October 7, 2006

This has been a very busy week of teaching, despite the celebration of the Chinese National Day (7-day holiday from October 1st to October 8th to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.  On Friday evening after class I was invited to celebrate Mid-Autumn Day in the Campus Park with music, singing, and eating of lot’s of fruit and moon cakes (see http://www.chinavoc.com/festivals/Midautumn.htm). It got pretty late before I got back to the apartment.

On Saturday evening I was asked to be one of three judges for an English speech contest organized by the Student Council.  There were 50 students who had to give a 2-minute speech titled “Beauty Is Only Skin Deep” and we had to judge them on their pronunciation, content, grammar, presentation style and timing. Sharon from my Friday evening class won first place with a score of 8.3 out of 10 points.  After the contest I was asked to close out the evening by addressing the students to give them constructive feedback, tips and encouragement for future speech contests.

I was told this week that I will have 2 more classes beginning next week, one on Tuesday evening from 7-9 PM and another one, Wednesday evening same time. I will be teaching oral English to 22 Chinese Teachers. First they told us that all three English teachers would rotate each week but then I was told that I was selected to be the only one for this assignment.  I yet have to find out why Romeo and Jenny were cut from the rotation. I also got my first paycheck this week and they paid me for the whole month of September despite arriving mid month.  For the last 2 days I had no access to the Internet, E-mail or Skype as the English network server was down. It finally came back on late this afternoon, albeit very slow and I hope it will last for a while.

After eating for the last 3 weeks every day the same type of meals in the Cafeteria upstairs reserved for Teachers and Administrative staff personnel I discovered this week that on the lower level where the Students eat they can order various dishes which are cook for them on the spot. One of my students translated several pages of different food dishes from Chinese into English and now I can order some of the more delicious/spicy foods. I don’t think I will go back upstairs unless I decide to take my food up there to have more of a quite time. On the other hand, I enjoy sitting and mingling with the student crowd and get to know them.  Needless to say, I am a novelty and they all want to sit with me even if they are not in my classes.

James, the student I had dinner with last week came this week several times unannounced to my apartment. He seemed depressed and told me that he had some mental problems.  He shared with me that he is very hyper–active at times, and then a few hours later very depressed and suicidal.  He has lots of difficulties concentrating on tasks and quite often sleepless nights. I suspect he is bipolar. When I asked him if he had seen a doctor he laughed and said there was no one available to help him on campus.  I suggested that he should consult a specialist in the city that could prescribe some medication to keep his mood swings in control.  I really felt sorry for him.  He seems to be a very smart guy, far away from home with incredible learning pressure and no one seems to care.  I am planning to talk with someone next week to explore what options are available to help him and other young man that might have similar medical problems.

Until next week…



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