Archive for March, 2007
When you walk down the main street in Baijiao there is one shop where lots of large chickens peck at the ground. They aren’t the only chickens I see; lots of people seem to keep chickens. Lots of people have dogs and cats too. The chickens, cats, and dogs all ignore each other. No barking, no hissing, no buck, buck, buck. I know any dog or cat I ever owned would have been after those chickens so fast it wouldn’t have been funny. Back home on Bridle Lane dogs chase cats, cats fight with each other, and chicken don’t cross the road.
I grew up in New Bedford, which at the time was the 5th largest city in Massachusetts. Now it’s 7th. There were 800 kids in my high school graduating class. The only chickens I saw were in Buttonwood Park, one street away from ours. Or they were wrapped in clear plastic in the super market. Nothing in-between. Perhaps at a kosher butcher one might have seen live chickens; but not at the Stop & Shop or the BPM where we shopped. Here you can point to one walking around at the wet market and, don’t look, but here it is ready to be plucked and cooked. Maybe one day I’ll point, but I still can’t comfortably connect the live chicken I have met with one I eat.
Yesterday morning I took a long roundabout way (like this post) to a local market. On my way home I watched a chicken cross the road. Then several others followed. I found it fascinating so stood and watched the parade even though I had a pretty heavy pack filled with large boxes of milk, beer, crackers, cauliflower, my purse, and camera. Then the cat came across the road too. And the dog walked over… And they all just stood around. A few of the little chickens pretended to peck at each other, but even that didn’t get out of hand. One big old chicken or rooster, I really can’t tell, presided over the whole scene. Finally some men walked over to watch me, and one tried to make the animals pose more, but they generally ignored him and me too for that matter. I took more photos and then motioned for kind man to be in the picture. He shyly agreed. But he knew the animals were my real interest so picked up the one bird sitting in the little truck ignoring all of us and made it pose with him. The first big chicken/rooster had refused that honor.
So I don’t know if that’s why the chickens crossed the road, but now you know why I did.
And to totally change the subject. The little green truck is an example of the little taxis you can take around Baijiao. We have used them several times so some of the drivers know us and take us right to the yard.
And to change it further, Baijiao is part of Doumen. Doumen is part of Zhuhai. Zhuhai is an SEZ, Special Economic Zone. We were in Zhuhai yesterday afternoon to shop. It is like other large modern cities. No chickens or animals running around. No little green trucks. Even motorcycle taxis are banned. I just don’t want you to think that all of China looks like Baijiao or JingAn. Randal and I have been to Beijing, Chongqing, and Shanghai. I found Shanghai as fascinating and diverse as Boston. And it’s skyline seems somewhere in the next century. Unfortunately I didn’t have my digital camera when we were in any of these 3 major cities so can’t show you, but any Internet search will. Our part of China here is just a tiny part. We hope to explore more one day. My guess is that some of you will get there before we do.
No Comments »
Things are winding up and winding down. We are getting ready for our visit to Virginia on April 10th. And DoraMac is getting closer to completion.
Yesterday afternoon I went for a walk with no real purpose. I thought I would walk to a more distant grocery store for the exercise and to find Randal a new "whiskey" glass. He had broken the one we had and that one we had innocently stolen from the hotel when we had packed. Really, we had so much stuff in our room and we had used the glass for so long, it seemed as if it were ours. But I had scoured the markets for a similar glass and no luck. We have taller cute glasses with lovely curved shapes not right for whiskey on the rocks. So anyway, I did actually find a whiskey glass so bought 2. I also bought some diet coke and beer. In the wet market in back of the grocery store I bought some cauliflower. I had already bought 2 additional glasses earlier at a small stall because they were almost whiskey glasses. All of this went into my backpack which weighed a ton. Before I had left home I was asked, "How will you get enough exercise?" Ha!!!! The day before I had gone walking across the river. I was looking for something similar to butter. No luck and after window shopping for a few hours I returned across the river and stopped to buy some cooking oil. I had seen some peanut oil at a stand and bought a small bottle. I thought Randal wanted more corn oil so stopped to buy some too. The market only had 5 gallon jugs so I bought it an lugged that home too. I think I had some diet coke in my pack because I always buy diet coke when I go out. I had a few other supplies to, now that I think of it. I was pretty tired when I got back. Shortly after I had unpacked my pack Randal asked if I wanted to go across the river to get some things he needed. I did but returned earlier than he. That’s when I saw the skate boarders. So, no, exercise is not a problem.
