Friday, July 17, 2009

Personal Update

So I finished up my first semester of teaching a few weeks ago, handed in my grades, and sat back ready to relax and enjoy my summer. After a few weeks of saying goodbye to C., C. and L, a bit of lesson planning and relaxation, I will head to Leshan tomorrow for two weeks to teach teachers in Peace Corps’ summer project and then continue on to Beijing via Chengdu where I’ll take a TEFL certification course during the month of August (visitors welcome in Beijing anytime during the month of August!). Also, as summer progresses, deadlines for grad school (particularly MBA) applications are rapidly approaching so I’ll also be spending every spare moment filling out forms, pondering the meaning of life and how an MBA relates to that, and writing essays (suggestions welcome for tricky topics like “what matters most to you and why?”). Next semester I’ll be busy finishing up apps (hopefully followed by some interviews), teaching 4 classes of sophomore oral English and one class of English business communications for the international trade and economics department. Alright…that’s all I got for now, until more exciting things happen to me…chau!

A Rat’s Tale: Part Deux

Unfortunately this account comes months after it happened…but still amusing nonetheless. By this point both C. and C. (other PCVs in town) have finished their services and are either back in the US or traveling before returning home. It will be exciting to see who PC sends down here as my new BFF.

So C. thought that her rat was gone, squished underfoot by her sullen college student neighbor; the hole in her bathroom where she thought the rat came from was plugged with cement and she was living a blissfully simple life…until one night. C. was innocently washing some dishes when she suddenly dropped the sponge. She felt something on her foot and assumed the sponge had just hit her foot and then bounced off but when she looked down the sponge had fallen into a bucket by her foot. She glanced to her right just in time to see RJ (let’s call him RJ for Rat Junior, not that it was any smaller than the first one) scurry towards the study next to her bedroom. Yes, the sensation on her bare foot was RJ scurrying over her foot as an obstacle in his path.

With her experience in dealing with rats, C. quickly sprung into action and slammed the door to trap RJ in the study. Since it was late at night (maybe 10 or 11), C. figured she would just contain RJ in the room and then get a manly man (such as M or PM) to deal with RJ the next day. But little did she know, RJ was not just any rat, he turned out to be a world-class acrobat that displayed oddly human characteristics. C’s apartment has extremely odd architecture…her bedroom is separated from her study by a wall…but a wall with a large window in the middle of it. Thus, began a sleepless evening of rat watching for C. At first, C. tried to go to sleep but just as she thought she was going to get some rest…RJ started his crazy antics. RJ started climbing up the window and hanging on the window frame like some high-flying trapeze artist -- C. would counter-attack by banging on the window – only to have RJ run down the window and then later on run back up to repeat the routine. RJ’s other tactics included periodically (on the hour) running full force and slamming his body into the window, picking up a small set of keys with his mouth and scraping them against the window, and staring C. down like she was some worthy opponent. During the course of the night, she had texted us to update us on the events, 3 am, 4 am, 5 am…and so on. Finally, the next afternoon M made it over to C’s apartment to take care of the problem, armed with courage…and of course…a broom. The plan of attack involved M and C darting into the study and closing the door behind them, C assuming her perch on a stool (similar to last time) as M began the search around the room for RJ. Interestingly, a preliminary search of the room turned up nothing so M and C decided to do a more thorough search which involved going to the big closet in the room and taking everything out to see if RJ was hiding among the things in the closet. During their search through the closet, M lifted up a suitcase that was on a shelf…and lo and behold…there was RJ lying there….natural reaction: M screams, C screams…then they think about what to do next. With broom in hand, they formulate a plan to get RJ to come down from the shelf so that they can get rid of him. With a leap of faith in M’s baseball skills…they open the window and miraculously get RJ to jump down from the shelf and in mid-air M bats RJ out the window! RJ flies out the window (of the 4th floor) and lands with a thud…but not 4 stories down as M and C had hoped. They look out the window and see RJ lying on the awning of the 3rd floor, one floor below C’s apartment. RJ is lying motionless and M and C thing that he is a goner…but a few pokes with the trusty broom and they realize that RJ is stunned but still quite alive! So they decide to push RJ with the broom off the awning and he lands with a thud on the 2nd floor awning and out of view. The end of the story is up to your imagination…all that is known is that RJ was building a nest in C’s closet (evidenced by paper scraps and an enormous quantity of rat poo) and that he has since moved on to a new place of residence or an untimely death.


So even though I signed up for a Freedur account so I could access blogspot (still not accessible in my apartment), I’ve had an inexcusable absence from blogging. I believe the problem here is that 1) my English writing skills are in decline so anything I write just sounds awkward and 2) if I don’t write something down immediately after it happens, the vividness of the memory tends to fade and then I don’t feel a burning desire to write about it anymore and share about it with you loyal readers.

I promise I'll try to update more often, but I can't promise I will take pictures (China doesn't seem that exotic to me compared to Bolivia so I don't feel the need to document it in pictures). Moving on...

Here is some feedback that I received in my semester-end teaching evaluations. I asked students to answer the following questions and hand it in anonymously to help me improve my teaching and the classes for next semester. 1) What activities did you find helpful? Enjoyable? 2) What activities did you think were not helpful? Not enjoyable? 3) Do you have any other suggestions or ideas for the class?

Yes, I am aware that some of these things are completely random and do not answer my questions.

“Climb mountains is most helpful. It tell me don’t give up till you reach the top of the mountains.”
“One thing I enjoy most is communicating with you. Discussing with somethings. Joy is a knowledgeable person!”
“I think you had done well in this semester. I love you!”
“Joy is a very good teacher. You have done more for us. Thank you. Thank you very much! And, I like your smile very much!”
“To by honesty, you are really very kind. I have no suggestion because you are perfect.”
“You teach very good. (apparently not good enough to use well) Perfect! And you are beautiful. Treating us very kind. No activities are not helpful. And I strangely hope you won’t leave us next term. Sincerely! Good! Good! Good!”
“I think you are a cute girl. In my eyes. You’re perfect. I advise you to have a boyfriend. Maybe in this way you will work better.”
“The only advise I’ll give you is that please smile more. Smile makes you be young.”
“You can smile more and make students feel more relax. Also, you can be more beautiful!”

The bad and the ugly: “Lack of activity. Class is very boring. “We are not interested in your class.” *Ouch* And that's a student I'm going to have next semester. I will get my best song and dance ready for that class. Perhaps a rendition of the butt floss followed by a few coffee grinders is in order...