We made it to 1 month!

Trip Start May 05, 2012
Trip End Mar 01, 2013

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Flag of China  , Tianjin Shi,
Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Four weeks have passed since we first arrived in Tianjin! The time has just flown by- 6 months will be up in no time!

We haven't been able to do much exploring this week, we have been staying at home recovering from colds and in my case (Steph) a tummy bug.  However we have been well enough to still go to work and our Chinese classes.

Our Chinese is going well, we are still learning lots of new vocabulary and structures each day though, and it is hard to remember all of it!  It is fun knowing that we can now construct more and more complex sentences with the vocab we have, even if we are still limited in what we can talk about. 

Teaching has been good this week.  We are at the stage now that we know the children a bit better and are more comfortable with the structure and what is going to work in the lessons.  The kids however have also become comfortable with us, which means they are willing to test you a bit more to see what they can get away with.  In my Beeno class (the youngest kids I teach, aged 4,5,6) on Sunday night I got to experience this.  Because of the rain only 7 kids turned up (out of 11) and unfortunately all of the trouble makers in the class were present! One kid thought it was hilarious to stick his face into his chair and pretend to say the answer with his bum- which of course the kids thought was hilarious too- not so funny though when I told him I would only talk to his face and if he did it again he would loose a star (which meant no sticker at the end of class - he learnt the hard way that I meant it).  Its amazing the power that stickers have over children! 

Thinking these kids needed to burn off some energy I designed a flash card game to get them all moving.  We were learning the letter 'W', so I stuck flash cards up in the found corners of the room (Water, Wet, Window and Worm).  I then got them to put their hands on their heads (so they couldn't push each other) and then run, skip, hop or jump to the flashcard that I called.  They loved it.  However, I tried to change it up at bit by getting them to put their fingers on their noses, mouths and ears.  The first two worked well, but putting your fingers on/in your ears was taken as licence to scream and yell (it didn't hurt their ears!).  I won't be trying that one again!

My oldest class is a maths class of 10 year olds.  Every four weeks we get to do a science class.  My first two classes with them were sciences classes which were quite interesting- this week however I was teaching them subtraction with 3 numbers.  For example: 376-218.  I started the class off by playing Black or White by Michael Jackson, a song they had all heard but didn't understand and got them to talk about the words and what they meant- eg black and white refers to skin colour, and what does baby mean in this context?- which they all seem to enjoy, and then got stuck into the maths. 
I must admit that I had to relearn how to subtract larger numbers.  Isn't that terrible?? Once I reviewed it I could do it easily, and luckily the kids all knew how to do it and were very good at it so I didn't have to teach it, just ask the questions. 
I haven't done any maths without a calculator since probably fourth form- These kids (and my TA) were super fast- I'll probably end up learning a lot more maths while I'm here! 

This class is way too cool for the normal games that I would play with younger kids and are not bribed by stickers so it can be a bit hard to get them motivated.  However I found the key in that class- competition.  I divided the class into two teams.  On the interactive whiteboard I had 12 subtractions covered by different coloured squares.  Each person, alternating between teams, got to throw a sticky ball at the whiteboard and what ever square it landed on was the question they answered.  The first team to put the correct answer on the board got one point. 
I have never seen the class concentrate so hard!  They loved it.  It got a bit intense for the final question and in the end one team won by one point.  The kids hate to loose and the loosing team was very disappointed.  I might have to give them a lecture on good sportsmanship!  I think I will try and make some games like this for their classes each week, it was really good to see them really get into the class. 

I also got my very own class this week (meaning that I am the first teacher for the class and begin from the start of the syllabus).  My class is a Yippee Blue, which means that the students have completed the Yippee Red and Green programs, or that they are at a level to be able to do Yippee Blue.  The students are all 5 or 6 years old, and the ones that turned up to the opening ceremony at least are super cute! - Only 4 of the 8 enrolled turned up.  The opening ceremony is fun.  We play some games, go through the rules of the classroom and play some more games.  The kids then take a break and then come back with their parents and get dressed in little academic gowns and caps while we give them their books and backpacks.  We then had a tonne of photos taken of me with each kid, and then a class photo.  I'll try and find the pics my TA took and put them up, a very cute ceremony!  