On my walk yesterday in Baijiao I saw lots of school kids returning to the afternoon session. Like kids everywhere they were stopping along the way to buy junk food. I watched some kids to see what they would select and I have the photo but no idea what it is. I will have to go back and buy some to see.
No Comments »
I was walking home from JingAn along the Yellow Ocean River walk and saw a group of western looking guys skat boarding in the park plaza. I went to watch. They were working for a skate board company in San Diego and were filming the Asian portion of the commercial. They had been to several major cities in China and now were here. They were busy so we didn’t chat long. I don’t know why they were in Jingan. They had been in Zhuhai, an understandable choice. Weather here is better than in northern China in March so that’s probably why they are in the area. Here are some photos. Can you guess why I called it comic relief? Or maybe I should have called it "filming shorts."
No Comments »
Here are some photos from the boat.
BoBo came with her mom and dad and it was her home that I visited.
Zoey walked to the boat with us and then her mom, dad, sister and brother drove over after the younger kids were finished with school.
BoBo and Zoey have been having exams. After morning exams they had come home and would return to school the next day. That’s why they were free.
The parents don’t speak English but are glad for the chance their daughters have to speak with us. It was a pleasure to meet them.
No Comments »
Yesterday Randal and I met BoBo and Zoey’s parents and Zoey’s younger sister and brother. I visited BoBo’s home and then everyone came to the boat for boat tours, photos, and dinner. Meeting the girls’ families it was easy to see why they are such great young women.
I met BoBo and Zoey in the walking mall in JingAn and we walked to BoBo’s home to meet her parents and take photos.
On the way to the ferry to return to the boat we all stopped at the wet market and BoBo’s parents got some vegetables and things for the soup her mom would make and I bought some chicken and duck to go with the noodles that Randal would make.
Then it was quite a comical contest as BoBo’s mom and I "fought" to pay for the ferry tickets. Unfortunately she won. We stopped at a supermarket in Baijiao for beer and soda and then we piled into 2 green 3 wheeled "cabs" and paraded to the yard. Randal gave boat tours and we took photos and then BoBo’s mom and Randal started to cook.
Soon Zoey’s parents and sister and brother arrived and there were more photos taken and then it was time for dinner. We took out every plate and bowl we had and everyone made do. Luckily we do have lots of chopsticks. I don’t think anyone in China had ever tasted Chef Prodhome spices before! Lots of food was eaten and then more photos were taken. Randal and BoBo’s mom did most of the dishes. I asked BoBo to tell her mom that we don’t usually invite people to dinner and have them cook and clean up. Though, when we eat with our closest friends in the U.S. that’s exactly what happens. Everyone just made themselves at home on the boat, a very great compliment.
There are more photos in the next post.
No Comments »
Yesterday I was the teacher for a 1st grade class English class at Dong He Primary School in Baijiao. During that one hour class I found "speaking English" and "teaching English" only have the word English in common. I made an heroic effort and I think I actually "taught" for about 10 or 15 minutes. The teachers of English invited me back to "teach" a 5th grade so I guess they saw some value in my performance. Why I was teaching is a longer story that needs fact checking so will come later. For now, I’ll just share what happened during my hour performance and the photos.
