Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Saturday morning I met Joyce and her friend outside their apartment building. Usually, I tutor their children on Saturday mornings, but Joyce had been asking me for weeks to join them and their friends for a day of Mah Jong playing so I complied even though I didn't relish giving up most of my Saturday to hang out with people who can't speak English (besides Joyce, none of her friends can speak any English besides the occassional words they throw out here and there before bursting into laughter). Joyce has a car and driver which took the three of us to her friends house - a divorced accountant whose daughter I also tutor. This lady apparently makes quite a bit of money and lives in a REALLY nice part of town. Her "flat" is extremely nice and after being given the tour, we sat down for some sesame porridge. After we finished eating breakfast, the Mah Jong table was set up, and the four of us began to play. I quickly realized that I was WAY out of my league as these ladies played much faster than I could even think. Before I could even arrange my pieces, it was my turn to put something down. I lost pretty soundly for awhile. When a couple other lady friends arrived, I took the opportunity to remove myself from the players circle and become merely an interested observer. It was good timing too because they pulled out their money at this point and began playing for real (i.e., for money). I spent the rest of the morning watching them play and listening to Chinese jabber, but the ladies were all really friendly and I actually had a great time.

We went to lunch at a nearby restaurant. Since I was the guest, I got all the "choice" pieces of food - like the foot of the purple chicken and pigs' feet as well. Joyce kept shoveling food into my bowl. I felt like I was going to pop after we ate.

We then returned to Joyce's friend's house (I didn't get any of their names) and continued playing Mah Jong for awhile. Even though I couldn't understand anything and felt mentally exhausted afterwards from trying to learn the tricks to playing the game and trying to understand some of the Chinese words spoken, I had a really good time.


Last Saturday was the first of many (hopefully) language lessons given by Alice at the Lewis's house. I was too tired after returning from my Mah Jong marathon to join in the lesson, but I did go over to the Lewis's house for the dinner that Alice and her roomie, Susy, cooked after the lesson. It was really good, but I find that I'm seldom disappointed when our Chinese friends cook for us.

While I was at the Lewis's Saturday night, Wind texted me to see if she could spend the night with me. Wind is a senior at the medical college, and she's busy quite often so I don't get to spend as much time with her as I would like. Given this opportunity then to hang out, I left the Lewis's and headed home. Wind's sister is a teacher at my school so Wind was already on campus when I arrived. After dropping off Courtny at Zoe's (C was spending the night with Z), I texted Wind to come on over. It was pretty late when she arrived, but we stayed up so much later talking. She is such a strong person and very kind-hearted. I wish everyone could know her!

Sunday morning Wind and I made unleavened bread and then banana bread as well. Zoe and Courtny came over early, and the boys and Cindy joined us for a breakfast of banana bread and coffee. It was a great way to begin the morning!

In the afternoon, the Lewises came over to watch the three episodes of LOST that they hadn't seen yet. Since I'd seen them, I stayed upstairs in my apartment to use the rest of the unleavened bread dough I had made earlier. Yvonne stayed upstairs with me, and we had a really great opportunity to talk for a couple hours. Yvonne has had an interesting life growing up in East Germany so we talked a lot about the recent history of Germany as a whole and her experience growing up in a divided country. We also made some fun pastries - like chocolate or jelly filled puff balls. It was a lot of fun.

After everyone left, Brian, Yvonne and I decided to hit up some DVD stores. Yvonne hadn't been to any yet so we wanted to check them out. We've amassed quite a collection of DVDs, be we honestly seldom watch movies. While we were out, we ate at KFC for the first time. It's not really the same as the KFC back home, but salty French fries are almost always a welcome hiatus from Chinese food.


Monday night I gave the final exam to one of my classes. It was an oral exam worth 70 percent of their final grade (which is really ridiculous, actually). Each student had to prepare a two minute speech about anything of their choosing. The only stipulation was that they were not allowed to speak about "how poor my English is". The students signed up for a time to come to my apartment and speak one-on-one with me. I think it's actually a pretty difficult way to give a final exam, but there weren't many other options. I never realized how hard it is to grade something like "oral English" when every student is on a different level.

I am a little sad that class is over actually because it's a really good class, and the students are fantastic. I begin a new class next week in place of this one. It will be fun to start over again, though. I hope the next class goes as well as this one did.

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