And some short stories
26.03.2012 - 08.04.2012 25 °C
Our cute neighbour 'Ai yi' and her mother- she's getting so big! & Teachers kids playing outside our building
Roger and Will have started coaching a school football team
This is one of those random blog entries, with a few stories and a few pictures I'd like to remember.
First, Roger and I were very surprised the other day when we called our friend at 5:15 to see where he was, and he said 'Oh I will be a little bit late... I just got married'. They ran off between classes to go get married! Neither of them seemed particularly excited when they returned. They went to go sign the papers and get their photos at the police station. They will have an engagement party with their friends at a later date, and then have the wedding ceremony after that in the next year or so. Things work a little different here. We're always shocked at how quickly things happen!
I've had some frustrating moments with dealing with Chinese culture. For example, during group work in my class, I noticed one boy crying. After class I asked what was wrong and he pointed to another boy he was working with, so I asked them to help me bring my things back to the classroom (as an excuse to talk to them without the rest of the class being nosey). When I got back, I wanted to have a word with both of them- as it was obvious the bigger boy was bullying the smaller boy. I asked their class teacher to come and translate for me to make it a bit easier. After listening to them, I told them it's really important to be kind to eachother and to be friends. I want to see them happy, not sad. And I had them shake on it.
Then, after Shelley told me that she knows of this problem and the small boy is a 'wimp' (direct quote) and that he needs to toughen up, she said she'd deal with it, and took the two boys to the side and started yelling at them- and I mean yelling! When I asked the teacher behind me what she was saying, her response was 'it is none of your business' (I'd like to think this was just a lost in translation answer- rather than what I would presume it meant coming from an English person), but I still said 'Well to be honest, if it wasn't my business then I'd be a bad teacher. They are only 12 years old and they are living away from home. They need the support of teachers here'. I left, 10 minutes later, with the boys still being yelled at, to go to my next class. It really bothered me how instead of listening to the boys and acting as an intermediate person so they can resolve whatever issues they have, and be there to support the small boy who is having obvious difficulties living at this school, they resort to yelling and screaming at them. It was really heartbreaking.
Chamomile and goji berry tea- I love it!
On the lines of bullying, I had a senior 2 girl (16 years old), look really upset after I had the class get into groups. I tried to get her to go for a walk outside, but she was trying to be strong and looked as though she was on the verge of breaking into tears. Once I had all the other students focused on the task, I asked her to come outside to talk with her. Luckily, her English is flawless- so there weren't any communication problems. She told me about how she's always being alone- since primary school- she eats alone, and walks around the school alone. And how she was in a group, but two of the girls kicked her out because they wanted a boy to join their group (harsh, me thinks!). She told me about how she watches CSI all the time, because she has no friends- hence why her English is so good. I did my best to console her, and show her that every girl in the whole world has a tough time in Highschool. I thought it was a hard enough time just going 8 hours a day- I cant even imagine how tough it would be to live at the school, and share a room with the same girls. She seemed pretty confident with being by herself, and was pointing out the positives to me for this, but she also told me she's very sad all the time because her mother tells her that she should care what other people think and that she should try harder to make them like her. After our talk, I hope she understands that bullying isn't anything to do with her- its the insecurities of the other people. I'm glad I could be there to talk to her, because its not something a Chinese teacher would do. I assume they would ignore the problem, or even take the side of the bully to befriend other students. She left saying she thinks I'm the best teacher... a few words of encouragement I needed when I've had a hard time with these cultural differences.
Views from our building
I had another China moment when I asked the class teacher of one of my (bad) senior classes to come to watch the next class- as they were so bad the class before. I asked them 3 different times, and every time they said yes, they will definitely have a teacher come to the next class. I showed up to the office 10 minutes before the class to ask the teacher to come 'but... but... we have a meeting now' they said. 'I've asked 3 times for a teacher to come and there hasn't been any problem with this. I need a teacher there' 'Oh ok. But we have a meeting now'. Now this is where the Chines-afied Anna comes in... I have learnt you have to put your foot down here... 'I need a teacher in the class or I won't teach them' 'Oh ok then...'. Sorted. (This example is an extreme example of my tactics, as this particular class is renowned to be an extremely difficult class to handle)
In retrospect, it wasn't too much help having their class teacher there because he acted as one of the students himself. I actually had to ask him to stop talking and distracting the students because I am teaching...