I truly only had a few hours the evening before the class to make up anything to do. During my 26 years at the Roanoke County Public Library I worked with the children who had graduated from the children’s room staff and materials. And it had been years and years since I had cataloged the children’s materials. So I am really not at all familiar with their interests or abilities. The class was to be at 10:30 in the morning. I got up really early that day and was waiting with my computer when Bill arrived to open the Seahorse office. I hooked up the computer to see if I could find anything on the English as a Second Language sites to help me. I also thought I would talk to the kids about baseball since I do have my Red Sox hat and shirt as props. But I really didn’t have much luck in the short amount of time. So instead I made up a game which was ultimately called, "Who has my hat?" We had thought about playing Duck Duck Goose, but in a crowded room I thought that not the best idea. Besides all they would learn would be 2 English words, duck and goose. Baseball is better? Anyway here is how the game worked. I would give my hat to the kid in the first seat in the first row. There were enough seats and rows for 60 kids! I would turn my back to them and they would sing a song as they passed the hat. When the singing ended I would turn around and try to find my hat. I would go to a child and say, "My name is Ru, do you have my hat?" The child would answer, "My name is….. Sorry, I don’t have your hat." If the child did have the hat they would say, "My name is …. Yes, I have your hat." The next round I took the child with me and the child asked the questions. I had lots of help from the 5th grade English teacher and the 1st grade English teacher. We played 3 rounds and then I was asked to lead another game! I said I don’t have another game!! I would teach them a song. Well you can guess what I tried to teach. Take Me Out to the Ballgame. Not a good choice at all; too many words. Too many meaningless words since they don’t know what baseball is even with the picture I had brought. So we switched to "Row Row Row Your Boat." I should have done Old MacDonald but didn’t think of it till just now. I did think to teach them words that rhyme with hat. I drew a cat, bat, fat person, sat (person on a chair and acted it out) and mat (which actually was the real stumper.) I thought they did quite well reading them back to me! The Internet was hooked up and I could show them a picture of the boat and tell them that I lived on a boat, ate on the boat, and slept on the boat. The 5th grade teacher translated. Thankfully the hour finally ended and I almost forgot to hand out the snacks I had bought as the kids left the room. Some had, but came back and got in line again. They all said "Thank You" and I said "You’re Welcome." My reward? The teachers asked me back for the 5th grade, took me out for a wonderful seafood lunch, and asked to visit the boat this Friday.
Anyone with great ideas for teaching English to 5th graders, EMAIL ME!!!!
No Comments »
Saturday with the “girls!”
As I was leaving the Doumen No. 2 Primary School last Tuesday, my 4th grade girls invited me to meet them on Saturday at the Xia Shan Gong Yuan Park. They would be on the bridge that crosses the lake at 1:30. I asked if it was a school outing at the park and wasn’t quite sure of the answer. I would try, I said, not knowing myself if I meant it or not. Lillian had to work and I wasn’t sure how things would go with no translator. Saturday was gloomy and threatened rain. I tried to talk Randal into going with me, but he declined. As it turned out, it was a “girls” kind of afternoon.
At noon it still looked gloomy and overcast. I knew the park had a covered area with indoor croquet and other games and guessed the “class” would go there and I could watch or participate. I like croquet. The park is across the river and several blocks from the ferry. I would go early and would buy a bean paste filled bun at the wet market for lunch before going to the park. I was actually quite early so did some window shopping and then headed for the wet market and lunch. By then it was almost 1 o’clock. Apparently everyone had already eaten the bean paste buns and all of the other buns too! I crossed to the bakery hoping for something more lunch like than we usually buy at the bakeries here. I pointed to a roll that looked safe, paid, took it outside and found after one bite that I was having bread with sugared butter for lunch. Oh well, at least I wouldn’t be hungry. I stopped quickly at the stationary store to buy a small notebook for the kids to write their names for me to keep. It was 1:25 and I still needed a pit stop at the “ladies” in the park. I finally arrived at the bridge at 1:30 and saw a small group of kids crossing the bridge and starting up the mountain. I caught up with them, but they weren’t mine. I thought, if I don’t recognize them, surely they will recognize me. Stella had said that bad weather would keep the kids home, parents wouldn’t send their children to a school outing in the rain. I was thinking that it had all been canceled when several girls came running from the park entrance over the bridge to where I was waiting. They were so excited to see me. They had brought me gifts! One was a small notebook so I had them write their names in it and left the one I had bought in my pack. Another gift was a tiny change purse. One gift I was to open later and one is either a “chia” or sponge Christmas tree. I want to open it back in Roanoke so will wait to be surprised.
