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[personal profile] marjorieinchina
Since I've had a lot of time on my hands lately, I've been trying to make a point of leaving the house on a regular basis. When I remember, I take my camera with me.

Friday's walk was particularly nice, because the weather was pretty much perfect--very slightly breezy, not hot, not cold--and I found a new kind of flower. New to me, anyway.

Two things especially intrigued me--first, the way different flower bunches are different gradations of purple and blue:

CIMG2001

And second, the cluster of pistils and stamens and buds in the middle of each bunch:

CIMG1985

Anyone know what these are?

There were some trees nearby dropping small, hard, green fruit onto the grass, and I picked up one of these and tossed it in arcs between my hands (I keep thinking I'll somehow teach myself to juggle by doing this) while considering the fact that I'd just taught my last class. My work here, as they say, is done. I will miss pantomiming for the students--putting a hand in front of my face and hunching up my shoulders for "shy," throwing my arms and eyes wide open for "wonderful," flexing my not-at-all-muscular arm for "strong"--and saying things that make them go "Whoaa!" or, to be more phonetically accurate, "Hwaa!" I had a pretty good run of lessons at the end here, on subjects like musical theater and mythical creatures. The kids had all heard the song "Memory" before but they were amazed to see video of the actors from Cats in full costume and makeup. Also, the story of the birth of Pegasus will make any class kind of amazed and confused. It amazed and confused me.

And I'll miss the students, who have been hands-down the biggest factor in making my time here worthwhile. There's an innocence and earnestness in the classes here that I have a hard time imagining in an American classroom. I have some idea of where this atmosphere comes from--the students live in the school, and when they're here they're very sheltered, scheduled from 6 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. with the head teacher checking in during the afternoon nap to make sure no one is reading anything inappropriate (meaning anything that might take too much attention away from schoolwork). Introduce a new element like a foreign teacher into this environment, and the result is cheers and applause and requests for autographs--no exaggeration.

Because the student life here follows such a regular pattern, I've gotten a bit of a thrill from being the outsider who gets to break up the pattern. For my last lesson, I broke the students into groups by numbering off--everyone got a number from 1 to 10, and then they had to find the other people with their number. It's a more time-consuming method than just dividing the classroom into sections, but the room really comes to life when the kids get out of their chairs and sit with different people (and sit at a desk that doesn't have their own homework at it--this close to finals, I have had a lot of students trying to do other work during my classes). The class was about giving advice and produced some great moments:

Student 1: "Who do you like?"
Me: "Remember, ask for advice."
Student 1: "Okay, what kind of boy should I choose?"
Student 2, pointing: "This kind of boy!"
Entire class: "Hwaaa!"

On losing things (the student gave me the paper she wrote this on, so I can quote verbatim):
"You can remember, a boy called Li Bai has ever said, 'the sky gives birth to you, so you are so useful that thousands of dollars lost will be back.'"

On being unlucky in love:
"You can die together. Love is cruel."
(I felt obliged to advise against this.)

On being sad:
"You can listen to {student} sing. Why not listen to him sing right now!"

He didn't sing, but it was a good class regardless.

I have quite a bit of spare time before I go home, and some good intentions of using it to see a few more places. Let's see if I manage that without getting too distracted by the pretty pretty flowers.
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marjorieinchina

July 2010

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