Horrible humidity- the not so good part about living in the tropics (by the way, the humidity is on the inside of the door, but if you can't air out the flat because its even more humid outside! I've never seen anything like it) & the pink piece of paper is on a wall!
Roger and I went for a trip down to a little, very artificial plot of land in the middle of loads of cranes and construction, which they call a park. We went with Will and Dasha, and they could not get enough of the 'nature' there... 'wow look at this nature. So beautiful, nature!'. It was all very ironic because of the location. The thing is, everything in China is built up, in a very artificial way. Parks are covered with plastic rabbits and big paper fruit (see my last blog), and there is no such thing as a dirt path or exploring- it is always cemented over.
Something I've found very ironic is the gate of the hotel across the road (See photos below). It's a very wealthy area, and 100 metres at either side of the gate, there are always ten's of gardeners squatting on the grass picking out every tiny bit of weed; slowly filling up the big grass woven baskets they carry around. Just 100 meters down the road, the same company dumps all of their unused cement and garbage right next to the road. So when China says they have full employment- keep in mind that much of it is this type of employment where you have ten's of people doing a completely unnecessary job. Or 10 waitresses working in a restaurant with 5 tables... that sort of thing.
The idea of tidying up after yourself doesn't exist here- if you go the market and try and orange, you just drop the peels on the ground. You finish up your drink? Just drop your cup as you walk. No problem!
School Charity Sale
The students had a charity sale. Each class bought things in to sell, and all of the proceeds went to 'the poor family's'
Instructions in the school for how the students should wear their uniforms. If a girl's hair is touching their shoulders they are sent out of school immediately to get a haircut, or they have to put it in a tight pony tail
Walking in the little village next to our school
That's our block of flats
A little garden, and papaya and banana trees
More gardens, and one of many doors that I love to take pictures of!
These two photos are a great image of old meets new: Fishing with the high speed rail line in the background & At the other side of the river you see the new block of flat's that the company (who took this land) are building, with the village people burning offerings for their ancestors on this side
The old school, before our school was built
A very happy sign carver who was really proud to show off his beautiful signs to us
Follow the path to our flat
And now a look at Xiaohuangpu, the bigger village that's a 10 minute bus ride from our school
A new sign for our school & Looking across the road at the Dong Yi Wan development- a very very wealthy area
Waiting for our bus to come & a view back towards the school at the new apartment blocks the company is building
The market, where we get our fruit and veg and stuff. From where this picture is taken, it's the roundabout in the centre of the town [i]
[i]Dim Sum- local cantonese food. Little cakes and bread type things (baozi) are steamed through from underneath & Bamboo holding up the building
A round house- to me, it looks like an old Hakka round house that should be conserved! But this little house is left to fend for itself now I think & a typical little restaurant
In our favourite Hunan restaurant. Each different province of China has their own style of cooking. When you're looking to see what type of food a restaurant serves, it is easy to tell by its decorations. Hunan food always has lots of Mao photos because Mao was from Hunan province. The second photo is a colourful front to a Dongbei Restaurant (North East China)
My favourite dish- a Hunan Dish with long bean (dou jiao) egg plant (qiezi) garlic (suan) and pepper (la jiao) ... YUM
Qian ye dofu (Thousand page tofu)... another of our favourites
Cutest, smallest little puppy. They tried to sell him to me for 20 RMB- about 2GBP or $3.5. I was strong and didn't give in! Instead, I tried to get them to give him a name in the hopes that they won't eat him :/ it's the tough life of living out here... as horrible as it is
These photos are from Gongyuan- the 'public park' of Xiaohuang pu, and the little temple next to it. Roger and I went in to the temple- the first room is full of the incense coils hanging from the ceiling that resemble Vietnamese hats, and you walk back further into a small room with a shrine to the Budhist goddess, with status of the other gods around the side of the room. There was a very elderly couple, who I presume were in charge of the temple, and we showed our respect, as is tradition, by lighting 3 incense sticks and bowing three times, and putting the incense in the pot infront of the goddess- or wherever we wanted
Some of the little back streets. We thought it was a really cute area (the rare sunny day helped with that aswell), but an old man who spoke really clear mandarin (unusual here as they all speak cantonese) insisted that he thought it wasn't pretty at all! We had one of those great moments that we couldn't of had 2 years ago- we could have a whole conversation in Mandarin. I think one of my life's biggest successes!!