So there we were in the park. It wasn’t a school outing at all, just some friends meeting for the day. I stood there and smiled and they stood there and smiled. With sign language I motioned that we walk around the park. Two of the girls had bikes but could ride as we walked. They just kept smiling. Then one of the girls, acting as leader suggested going over to the exercise equipment and then shopping. I said sure. Everyone wanted a hand to hold, but alas I only have 2! I did try throughout the afternoon to spread myself around. I could see sad faces on the younger ones who didn’t have a hand to hold. It did seem as if there was a range of ages among the girls. You might be able to see from the photos. The girls with the bikes raced ahead and left their bikes somewhere, maybe home, I didn’t really see where. We “exercised” for a short bit and took lots of photos. The girls appropriated the camera and took really great shots! They all took turns and were careful with it. I was impressed with their ability to share. They all wanted hands, hugs, smiles, and attention. Then the “leader” suggested that we go to the photo booth for the tiny photos kids here love. I thought that a great idea, my treat for them. I had wanted to leave them with some kind of gift and the photos would be perfect. They took me back to the pedestrian mall and down some stairs to an indoor mall area. We were given books of styles to choose frames and back grounds for the photos. I told them to choose, but they insisted I pick too. Luckily I had a helper over my shoulder who approved or not when I would point at one. I picked what she liked. There were a few groups ahead of us so we sat and “talked” and held hands and smiled. I had told them when we had met that I would be with them until 3 pm. But at 2:45 we still hadn’t had our photo shoot. They asked if 4 were possible and I said yes. I also said that we might need ice cream when we were done. It was very warm in that small mall. We had some tiny stools and they made me sit and took turns with the other stools. If someone didn’t have a stool I sat her on my lap. The younger ones loved hanging on and being close. The older ones just wanted me to be with them, I wish I knew why? I’m not being modest or self-effacing; but I am 56 and they are 9, 10, or 11. And away from school the older girls seemed more “teenish” in their “with it” clothes and saucy manner. Not remote or self-centered, as teens can be, but not childish either. Finally it was our turn. Cramming into a tiny area with 9 various sized young girls was an experience. They wanted me in all of the photos. They all took turns among themselves to pose with me and with each other with me. I didn’t have to say a word. If someone had too many turns she was told so and the smaller shyer ones were given chances. I was totally impressed with their unselfish behavior and their generosity with each other. We took 32 different pictures! I asked the shop owner to make copies for everyone hoping I had enough money to pay! I took out a 100 rmb note about $12.50 U.S. and handed it to the shop lady waiting to see if that was enough. I had about 80 more rmb but had also promised ice cream for the girls. The bill for copies for everyone was 64 rmb about $9. With our photos in hand we headed for KFC for ice cream. There are vendors who sell “stick” ice cream which I prefer, especially the corn flavored one. But the girls voted for KFC so we went there. Again I wondered about the cost. But everyone had a small vanilla; total cost 25 rmb about $3.50 U.S. Ordering was a bit chaotic because they thought I would order for all and I thought they would pick their own. They made me order first and then they all picked the same thing; totally polite well brought up children. More photos, and then at 4:30 I said I had to go. I really did have to go by then. They said 5? But I gave each a hug and kiss and tried to explain that I would bring copies of photos from my school visit and this visit to their school they invited me back for next Saturday’s outing! I tried to say I might not be available again. I will see. I wish I could talk with them. I think they are too young to invite back across the river to the boat. I didn’t meet their parents; the girls had come alone to the park. Society here is trusted to protect children. With no ability to check with parents or plan ahead our times together can only be spur of the moment. But I hope to see them again when I bring the photo album to leave with the school.
No Comments »
Lillian Chen and I went to visit the Doumen #2 Primary School on March 13, 2007 to ask them your questions. Here are your questions with the answers. At times, because I don’t speak Chinese, it was not always possible to really discuss the questions or answers, but I tried my best. I spent most of my time with the Asst. Headmaster and with a 4th Grade Class. I did "visit" a 1st grade class for a few minutes before the teacher arrived. I made the children laugh, jump around, make noise, and go crazy! We took lots of photos too.
Brookline Massachusetts Children Ask These Questions
1. How many days during the week do Primary Grade children go to school?
Primary school includes grades 1-6. Children go to school 5 days each week, Monday through Friday.
2. What are the hours of the school day?
Children arrive at school at 8 am. They spend a short time reading and then exercising and then they are fed breakfast. It is believed that parents don’t have enough time in the morning to make a good breakfast for the children and then get them to school so the school feeds all of the children breakfast. I believe that it is free. Morning classes end at 11 am and the children go home for lunch. They return at 2:30 and stay until 5 pm. Each class is about 40 minutes with 10 minutes between classes.
