Kang Tebie is the name. Jiao-ing Yingwen is the game.
LESSON OBJECTIVE: To get at least one %@#$!&^ update in before the summer is over.
- Summer Institute (SI) is a busy place.
- It is in rural China.
- The two above facts mean that SI takes exactly zero prisoners and gives exactly zero dabian’s about it.
Getting fully up-to-date here qualifies as your exit ticket.
What up, folks, Kang Tebie (finally) here. First update since arriving.
That’s no accident; I quite literally have not had either the
A) Time, or
to actually get online and post an update. I do believe I predicted to most, if not all, of the family members reading now (Hi!) that I would be very tough to get hold of while in rural China, due to it being, um, you know, all rural and, um, China and stuff, so at least it hasn’t been a false sell?
But I digress. I somehow finished all of the day’s homework by 10 PM — and by finished all of it, I mean I did a bunch, and then couldn’t track down my teaching partner to start lesson planning and putting together classroom decorations for our class’s opening in four days — so let’s get down to brass tacks, shall we?
Tell you about SI.
Right. So, like, my day at SI goes something like this (this example is from yesterday):
- Wake up at 6:30 AM due to the sound of rain. It rains every day here, not quite enough to qualify as “all the time” but quite enough to qualify as “your jacket and/or umbrella will always be in some semi-saturated state, no matter how long you think you’ve let it dry.”
- Feel every muscle, bone, and joint that has come into extended contact with the hard board + flimsy picnic blanket-y thing that is your mattress scream at you, “HEY, JACKSTICK, WHY DO YOU KEEP SLEEPING ON US LIKE THIS?! GO GET A REAL BED, AND THEN MAYBE WE CAN TALK ABOUT US NOT BEING SORE AS FUDGE ALL THE TIME.” Roll over and try to suffocate their cries with your eyelids. This doesn’t work.
- It’s 7 AM now, and you’ve put off getting out of bed to the point where your three roommates are up and about. This means you must now wait to shower until they’re all finished with the bathroom before you can go for it, since there’s one bathroom and it, like SI, takes zero prisoners, especially when it comes to any form of privacy. See link to pictures below!
- Get up, turn on computer, connect to wireless. Then turn on Internet Explorer to sign on to the internet, while trying not to hate yourself too much for turning on Internet Explorer, and trying not to wish too hard that Firefox or Chrome would finally start working for internet sign-in. Turn on VPN, sign on with that. Then open up Firefox or Chrome to actually get on the internet. This takes anywhere between five and ten minutes, depending on how grumpy your internet has arbitrarily decided to be today.
- Try to connect to Gmail. Probably find out that you’ve lost your wireless connection, and repeat the above step. Get on Gmail, read a WSJ review of The Dark Knight Rises, sent by Dad. It is apparently as amazing as we’re all hoping it will be. Try to suffocate the tears — which flow due the realization that you almost certainly won’t get to see this because, A) this is rural China, 2) even if the one theater in the city that sometimes shows foreign films shows this, you have too much work to dedicate a full consecutive three hours to anything recreational, and D) also, rural China; your argument is invalid — with your eyelids. This doesn’t work.
- It is now 7:30 AM, and you can shower. Do that. What’s the shower like? See link to pictures below!
- Brush teeth, get into sweaty clothes. Promise yourself that you’ll find some free time soon to take things to the laundry. Laugh at this feeble lie.
- Stop at the school store on the way to class for your first green tea and your Good Taste. This will wash down your daily anti-malaria pill. You have convinced yourself that this is somehow a balanced breakfast, and reassure yourself that you were justified in sleeping in and not being out early enough to go to the cafeteria for breakfast.
- Walk to class. This walk is reminiscent of the ML Basement > any class on campus walk, except more Chinese. Also, gorgeous southwestern China mountains instead of arboretum. You reflect that, indeed, gorgeous southwestern China mountains > arboretum.
- Subject Pedagogy Training class! You learn things. You are happy that you took those Ed classes before coming here, because this would surely be way too much at once without them.
- Foundations Of Pedagogy class! You wish the acronym wasn’t FOP, because “I’m going to go to FOP for eighty minutes” just doesn’t quite roll off the tongue the way you’d like, but you maturely set aside yours and the class’ acronym’s differences and learn things anyway. You are happy that you took those Ed classes before coming here, because this would surely be way too much at once without them.
