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.
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!
Past blog entries