3. Where do the children eat their lunch?
Primary grade children go home for lunch. There will be someone at home to give them their lunch, either a parent or a relative. Or they might go to the home of a relative to eat lunch. Many children stop along the way and buy snacks at the little shops along the street.
4. How do they get to school and how do they get home?
If they live far away they ride by bus. Children who live close by walk, ride bicycles, or are transported on the back of their parent’s bicycle or by motorcycle taxi. Young children walk alone or with friends, or sometimes an adult will walk with them. Teachers help them cross the big street in front of the school.
5. What are the favorite games children like to play?
Children like to play Ping Pong, Jump Rope, Chinese Jump Rope, Tag, Chicken and the Hawk which is a group tag. There is a leader (Chicken) and everyone lines up in back of the leader and holds on to the person in front of them. The Hawk tries to tag someone and everyone runs around in a crazy line attached to the person in front and in back of them. It’s fun! I played this with the children. If you are tagged you have to sing a song for everyone. I sang Take Me Out to the Ball Game! We also played Blind Man’s Bluff. I taught the students how to play Duck Duck Goose. Many boys like to play basketball and soccer. No one plays baseball. No one has even heard of the Red Sox!!!
6. What subjects do they study when they are 6 years old or in grade 1?
Chinese, English, Math, Science, P.E., Health, Art and Music. They have Chinese, English, Math, and Science and P.E. every day. Art, Music and Health on different days. All grades study English.
7. What subjects do they study when they are 7 years old or in grade 2?
The same as grade 1. Chinese, English, Math, Science, P.E., Health, Art and Music. They have Chinese, English, Math, and Science and P.E. every day. Art, Music and Health on different days.
8. What songs do they like to sing? Do they know any songs in English?
They have a song book that they use in Music Class. They also like the "pop" Chinese songs. They don’t know many English songs but did sing Happy Birthday for me. The children seem to like to sing and when they were tagged during our games didn’t mind singing songs as the penalty. We have met many Chinese students of all ages who enjoy singing and Kerokee is very popular in China.
9. Do you have questions you would like to ask the children of The Heath School in Brookline? I will email your questions and then give you the answers.
The Assistant Headmaster wanted to know how the class rooms were arranged. Do the children sit in rows at their desks? There are about 40-60 students per class in the school that I visited. They are building more classrooms, but classes won’t be much smaller.
I also asked these questions.
1. Do children have a library in their school or are there public libraries where children may borrow books and use the internet?
In grade 3 they learn to use computers because there aren’t enough for the younger grades. The teacher will bring books to the class from the school library and children may borrow these to take home. The ones in the library are read in the library. I saw zillions of kids in the children’s section of the book store when I bought books to bring to the school as a gift. I watched what the children were picking and bought those. The Asst. Headmaster was pleased because the School Library didn’t get to buy "fun" books.
2. Do they have to pay to get a library card?
They can use the school library for free and everything else was lost in translation. When I visited the Doumen Public Library there was a 100 rmb (about $12 or $13) deposit and I think the card was 15 rmb per year (about $2.)
3. Do all primary schools have to offer similar subjects and meet certain standards?
Also lost in translation. I don’t feel as if I can push on the state of Chinese Schools. But the Asst. Headmaster did say the classes would be smaller when they had more money and the library would have more books. Like American School Administrators, and Library Administrators they see what could be done if they had more money.
They begin in grade 1 to study English every day. Younger children learn some, but it seemed as if the Asst. Headmaster said it wasn’t required. The 4th grade students certainly put me to shame. They understood much more English than I Chinese. I think one of them will grow up to be President of China and I told them so.
The photos are of the Asst. Headmaster, her son, the school library and some photos around the school
No Comments »
9:10 a m
Bright and Sunny
Darlene has already posted my first story about the Doumen No. 2 Primary School! I was looking at it wondering if I needed to add anything. The photo where I am sitting at the little desk was a First Grade class. You can see how large it was. I will send the "long" email I wrote, but don’t feel compelled to read it. It just offers more details and maybe the photos tell the story better than I do. I will send more photos so you can see the Asst. Headmaster and her son who is also a student at the school. And I will include the questions and answers from the Heath School too.
