How to be happy

Beats me.  I don’t know.  I asked Shujie if I was happier last year (I think I was) and she tells me I wasn’t.  It seems to be I complain more so I honestly can’t say since she’s telling me different.

I didn’t show “Ozzie and Harriet” this week.  I was going to talk about stereotypes since so many students would write in their papers that all Westerners celebrate Christmas.  However, that changed quickly.  I did a class on religion, a brief history, and some of the weirdo’s of today.

I think many of them were interested (I can go on and on) while some of them were not listening (as usual).  I found out they had 1 lesson in religion last year (mostly Christianity) but most couldn’t remember what they were taught.  And I was told that the Chinese students have superior memories.

I focused on Christianity and Judaism since those are the two I know.  Trying to cram a history of those religions into 90 minutes is kind of tough.  They got the extremely condensed version.  Then at the end I throw in my mini-rant about the craziness of Orthodox Jews (what I have personally witnessed) and the craziness of Southern Baptists (what I have personally witnessed).

I did this talk six times during the week.  Yes, it gets tiresome.  At my last class of the week I focused on one girl who looked like she was carefully following every word I said.  After class I went up to her and thanked her for listening so carefully and she told me that she thought it was very interesting.  It helped to see her listening.  I told another girl that she was not listening and she said if I talk all the time she gets bored.  I told her that if I ask questions, no one answers and that anyone can ask a question at any time.  She had no answer to that.

Their writing assignment for this week was television.  How much do their families watch, what do they watch, and is TV good or bad for Chinese culture.  Let me tell you, TV can make your life more colorful.  They love the word “colorful”.  I have to find out what it means.  TV can make you more active which is a very hard one to figure out.  These people can’t write (I know I said that) and they can’t organize their thoughts.  One girl copied a bunch of hers from the Internet so they can’t think either unless they can copy it from the Internet.

I’m tired of the copying.  I made everyone sign a paper that said if they are caught copying from the Internet, they will receive a grade of zero for the year.  I’m serious about that.  This girl who copied a bunch of her paper I’m not sure how to deal with.  Do I write her off or since it wasn’t the whole paper I don’t give her zero and let her know that at the current moment she would get a zero so she better start showing me something besides how stupid she is.

I want to have fun.  They might have been dummies last year, but they were my dummies, and I could have some fun.  I don’t want to work.  If I wanted to work, I could find a job that pays real money.

I want to quit my part-time job at the high school.  It’s a pain going there twice a week.  I’m always in a rush and I can’t stand my 2nd year students.  They don’t try to speak.  My 1st year students are much better and more of them make an effort.  The regular English teacher of the 2nd year students said I should play games with them.  I don’t want to play games.  I don’t think that games help at that age.  What helps is speaking and speaking and making mistakes and getting better.  Maybe I’m wrong.  It’s been known to happen.  But I might throw in the towel.  What’s the point if I’m not enjoying it?  As I said, I didn’t come here to work.  I actually do work but I don’t want it to feel like work.

The secretary came and asked me this week what I wanted to teach next semester.  I already spoke to them about this so I just repeated myself.  I would like to have the same class 3 or 4 times a week and teach them different subjects.  The school is worried that it would be too many classes to prepare but my preparations are a brief outline and might change at the last second depending on my mood, the classes mood, and a feeling I get at the moment for what might work.  I also told her that I prefer oral English.  I just want them a lot so I can switch things around and combine the subjects, which would allow us to do different things.  Who knows?

The foreign food store closes on Tuesday and it’s starting to look empty.  I’m sorry to see it go.  Shujie found out about a warehouse where they get food for the hotels and she went there and got some things.  I ‘ll go with her again and see what I like.

There are about 18 foreign teachers here.  I knew I wouldn’t like all of them, but some of them are just ridiculous.  There’s an older man from Australia who thinks he is the oracle of how to teach in China.  To listen to him all his students speak and learn everything.  If it’s not his idea, then it’s ignored.  There is no conversation with him and I try and avoid him.  We ran into him and his wife (or girlfriend) in the foreign food store yesterday (she’s Chinese) and Shujie tried to talk to her.  All I know was at one point I heard him to say to her “don’t talk”.  I’m not sure what that referred to, but  it might have been Shujie.  Shujie was speaking to the people who look after the building and they heard him tell her that she shouldn’t speak to them.  (They know a bit of English).  What gives?  I just file him under “ass” and try not to have conversations beyond “hello” with him.

My biggest disappointment so far this year is that no students have approached me to get together outside of class and talk.  I want to so much but I can’t ask them because I don’t want them to feel obligated.  So I have to let them be stupid and not try and advance themselves.  I would like to think if I were a Chinese major, I would try and converse with my Chinese teachers after class.  I think they’ve really screwed the students over in this country with the culture of the classroom.

And that’s that for another week.  There is always hope for the future.  I like to delude myself.  Maybe I am getting old and it’s harder to have fun.  I hope not.  I really do want to like it here but I really don’t.  But I shall keep hoping against hope that I will.  Shujie is enjoying her classes, which is good, and she gets good feedback from her students and she hears from students she doesn’t have that they are sorry that they don’t take her classes.  She’s smart.  She’s taken what she learned in Canada and combined it with what she knows of here and I think it makes for a better class.  I knew she’d like it and I knew she would do well.  This makes me happy.


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