Today was a pretty average day with the exception of lunch time when we held a Meeting which all the Chinese teachers were told to attend. Our style of business the day before yesterday impressed the woman in charge so much that she basically told all the other teachers to come. Joel did a good Presentation and many seem very interested with one person at least committing herself to the cause.
On a totally different note, it is interesting to see the Chinese labour mentality. In England, the general trend seems to be redundancy because of technological improvement, ie machines getting bigger and better and replacing people. In China, however, the exact opposit seems to be true. Doubtless in some areas, people are being sacked because a maching can do the job faster or better, or both; however, here it seems that this is not the case. Examples of this are found everywhere, however perhaps the most fitting was the case today of cutting the school playing field. It is the same size as a full football field, in the middle of a proper 400m running track. In England this would take one person on a tractor style lawn mower the best part of 1h to cut and clean the cut grass up. However, here there were 5 people (or perhaps one or two more) working for the whole day to cut it. The reason was that the school had only bought one small petrol-powered lawn mower, dating back perhaps 20 years. There was one person walking this up and down, perhaps 75m 200 times during the course of the day, in the blazing heat and about 4 people walking atfer him raking up the grass into piles for 2 more people to put into bin bags and take away to despose of. This sort of thing is evident all over China: humans are cheap, but machines are expensive.
Just got back from another day out with the classes; it was really good fun. We went to a theme park, which in China does not imply any rides. There was the strangest museam ever called the Museam of Civilised Man, which nstarted off with the standard broken pots and axes and pictures of monkey-like humans around a fire, but then progressed to much stranger things. After leaving that section, there was a thing on farming, which apparently in China has 24 seasons, and then we went into a tropical rainforest. However, this was no normal greenhouse type rainforest. The curator clearly thought that having actual trees there would be terriblt old fashioned and to have the humidity and heat set up high would be stupid (Actually, they could have just opened the windows). In lieu of any trees then there were some bits of wood that looked like they had once been small trees, and a mass of concrete trees which had been poorly painted to resemble the rainforest. There was also a CD of various frog-croaking, a fake rainforest smell, and the whole ‘display’ was air conditioned at a nice 18 degrees. Very strange.
Progressing further through this piece, there was a log cabin which had been tilted to make you feel dizzy (how this is justified in a Civilised Man exhibition, I do not know), a map of a model sustainable village and some photocopies of drawings of fruits housed in highly protective casings. There were alsom some cement-based fruits as well.
We sat down and wateched some dancing – the can can followed by some break-dancing and then some indian dancing and then some flemenco. Very surreal. Then we ate a nice lunch and after lunch headed to the water section of the park – basically a few ponds with ropes across them or stepping stones etc. That was quite fun and it’s impossible to really describe here as there were so mant different ways to cross the pond. There was also a water-dodgems thing which was really really fun. Quite an enjoyable day out and I have picked up even more of a tan and my first sun-burn in a few years. It was quite blisteringly hot today 🙂
Not really much new news from here – tending to get into a routine of not sleeping and being around kids most of the day. I’m actually pretty good at mornings now, although I doubt that will carry on much after the camp. I guess the jet-lag when I get home will fix it up for a few days though. Got some new team members – a guy called Leon and his girlfriend called Pinkey; both of whom are Chinese and will study abroad. Leon was on one of these camps a few years ago and lives in Guangzho and wants to help out, which is cool. His body doesn’t seem to have adjusted to our schedule yet though, and he’s sharing a room with me so I seem ot be wakinghim up when I come in about 11:30ish and when I get up at 6ish.
Yesterday being Sunday, we did the usual. Had a full day of teaching and so on but found some time in the afternoon to sing some well known songs and look at a well known book. Some people from the camp were interested and came along, and by popular demand we did similar today with some teachers and the chinese organizer of this camp coming along and being very interested to find out more about us. Everyone around the campus is saying how different this camp is from previous years and are interested in why. Have had many long English conversations with people.
This afternoon I was just lazing around ‘supervising’ swimming, which just supervises itself. Managed to get some time to read my GNT which has been rather neglected of late. Also been learning quite a lot of Chinese. I cannot pronounce it or remember the sound of words, but I’m getting quite good at remembering the characters. Ruth seems to be getting quite good at the speaking side of things, and so we sound be set for the travel side of things afterwards.
