Teaching is turning into a taxing profession; my respect for the underpaid and often overworked women who introduced me to basic knowledge has increased tenfold. The frustrating thing, however, is that I am not sure how much good I am doing. When I follow the lesson plans given to me, the children don’t seem to be learning anything. The texts seem culturally insensitive (they were written in America and–this is pure conjecture–seemingly designed for native Spanish speakers) and poorly organized. How can the children be expected to learn grammar if it is not explicitly taught to them? When I don’t follow the lessons, on the other hand, my TA sits in the corner looking sullen. I think she cannot completely understand what I am saying when it doesn’t come out of the book.
Being in this part of China is still fascinating. The grapes here are enormous: each is almost the same size as a lychee, the succulent fruit we have also been enjoying. The grapes have thick, flavorful skin that completely detaches itself from the rest of fruit when you pierce it with your teeth, and the strong, tart flavor tastes much more like wine than any grapes I have had in the US.
I’ve noticed that many people here don’t seem to have many items of clothing. The teachers at school alternate their outfits regularly–I’ve only been here a few days and I have noticed the same ensembles twice over in some cases. It makes sense, though: they can wash an outfit one evening, hang it to dry during the day, and wear it the next day. Really, without the cultural taboo against wearing the same clothes too many times in place, it is very practical. It seems almost paradoxical that the streets are lined with far more clothing shops than I’ve seen in the US, each selling trendy dresses with bubble skirts, t-shirts with nonsensical English phrases (I bought a great one for 19 quai that says “The Irony of Fate: SexPot Revenge. Never Be the Last, Keep on Kicking Ass” with a big skull and crossbones. Nice.) and lots and lots of frilly things. Considering the amount of tourism this town probably gets (almost none), I don’t understand how the stores stay alive.
It’s 2:30 and my first graders await, I should be getting back to school.