ONE OF THOSE DAYS
Life is beginning to really pick up. After we returned from vacation, we had about a month of solid nothingness to do. But more recently, we've all become quite a bit busier - or at least I feel like I have. Last week I began two new classes which meet twice a week every other week. So every other week I have four extra classes to teach! Both classes are sophomore English majors. However, the differences between them couldn't be any more drastic than if one class was comprised of geniuses and the other class was comprised of stones. The genius class is filled with interested, energetic, encouraging students who speak English really well and truly desire to learn. The other class (which I taught last semester too and had problems with) is comprised mostly of disinterested, disrespectful (and, I think, maybe spoiled) students. I've tried everything with the latter class from games to lectures to presentations to being strict to being totally relaxed...Nothing seems to work. Recently, I decided it's because they can't understand me so I planned to create opportunities outside of class for us to meet and hang out so they can begin to feel comfortable speaking English. My first attempt was such a debacle. I played a game in class, and I told the group that one the game that I would take them out to lunch one day. We planned a good time when we could all have lunch together. So yesterday one of my students picked me up in her car (which is amazing since it's really difficult for the students here to get a car) and took me to one of the most expensive restaurants in town. I thought maybe they were trying to impress me and that they would offer to pay (like most of my students usually do), but after we ate maybe eight dishes, I was given the bill of 200 kuai!! I know that may not mean much. Let me put it in perspective. An average dish will cost 6 or 7 kuai. So for eight dishes at a normal restaurant, the bill might come to 80 kuai, give or take some. I didn't bring 200 kuai with me - only 130 - so my students had to pay the difference. Normally, I would be embarrassed about this, but I'm really not in this situation. Derek and Yve think that they tried to take advantage of me since they're students from the class that I say hates me, but I think maybe they're just spoiled and didn't know any better. So this morning I had to teach the class that hates me. Everytime before I go into this class, I give myself a pep talk and try to connect with the students. Everytime I leave the class, I feel so drained and frustrated. Today I just gave up. There was about 15 minutes left in class, and I was tired of talking over them, and I was tired of the blank looks on their faces so I just stopped talking. Normally, a class will shut up if their teacher shuts up and just stares at them. Mine did not. So after a few minutes, I got their attention, told them I was tired of talking, gave them an emotional version of a indirect guilt trip, and then put on some music for the rest of class. I didn't say one more word to them. It's frustrating, but I'll keep trying, I guess.
Last weekend we had a ladies' retreat at Rena's house. I think we had about 30 girls, give or take, at different times during the weekend. A few people came from Yichang and a couple from Wuhan. The rest of us were locals. It was just a really nice, relaxing weekend filled with fellowship, food, and fun - the three "f"s of any ladies' gathering.