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Shangrao & Life In The School So Far

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya,

New school. New ups and new downs.

Unlike any another school/province change over the past six and a half years, this one actually took several weeks for me to settle into, mainly due to the fact that my reason for coming here was based purely on lies attached to the end of a Shangrao school fishing rod. As far as Buckland’s and I believed, I was coming here to teach the older students, would have an apartment of my own and be on the same salary as before.

At the end of August, upon arrival (4:30am) from Fujian, I was shown to my new 'shared’ apartment that was still under construction, given a timetable that included 99.9% Grade 1 and Grade 2 with only one Grade 3 class and later was told WHAT my salary was to be. Needless to say the following night I was in a hotel paid for by the school while the workers completed the shared apartment, my salary was back to where it should have been and after a call to Owen Buckland and several weeks of searching, American Travis was moved to a beautiful 16th floor apartment which leaves me here in the dusty and drafty fifth floor classroom at the school.

Don’t get me wrong, besides the noise during the day I actually love it. It’s small, easy to clean and has no kitchen which makes it the perfect ‘batch pad’!

Thankfully I have my own computer as the school ‘forgot’ to provide one, just as they forgot to provide a kitchen, a sink, sofa, TV & DVD, power points that actually work, a coffee table, a tape recorder and class books for Grade 1 and 2. On the other hand, everything they did provide was great and luckily for me being happy with almost anything I can simply make do with bedside tables for some of the above. I don’t require a kitchen as I eat out for all meals, but if I was a new teacher and new in China I would have boarded the next train out.

The above might sound demanding to some readers but when looking to teach in China for a year, people sign with recruiters such as Buckland’s as there is a contract between them and each school stating what must be provided .

Slowly though I’m gathering what is required and if I choose to move schools next term then I hope to have it set up for the next one or two teachers that will live here. Sometimes it takes a few nudges to remind them, other times its taken a phone call from Buckland’s and other times I’ve had to be a little more extreme eg: last Monday I had students pounding on my door for hours in the morning and they then began throwing water balloons through my window, one hit my computer but thankfully didn’t break until it hit the floor and the rest missed the TV and the power board, I then rang and asked about my sofa and tape recorder and was told that I needed to continue to wait.

Easily solution for a stupid problem.

I waited until the bell rang and then informed the school that there would be no classes until I had both a sofa in my apartment and a tape recorder for class. I was then told that they actually had purchased the sofa several weeks ago but had forgotten to tell me. Pounding doors, water balloons and a forgotten sofa, I looked at the plastic blue chair that I had been sitting on for almost two months each night and day, turned off my phone and went back to bed and when I re-emerged several hours later I found a ‘sofa’ type thing on the balcony. It’s not what I would like to have if I was here as a couple as it’s actually office furniture and about as hard and uncomfortable as a ledge of scaffolding.

For me though it’s nothing a folded up quilt or blanket can’t fix. As for the rest of the school.

The staff are absolutely wonderful and I couldn’t have asked to be part of a more beautiful and better English Team. Throughout the week most of them appear in my classes to help out as a Class Assistant and believe me, without them I’d have gone insane within the first few weeks. I’ve taught Grade 1 before but for some reason they seemed to have had much more control of themselves but here, something is juuuuuuust not quite right. I don’t know if they are all a few sandwiches short of a picnic, or a few stubbies short of a slab of beer but they spend most of their time screaming and being completely insane.

Most classes I leave shaking my head wondering why any school would be crazy enough to give Grade 1’s a foreign teacher and no Chinese English Teacher.

They go crazy enough when they visit the zoo, so why in the world put a foreign monkey in their classroom and expect them to behave, even in the slightest. Giving them an actual Chinese English Teacher for their first year instead of me would benefit them one hundred times more than having them scream themselves stupid and learn nothing in my class.

There actually is a foreign teachers saying when it comes to teaching Grade 1: They piss themselves, they shit themselves and in between they scream.

My Grade 2’s are wonderful, most of the time, but I actually have grown to love teaching them much more than I expected to. We can now have fun and most of the time they will control themselves when I let them know that things are getting too loud. My one class of Grade 3’s? What can I say, they are my angels. Actually they try so hard that most of them get really angry with me when I choose other students to do such boring things as reading. Most of the class waits at the office door or at the bottom of my stair well and I then have to empty my teaching bag to allow each of them something to carry to class for me.

Now that’s what I call students that love their English class.

Three afternoons a week I also have an extra class that is made up of the best students from each class in Grade 4, 5 & 6. But for the first month it was such an un-planned mess of no one knowing who was attending and those that did, arrived twenty minutes late so in the end I cancelled it as it is after hours and I have better things to do than wait around for students who would more likely not arrive. But that fact is when there was a handful of them we had a wonderful time and it felt great to be teaching older students again so I asked if we would give it one more try, gave my Do’s & Don’ts and since then each afternoon has been filled to the brim with only students who want to be there to learn. It is never loud and as each afternoon passes more and more of them begin to understanding that we all can actually have fun and learn at the same time.

Now that’s what I also call students that love their English class.

PS: the photo with the spiral staircase, the one of the beautiful light and the building at night is actually Travis’s apartment. The school pays 1000 Yuan a month rent and I’ve been sitting on a plastic chair and playing building blocks with bedside draws for over a month and a half…..nice!

Beers N Noodles toya…..shane ___________________________________________________________

The soundtrack to this entry was by Neil Diamond The album was ‘Hot August Night’

The album become a great success and in Australia it spent twenty nine weeks at number one on the album charts during 1973 & 1974, a feat only re-achieved by Delta Goodrem with her album ‘Innocent Eyes’ in 2003. It was the number one charting album in Australia for the 1970s, entering the Australian album charts in 1972 and was still charting in the top 20 in 1976.

Believe it or not, it also re-entered the Australian Top 10 AGAIN in 1982. That is TEN years after it first entered the charts! ____________________________________________________________

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Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China

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