Monthly Archives: April 2011

a Jonah week

It has been far too long since I last posted on my blog–I apologize!  My GCC computer crashed a month ago, according to its nature of doing bad things at the wrong times, so I have been online much less. There is a lot I could write about, but I won’t relate much or anything about the English Camp in Chongqing, because Elijah wrote about it already and it was a while ago, in late January.   Since then, I went back to the States for two weeks to visit friends and family and be in a dear friend’s wedding.  It was wonderful to be back on the home turf.  I have missed many things about it.

After returning to China halfway through February, I began teaching the second semester at the school, trying to improve the way I teach and trying to get more control over my classroom.  Those attempts have yielded mixed results, but I’m trying.  Some classes are a delight to teach, almost all the time, because they are eager to learn, sweet, and respectful in class.  Other classes are holy terrors, with students that alternate between talking loudly to each other in packs, throwing pencil cases, and staring sullenly at me.  I had two weeks of classes in March that went smoothly, and I felt like I was on top of the world.  My students were involved in the lesson, classroom control wasn’t an issue, and I didn’t have a huge urge to hibernate and undergo shock therapy at the end of those two weeks. Teaching was so, so fun those two weeks.

But then, this week happened.  Besides the normally excellent classes that don’t vary much, and the two classes where the Chinese English teachers sat in, every other class was something of a mess.  Nobody listened to anything.  Multiple girls cried because the boys were saying mean things to them.  Games either went over well or blew up and sent the classroom into a tailspin.  A fistfight broke out in one class and I lost my temper and sent two boys into the hall, and I stalked back into the classroom and shot fire from my eyes the rest of the period.  Thursday night, I wrote a four-page journal entry about all the things I dislike about China, mostly because I needed to vent and also because when I go home, I know I will tend to romanticize my time here.  I want to remember all aspects of what it has been like, and I know that there have been and there will be bad weeks, but there have been good weeks as well.  I want to document the bad and the good, so that I remember both.  What’s funny though, as I finally finished classes on Thursday with my least favorite class of the week (the fist fight class), I thought very clearly to myself, despite how much I hated teaching right then, “I’m a teacher, and that’s what I want to do.”  I have no regrets at all about coming here, or about becoming a teacher.

Sometimes here, it’s easy to get plunged into the “depths of despair” (Anne of Green Gables reference, anyone?).  We’re isolated, there aren’t many like-minded individuals around, there’s a huge language barrier, we are stared at, laughed at, disrespected at times, and we’re away from familiar things.  It’s hard to believe that people can be compassionate, or anything but self-seeking, or willing to learn, or kind after a hard week in this place is over.  It’s easy to lose all perspective, when you’ve become so meshed in a culture that you start disliking everything about it, and seeing all the problems.  And there are major problems.  But, there are moments when I am grateful and experience joy, like when a student or teacher here says a kind thing, or I see one student doing something for the benefit of another, instead of being self-seeking, or when I go to a familiar restaurant where the waitresses know me and what I always eat, and smile at me and are happy to see me when I walk in.  Or like the other night, when we visited a new restaurant next to the school that a woman we’re familiar with began (we go into her shop all the time), and she gave us food from her own table so that we could try different things they had there, since we couldn’t understand most of the menu.  There are many people here who have been very kind to me.

Some days though, I just miss the good ol’ U.S. of A.