Visit to the Doumen No. 2 Primary School
Yesterday I met the most wonderful children. I start there because that’s the most important part. And I hope the photos will show the fun we had and the closeness that we shared for the time we were together. I don’t know with words how to explain it. I almost wish that I were their teacher so could see them everyday and really get to know them as people. They all had such personality; each became instantly unique with her own behaviors and expressions. If I had a favorite, I won’t say. I hope each thinks she was my favorite.
My friend Martha Sibert, former Children’s Librarian at the Roanoke County Public Library, adopted a daughter from China. Martha and Jessica live in Brookline, Massachusetts. Jessica goes to the Heath School on Eliot Street. I emailed Martha and asked if Jessica’s class would like to ask me questions about my life in China. I also emailed photos to Martha that might be of interest to children to share with Jess’ class. Well, Jess’ class is now studying China and they did have question for me. They were all about schools in China. (I will include the questions and answers at the end of this post.) To answer their questions I decided to visit a Primary School. Since my visit to the He Feng High School with BoBo and Zoey had been such a positive experience, I had no doubt this would be also. I had received such a warm welcome from the He Feng Headmaster and School Librarians that I didn’t hesitate to plan a visit, even without a specific invitation. I would also take books as a gift to the school as I had done for He Feng. So the Sunday before my visit Randal and I walked to the Big Bookstore across the river so I could buy some books. There were lots of animated kids in the children’s section and it reminded me of my library at home. With the help of the store clerks I picked out some titles, but from watching the children pick their favorites I selected better titles.
I made a plan with Lillian to meet in the Jin Tai Zi Hotel Lobby at 10 am on Tuesday 3/13. I knew the morning session would end about 11 am or 11:30 so wanted to have enough time to see the children in their classes. I had typed out the list of questions, added a map of Massachusetts and one of the U.S. and also a printout from the Heath School of school statistics. Luckily I set out early to meet Lillian because half way across the bridge back to JingAn I realized I’d left the questions on the boat. I raced back to the boat and not wanting to be late, for the second time in 5 months, I took a motorcycle taxi. Lillian was waiting for me and we set out for Doumen #1 Primary School. It was the one closest to the Hotel. When we got there we stopped to ask permission from the "guard" at the gate. Lillian told him my story and that I wanted to give the school library some books. The abrupt answer from the guard was NO! I was truly and amazed, believing that with a little more explanation Lillian would get us past the gate. But no, we were turned away. I was disappointed, and I think Lillian was not happy with the guard’s decision at all. I don’t know if he didn’t want Americans or the books I may have chosen, but I certainly couldn’t make my case. Not to be defeated, Lillian said we would go to another school just down the road further. Truly, the school that was to be our second choice had been my original first choice. I had passed it the day I had gone looking for the water buffalo so was familiar with its location. I did suggest to Lillian that we not mention books till we had gotten inside to improve our chances. But the guard at the Doumen #2 Primary School had no problem with our request and called the School Office to ask if someone, perhaps the Librarian could meet with us. The Librarian wasn’t available so the Assistant Headmaster came to meet us and take us to her office. She made us very welcome. I gave her a copy of the questions to see and then Lillian translated each question to her and the answers back to me. This was definitely another "Rats, I don’t speak Chinese" time. Though the questions were very basic and the answers short and to the point, there was so much we could have discussed about each one. And I believe the Assistant Headmaster was as interested in American schools as I about Chinese schools. I also believe she was shyer about asking. At one point the Headmaster came in, but he didn’t stay very long and just let her continue speaking with me. Soon the Assistant Headmaster’s young son came into the room. It was time for her to take him home for their lunch break. Since I had been interested in the school library we stopped there for a little tour. It was quite small, but available to the students for reading and studying. Books were also located in each classroom for the students to read and take home. I gave my gift and was rewarded when I was told that the students would be happy with the books. They were "fun" books that the school couldn’t afford to buy. The Assistant Headmaster was very frank about the school’s lack of money for books and classroom space. There were 26 classrooms and 40 to 60 students per class. Even with the new rooms that would be available next September, class sizes would not be much smaller. By 11:30 I was truly starting to feel as if I needed to let her go home with her son. The morning session had ended at 11 and she and her son needed to go home, eat lunch, and return to school by 2:30. Though that seems like a long time, it was their time and I didn’t want to take it from them. We took photos, said our good-byes, and let them go. It was another case of feeling a tie that was based on more than this brief meeting. Concern for children, books, and education creates a bond that shortens distances between strangers. Lillian and I were invited to return in the afternoon to see classes and take photos. Lillian’s work shift started at 4 pm, but she kindly offered to return with me in the afternoon to translate and take photos of me with the children.
