Here it is, Monday evening, and I’m beyond exhausted. I didn’t realize how much the last week has taken out of me until today. Naturally I’m questioning why I did this and my choice of schools. That’s natural. But I’m just dead on my feet.
Sunday was a throwaway day. We basically did nothing and that was fine with us. Shujie finally seems to have recovered from the trip and can stay awake past 8:30. I go to sleep around midnight because I don’t want to wake up early. Once I lay down on the bed from hell, I’m out quite quickly.
The Japanese mattress on the bed helps, but my back is still sore in the morning. What is a plus is that I can lie on my side. Before this it was impossible. Thank goodness for small favours.
Of course I get up early because of the damn military music at 6:15. I think they do it to spite me. I asked the students today if they exercised and they said yes. I’ll have to check it out because I’m skeptical. Maybe I’ll start a petition to stop the music. Of course that might get me a one-way ticket back to Canada.
We found out that we don’t have cable TV. I hooked up my Playstation and when I went to switch to TV there was no signal. After further investigation I saw there was no cable coming into the TV. That was funny. I mentioned it to Wang Jing and she was surprised (she’s always surprised at the things I tell her we don’t have). But to her credit someone came today to look and said that this apartment has never been hooked up for cable. So an order has gone out for some other company to get it set up. This isn’t the most efficient country in the world. 1.3 billion people and it seems like most of them have something against working. Considering they work about 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, you would think things would get done. Ha and Ha.
After my class this morning I went to the office to see about discipline rules. I want to be able to evict students who won’t stop talking. Hopefully it will only happen once or twice until the catch on. The English teacher I spoke to mentioned getting some Chinese official at the school come and tell them to shut up and I replied that the students would say, “YES”, and then go back to talking. She finally said it was fine to evict them although I don’t know if she has any authority to tell me it’s okay. But that’s fine with me. I told a class I could do that and it seemed to help.
So many people here ride electric motorbikes and I want one. I’m tired of walking to class and Shujie and I went looking at them. The expensive one (about $425) will last about 50 kilometers on the battery and the battery will take about 8 hours to fully recharge. I may just walk. Shujie said we should get a small car (she figures about $3500) so we can drive out of town and such. I don’t think driving here in Jurong would be too much of a problem, but elsewhere it might be. There are too many cars in this country. When I first came to China in 2004 most people were riding bicycles. Things have sure changed.
School is bringing me down. Already. When I did middle school in Korea classes were hell but being in the hall and between classes the kids showed me love. They would come up to me, tell me they loved me, and so on. It was great. It fed my ego and I was touched by their kindness even though they were the devil’s spawn in class.
Here, no one talks to me. Not one student (out of 12,000) has said hello or tried to talk to me. I’m the only white guy in Jurong (I think). And I’m invisible. It’s depressing. Now what would make up for that would be successful classes. But it doesn’t look too promising.
Now I’m in a different culture with a different language but the general knowledge test was a little depressing. Did you know that Nelson Mandela was a singer and dancer? Did you know the first atomic bomb was dropped on the Soviet Union in 1949? I’m not saying they’re idiots because not knowing these things doesn’t make them idiots. However, some of them do know things and I’m finding it hard to find out just how much they know.
Getting answers from them is like pulling teeth. They don’t ask questions. Today I told a class they were a bunch of liars (in a nice way). They said they understood something and then I asked about it. They didn’t know. I am so easy to get along with and I keep stressing to ask questions. I tell them I don’t care if they are right or wrong, just speak and try. That’s another ha and ha.
I got the textbooks today and that was depressing. The province selects the books to use for all colleges and universities in the province. What a bunch of idiots. I’m here at some 4th rate school (if that high) where the students are at a middle school level and these books are geared towards those who will enter North American Universities. They are just so freaking hard. I started with one of them today and to basically go through a unit (which the book says should take 2 weeks) would take about 2 months to 2 years. The English teacher I deal with at first said use the book as a guide but I don’t have to stick to it, and now it’s changed to basically do what you want. I don’t blame the school since they didn’t choose the books but I don’t want to write a curriculum. And since the students paid for the books they need to use them and that could be a problem.
And the books? These are the “student’s book” which means there is a “teacher’s book”. However, we didn’t get one and the province isn’t confessing to there being one. I think they were just being cheap. And the student’s book says they should have an Oxford Dictionary and some grammar textbook to work with when using these books. Naturally these books weren’t bought either.
This is quite the dilemma. I have unsuitable books I’m supposed to use that are pretty much unusable. What am I supposed to teach in the section called “Applying for a Tertiary Course”. I had to look up “tertiary” because I didn’t know what it meant.
So I have unusable books and students who won’t ask questions who don’t know a lot. It’s depressing. I keep thinking I should have chosen another school. I had a final choice between 2 schools and I chose this one based on the fact that I really liked the woman from the province who was hiring me. I was worried about feeling guilty if I chose the other one. The other advantage was that it’s about 6 ½ hours from Shujie’s hometown while the other one was 19 hours. Shujie kept saying I could chose whichever I wanted because my happiness was paramount and I was thinking I should choose the one closer to her mother and son. I’m not saying the other one would have been better, but so far I can’t imagine it being worse. It’s one week and my job depresses me.
Now I know that things could change. I’ve been here before and things are constantly changing. The people at the school have been very responsive to my requests (although they wouldn’t give me a free motorbike) but I want to feel the love. Maybe I need a younger group of students to get the love. I can make the students laugh with my “outrageous” behavior. They just can’t believe when I’m explaining what a bug is that I start making a buzzing sound and moving my eyes around and then slap my head really hard as if to kill the mosquito. Or when I stick my head out the window and start yelling for help. I like when they respond to that. But after 90 minutes with a class I’m drained. My throat is parched since it’s mostly me talking. I keep trying to get across to them that we’re working together and I’m there to help them.
I just don’t think enough of them are really interested in learning. I think they’re here because of their parents. In my class of 36 today I asked who was interested in learning English and to please raise their hands. One student raised their hand. I kept asking and no one raised they’re hand. Of course when I asked for a show of hands from those who were not interested, no one raised their hand either. I don’t think I’m boring. I move around a lot. I make jokes that are understandable. But I can’t entertain for 90 minutes without running out of material.
I’m going to have to find a solution soon. There are some good students in there, but not enough of them. They want to participate and learn but that old foe known as “peer pressure” keeps them down. Maybe I’ll throw a kid out the window to shake them up. I have a few girls about 4 feet tall.
Next Monday is a holiday. It’s the mid-Autumn festival and Shujie ended up with 3 boxes of “Moon Cakes” which is what the Chinese eat for this festival. I would rather starve but the English department gave me a box and Wang Jing gave Shujie 2 boxes that were for me when Shujie went to talk to her today. So a 4 day weekend. I wish Shujie’s mother was taking her 2-month sojourn in Shanghai starting now but she’s not going to live with Shujie’s younger brother until the 19th. We could visit and see her brother and mother at the same time. Perhaps we’ll still go. Her brother and his family are very nice people and Shanghai is a fun place. Of course it’s too early to be dying to go to Outback or something like that, but I suppose I could force myself.
I’m sure things will work out. They usually do. But if this stay in China extends past 1 year I assure you that the 2nd year won’t be in Jurong (not that there’s anything wrong with Jurong).