Today was make-up day for the students who will miss Wednesday because of the National Holiday, so I had to teach on Sunday. My first class was a class of new freshmen students. They have just finish 3 weeks of “military training” where they learned to march all day long and had to shoot a gun once. They are tired and ready for school to begin. There were 38 in my first class. There are always lots of ooh’s and aah’s when I show them the picture of my seven children. Then I show the one with my children and grandchildren and they start to clap and get all excited. A little later, I show them a picture from our last Petersen family reunion and they usually gasp. It is fun to see their reactions. I think I like the freshmen more than sophomores, but I’ll give it more time. Their language skills are not as good, but at least right now, they are really eager to learn and I have already bonded with some of them quite well.
I had a second class this morning, also freshman. We started out in a classroom that had 45 seats. The girl who is the “class monitor” started counting seats and knew that there would not be enough seats for everyone, so she came and asked me what to do. I suggested looking for some chairs. The desks in these rooms are usually 5 seats across with a bench in front for a desktop. There is no movability in the way they are arranged and really, no way to put extra chairs in the room. As it turned out, there was a woman there from the English Teaching Department and she saw the problem, went out and found another classroom in the building that we could use, so we all moved into a much larger classroom. I didn’t have time to be intimidated that there was someone there from the department observing, but in a lot of ways, I was so glad she was there to help out with that situation. She took pictures of some of the activities I was doing with the class and brought me a pomegranate at the end of class. I had been having the students fill out some information cards that I use in teaching, and because the class was so large, I ran out of those. I had a “get to know you” mixer planned and I was going to scrap that and just go on to something else if I didn’t have enough papers, but I had just the right amount for the class, so I was able to do that.
I had to go back to teach my sophomore class at 4 p.m. and things went well there. For the roll call question that I had for today, I wanted them to tell me about their Chinese names. That was very interesting! They like to be in harmony with the five elements of the earth: fire, air, water, wood and metal. Some of their names are so that they can have more balance in their life by being given a name that gives them more of an element that their parents felt they were lacking. Some were given names that represented who their parents wanted them to be when they grew up, i.e. one girl’s parents wanted her to be kind, friendly and outgoing, so her name represents those characteristics in Chinese.
I will add one more video from yesterday’s park adventure. I love the little kid in the green shirt in the back. They just did this over and over again.