We returned to the school about 2:15 and immediately created excitement and interest among all of the students. Where the older students at He Feng had been typically indifferent acting teens, questioning BoBo and Zoey only after I had left, the children at the Primary School all took the opportunity to interact with an American. They crowded around for photos. They grabbed my hands and vied to get close, wanting hugs and later good-bye kisses. I couldn’t have been made to feel more special or welcome; these children were open and generous with their feelings.
First I walked into a first grade class and the kids all started to go wild. Then I sat in the front row in an empty seat, Lillian took out the camera, and the kids went even wilder. I thought, "Their teacher will come in and kill me!" It reminded me of the classes I taught in Junior High when I was just out of college; total chaos in a school where chaos was frowned upon. But here, the chaos I created was made part of the plan. It’s why I was able to take over the gym class the Headmaster had planned to teach. Here’s what happened.
Actually, I’m not sure what happened! Lillian and I were walking along in the front of the school and we were suddenly surrounded by several 4th grade classes going to the sports fields. Lillian said that we would go "watch." Well we were there, bunches of kids were there and soon we were surrounded by the bunches of kids. Lillian said something like, "they have some free time." Since the kids were looking at me somewhat expectantly I took them all for a jog around the track. That went well and they were still looking at me so I decided to teach them to play Duck Duck Goose. I asked Lillian to have the girls, it was only the girls for some reason that were brave enough to play with me, make a circle. I told Lillian how the game worked and she explained it to the girls and in no time we were playing. I went first. The girls all could run really fast so I was it longer than I expected. In no time I was hot, sweaty, and getting tired. The girls were hot, sweaty, and ready to play more games. Then the Headmaster arrived at the sports field. I might have been intimidated, but Lillian explained what I was doing and he told me to keep doing it. He would turn over the class to me. How amazing is that when you think about it! A total stranger was allowed to run the class. The girls next taught me to play Chicken and Hawk, a group game of tag. There is a Chicken who is the leader. Everyone lines up behind the Chicken and holds on to the sweater of the girl in front of her. The Hawk tried to tag on of the "chicks" behind the Chicken leader. The Chicken moves to avoid the Hawk and everyone in line follows / is dragged along. If you do get tagged, you have to sing a song. Then you become the Hawk. I got tagged and sang "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," since it’s the only song I know with notes I can reach. Earlier the girls as a group had sung Happy Birthday to me because they had learned the English words. They also sang what sounded like a Chinese version of Frere Jacques. The girls all sang well so though it was the penalty for being tagged, it wasn’t a real penalty. Next we played Blind Man’s Bluff.
All too soon the sports class was over and they had to go to their next class, music. I was invited to join them and would have loved to have gone, but it was 3:30 and Lillian’s work shift began at 4. I was tired too, so it was time for me to go. I still had the walk back to town and back into Jingan center and then over the bridge back to the boat yard. Besides I might have had to sing! The girls said they would all be at the big park on Saturday at 1:30 pm. They all hoped that I would come and meet them on the bridge that crosses the lake. I said that I would try. Lillian has to work, unfortunately. But I will probably go because play is play in any language.
I am going to post lots of photos. And I will include the Heath School Q & A sheet too.
No Comments »
I went off on another school visit. This time it was a Primary School and I had questions from the children at the Heath School in Brookline, MA. My friend Martha’s daughter Jess’ class had the questions. I’ll write up my visit soon and send it. Here are some photos that are my favorite. I spent most of my time leading "recess" for some 4th grade girls. I’m going to let the photos speak for themselves for now. The Headmaster was supposed to lead the class but "kindly" let me do it. I was totally pooped after the 40 minutes, but loved every minute and hated to say good-bye.
No Comments »