Summer school, math classes and a leg of lamb.

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

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Flag of China  , Tianjin,
Monday, July 16, 2012

So it has been a rather busy week or so since our last entry though a not so busy week at the same time.

In our last posts we talked about the looming Summer Camp that begun last week. The kids come in at 8am and have class all day, with a nap at about 12pm for the little ones. As foreign teachers we only teach the last class of the day at 3.30pm after the kids have woken up.
When we get in to work on these days its really cool as the kids get genuinely excited to see you and you are greeted by "Laoshi Evan!" and "Laoshi Steph!".  Laoshi [Lou-shiir] means old master/teacher in Chinese and is what all the kids call us. It's very cute and nice to know that at least some of them like you!

The Summer Camp classes are interesting.  There are 3 classes running at AoCheng, two classes of the youngest programme and one for the older kids.  One class is very young, with the kids being about 4 years old.  The next has kids from the age of 4-6, and the oldest class has a range from 6-10/11.  I (Steph) have taught the two younger classes and they have been pretty good.  The older of the two classes though has some very naughty kids.  Its like their parents cannot bear to have them at home during the summer holidays so they send them to us to relieve them! In their normal classes they are a problem, but as one child among many good kids they can be contained.  However, summer school combines different classes and the naughty kids from each feed off each other.  I felt like I spend the whole of one of my lessons saying "sit down", "bye bye stars", and "3,2,1..".  Not very relaxing.  I felt extra sorry for the TAs though, they had had the kids all day and were nursing headaches by the end! 
The other class I had was good though, the kids were still waking up after their naps when they got to class and half were all sleepy and the rest had an abundance of energy.  An interesting combination to teach, but it seemed to work out OK.  We just sang lots of songs, coloured pictures and played flashcard games.  Pretty cute really.  This week I have another two classes, hopefully I will just get the younger ones, but I don't think I'll be that lucky!

Instead of having summer camp I (Evan) have my oldest math class an extra two times during the week. It has been going OK but I feel a bit sorry for them being cooped up in class all day and basically segregated away from the rest of the kids (Our school is split between two floors and my class are the only ones downstairs while the rest of Summer Camp happens upstairs.). I have started to give them English Idioms and Sayings as warm ups for the class. I started with "Its raining cats and dogs" and think I will try to give them some more "Kiwi" flavoured idioms in the next few weeks.
The classes have gone well and as a treat I decided to do a Science lesson for them on Saturday instead of our scheduled Maths class. We did CSI (that's right! Crime Scene Investigation!) It was all about how cops catch robbers - footprints, handwriting and fingerprints. We played a detective game where I sent one kid out of the class and changed something then they had to come back in and guess what had been changed. The kids loved it and when I let them make the changes for their classmates they gave each other really hard to spot changes, good fun. They did one for me at the end and thought it was the best thing when I couldn't find the last change they had made.

The other night we went out to a "Barbarian" restaurant where you can buy a whole leg of lamb and have it roasting in front of you at your table. They bring out a lightly roasted leg of lamb and put it on a skewer in the middle of the table. They then put a tray of red hot coals under the lamb and give you a set of carving knifes and forks - see pics! - and you can go to town. It was such a cool way to eat - though would be better in winter when the heat from the coals would be a bit more appreciated than the 30deg heat we have at the moment. We split the leg between six of us and it was a really great chilled out way to enjoy an evening after work. The former vegetarian in me (Steph obviously!) found it a little uncomfortable when they placed the leg on the skewer in front of me.  The little hoof was facing me, allowing no ignorance about what I was eating.  If there had been eyes on the hoof they would have stared accusingly (I know its a leg- it just how I felt!!).  The taste was great though, and it was a very enjoyable way to eat lamb.  In China (at least in the North), lamb is eaten "Barbarian/Muslim" style, with pots of chilli and a spice mix that you mix together and then dip the cooked lamb in.  It is absolutely delicious, and I am going to go on a mission and find out what the spices are before we leave.  Check out the pics for more info!

Tonight we are off to visit the night market in Tianjin.  Hopefully we can find some interesting things there (I'm sure we will- just walking down the street can be interesting) and some good food, It's well past my dinnertime!

Be sure to check out the photos too as they have some little anecdotes in the description sections that we haven't included here.

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Natalie on

Don't worry Steph I would find it hard eating a leg with a hoof on it too! You did well!

Gramz on

I'm glad I'm mostly vegetarian - a leg like that would be a real put off!!! xx

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