So, when my blasian and I took our ”roomie trip” to huai´an approximately a month ago, we met this teacher called Trin/Lily, depending upon if we use the English name or Chinese nickname. She showed us around and called one of her students (Cindy), so she could meet us and it all wounded up with Greg and I being showed around in Huai´an by Trin, Cindy and Isaac (another student).
I exchanged Wechat, with Trin and that all ended up with Greg and I coming back to teach her grade 7 class in Qinghe Experimental Middle School.
So, it was Wednesday and we got up extremely early to catch the bus, so we could catch the train to Huai´an. Yet again we got bunks to lie down in, when we took the train. Once again we needed every parkour skill we knew to get up on the top bunk. It is nice to catch a train when you can lie down the whole trip.
We came to Huai´an where an extremely overexcited Trin was waving at us hehe, well we were excited too so it was cool. We got into the deputy principles car to drive to the school.
When we arrived to the school, I was pretty surprised because the school seemed very big. You see Trin told us that the kids came from a poor background, and I don´t know why maybe I just assumed that the school was small and didn´t have a lot of materials, but the school seemed very big.
We were told there only was 600 students at the school which is, at least in China, a small school. We decided that the kids should show us around school the first twenty minutes before starting our lesson and when walked around we saw that they had amazing outdoor P.E facilities. There were several pull up bars, tricep bars, athletic field, football field, basketball courts and volleyball courts. Both of us were surprised that at poor school like this had all these things.
I always compare other schools, with my home countries and this “poor” school had ten times the facilities in P.E than we have in most schools back home. Also they have an office booth each for the teachers, a thing I had myself when I was in teacher practice in Singapore. Back home we just have the teachers’ lounge to prepare in and some small rooms you can retreat to. So seeing this in a “poor” school which needs to hunt students for the coming years, because their reputation is not the best, gave me an impression of that it wasn´t that bad. Yet again this is seen from my P.E teacher point of view.
The kids found a ball, and suddenly we found ourselves playing football with the students, just running around with a ball and 26 students, how fun was that.
The students tried to show us around, but they couldn´t find anything hehe, they didn´t even know where the school library was, so we wounded up back in the classroom after walking around finding nothing hehe.
When teaching a new class, I always give the students the possibility of getting to know me. Okay most of the students knew a lot about me, given I gave them permission to ask me anything in wechat, but nonetheless I started what I like to call –“questionnaire game”. It is very simple, the students can ask us anything they want, as long as it is in English. Usually I let the students ask me individually, but this time Greg and I decided to divide them into groups and let them write down their questions.
We made some rules, as they had to pick one of us to ask or they could say both of you. They had some good questions and when Greg and I are in the spotlight, we are at our best hehe. Another thing is that we really work well together, because we think so much alike.
The next thing we had to do was going on a picnic in a park, to have our lunch and just in general let the students give us directions and talk to us about anything. You know like what you call walk and talk. The students seemed more free when we were not at the school, so a lot more students came to us with questions, which was amazing.
We found this park, which were very beautiful, and Trin bought beers for lunch. It is not every day you teach kids and drink beers at the same time. I found it very weird, but again I really like beer, so I dug into the beers. Trin told us that she never had seen her students this excited, so that made us very happy. We had given the students a promise of us showing some kung fu, so I showed my snakeform, which went so wrong in so many levels, because it was so slippery, but it was okay. Greg showed them a Baji form, and in the end we showed them our group form.
Everyone was filming and taking pictures and obviously other people in the park gathered around to see us.
Back at the school Greg had a plan for the students, so this time I followed his lead. We divided them into groups and put the tables in circles and had them write and talk about animals, preparing for a small game. The game was all about them mentioning animals group-wise. It was fun and every group won one time, so that was perfect, seen from a teacher perspective.
All the students had to go outside with their volleyballs, and I thought: it was time for a P.E lesson, but no it wasn´t, not even close. So grade 7 lined up, which were a lot. they started to do some kind of dance with the volleyballs. If you looked closely they were actually just doing basic drills from volleyball, just without them throwing of slabbing the balls around. It was a little bit weird, so I found some other students to play some actually volleyball with.
There was one girl who was very good, so we played for five minutes.
Then it was back to class to say goodbye to our students. We told them we had an amazing day and it was awesome to teach them. Fun thing that happened was, when we were on our way to go to a steakhouse, we saw the students hanging out of the window to wave goodbye, and suddenly all the students came out to say goodbye one more time. Their math teacher had given them permission to get out and say goodbye again.
One of the students were actually crying and another one (Cindy) were very close to cry. See this is shy we came. Not to make them cry but to give them an opportunity and an experience in which they maybe would never have. We were there because it was kids from a poor background, and therefore we wanted to give a little back to society
For my own point of view, it was obviously also to see how a Chinese school is working and see the differences in how the students learn and behave in class. It was awesome, but for me not that different from my experience in Singapore.
After the emotional goodbyes, we went off to the supermarket and after that a steakhouse, where Trin was treating us to an amazing steak. In Wednesdays, you could get three steaks for the same price as two. A cool thing in this place, was that you paid for the steak and then everything else like Juice, starters and dessert, were free, so you could just keep on ordering ice-cream and cake. That was kind of cool, given I am a huge dessert fan hehe.
When we found ourselves in the train, I found myself thinking that I really wanted to go back there again before me leaving, but given I am leaving in two months I don´t really see it happening unless we get paid to come or something hehe.
Well once again I found myself in one of my go with the flow experiences, and yet again I confirm my believes, that when I take these chances I get so much more back than I gave.
Once again my journey here at the Maling Mountain Academy have given me so much more than I could ever have wished for.
More to come.