Student Life

bya Gabrielle at 3:19 PM

School has started back and that means no more vacation.

My first day of school went fairly well. I was really surprised how many students they were able to collect for the summer session. Patty counted 49 heads during our opening ceremony, but that number may grow or fall as the summer progresses. Everyday things change around here. It’s a Chinese way, and I have come to accept it.

This session, I am teaching Advance Let’s Talk(that is the name of the book) and Beginners Interchange(ditto). There are about 15 or so in each class, which is a hell of a lot more than I had last semester. In my beginners class last semester, I had four, and in my advance class I only had 3. I thought last semester was nice, but this so far is even better. I feel even more like a teacher than before. The fact that the students are nice and have come prepared to learn is just a bonus. A teacher can’t really ask for anything more. Well, I wish they would talk more, but that will come in time as they get used to me, their classmates and speaking English on a daily basis.

On the first day of classes, I spent the entire class(50 minutes) introducing myself. That is what I always do when I meet a new bunch of students. It gives them a chance to know who I am and what I am all about instead of just my name and where I am from. Well, after introducing myself to them, I told them that in our next meeting that they would be responsible for introducing themselves to me as well as to their fellow classmates.

I was a little apprehensive. I didn’t think that they would actually go home and plan something to say or that my beginners would be able to string two sentences together, but both of my classes exceeded my expectations.

I was specifically surprised my beginners. Many of them came with little speeches written down and the rest had memorized what they were going to say. For beginners, they did remarkably well. Their English wasn’t perfect, but for their level, they did an awesome job. I had only expected a simple, “Hello, my name is blah blah blah and I am from blah blah blah.” Nearly every student had something interesting to say about themselves – their favorite color, favorite sport, and hobby.

My Advance class did very well, too. Some of them shouldn’t even be there because their English is already that good, but they think they need more practice. I guess practice can’t hurt. They were all very well spoken and told me a lot of their lives and their dreams. I found out that one of the boys in the class is a stamp collector. The only other stamp collector I have met is my mother. A lot of them want to travel the world, one girl wanted to be a romance writer, one boy wants to be a financial advisor, and another girl wants to own her own bar. They all want to be rich, but don’t we all? They are an interesting bunch, that is for sure.

The one thing that I noticed that nearly every student, both from my beginner and advance level, said was this –

“There are three people in my family – my father, my mother and I.”

I know why China brought the One Child Policy into being. I don’t necessarily agree or disagree with it, but I can understand it. Even though I understand it, it still makes me sad that nearly all of my students grew up siblingless. In America, it is quite different. The majority of families have more than one child because they can. The minority of families have only one child because they want to. Here in China, the majority of families only have one child because that is all that they are allowed. Only a few are able to have more – for reasons that are set down in the rules somewhere.

It especially made me sad when one of my students asked me today:

“When you were little, did you fight with your brothers and sisters?”

Oh, yes, did I.

It is a sad that so many people here in China will never get the joy of breaking the heads of their brother’s GI Joe’s . It may not be a critical part of childhood, but it sure is a fun one.

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