Day 40 - Life on the Murder Scene

Friday, March 18th, 2016
Smog Level: Horror Movie Set

The air is super dry here. My sickness has progressed into it’s climax of a head cold. Congestion, coughing, and general wooziness. I can’t stop sweating, and I figure that’s because it’s just hot in my room! I do my damnedest to get to the bus in time, and manage it well enough. I still can’t stop sweating, which says to me that I must have a fever. Great. Well, that's what I get for going out, shorting myself sleep, and being sick.
My head throbs. Fake it till I make it. I'm hoping that the food and water will carry me through the classes. Fridays are supposed to be fun, but I need them to know enough Geography for the test next week. So.. instead of a fun 35 minutes, it’s a 35 min session of drilling the kids on the oceans, continents, and some countries. To be clear of how much i’m pushing this, they have to say between 1-7 continents to enter the classroom, maybe 1-3 countries as well, and then they have to stand behind their chair until I ask them a question about compass directions (e.g. North = up; up = north). I’ll have to do something next Friday to make up for it.

This is how my air filter tells me that the air is bad in my aparement
The roaming fever continues to pass through, coming and going as it pleases. I manage to finish all of my marking. Pool and Wendy are doing likewise in their neighboring "cubicles" within our office. I inform Pool that I’ve finally come across some Anti-Japanese opinions from my students; one of them said they hate Japanese people. I told them that you can’t hate something you don’t know, which isn’t entirely true. Often we hate things because we don’t understand them well enough, but I’m not about to explain that to an ESL second grader. Pool asked if they’d started calling each other Japanese as an insult, which I’m happy to say I haven’t. The three of us decide to grab lunch in the caf together.

I found this stuff smeared
on several trees. No idea
what it is.
On the walk over through the hell haze, Pool points out that language itself can be propaganda. At least, how it's taught. When he was studying Mandarin, they taught them the word for “territory” by saying that “Taiwan is a Chinese territory” and “The SouthEast Sea is a Chinese territory” to teach them the different words for land- and water-based territories. In case you aren’t aware, both of those are contested. His wife was studying English, and they made them talk about what good qualities a leader has, placing great emphasis on how a great leader listens to the people. Roots of democracy, anyone? These sorts of things are also a reason why learning other languages is a great way to understand how other people think. Language not only expresses what we think, but shapes it.

Pool told me that the Chinese coteachers stick with their classes through the years, starting in grade one. That means Joy and Bunny will be stuck with those classes for years to come. I think they’re relatively lucky, since they’re both such great classes. Though, imagine the hell your life would be if you had a class of terrors who you wanted to drown in a tub. Apparently this can be a major reason for why teachers will quit. Also, think about how heart breaking that’ll be after 6-8 years of essentially raising these kids, saying goodbye, then rolling the dice all over again. Really, they have more of an influence on these kids than their parents do. They see them all day, 5 days a week, while their parents see them only 2.

This doesn't do justice to how smoggy it is, but it's all I've got
After lunch and further discussion of who will be the new Director, I hobble through my Grade 1 classes, mixing spelling/reading with a game of hangman. Spell the word correctly, or read the sentence correctly, and you get to guess a letter. I tried making it boys vs girls in the one class, which was a mistake. When it’s not split like that, they all celebrate getting the sentence, but if it’s split, only one side gets happy. They go nuts, though. The first class’s sentence was “Dragons can breathe fire” and they went even more apeshit for every additional letter uncovered. Kind of cute, but also extremely loud.

Class concludes, fever resumes. I stagger home in the beautiful weather which I can’t help but resent. Cool weather is preferred when you can’t stop sweating. I look forward to sleeping, but remember that I have to tutor for an hour shortly after I get home. One final hurtel.

Random Store Architecture
The girl arrives with her father, who promptly leaves us. The amount of trust he’s placing in me with his 6 year old is astounding. She’s a really sweet girl, very smart and playful. He says she’s naughty, but it’s more she’s never really been in a formal classroom, has a lot of energy, and really likes to play. I try to mix playing in with the lesson. She tells me she likes me out of the blue, and we make faces at each other. I think she’s memorized the books of hers, but I’m helping her sound out the words for ones she doesn’t know.

Once her papa picks her up, I hit the hay for a couple hours. Later, Shimou will arrive, we’ll eat some food, and I’ll write/edit for most of the night. I didn’t think I’d be in the mood for it while sick, but once you get started, it’s easy to keep going.

Words of the Day
English - Mandarin [pronunciation]
nurse - hùshì [who-shur]
employee - yuángōng [yuwan go-ng]

Editing Music
Hungarian Dance No. 5

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