After many trials and false starts, we are finally able to access our blog! As many of you now know, it was a rough start-up for us here in China. However, we are in a wonderful apartment on the 20th floor, school has provided us with a routine we can follow, and people are….. well, ok they are still staring at us as we walk to and from work, but maybe we’ll win them over eventually. We say “nie how” (spelling?) to all our admirers as we walk to school, hoping to get a smile or something from them. Mostly, they just look surprised that a foreigner would actually talk to them but some say it back to us. Crossing the street is getting easier, or I’m developing a badass attitude. I stared down a car the other day! (not really recommended!). We have 2 other Canadian teachers working with us, and they are great. They have both done this for many years, so they have experience and a little Chinese to make us look good to the big boss! We have a lot of fun with them which makes going to work so much easier. This is a new program here at this school, so they are not aware of the needs of a Canadian teacher. When we asked for school supplies for the teachers, they came back and gave us 2 pencils(not sharpened, no sharpener in sight) and 4 sheets of paper! Our first week,(which should have been organizing the classes and getting things printed off) was spent waiting for things to arrive. We didn’t get class lists until the day the kids started, and our photocopier came about a week and a half later. Today I asked for coloured construction paper; they came back with pink, and only pink. It turns out they will have to buy some for us! We brought lots of posters and bulletin borders to bring some colour into the classrooms, and when I put them up, all the Chinese teachers wanted to come and see what we were doing. The classrooms here are all grey and white, no pictures, no student’s work ……nothing to let the students know that they are doing a good job. The teachers here don’t let the students talk during class, so when they get to our classes, we are probably the noisiest in the school! They stop talking when they need to, but we encourage them to work together and do lots of cooperative education(basically a fancy word for working in groups, hahaha!). The Chinese teachers want to come and see what all the fuss is about, so we will get some of them coming in for observation soon. We have only 35 students in 2 classes, so if the kids are talking about us, that’s good news! We want and need the program to grow in order to be successful. The students have also chosen English names for us to call them, which makes things so much easier!
As for our lives outside of school, I have to say that we have not had too many exciting nights on our own yet! We were pretty tired after the first week, and kind of stressed trying to organize supplies for our team. However, we have ventured out on the weekends – mastering the subway, being able to flag down a taxi and telling the driver where we need to go, and meeting some teachers from another school. We have also discovered the Chinese foot rub, which is like heaven on earth, and involves a back and shoulder rub as well. For a 1 hour massage, it is less than $20 Canadian! Crazy! It is now a weekly tradition. Already I am getting spoiled! Grocery shopping is a challenge but we are finding that it is cheaper for us to eat out for dinner than it is for us to cook at home. The 2 of us can eat for under $13! We went shopping the other day to a “fake mall” as they call it here. Bruce was able to get a Giorgio Armani winter coat that is just fabulous…..and some Under Armour shirts for school. It is still quite warm here, but the temperature is turning to fall – quite like Vancouver, where it is warm during the day and cooler at night, although here we have humidity like I have never felt before. I have ceased wearing any makeup at all, as it would literally just melt off my face (this may be the year of looking well, like I just got outta bed!). Oh well, we are both losing weight due to the fact that we are walking everywhere! Oh, and I have become very good at charades! I locked myself out of the apartment last week, and was able to stop someone and get him to understand what I had done! Unfortunately they didn’t understand that I did not need my door taken off, at a great expense to me, but I was able to stop another person who spoke English and he let me use his phone to call Bruce to come to my rescue! Thank goodness we live across the street from the school! That will happen only one time, I can assure you all!
As you can tell, things here are settling in to a routine; we bought a dvd player and have found a great dvd store that has english movies and tv series, so we have something to remind us of home each night. (the english dvd section is hidden behind a vault!). We just need to hang some pictures or artwork to make it even better. However, both Tom Harris, our Canadian agent, and Harvey Su, the BC Offshore School owner, have done everything they can to help us get over our first month of challenges; it hasn’t been easy, but with them behind us, we got through it and are now concentrating on the important things. Next time I will post some pictures or maybe Bruce can put some of his up. I don’t have many because I left the downloading cord for my camera at home – but I just found another one at the fake mall so now I can take lots more!
Hugs to you all!
Kim and Bruce!