China Team Journal

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wednesday September 8, 2010

Thought for the Day: Don’t be afraid to explore unchartered waters.

An auspicious beginning to our day – the sun is dimly visible through the low clouds and ever-present smog. The breakfast meeting is over and the 5 members of Team 187 load into the school van taking us to XBTC. Zhao shifu pulls into traffic and, with astounding nerve and skill, drives us successfully to the campus in record time. In addition to the daily exchange of ideas for our classes, the team’s “three merry maids” continue to rave about the local opera experience the previous night and the adventuresome jitney ride back to the hotel. A quick stop at the Foreign Affairs Office, then we disperse to our respective teaching locales. Marcella, Tony and I assist our students in arranging the tables in three regions of the library; the kids arrive, and we begin the day’s teaching.

Because we see a different group of students at each teaching period [roughly 2 ½ hrs], we tend to repeat activities. The emphasis is always on conversation, however, whether the topic is family, college life, fashion, etc. The ability of the students to speak and to comprehend spoken English varies dramatically within each group, but classmates help one another with dialogues and understanding questions.

Students in today’s morning class aspire to jobs making dentures while the afternoon students are studying nutrition. Near the end of each class I introduce some terms relevant to their major or subjects and offer anecdotes of how English skills might help them get a better job.

Between the morning and afternoon sessions, Julia Dong and 4 teachers escorted us down the main street to a local restaurant for a delicious meal. After lunch I spent a little time with a teacher who had been assigned a new course while the other team members visited the nursing anatomy and the pharmaceutical labs. The afternoon teaching went well for everyone in part because the students had been exposed to a bit more English. Weary but satisfied by a good day’s effort, we returned to the hotel for yet another dinner of inspired selections by Bao Li. Can we all say, “more food”.

Our team has consistently displayed the desired team characteristics of communication, cooperation and so on. But I must note that what I am enjoying most is their marvelous energy, playfulness and humor. As these traits extend into the teaching enterprise, it is no wonder that much of the applause heard during class is the appreciative recognition by the students of the caring and personal effort of the volunteers.

- Claudia