China Team Journal

Monday, November 9, 2009

Monday, November 9

Thought for the day: “The Perfect is the enemy of the good.”

We began our first day of teaching with at 7:30 breakfast. Bill, suspecting we were not absolutely ready for the challenges ahead, tried to put the class at ease with the thought of the day. By 7:55, we were well fed, and Sally read the Sunday journal. She also gave us a thought for the day.

Bao Li gave us some beautiful new water bottles and some teaching tips, including: speak slowly, use simple words, use the blackboard, don’t correct students on the spot—keep a list to discuss later, and don’t use cursive writing or all caps on the blackboard. She encouraged us to break the ice with humor, games, and songs.

At 8:30, we piled into our trusty bus and were ensconced in our front row seats of the multi-media room when the opening ceremonies began promptly at 9. The dignitaries were on a raised platform in front of us and the 62 students seated behind us.

Mr. Xiong, Director of the Teachers Training Center, was host, and welcomed us all. He introduced the others on the platform: Mr. Liu, Vice President of Kunming University;

Mr. Wu Chief of the Teachers Training Divisions; and our own Bao Li. Mr. Ha, the Director of the Foreign Affairs Office at the Kunming Teachers College, translated for everyone.

All speakers were warm in their welcome. Bao Li told of the mission of Global Volunteers which went beyond teaching English to making the world a more peaceful place, friendship by friendship. She said we volunteers were here to learn as well as to teach. She then invited the volunteers to introduce themselves. We echoed her overall theme: that we had come to help and also to learn.

Mr. Wu spoke next, and emphasized that Kunming was beginning to open itself to the outside world, so programs like ours were essential. Vice President Liu spoke last and stressed the importance of English in the global economy. Kunming itself was at a turning point, and to make sure it makes the best of it, we all had to make this program even better than before. He closed with warm words which concluded the formal ceremony.

Next, Mr. Li Baokun (Chris), gave all the student teachers their groups and assigned each group to a team of volunteers. We all repaired to our appointed rooms and had our first contact with our students. By the time we were settled in our classes, only about an hour and a quarter remained.

We regrouped at lunch to compare notes. Each group was warm in its praise of the students themselves. All groups found the students not only willing but also eager to participate.

The afternoon was spent variously in recreation and class preparation, including a trip to the stationary store for supplies.

At dinner, Bao Li questions about what we were prepared to do individually or collectively to fill the afternoon lecture slots produced lively discussions. The upshot was that Danielle would lead a discussion on Thursday, Nov. 12 on changes in education, using a time line. We would then break the students into small groups to continue the discussion. All volunteers agreed to participate in the small group discussions.

Then on Tuesday, Nov. 17, most, if not all, volunteers agreed to give short presentations on some aspect of their careers.

by Bill