Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Hard Words: Australia, Track and Field, Handsome.

Xiahe Day 3

7:30 Breakfast
8-11:30 Teaching English at a Middle School
12-2 Lunch
2-6 Bus, boo
6:30-8 Free time
8-9 Huanghe Visit
9:50 Train

We had to wake up pretty early for breakfast because we had to make sure we made it to the middle school on time. I still regret not getting up just a bit earlier to circumambulate the monastery with the pilgrims. So far this trip, that's my biggest regret.

For the first 45 minutes of class (8:10-8:55) we observed a Tibetan middle school's English class being taught. The teacher's accent was horrible, and at times the words were really wrong. It was also obvious that the kids really didn't understand much of what was going on, despite their frequent affirmative responses. It was fairly frustrating.

After a short break, we took over class (from 9:15-10). Our theme was Olympic sports and countries. I started out by taking several minutes to teach them some major countries and what to call people from those countries (which is significantly more difficult than just saying 中国人, think about it). Then the boys taught them some sports vocabulary (track and field was particularly hard to say) and after we attempted to play charades with the vocab. This went as well as could be expected, considering that Chinese classrooms are never interactive and the kids didn't know what to expect (plus charades is a hard game to explain if you don't really speak Chinese and your students don't really speak English - or Chinese. I really don't speak Tibetan, at all). For the last portion of class we broke into three small groups and just tried to chat with them. That's when we realized just how bad their English really was (despite their supposedly high level). We eventually had to give up on English and resort to Chinese conversation and showing them pictures and songs on Sean's computer. They loved it.

At the end of class the kids kept asking us to come to recess and play basketball with them. It took us a few times, but we finally agreed to 5 minutes (b/c we didn't know if we could stay). However, when word leaked out to the rest of the groups about what we were doing they joined us on the playground for about a half hour. The boys played basketball, and the girls had to join the Tibetan girls in a circle game that was similar to hot potato, but without the challenge. One person would skip around the circle singing a song that went something like "找,找,找朋友, something something " and then when we got to a certain part of the rhyme they stopped, turned to whoever they were in front f, shook their hand and said "你是我的好朋友, 再见!” When you said zaijian, they waved goodbye and that person became the new skipper. Basically the most boring game ever. I'm too competitive for it.

After the Zhao Peng You game the girls taught us a dragon game (I missed the full name of it - just caught dragon). Everyone lines up conga style and grabs the shirt of the person in front of them. These people are the dragon. There is one person who is it who is trying to catch the tail of the dragon, but the dragon tail avoids them while the dragonhead tries to catch them. It's like crack the whip - sorta. It was really fun though - a massive improvement on Zhao Peng You.

Then we tried to teach them some American games. Duck duck goose went pretty well, although it was exhausting - I'm clearly incredibly out of shape (and a favorite goose). Freeze tag did not go so well. That game is much harder to explain than one would expect. A few of them got it well enough in the end though. Playing with the kids was really fun and rewarding. I hope they continue to play the games we taught them.

We met up with B2 for lunch at the same place we went to the day before. It was so bad, though! Incredibly disappointing, considering how amazing that apple soup was.

Following lunch we embarked on a lovely 4-hour bus ride. It was relatively uneventful and uncomfortable.

When we arrived back in Lanzhou, Terra, Taylor, Reggie, Van and I went out for dinner. The boys got the beef noodles that Lanzhou is apparently so famous for (our tour guide Kiki/Candy is OBSESSED with food!) and we went with my old favorite: maladofu. After dinner we went on a quest for moon cake, since it was the mid autumn festival that day.

Got on the train around 9:30 after visiting the yellow river and this statue of a "graceful lady and a lovely lovely boy" that "represents China's relationship with the River." Note: Terra crowd-surfed in a bush here.

The train was more horrid than usual - I had a top bunk and discovered that I'm pretty badly claustrophobic, since I just freaked out and hyperventilated every time I woke up. Actually, I shouldn’t think about claustrophobia, because I can’t spell it, and I'm on the train now, and I'm starting to get pretty panicky just writing about it.


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