I wrote my last post on Wednesday morning. Wednesday afternoon I had classes. In one of the classes a student did his “If I were King/God of China” speech. He had 3 points to make. The 3rd point was free health care, the 2nd point was free school (high school in China costs the parents money) but number one knocked my socks off. He would kill all Japanese people. There is no underestimating the hatred of many people towards the Japanese. Now many of us know that the Japanese were just horrendous to the Chinese before and during WWII. The depths of the cruelty was almost, but not quite, on a par with the Nazis. The way I look at it is this happened many years ago so over 90% of those monsters are dead. But the problem for many Chinese is that the Japanese history books and people don’t admit any cruelty towards the Chinese during those years. The murder of millions of civilians is not mentioned. So the resentment remains and in a way, understandably so. It’s quite interesting the things you hear in class.
Then it came time to discuss the homework. Two out of forty students did their homework. You can say that I wasn’t impressed. I was quite calm (they got me on a good day) and I told them that I was tired of wasting my time with them. I also told them that this wasn’t the best school they could be going to (they know that) so this is their last chance to go anywhere. If they think homework is hard, they should try working in a mine. I told them that next year I’ll be living in Canada or teaching at another school and my life will go on. As for them, they’re stuck here to make something of themselves (maybe advancing to University or getting a diploma here), and this is it. If they fuck up, it’s game over. Yes, I did use the term “fuck up”. We call that a teaching moment.
I told them that if they wanted I could get them a Chinese English teacher to replace me. If they wanted me they had to do what I said. I then told them to discuss this among themselves and I was going out for 15 minutes. I went outside for a break.
During my break one student comes out to talk to me. He’s a really nice kid and he says that perhaps many of the students didn’t understand what the homework was. I told him that if that was true (and I didn’t believe it was) then it was their responsibility to tell me they don’t understand. They’re adults and not babies. He suggested that at the end of class he could tell everyone in Chinese what the homework is. I told him he could, but he’d be making a serious mistake if he did. If he misunderstands me and passes that information on to the class, it’s his fault. If he takes responsibility for telling his classmates what they are to do, then he’s not helping them learn. I think he got my point.
I went back to the class and they enthusiastically told me they wanted me to be their teacher. Big deal. I like a lot of those kids but if they can’t do simple homework like reading a few paragraphs then forget it. But I’ll give them one more chance. I’m such a softie. One girl who I’m very fond of told me after class that she thinks of me as her teacher and as a friend. I was quite touched by that since I think she’s a sweetie. She also told me that she felt I was as good a teacher as her father and I know she thinks very highly of her father. It was hard to keep my eyes dry. So we shall see.
Friday we went to Wuxi (pronounced Woo-she). It’s a very clean city of about 2 million people. The bus ride was less than 2 hours, which was good. We were hungry and I just wanted a muffin and a coffee so we took a taxi (our hotel was out of the way) to the city center and hit the Starbucks. Shujie went into a Chinese place to get something to eat and I got a sandwich and an iced tea from Starbucks. When we had finished she had a DQ Blizzard for the first time ever. It was quite tasty. She said it was okay. She’s not a big fan of cold things so I was quite surprised she ordered it.
After that we just walked around and found a nice looking temple whose picture is below. I managed to record the last bit of the monks singing one of their hit songs (I think it was a cover version of “Love Me Do”). You also get a great view of Shujie’s back. Here’s the temple and the songs.
For dinner there was no Fridays. It’s gone out of business. I found 5 Western restaurant possibilities and of those 5, only 2 were still open. We went to a bar Friday night with lots of foreigners. I asked for a Bloody Mary but they didn’t know what that was. So I asked for a shot of vodka and a glass of tomato juice (which they had). I put in plenty of salt and pepper and voila, a Bloody Mary. And it was good. It was 3 drinks full good. I had a cheeseburger which was okay and Shujie had a burrito (which she wasn’t crazy about). We also got onion rings which were among the best I’ve ever had. I’m not talking I’m in China good, but good if you’re in Canada or the U.S. It was quite a nice time. Shujie got drunk on 2 drinks and spent a lot of time telling me she was drunk but her mind was clear. Yes, whatever.
On Saturday we signed up for a tour. The highlight of the tour is Buddha World. They have China’s tallest Buddah (I think) and lot’s of Buddah stuff. You can see Buddha as a baby, you can see a statue of little boys crawling over Buddah (if you touch it you’re supposed to have a son). You touch Buddha’s feet and wonder what kind of nail clippers you would need to do the job of keeping the toenails trim. You walk around Buddha’s hand and you’re supposed to keep touching it as you walk around so you’re life will be a happy one. You actually can’t touch it 100% of the way around since that means you’re life is full of happiness and there is no more to be had. It’s a Buddha world, after all.
Here are some pics of Buddha World:
Now I am sharing a picture of me with a sheep since I’m from the year of the sheep. As you can see, we’re quite tight.
We then went on a cruise and walked around an island. As you can see from the picture below I tried my hand at running a Buddha stand but alas, it didn’t work out.
Now here are 2 shots of us at this tiny waterfall. The sign said waterfall but it should have said, “dripping faucet”. Oh well.
We came back today and it was Shao Kao dinner tonight. Mmn, Mmn, good. I think the 3 pieces of chicken was too much along with the 10 lamb skewers and the 12 potato skewers. So I’ll cut back to 2 next time. You can see me eating chicken and a picture of the food selection. Also we have the master chef and his charming wife. They are really pleasant kids and it feels good to be a “regular” there. I’m very loyal and won’t eat elsewhere on that street. And I also provide a small treat at the store where I buy my cold soda to drink. The girls who manage the cash register giggle and blush when I come in. It’s so cute.
I’m almost finished the new Stephen King novel, “11/22/63”. I love being able to download a book and have it right away. I would prefer the feel of a book but the immediate gratification is nice as well as the fact that I’m in China so I can get any book I want. And I can read at night with the lights off which is nice too.
Tomorrow begins another week. Oh wait, it’s a day off. I’ll tutor in the afternoon and supposedly judge speeches in the evening. I don’t want to do that but I’m a nice guy. I’m not sure where we’ll go next week or if we’ll go anywhere, but it is really nice to get away. Life here isn’t too bad, but I think going away helps keep it that way.