Friday, July 28, 2006

I'm Turning Chinese

It's Friday afternoon, it's 92 degrees but "it feels like 103" according to the internet. Right, more like it feels like 150! But I hear Seattle is the same.

So, the end of week three and now a confession: I looked in the mirror on Monday and instead of having a Stuart Smalley talk with myself, I just said, "your life sucks!" I can tell you that now because I feel one hundred percent differently today - and today the power was out...no air conditioning! So I have been thinking about all of the things I have become accustomed to in just three weeks:

-how to use a fan properly. Sunny asked me a few days ago, "have you ever used a fan before?" and then said "I can tell" and gave me a lesson in fan etiquette.
-being a walking American attraction. Everyone locks their eyes on "The Marjie" (as the kids say) wherever I go...especially during my walks in the morning where I am the only one wearing shorts and tennis shoes.
-crossing six lanes of traffic with no signals. Sharing the crosswalk with rickshaws and cars and scooters and bicyclists and buses.
-wearing my hair in a ponytail. I hate ponytails on me but here I have had to forgo all vanity since sweat is a constant part of my "look."
-No make up...what's the point?
-Two hour, six dollar massages and one dollar humbow, dumplings or noodles.
- 30 or so kids repeating everything I say
-the threat of having to use the torture bathroom every minute of every teaching hour
-about fifteen very high pitched voices of Chinese twenty something girls during fifteen minute breaks
-creating ESL curriculum for six hours of teaching per day with a target audience of very active, very loud Chinese kids. I can surely do a better job than the "Let's Go" people...I wonder if there is any money in it?
-constantly scrounging for cold or frozen water and when finally finding frozen water, waiting forever for it to melt.
-people cooking pretty much in the six lane road and all down every side street at night.

This morning I was thinking about my return to Seattle and I had the thought, "It may all seem so dull!"

Anyway, classes have been great. Sunny and I are a good team and we continue to come up with games and have gotten each class involved in competitions, Team One and Team Two games; we have them chanting cheers so loudly that the other teachers are asking me "Tell me what games you are playing!" The one they loved this week was so simple. I would take one of my flash cards and hide it in my book and ask, "What is in my book" and they had to guess in a series of yes or no questions in categories, each team taking a turn. They were crazy over it.

My girl fans are just so cute. They have all written messages to me on their name tags - Jill's says "Hi Marjie!!! (with a heart) and my favorite - from my favorite student, Lily. She wrote "I worship Marjie" on her name tag. Being openly worshiped in writing is great. For those of you who taught Andrea Trias at Meadowdale, she looks just like her. When I asked the class "Where do you want to travel?" Lily said "I want to travel to Mexico" (where Andrea's family is from of course..we all agree that many Chinese could pass for Hispanic, easily). It's very rewarding to hear these kids speaking English and understanding it. Today after lunch when I asked them "How are you?" They answered as they always do.."I'm fine thank you, how are you?" I said "I'm hot!" and they said "We're hot too!" I said "I want ice cream!" and they said "We want ice cream too!" then I kept saying things that would be nice on a hot day and they would repeat it. Then I said "I want a very hot pizza" and they all, in unison, said "We don't want a very hot pizza!!" I guess you had to be there, but remember they knew nothing three weeks ago. Sunny and I just exchanged a look like, That Was Cool!

Maybe the best part is that the boys are now (mostly) on board. I really made an effort to include them and gave them nicknames...like the one who likes basketball is "Yao Ming" and another I just call "Basketball." At least they are not talking the entire class period now and they love the games and the prizes I invested in (best money ever spent).

The bad part of this week: Amy lost her passport. She and Karis went into Shaoxing Wed. night and she lost it somewhere between Starbucks and the hotel; she probably left it in the taxi. Big tough Amy was sobbing in the morning so Pamela had one of her other teachers take her to Shanghai to start the application process. I felt so badly for her. Amy left me a message this afternoon saying she got her passport and would be back tonight, so I'm sure she will be full of stories.

Tomorrow we are all heading to Suzhou - about an hour outside of Shanghai. This city is one I had marked before coming to China because my neighbor, Jade - a landscape architect - had visited there recently and loved it. The Lonely Planet says it is known for its "classical gardens, silk factories and beautiful women (no mention of the men...are they all trolls?)"

[See Suzhou and the other places Marjie has been by clicking on the "See Maps of the Area" link in the right sidebar under the clock]

1 comment:

Preston said...

Zowie Mao-wie! Your courage and creativity under fire is remarkable. Just reading your stories makes me hot. Strange, I now have the urge for a slice of pizza...