- Chinese class! You discover more Chinese words that you’ve forgotten. You think, without a doubt, someone keeping track has messed up their records, because you seem to have forgotten more words than there are words in the Chinese language. You’ve retained the ability to fire off several pre-loaded, simple-responses-peppered-with-third-year-grammar-patterns to unanticipated questions. This has never let you down since you learned this party trick a few years ago. This keeps you in the game. You learn thirty new words, and you will remember ten of them tomorrow.
- Lunch! You run into both Chinese and American fellows on the way. There are something around two hundred of you, including staff, at SI. You learn forty new names, and you will remember four of them tomorrow.
- More Foundations of Pedagogy class! You learn more things!
- PM time! This isn’t called this because it happens in the PM time of the day, but because you group up with your Program Manager for an hour and change to do some activity. This time, it’s role-playing scenarios: one person at a time will pretend to be a math teacher, while three others will pretend to be students with some behavior problem. You volunteer to go first. As such, you don’t have a feel for how the game is played when it begins, and when you haven’t figured out exactly how to corral all three students in the first ten seconds of the exercise, you know you have lost the chance for the first impression, and thus have lost. You don’t quit, but that’s pretty much all you can point to in the exercise that wasn’t totally disgraceful.
You decide that you must finally understand how it feels to be a struggling student in a class with no way to get back in the lesson, and no bones being thrown to you by a teacher or classmate. You come to the conclusion that from here on out, you will Live Fast and Die Young, because this experience with academic failure has made you a Rebel Without a Cause. You will reflect on this change in life philosophy over the next thirty-five minutes, then decide instead that having failed so absolutely is actually a great motivator, and you will forget about your plan to Live Fast and Die Young and instead will resolve to Teach English and Eat Dumplings. This seems like a good compromise to you.
- Random Teach For China Thing time! This is when some random TFC-related thing happens to all of the Fellows. This time, it’s a meeting with the Lincang Director of Education! This sixty-minute, bilingual speech is stretched into eighty minutes that defy the definition of eighty, and you are now late for dinner.
- Dinner! You run into both Chinese and American fellows on the way. You learn forty new names, and you will remember four of them tomorrow.
- Homework time. You repeat the steps from this morning for accessing the Internet, except you must do them at least two extra times. Once connected, you realize that the internet is too slow to use, so you scrap that idea. You do your Pedagogy homework first, because you know you don’t have the internet to help you look up Chinese characters for your Chinese homework. By 10 PM, you are finished with everything else and are now tired, and you must now do Chinese homework. You wish you had had the foresight to know that you’d want to do Chinese homework even less now than earlier this evening. You also wish that you had had the foresight to purchase that Chinese touchscreen translator app for your iPhone this morning while waiting for your shower. You resolve to remember to do this tomorrow morning. You also are shoehorned into using your Chinese-English dictionary you’ve brought, which, excruciatingly slow yet functional, reminds you of how awesome the internet really is.
- It is now probably around 11:30 PM. You get in bed, put on your Snoopy pants, and think, “well, at least I have Snoopy pants.” This lulls you into the false sense of security you need to get to sleep and not think about whether or not any mouth-dwelling cockroaches snuck inside the mosquito netting while you were out becoming Mr. English Teacher, if you please. You have no choice but to fall asleep and roll the dice.
- Rinse and repeat.
Now, a handful of the above, I grant you， is written in at least moderate hyperbole. You should have a good enough idea of how SI works, though, to move on to the
Take a tour of the dormitory!
Chuckle to yourself, say, “Alright, that update was worth the read.” Understand that, since I’m about to start my teaching practicum on Monday, I wish I could promise another update soon, but I’d best not. I’m sorry! It’s just, like, really, really busy, and when it’s not, it’s late at night and enough of the Chinese fellows are playing DOTA 2 and taking up a king-sized portion of the available bandwidth, which makes attempted internet usage an uproarious farce.
!!HOORAY HAPPY COMING ATTRACTIONS!!:
- The hilarious (but heartwarming) reason this is called the Sunshine, Handsome Blog!
- Pictures of the school at which I’m teaching!
- Pictures of the classroom! Maybe of the students, too, if I can catch them in between classes (I’m teaching rising third graders! I hear that they’re young enough that they might dabian in their pants… which… which would make them…. falling turd graders? :D ok srsly as pootiful as that pun was, I’m out for now.)
—- Chris (Kang Tebie)