Another Friday night arrives!

Trip Start Aug 22, 2010
Trip End Jul 01, 2011

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Flag of China  , Jiangsu,
Friday, September 10, 2010

Hello from Suzhou.  Friday  night has arrived and I have some school pictures as promised.  The first shot is in my classroom during Math12.  You can see a few bits of the Yukon I've put up on the walls, out of the picture on the right are more pictures from a Vancouver Island calendar.  I also took a video during one of the two daily interruptions over the P.A. system - for the Chinese high school students' (some 3000 of them at Mudu) eye exercise routine.  Mudu is a key school in the region.  Their senior students work incredibly hard preparing for the Gao Kow (haven't seen it written yet?) senior exams that determine which tier of University you qualify for.  They are literally scheduled and studying from 7 am till midnight.  The school is a regional write location for these exams in June and all other students (mine included, and me) are not allowed on campus when these exams take place. 
The grounds are very green which is lovely.  The classrooms all open to the outdoors - the corridors are all outside and exterior stairwells. I've avoided taking pictures of the grittier realities.  I've cleaned my classroom a bit, but am trying to be one with the local environment.  There is almost no custodial staff at the school - and there's a lot of people sharing this space!  The girls bathroom has had 1" of water on the floor all week.  I've managed to hold on until I can cross over to the teachers' office building, there is both a 'squatty potty' there as we call them, and one western sitter:-) Who knew a toilet could look so good? The BC teachers' office is across a road from the classrooms building.  I share an office with 8 others - I've included a few pics that include my desk.  In one shot you'll see me with the Chinese teacher I've been partnered with - for the sake of inquiries/concerns/translating on school issues - Vivian.  I also have 2 different Chinese teachers who attend most of my classes - there to assist students - although so far they sit at the back and observe (?). Vivian doesn't come to my classes, just Jenny for the grade 11's and Ronnie for grade 12's.  Jenny's english is fairly strong, Ronnie... not so much.  I've heard him speak perhaps 12 words of english so far!  I'm to keep Jenny, Ronnie and Vivian in the loop with any concerns I have about students - attendance, attention, performance etc.  I felt sorry for the students who failed my first quiz this week - and I definitely felt like I was ratting them out - as I watched Jenny organize lists of names after looking at my scores. I start teaching at 7:30 and finish at 3:30, but then the Chinese teachers take over for study hall - they have an incredibly long day (study halls go till 8:15, with a dinner break, and seniors go till 9:15) and they are making a fraction of what the BC teachers are making. 
John has just announced dinner is ready:-) Aren't I lucky! More again soon, love from Suzhou. 
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Margaret Cooling on

I am thrilled with your information about your class hours and the work the students do - I think this is the problem in America. Good to see the maple leaf in your classroom - I will share your stories with Susie (grade 12 math teacher at Punahou)

dawn Meredith on

Hey Kate and John
Great to see and hear from you.
We are back in Victoria and if I can figure this out will send some pics too.
Love to you both
Dawn and Bob

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