We're off to Vietnam for twelve days today. We fly to Hanoi, then overland to Haiphong, by boat to Cat Ba island and Ha Long Bay and fly back from Haiphong. I last visited the country in 1997 and it;s JD/JiaJia's first time. We've booked a couple of hotels and remain flexible on the last few days. "Du lịch an toàn", as they say in Vietnam!
After a very stressful fortnight of 3-4 hours of homework every evening, JD's exam scores came back yesterday. He did really well, with "A"s in every subject (except a "B" in P.E.). The 96.1% in Chinese was particularly pleasing as JD struggles a bit with Chinese characters, coming from a family who read/speak a lot more English.
I attended the wedding of one of my oldest Kunming friends today. I've known Leah for over 10 years - first as a fellow teacher at Robert's School and later as one of a handful of folk who have tried to teach me Chinese in the past [Kelly, on the right, is another!].
It was a small and nicely informal affair which meant I could catch up with Leah and some other old friends I've not seen in many years.
My term ended yesterday. I print out the students' grades, but then have to copy them freehand onto another a blank sheet before finally handing them in. Someone else then takes the handwritten score sheets and manually inputs them back into a University computer! This crazy process is so inefficient and has such a high potential for typos, it beggars belief! And yet no one (but me) seems willing to question it.
The Final exam for most of my classes was to prepare a 3-person role-play set in a restaurant. There were the usual grades for fluency, vocabulary, pronunciation and content, but also for props and acting. Some did well, some tried to cheat (as ever) and some were largely incomprehensible. But everyone who turned up passed - this is China!
I was thirteen years old when the first Star Wars film came out - a perfect age. I can't remember how many times I watched it at the cinema (maybe 3?) but I've seen it at least a dozen more since. I've watched and enjoyed the seven episodes which followed over the years. It's been a huge part of my life.
Today I saw the last in the saga of nine, this one with my son who is already well-versed in TIE fighters, light sabres and the way of the Force. It's the end of an era. Not a perfect finale, but just wonderful to see all the main characters one more time and wrap up the greatest film franchise in history. Cheers Star Wars! I'll miss yer!
We celebrated Christmas last weekend, since Christmas day itself is a normal school/work day here. JD hung up his stocking on Saturday and left out biscuits & milk for Santa and and a carrot for Rudolph. He then woke at 2.00am, 4.30am and finally 7.00am! Just too excited!
His favourite present this year is a "hoverboard" [see above, right] and he spent Christmas morning whizzing around the neighbourhood!
We also shared a nice meal with our American friends Saturday night which, whilst not quite turkey and brussel sprouts, was still very tasty (Chinese hotpot). We even had Santa photo-bombing our post-meal photo!
This is a common sight in China - a senior citizen rummages through a rubbish bin in the hope of finding some cardboard or plastic to sell on to the recyclers. But it's not a sign of poverty - the money they get is trivial. It's more of a hobby, and a competitive one at that since some OAPs roam the local neighborhoods to pilfer the best rubbish on offer, even if they don't live there. Sad really.
JD goes to "basketball practice" every Sunday morning. JD's teacher made it clear that joining the club was technically "voluntary" but that all the class were really expected to sign up. Bizarrely, though he's been 12 times so far, he has yet to touch a basketball!? It's an odd school.
While waiting for him last week, I noticed these wires which run up the walls, but made a wild outward bend for no apparent reason. Strange.
And I wonder if the rounded columns sandwiched between the square pillar sections are an earthquake-dampening measure?
Sometimes the Chinese education system drives me crazy!
What exactly is the diagnostic value of JD's English exam today when 32 of the 45 students scored over 98% and nearly everybody got over 90% (JD got 100%)? Surely an exam like that is simply too easy?
And why did we get a text from JD's teacher last week saying he "needs to work harder on his Maths" because he 'only' scored 98% on that test?
And maybe I should give his teacher my own grade for texting today's homework through at 8pm? She won't be getting 100% from me!
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