Apologies for the lack of postcards, but the Chinese don’t seem to believe in them. I have not spied any on our travels around China and we have done a lot of travel. When we near Beijing, thre will doubtless be some but perhaps I will just have some of my photos printed off and write on the back of them…
The past few days have remained as hectic as ever over here. Yesterday was a non-teaching day but was still hard work as we ha to get the class to prepare things to do for the tallent show and the closing ceremony. In the evening, we had a murder mystery in which I was killed whilst attempting to kill Katie Liu. I had to lie outside dying for 20 minutes before I was allowed to resurrect. Lost a t-shirt to the tomato source… However, the children were not veyr nice to my corpse – I really don’t want to die around those children (although sometimes I think they will be the death of me). Several thought I was not really dead and so they poked my in the stomach, and one jumped on my fingers to make sure that I was not really dead. The worst feeling was the mosquitos which I could feel were sucking my blood (even though I’d put DEET on) but I couldn’t move to kill them. Later that evening, we had to reenact the murder so I was killed by Katie twice in the same evening.
Lunch was very nice as always and got about 50 min of nap.. was really tired this morning for some reason. All the kids were knackered too. Afternoon supervisions went ok as well although sitting outside on the balcony was very sweaty. It’s always very humid here , however it seemed to be moreso this afternoon meaning that the body sweats a lot more. Chinese people do too and no-one seems that bothered about it, but for us westerners it is very strange. Then, we went swimming for about an hour, but at the threat of rain and the drop in temperature (very cold; must have been almost reaching 25…) the kids scarpered and we were forced to abandon the pool too… So, I went to play badminton for 30 min with Wayne (A Chinese helper from the company) and Roger (my absolutely amazing Chinese teacher). Turned out that it comes back quite quickly so I was almost back to full speed after 30 minutes of playing it. However, I have never sweated so much in my life. Forced to take my thin t-shirt off half-way through and had to wipe my hand and raquet after every serve and when I’d finished I was dripping as if I had just come out of the shower… Ming. Anyway, off to the recycled fashion show now.. Apparently I’m the person my class will be dressing up… The joy… Hopefully be able to put some photos of things up in the next few days as the internet here has improved somewhat.
Last night we had a nice time watching Home Alone. I’d not seen it before, and it was very funny even if it was made for younder children. The kids absolutely loved it. However, during this a massive thunder storm had gathered, with a tropical downpour. It was probably the largest flood I’d ever seen however pretty moderate by Chinese standards. I was soaked to the bone after about 30 seconds of standing outside and lightening continued to flash til daybreak around the mountains which surround this area. Apparently we’re in for this for the next few days as well, which should be fun.
This morning, although the actual thunder and lightening had ceased for a few hours, it seemed to have energized the classes to be even more wild than usual. All the teachers are rather tired and all the classes are now bored of English and just want to mess around with each other. Even bribary with sweets is no longer quite as effective. Ah well, adapt and improvise.
Just got back from the class trip we had today. It was to a place called a ‘national forest’, well at least buy the broken English on the signs. It basically comprised of some temples, a “zoo”, a small amusement park, some shops and a tobogan track.
For the morning, we split into our classes and went on the amusement park rides. There were about 7 in all, most not particularly scary and all designed for Chinese children, meaning that I had to leave my legs hanging outside the capsule whilst being hurled around near bare machinary. The children bought many toy guns and animals and so on from the shops. As the animals (mostly budgeries and hamsters) are not allowed to love in their dorms and we were not about to look after them, we forced them to take them back to the shops.
The zoo was rather small and depressing as most small, foreign zoos tend to be. Most of the animals seemed to be trying to kill themselves, some appearing to have succeeded but for their twitching on the uncleaned floors of their small cages. One noteable difference however was that they had what I would consider to be common animals there as well. Several dogs and cats which roam the streets here in abundence, and also pigeons which upon reflection I don’t recall having seen yet in China, certainly not with the abundence with which they pollute Cambridge. Indeed, I asked one of the Chinese teachers that we were with and he said that although there were some pigeons in China they were not generally found in this area… Interesting…
But the highlight of the day had to be the tobogan ride – it was about 1km of track down the side of a hill and was covered blisteringly fast – several people approaching the 1 minute mark. Andrew managed to take his camera down in video mode so we have several videos of the track. It’s really fun going so fast with your bottom about 2 inches from the ground around banked corners where you have to lean to stop yourself from going over the edge.. unless you want to use the brake.
Tonight, I think we are plonking the kids in front of a film whilst we have some time to recuperate, and I will have to plan my lessons for tomorrow. Subject matter is no problem, it is more how to present it in such a way that they might have a chance of learning something and also making it interesting enough that I do not have to resort to sweet bribary.
Have just looked at my arm while tryping – about half way through the day I was told my neck was getting a little burnt, so I put some sumcream on my neck and face and just rubbed the residue off on my arm. I can now quite clearly see where upon my arm I rubbed as it is noticably whiter than the area surrounding it. Maybe I should spend more time in the sun; which I doubtless will with the swimming activity tomorrow afternoon (as with all other afternoons. This place does have times of good fun even with ll of the hard work.. Speaking of good fun; it’s about dinner time so we’ll have our thrice-daily feast served to us!