Thursday, September 22, 2011


Yesterday was the first really busy day of my time in Rizhao.

I started the day at 8:00 with four hours of teaching.  First I taught my writing class for juniors (yesterday's topic: pre-writing and the writing process), and then it was off to teach my first class of freshmen.  They just finished their military training and started school yesterday.

We couldn't get into the classroom right away because another class was in there.   As we were waiting in the hall, a few brave students came up to talk with me.  I asked one of the boys if he had an English name.  No.  He disappeared for about 30 seconds and then excitedly re-appeared and announced he now had an English name: Kevin.  (That was fast!) He wanted to know how to spell it.  I told him to wait and make sure no other students in the class had that name before he claimed it.

At break time, the students were all signing up for English names on my list of approved English names.  (This is to prevent the inevitable appearance of "names" like "Happy," "Moon2," "Black Sister," "Sho," "Even," and "Shmiley.")  The list also gives the names' meanings or origins.

I was standing at the podium when Kevin came bounding over.   "I found my name on the list!  Kevin!  It means handsome!"

Later, I was asking the class some get-to-know-you questions.  "How many of you are from this province?"  "How many of you are only children?"  "How many of you have visited another country?"

Kevin's hand shot up.
"Wow, which country have you visited?" I asked.
"Yes, I would very like to visit another country!"
"But have you visited another country?"
"No, not yet!"

So that about sums up my freshman class.  Eager, easily excited, a bit clueless... They're a fun bunch to teach.

I came back to my apartment for a quick lunch and was dreaming of a nap when my teammate Cathy came up.  It was her birthday and she wanted to bike down to the beach.  Hooray!  It was a beautiful day for a walk on the sand.

The rest of the afternoon was spent getting ready for Cathy's birthday dinner.  Sara made chicken and I made cake.  Then the whole team ate together, and it was great.

In the evening, I had a free talk for one of my sophomore classes, and 24 students came.  Hooray!  I totally enjoyed them, got to learn most of their names, listened to them telling (mis-telling) some random jokes in Chinese and English, and sent them on their way shortly before nine.

It was a fun, fruitful, exhausting day.

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