Another in my occasional series of "Flashbacks" looking back at blog entries made before this Weebly version started.
My trip to the VSO Conference in Beijing started smoothly enough with a 3 hour car ride to Simao shared with teacher Li (man), teacher Li (woman, no relation) and Ms Wu (very recently promoted to the Local Education Bureau). After a night there, we flew (45mins) to Kunming and met Sun Kang, a leader from the Provincial Education Bureau. He speaks great English and in conversation gave examples of how unlucky he’d been on recent trips (in Indonesia for the tsunami, in Vietnam during riots, in Thailand for the coup, etc). His jinx continued as our flight to Beijing was delayed by 1.. 2.. 3.. and finally 4 hours. At the airport we took an hour to find a taxi which then ran into a midnight traffic jam(?) and took another 2 hours to get us to our hotel. We finally arrived at 2am to find our rooms had been double-booked. And then I tripped and broke my ankle...!
At first I thought I had just sprained my ankle and continued to limp around for the three days of the conference. My talk on the first day went OK, and I learned a lot from the other talks (although some Chinese speakers were rambling a bit and, filtered through a translator, it often made it quite hard to follow ...and I was taking minutes). On the last day, VSO suggested it might be wise to see a doctor while I was in Beijing. He x-rayed the ankle as a formality though he suspected a sprain. But the x-ray came back showing a fracture, so on went the plaster! Crutches in tow I managed to get through the two flights and a 3 hour car ride back to JiangCheng, hopping up the 86 steps to my flat. I’ve been confined to quarters for at least this week - very frustrating when I had planned to finally launch my training here. Teams of Education Bureau colleagues are bringing me food, clean washing, bottles of water etc. So I’m trying to put my independent nature aside and allow myself to be “cared for” and “fussed over”!
One of my private classes is with a lovely young couple, "Christie" and "Chester". We meet once a week for a fairly informal English lesson. This week I invited them to my house for the first time, for a simple pasta bake meal followed by some ice-cream. They really enjoyed the food and then we took a deep dive into the past tense!
I've done this before and sat through 30-40 videos of variable quality. But today there turned out to be 140 videos and the whole thing took 3½ hours! And unlike previous years none of the contestants was particularly outstanding. All very average. Oh well.
"Starting" tomorrow is Kunming's long-awaited "COP15" Meeting. This huge UN Biodiversity Conference, involving 195 countries, has been the talk of the town here for literally years, having been put back three times due to COVID.
Sadly, it was announced last month that it would now be a "virtual" conference which makes all the money spent on beautification. road repairs, flower-planting and "Welcome!" posters somewhat redundant. They say there will be a second face-to-face Conference here in April next year, but that remains to be seen.
[COP means, "Conference of Parties" - I looked it up!]
JD and I have been knuckling down to some serious Lego building lately.
I started out trying to make a zebra but it very quickly insisted on being a black-and-white bird!
JD was inspired to recreate "Branch", one of the characters in his favourite film - "Trolls". Without any help at all from me, he managed to work out the colours, the pose, the eyes and the hair, all from memory! I only realised how accurate it was when I Googled a picture of the troll in questions. Just forgot the ears!
JiaJia and I challenged JD to an Art Competition last week (to get him off the iPad for an hour or two!). We decided to all draw the same thing (JD chose one of his aeroplane toys) with the best sketch winning a prize [L to R below: Jiajia's, JD's, mine]. Who won, do you think?
JD's schoolteacher is fully aware that Jiajia has a Masters in Art and JD's English is fluent, so she often sends us details of Art/English Competitions for us to enter "for the glory of the school". The painting below was a JJ/JD joint effort for Teacher's Day!
A rare glimpse into Ma's previous life as a professional, and fairly famous, Beijing Opera star in Shanghai.
You'd think she might now enjoy participating in one of the multitude of park-based dancing groups that attract so many old people in Kunming, but she dismisses them as "amateurs" and prefers to spend her time gambling with her mahjong friends.
My University lessons are back in full swing after an unusually long, but very welcome, two month Summer holiday. This was one of my classes earlier this week doing a "Running Dictation" exercise...
The Chinese Government have been rolling out a series of education reforms over recent months to "reduce the burden" on young students in China. These include banning online tutoring with teachers based abroad, removal of western printed textbooks, regulating after-school and weekend training classes and reducing homework and exams in Primary Schools. However, JD's school seem to be largely ignoring the "less work" parts. Completing his daily homework is taking longer than ever. He didn't finish until after after 10pm on Monday/Tuesday, though Wednesday/Thursday were "only" 8.30pm [see below]. Crazy.
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