Thursday, September 18, 2008

time flies

I have been in China for 4 weeks today. It is hard to believe that almost a month has passed since I first arrived. It feels like only yesterday that I wandered off of a plane in Jinan and onto a van to Qufu. Yet, after only 28 days I feel incredibly comfortable in my life here. Today is grey and humid. My students are writing away this morning in my Postgraduate class, fanning themselves in the thick ari. I am definitely ready for the fall to come.

For the past two days I have been teaching my postgraduate students how to write a paragraph and how to write instructions. The first half of the class--paragraph structure--has been very boring an quiet. I've yet to learn how to make topic, support, and concluding sentences fun. But each time I get to instruction writing, the students seem to become a bit more lively. Perhaps it is easier to understand. Perhaps it is that they think I'm an idiot when I ask them to write instructions for how to make a cup of tea. Stupid American who only knows coffee. teaching writing has been challenging though, especially with my postgraduates. They are all very smart people, they have taken numerous test that have allowed them to continue their studies and so it is difficult to gauge what is helpful and new to them and what is simply pedantic and condescending. I am looking forward to moving beyond some of the more "practical" writing subjects and into narrative and descriptive writing where hopefully my skills as a native English speaker--and writer--will be more overtly helpful.

This weekend the Qufu crew and myself will leave Qufu for the second time. As Rachel recently told you we went to Jining for an afternoon last weekend. It was nice to see a larger city and something other than Qufu and Confucius. Though Jining is a bigger city, it has very little tourist appeal and so I can understand the increase in Hallos and stares. Tomorrow we leave for Qingdao, a much more economically developed city and a city with a rich history since the end of the 19th century. Germans occupied the city in 1897 until the end of World War I during which time the city underwent rapid development with the introduction of electricity and a railroad connecting it to Jinan, the province's capital. And so because of its German heritage, Qingdao is known as "China's Switzerland". It is a strange, but apparently very beautiful mix of architectural styles. It is also home to the world famous Tsingtao beer. And it is not coincidence that we are going for the first weekend of the International Beer Festival. As much fun as Qufu has been, it has little in the way of nightlife so it will be a nice change of pace.

When we return from Qingdao, I will have seven straight days of teaching as we have to make up classes for the time we have off during National week (Sept 29-Oct 5). During this time the Qufu crew will head to Shanghai and meet up with Carrie and Travis. It will be a busy, but exciting few weeks and so it's time for me to get ahead on lesson plans. Wish us luck!

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