- Student names. They're always so creative. I teach "Shark", "Salad", "Zombie", "Bijini/Bikini", "Wei Suo" (wretched man/pervert), "Beer", "James Bond", "Orange Cocoa", and "Obama" every Wednesday.
- I got a round of happy birthday from my last class on Friday. They're so adorable.
- My growing vocabulary, though I often have to double-check with the other teachers before using too many new words that I learn from students.
- The excitement when students see how well they did that day.
Aside from in the classroom, I recently learned that some of the other teachers have asked our liaison to sit with us at lunch so they don't have to talk to us in English. I never got that impression from the other teachers so to hear that really hurt and made me wonder if every time I've come into the office with questions about upcoming exams, days off, and what students are currently learning, the other teachers are just bearing it. But maybe I've jumped to an unfair conclusion here too. If I was a real pain to talk to, I wouldn't have been invited to another teacher's apartment for Thanksgiving. If I was a real pain to talk to, "Gilbert" wouldn't run up to me and say hi and start talking every time I see him around campus. (He probably wouldn't give me fruit and tea for better health, ask why I'm not using a portable mic, or offer an extra cot during the school's scheduled rest period either...) I'm sure it's anxiety. I guess it's understandable, but also a little frustrating when you realize that you've come to another country and really want to do your job but people are trying to set you up so they don't have to talk to you...I'm sure it's not to be mean. And I do speak a little Chinese which gets both my kids and the other teachers excited at times.
And China's notorious scheduling. We just learned when our final exam grades have to be in and I was advised to spend an entire class period covering what would be on the final exam and spending a lot of time testing for understanding. I know, none of the other teachers knew either until recently, but it is very hard to plan for an entire term when you have to create your own lesson plans and curriculum without a clear term schedule. And hard to plan if you want to travel and book things ahead of time...I'm still not sure where I want to go. Zhujiang (The Pearl River Delta) is high on my list, the terra cotta warriors would be great to see, any section of the great wall...I realize that our family has been gone from that area for a long time, but Zhongshan is also the birthplace of Sun Yat Sen (Zhong Shan is a name for Sun Yat Sen and there's a Zhong Shan Street/中山路 in pretty much every city). It's also famous for having lots of flowers so I'd love to go for that as well. The other teachers said Guangdong is a pretty smart choice for winter since it'll be pretty warm.