In the week just been I [Evan] had a PCA (the classes where the parents turn up and we just play games) where none of the parents turned up. It was great! The kids were eager to learn and the games went well. In this class I have one little girl who has been so shy that she never raises her hand to join in activities and barely mutters a word when I ask her a question one on one. However this particular day she decided to come out of her shell and get involved. I thought this was great and so at the first break time I decided to encourage this further by giving her and her friend a ball to play with. What a mistake! The shy quite child suddenly disappeared  replaced instead with squealing sprinting maddness. The two girls started tearing up and down the class chasing after this ball and of course the other kids joined in thinking it looked like a great game! The TA was horrified and so was I when they started trying to rip the ball from each others hands. We got it back but the running and squealing kept going (which in all fairness is OK as it was happy noises and better to let them burn their extra energy in the breaks - ). Five minutes later when I go to call them all back to their seats one girl refuses to sit down as there is a small puddle of vomit on the floor and her  mate standing rather dazed and confused next to it.
We got it cleaned up but I will admit I had to stop myself form laughing. I remember quite clearly when we were little and Mum or Grandma telling us not to get to excited after having a meal as we would throw up. I never thought it might happen but there you go!

On Sunday I [Evan] had a large gap between classes and so decided to take a walk up to the Tianjin Water Park. Its about a 20min walk up the road from where we work but it is actually really lovely. I took some photos on my phone but please forgive me if they don't turn out the best. It is like a large park in NZ but with a massive man-made lake and a network of man-made islands to match. There were lots of people out enjoying the sunshine and heat of the day and lots of people boating  on the water. You wouldn't want to do much more than sail as the water is a dark brown and even the ducks seemed happier out of it. It was nice to enjoy a bit of "nature" in the centre of such an imposing city. I managed to get back to the school just in time as not long after I got back a massive thunder storm rolled in and the heavens opened. My last class of the day was even cancelled as the parents decided they did not want to brave the rain to get to class!

The weather is back to its usual now (eg. stinking hot) and we are both recovered from our unhealthy week.  Hopefully we can do some more this week (although we are out of water again so will have to waste some time waiting for a water delivery!), and can get all of our bills paid.  Paying for our phone and internet is bound to be an adventure, hopefully our Chinese is good enough to get us through with lots of supplementary hand gestures!

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Gramz on

Love it...well done guys. Glad you're feeling better. It certainly doesn't seem a month since you left. xx

Debbie on

Hmmm...not sure that I would be much good subtracting big numbers without a calculator either, so you have my sympathy Steph!
And thank goodness it was ONLY vomit Evan - could have been worse..
I love the English translations - makes reading the signs inot a bit of a guessing game.
Hope you are both able to get out and explore a bit soon, really enjoy your updates. xox

Mike and lou on

Happy birthday Steph! Hope you are both feeling fully recovered so you can enjoy your day Tianjin style.what address can we send a parcel to? Let us know any kiwiana you are missing and we can send you a little bit of home to add to your adventure. Much love from us xx

Jenny on

Happy Birthday Steph, this will be one to remember. Glad you're feeling better xx

Daniel G on

Happy Birthday! Hope you have an amazing day and enjoy yourself over their! Good to see you guys are having fun!

Debbie on

Happy Birthday Steph! This will be a memorable one for sure. xox

Daniel Cruden on

Happy Steph's birthday, guys! Hope you're both feeling better by now.

Vanessa on

Happy Birthday Steph!!!! Glad to hear its going well!!! Hope you have a spectacular birthday!! Miss you!!!! xoxox

Caitlin on

Happy Birthday beautiful girl!!! miss you heaps, keep having lots of fun xxx

Sarah D on

Happy Birthday Steph!!! Hope you are feeling better and got to celebrate :) xoxo

carol on

You have some beautiful pictures. Its amazing that in such a big bustling city that there are beautiful places to find, Well done

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