup was lukewarm.
The department store was near, so we went there after dinner. It's set up kind of like an upmarket market, with no walls or anything separating the shops.
We walked backed to the hotel and went straight to bed.

The boys will be here tomorrow but after an all night flight we might avoid them for a while .
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