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September 4, 2006 - Guyuan, China

How Do You Say "Alaska"?

Slow day today - the weather has taken a turn for the grayer the past few days and it felt perfect to run out for food and spend the rest of the day inside. Studied a few characters. Went over a few phrases. Thought about some possible class plans. Daydreamed. Maybe a nap or two thrown in there. Tough.

About 6:00 Ms. Wang phoned.

“Would you like to meet some students?”

“You bet!”



“You would rather rest?”

“I would like to meet some students!”

“You will meet me at my office at 5 til 8 then. Goodbye.”

* click *

Typical format for conversations. Offer. Accept. Surprise. Accept. Alternative - usually resting. Accept. Order. A little phone dance. I love it.

Now, judging by that short conversation, I imagined maybe a snack and some students milling around. They are in military training after-all - and very busy. Maybe even a meeting where I could say hello to some of my soon-to-be-students. Cool.

I met Ms. Wang at her office. She asked if I would rather rest than meet some students. Nope, still want to meet them.

Shortly there after I found out that “some students” meant a few more than that.

China surprise!

Ballpark? 360.

Meeting? Try lecturing 6 class sections.

I stood in front of each class and gave a short history of myself, what I liked and why I was here.

New York City. Sixty “Oooooh’s.”

Web designer. Sixty “Ahhhhh’s.”

Alaska. Sixty blank stares.

At the end I took a few questions.

Twice I was asked if I like playing basketball. As much as I wanted to say,

“Sorry kid I suck,”

I affirmed that I liked watching it but not so much playing.

I was asked if I designed clothes as well as webpages. Smart kid.

I was asked what my favorite food was. I had to describe the minutia of a beautiful margherita pizza versus a soggy slice.

And then I was asked if I liked China or America more.

Everybody came to attention. Going to keep an eye on this one.

I took the easy way out. Mentioned some similarities - some differences - and how I loved both.

An almost audible sigh of relief came out of Ms. Wang.

There was something quite nice about being applauded for coming in and leaving though.

The kids are great and generally attentive. Its amazing though that after only spending 20 or so minutes in front of each class you have an idea of who the bright ones are and who’s going to be trouble. That spark in the eyes. I’ll try to reserve judgement.

Six sections down - 12 more to “say hi” to this week.

Tumbleweeds... and no comments. How 'bout livening things up?

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