Summer is Coming to an End

Well, the summer grind is almost over. This is the last week of the 2nd of back to back intensive short semesters. Three week mini-courses stacked on top of my regular schedule. One thing that I have come to learn is that things would be a whole lot easier if every class wasn’t different. By that I mean, or I assume, that academic teachers typically have at least a few courses that they teach more than once during the week. Something along the lines of writing a lesson plan that can be used for all three of your freshman history classes. This is not the case here because every student only comes once a week, with every class at a different level in order to offer a wider range of English levels to customers/parents. While great for the business model, it means I have 11 different lesson plans to write up every week. Oh well.

The heavy work load and many hours of actual teaching has been hard, but my self-assurance and proficiency in the classroom is through the roof. I simply have no nerves when I am in front of class or in front of a group of parents, and it has translated to a tremendous boost in confidence, which is further encouraged by actually successfully living and working in a city and country as foreign as Wuxi, China. Outside of my phone, which I never use, or WeChat, which I frequently use, I spend much of my time communicating in very poor Chinese, usually with the Koreans who own the local Mom & Pop stores, and I get along just fine.

Knowing my time here is limited to about a year makes this a great learning experience. I can take it all in comfortably aware of the impermanence of this sojourn, which makes the moments of difficulty or frustration bearable and beneficial. Experience is essential to finding out what is important in life. Experience forces a reorganization of what you need and don’t need as it pulls new things in and out of your intellectual and emotional ambit. Auxiliary wants and needs fade away unremembered, while the indispensable and precious intensify in their importance, adding a new, permanent vitality as I wend my way through life and living. To say that family and home is the most important thing in life is trite and sentimental, but it is also simple and true.

Here are some images I’ve tried to gather since I last posted. It has seemingly been raining everyday in this sodden state so I have only a few:

These are some of my kindergarteners. Amy is the girl, CJ is with his head down and Justin is using his pencil tube as a telescope. Justin is very hyperactive but I like him very much. All three of these are good kids with great personalities, Amy being smart and mischevious and CJ is just along for the ride. That is my TA Lori, she is by far the most amiable of the lot, in part because she is the least experienced. Regardless, I enjoy working with her, and in fact I like all the TA’s, for the most part. You can’t like everybody you work with, that’s just an axiom of life.

This is just a quick video of the corner at the end of my block. My bank, some shopping and dining are all in this area.

The image below is a shot outside one of the other Shane Schools that I went to in order to sub for another teacher. The weather map said no clouds, which gives you an idea of pollution levels that day. A teacher was on vacation so I took one of his classes. That Scotsman walking by is Ian, a fellow teacher that arrived in China the same time as me.

This was my welcoming party for my substitution gig. I am pretty sure it was for me.

This is a nice image of one of the canals in a shopping area for Chinese tourists.

And finally a view along my street on a clear and quiet night.

That’s all for now, I should be posting more often now that my very busy summer is coming to an end.


5 thoughts on “Summer is Coming to an End

  1. Joan

    John, I am so very happy for you. Do you find yourself spending more time without technology? And have you made any good friends, lifelong friends?

    1. John Post author

      Actually I spend more time with technology. Translate apps and Chinese learning apps, schedulers, maps etc plus many places such as coffeeshop and schools are wired. I take online courses through Coursera and watch the rare movie on my iPad. My iPad and iPod are my lifelines. I don’t have a TV and don’t miss it. The internet allows me to download books that are not available here, which are most books in English or that are controversial, plus my technology allows me to chat with family and check uncensored news. Many news sites are blocked. My blog is blocked in China. Go figure. I can’t read it without a VPN, which I pay for and installed on my gadgets before I left.

    2. John Post author

      I’ve made friends, but not lifelong friends. Everybody understands the transient nature of the business. There is a connection due to a common language, Western background etc, but beyond, that relationships are not deep. They are not superficial either. I will say the foreign teachers, who may have big differences politically or culturally in their home countries, learn quickly that the differences are far outweighed by similarities. Western culture is very different than Chinese culture. I won’t cast judgement, by I have a newfound appreciate for the West, with all it’s flaws, which are substantial. I view my home country in a much different, more favorable light. Things are better in the states than we want to believe. In the U.S flaws and injustices are weapons exploited for opposing sides of various spectrums to squabble, while here obvious wrongs are suffered in relative silence.

    1. John Post author

      I canceled my Skype account. It costs money to keep it alive and the censors frequently block the connection so it’s just not a good service here. I use FaceTime exclusively. It currently works well here, plus it’s free to use, unlike Skype, which now comes with a recurring fee.


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