Saturday, March 20, 2010

Three Months

For three months I've entertained the idea of being a teacher next year at the international school here in Hangzhou. I had three interviews & thought I "had it in the bag". Our thoughts were if we got the job we could stay here for two years or more and take care of our financial debts. Kyle couldve tried to do school online & I wouldve been happy getting a tremendous experience being a teacher in an international school. Sounded perfect to us.
About a week ago I found out I didn't get the job. The ideas & plans we'd thought about for so long came crashing down & left us wondering "ok, that didn't work out. What next?". We had a meeting with our family here & talked about longterm & short term goals. No real decisions have been "set in stone" yet. But most of us are thinking "what next". Please think about us while we all try to listen to him about what's next.

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Gift

We received an email a few days ago from the FOA (Foreign Affairs Office). The message said we had a gift waiting for us in their office for "Happy Woman's Day". I had two classes this morning, met some friends for lunch and decided I had enough time to swing by the FAO before my next class started.
It was raining hard at this point and I had my bag over my shoulder and braced my umbrella against the wind with both hands. I arrived to the fourth floor of the office building, walked down the hall and was greeted by a smiling face. Our Happy Woman's Day gift turned out to be boxes of Welch's grape juice!
Each box had four glass bottles and they were heavy. I got two boxes because she asked if I could take Kyle's too. Walking down the hallway with this heavy load I didn't know how I was going to juggle these boxes and an umbrella at the same time. 
A few ideas were flying through my head: I could have held both boxes with two hands and just trudged through the rain with no umbrella - but I would have been soaked for my next class. I also thought maybe I could hide them somewhere in a building and come get them after class - this was risky too because I could miss the bus home...
The elevator door opened and it had only one occupant. One of my students from this morning's class! She noticed I was struggling and took one of the boxes out of my hands and said, "I will help you go where you need to go." She walked all the way across campus in the rain carrying my box of juice!
The very moment I wondered how I was going to make it I was sent a gift.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Spreading the English Word

In class this week I asked my students if they'd ever read something in English they didn't understand. :o) Those that answered said "of course". I told them I would teach them a method I had learned that helped me find meaning in text. I wrote an excerpt from Solomon's wise words on the board and told them to write it in their own words. I was very proud of a lot of their opinions and understandings. We talked about when you read something that is good you should apply it to your I asked them "If you were to live by this, how would you?" They thought about it and a lot of them had incredible responses.
Recently I learned from my students that they DON'T speak English to each other outside of class. This is their biggest struggle in learning English (they don't live in an English-friendly environment). Understanding this made me determined to create an English-friendly environment for each of my students.
I gave each student the challenge to speak English to five people throughout the week about what we talked about in our class. If all 60 of my kids from two classes talk to five of their friends, that's 300 people having English conversations about good things outside of class. Once they'd talked to five people they had to email me the names and responses of those people. Accountability.
I've had several emails already and it's been really neat reading my student's opinions on good things and speaking English outside of class.