Day 47 - Fun Friday

Friday, March 25th, 2016
Smog Level: All 3 Mountains

We’re almost out of electricity. Josh took the recharge card to the bank to put money on it, but they accidentally broke it. He said they were all crowded around each other within view, looking in toward the circle and whispering. They returned the broken card and said "we broke it." We only have ¥25 left… and I don’t know how long that gives us. I think we had ¥40 two days ago, and the bank said it would take a week or two to get a new one.

The Student's Luggage
Fun Friday. The kids respect me enough to listen and know I can punish them, but I also joke around with them. I think we’ve struck a decent balance. I also think this job is good for me because I have a hard time knowing how to act around children, often being like… “so… what’s up? How about that... uh, toy. Is it fun?” We played hangman, then I taught them words that they would like, such as food items, desserts, and weapons (sword and shield, bow and arrow) because they’d probably find them useful for their composition stories.
I have student evaluations and CoTeacher evaluations sprung on me, which are difficult. Asking someone who’s barely started the job to evaluate veterans feels... bizarre, especially when they’re not anonymous. I mean.. we still have to work with them. Luckily, I have no complaints. My CoTeachers are great - and I don’t mean stature! Bad pun, bad pun…

Teacher's Badge!
...Geez, I need a haircut
Apparently when you fill out evaluations of the students, if you write something like “the student needs to work harder,” then the parents will sometimes come and yell at us saying we should teach their kid better. East and West collide! BUT us foreign teachers are in a bubble. If I write “Billy really sucks and it's his own damn fault,” then the parent would unload on my CoTeacher for being so lax with Lil’ Bill. I ask Bunny and Joy who the problem parents are and keep that in mind when writing. Luckily there's only 2, and they're both in the same class.

At lunch, I eat with Helena, our Mandarin teacher, and Aurora, the new Chinese teacher who has been making friends everywhere. She’s quirky, has excellent english, and is very upbeat. They both try to speak mandarin to me, which I try to hear them over the din of the cafeteria. Any noise and I might as well never studied it. I realize that my retention from last night was quite low because of the sheer amount of content, and that being the least educated in Mandarin will make this difficult without extensive practice outside. Good, good. Some people say you should always be the smartest person in the room, which I wholeheartedly disagree with. Who would you learn from if that were the case?

Sometimes-visible Mountains in the Back. I have to cross this everyday
to get to work. This is only 3 of the 6 lanes, the other 3 are past the divider.
After lunch, I play hangman with the grade 1s, and they celebrate raucously when they near the end of the game. I see why they enjoy hangman so much: they can’t really play it in Chinese. The entire word is probably only two or three characters, so there’s no spelling it out. At least, I’m guessing as much.

Evaluations for one class finished and classes over for the day, I head home and edit a couple posts before my next student arrives. Lola’s adorable, full of energy, and literally bounced on the couch repeating close approximations to what I said. Eventually I calmed her down and got her to write sentences on what she likes.

I swear I didn't coach her to write this.
After teaching her as much as I could in her vibrant state, her papa arrived to pick her up. At one point, she had gotten me to flex and wanted to show her dad. That was.. uh, fun. To make it even more embarrassing, I've noticed a bit of muscle loss lately. Feels bad, man. But hey, she had a good time, and her dad likes that she has fun.

Today is much better than yesterday. The weather is great, the classes were fun and went by quickly, and I’m done everything by 4pm. I did find out something interesting about the mall next door, also…

It’s the second biggest mall in the world! At least, for service area. It’s 5 stories tall and takes at least 10 minutes to walk from one end to the other. So many hallways, so many shops… I’ve gotten lost before, briefly. I haven’t even really checked out the 2nd-4th floors much, other than to cut through once or twice.

Holy shit, I actually didn’t believe it until just now, when I Googled it to make sure I wasn’t putting out straight-up lies. It’s the GR mall, also known as the “Golden Resource Mall,” also known as the Jin Yuan Mall. No wonder people always know where it is.. now to just learn the rather lengthy name in Mandarin…

She took off her sock, put a pen between her
toes, and spun on that chair.
No idea.
I’ve had a scattered assortment of hobbies in the past. Every now and again, one will randomly come back from the past and help out in a situation. Reading body language helps to tell what people are saying when you have no idea what they’re literally saying. In the classroom, my year or so dabbling in studying drawing has come in handy for helping teach the kids things and keep them engaged. They’re still not good, but they get the point across or at least a laugh. It’s even more helpful because the kids are allowed to draw a picture to show that they understand what the vocabulary words mean, and I’ve been seeing them recreate my “works” on their tests. 

Reinforces my theory that no skill is entirely wasted; no field of study is entirely useless. This may seem stupidly obvious, but talk to people in the STEM fields and see how they view non-STEM areas. Then again, I'm for the multi-disciplinary approach. These years are about developing approaches and systems to rapidly getting to a level of competency - not mastery - of skills. If you can get to that level, then you gain a lot of insight and see how they cross-relate. Chess, for instance, seems like a pompous game for intellectuals. Maybe it is. But I've found it helps a lot with planning, seeing bigger pictures, predicting how people will act. It's often not the skill itself, but the underlying principles and insights that come from it. Anyway, down from my soap box.

I’ve also been getting delivery dinners almost every night this week. No good rhyme or reason other than laziness and false limitations. We are all lazy in our own ways. But this doubles as allowing me to get garbage bags with the meals, and containers for reusing. They all get delivered by 3rd party couriers, and come tightly knotted. Here’s where money saving comes in: I don’t want to buy garbage bags, so instead of tearing the bags like I used to, I am now practicing untying knots so that I can keep the bag. Wow. Maybe you think I'm fooling myself, but you never know where random skills you dabbled in come in handy. Hell, it could save your or someone else's life one day.

Not much happened tonight, aside from getting the massage without Shimou’s help. I was floating on a cloud after that one, unwound watching Daredevil and passing out early.

Side note: apparently they will walk on your back at that massage place. Who knew? Maybe I should try that.

Words of the Day
English - Mandarin [pronunciation]
Like - xǐhuān [she-huan]
Most - zuì [zoy]
Favourite - zuì xǐhuān [zoy she-huan] (literally: most liked)

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