March 15, 2005

Trip Start Aug 08, 2004
Trip End Aug 2005

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Wednesday, March 16, 2005

I'm beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, which is very exciting. Halfway through March, which means that I have exactly 4 months remaining until I return home, and really only 3 months left of teaching. Sometimes it seems like nothing, and sometimes it seems like an eternity. Depending on what mood I'm in.

I'm recovering from yet another vicious cold, which was probably brought on by my jogging on the track at 11pm wearing a short sleeved shirt. After 3 days of feeling like death, I finally went to Dr. Qiu for medication. She brought me a gigantic bottle of cough syrup which seemed to do the trick. And the number one ingredient of this miracle cure? Snake bile. I knew something was a bit off with the flavor, but thankfully no one told me until after I had already been taking it for 2 days.

Last week I taught a lesson on pen pals and countries. The students wrote letters to my mother's students in America (also middle schoolers). Here are some of my favorite excerpts. No commentary necessary.

My favorite sport is tennis racket. -Gail

My English name is Chrissy. I am from China. I live in Hunan. I'm a girl. -Chrissy

My favorite foods are hambergar and ice gram. -Stary

My favorite foods are KFC and Japan manage. -Vilk

My favorite subject is hamburg because it is fun. -Ken

In my free time I like to eat ice cream and walk. -Luke

My English name is Violet. I am a lovely girl. -Violet

My favorite sports is play bedminton. -Kiki

Sincerely, Carl. See You. Son of bitch. -Carl (I will comment on this one. I had a really hard time explaining to Carl why this was an inappropriate phrase).

In my free time I like to computer room. -Cater

In my free time I like to Paris and Tokyo. -Barry

My favorite color is blue. -Eileen Green

My favorite subject is oral English because my oral English teacher very beautiful.

Sincerely, Zhao Na (genius) -Eve

In my free time I like to double puick. -Jackson

In my free time I like read book and going soping. -Sophie

Some of these are funny, although somewhat appalling. After all, I am their English teacher...I did feel better though, after attending our mid-year WorldTeach conference last weekend in Changsha and hearing what other people are going through. At least my students aren't lighting their desks on fire or locking other kids in broom closets. They beat each other up in between class, but that seems to be standard throughout all Chinese schools. One boy will be ramming another boy's head into the wall and five Chinese teachers will walk by and smile indulgently. Oh, those naughty students.

I just got back from dinner with Dr. Qiu's family-her husband's sister's family, to be exact. My new Chinese teacher is an 8 year old (Dr. Qiu's niece), which seems appropriate enough given that my Chinese skills are comparable to that of a toddler's. She is also teaching me calligraphy, which makes me feel just great. It's not good for the self esteem, watching an 8 year old paint a flawless character and then trying (very very unsuccessfully) to recreate it. It was bad enough when my teacher was an 80 year old man with arthritis and cataracts.

For now, I'll just keep plugging along and praying for warm weather. I have an end date now: July 18th. Not that I'm counting down or anything...
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