It's the last day of JD's week off, and so when some of JD's schoolmates invited him to join them in visiting to Kunming's biggest funfair, we could hardly reuse. I'm doing IELTS examining at the moment, so it fell to Jiajia to join the other parents on the trip.
JD is fearless when it comes to big wheels, rollercoasters, high swings, whizzing roundabouts etc. So he had a blast. They also took in a couple of shows, before sharing a big meal on the way home.
With a full-time University timetable, IELTS examining and looking after JD I don't normally take up any of the fairly frequent offers I get to do private tuition. However, when a good friend of mine asked for a personal favour on behalf of two friends of hers, I said I'd give a try.
So every Saturday morning I meet Sunny [left] and Wendy [right] in an office not far away for a 90 minute Speaking lesson. They are good fun, committed and happy to accept any advice or corrections, so it's quite easy to teach them. And the money is a little bonus, too.
My wonderful Mum turned 80 today. Isn't she looking good? I was able to join her, my Dad and two brothers (and sis-in-law) by Zoom to see Mum watching the video greetings we had put together for her. So many friends and family had contributed to that and the kind words expressed by all were well-deserved. Lovely to (almost) be a part of the day's celebrations. What a woman! Here's to the next 80 years!
Unusually this year, Chinese National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival fall on the same day, so there is a full week of holiday throughout China. Apart, that is, from my University where we have just have one day off! They blame COVID, and promise we'll get an extra week in the Winter holiday. But I'm suspicious ...all the other Universities and schools in Kunming have got a full week. Mean!
Despite JD's four regular weekend classes, we still try to find time to get out and about, and the Secret Forest is usually our number one destination while it's still open (it closes in the dry season). Our den continues to grow and develop and JD enjoys inviting different friends to come and get the guided tour. The friend above is "Johnny" who was a classmate of JD's at Kindergarten and recently moved into a flat a few doors down from us. There's always some surprising wildlife too.
Another in my occasional series of "Flashbacks" looking back at blog entries made before this Weebly version started.
KuiXiang (literally, "Strong Taste") is the second school on my training tour of remote Middle Schools. It's quite a large one - 2000 students and 100 teachers. Half of the English teachers are new graduates, fresh from Teaching Colleges. Their spoken English is better than the more established teachers, and they have a real enthusiasm for teaching and improving themselves (which sadly fades with time).
This visit will stay with me for the surreal moment at lunch, when I was asked by one of the teachers, “Are you Jesus?”. I assumed I had misheard, but she spelled it out for me “Yes, Jesus, J-E-S-U-S”. I replied that no, I was "Paul". “Oh. Well I am Jesus!” she continued. Fortunately, another teacher spotted my bewildered expression and explained that she meant she was a Christian!
It turned out that three of the new teachers profess to be Christians - converts of their foreign “teacher” at College! I wonder how long their new faith will last, amidst the overwhelming religious apathy of China? Having said that, I was told that most of the Miao ethnic group in town are also Christian, having been converted by missionaries in the late 1800s! So, who knows? As you can see from the photo, I was persuaded to don traditional Miao clothes myself for a photo - a taste of things to come, with ethnic groups comprising 85% of JiangCheng’s population, the place where I will be based from this time next week.
Over recent weeks, Jiajjia and I have been making a concerted effort to encourage JD to be more independent; helping with cooking and cleaning, doing homework without being monitored, keeping his bedroom tidy, making his own way to after-school club, choosing his own clothes, packing his schoolbag each evening, etc. It's a slow process, but I think we're getting there!
My University started up again this week. I've seen five new classes so far, with two more to follow in a week or two. Class sizes are about 20-30, which is a lot better than some previous classes of 50-60.
After some begging from me, all my lessons have been squeezed into Monday to Wednesday. This allows me to do IELTS examining on Thursdays and Fridays ...except that British Council have suddenly changed their examining days to Monday to Wednesday. Just my luck!
We had "cross-the-bridge noodles" for lunch yesterday with a teacher friend of ours who is helping us to find a suitable tutor for JD. JD starts a new term next week and Jiajia and I are aware that we won't always be able to pick him up from school (because of our work commitments) or help him complete his homework (because of language/patience issues!). So, if we can employ someone to help, it will relieve the pressure on us and give JD some stability in his after-school care.
"Cross-the-bridge noodles" is Yunnan's most famous dish. A scalding hot chicken broth is delivered to your table along with raw ingredients such as quails' eggs, thinly sliced meat and diced mushrooms or vegetables. These are poured into the broth which quickly cooks them. The noodles are then added and it's time to tuck in! It can be a cheap lunch option, but we took our friend to the most famous noodle restaurant in Kunming for some quality eats!
My examining week in Lanzhou is finished and I boarded the plane to Kunming last night, tired but generally pleased with my work.
Favourite examinee errors:
"I want to travel to broaden my horizontals."
"I own a small horse now but I'd like to get a big horse when I get older so that my grandparents can live in it with me." [...house!]
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