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#1 I worked with Elise on a presentation of how to effectively use virtual backgrounds to teach over zoom. Before getting started on recording the presentation, however, we did a pre-activity where we shared our life stories. I enjoyed noting our similarities and differences, in addition to learning that getting to know new friends over zoom can be just as fun as it is in person. Afterwards, we made a brief powerpoint and improvised the skit. I think I had to convince Elise that I was at a restaurant (my virtual background) and that she had to come over from her art studio to talk to me about art because I like meat and she likes hamburgers. We’re still waiting for our Best Original Screenplay award. P.S. My apologies to Elise that we had to re-film because I couldn’t stop laughing the first time.

#2 During our team meeting this past Saturday, Wesley, one of the DukeEngage Zhuhai alumni, taught us card magic. Not only was I reminded that I have absolutely no talent in magic, or just as much talent as a chicken trying to play rock paper scissors with its foot, but also of the intricacies of magic and the sheer amount of effort and hours of practice it takes to succeed in one trick. Subsequently, I wondered what drives these magicians to be so dedicated. A friend of mine who is a magician once said that, as basic as it sounds, it is the desire to fascinate others, to give them a chance to laugh and be amazed. I begin to think perhaps teaching works the same way.

#3 In their presentation, Alan, Andrew, and Matthew showed us a viral TikTok video of a kindergarten teacher who was trying her best to get her students engaged over zoom. She asked her students to put their hands on their heads if the answer was “No, the word peach does not start with the letter T!” or bob their heads back and forth if the answer was “Yes, the word toe starts with the letter T!” The level of energy she brought to the classroom astounded me. She made me, who wasn’t even her student, let alone a kindergartener, smile. As it is with magicians, the dedication of teachers comes from their incredible love for their students and the passion to make the learning process enjoyable. The video filled me with fresh excitement to teach my third week of classes.

#4 It is a truth universally acknowledged that children are adorable. This is especially the case when it is apparent they are trying their best, fully engaged, and answer with loud, confident voices. We talked about our hobbies this week. One student said she loves playing chess, and another said he loves playing basketball. We then played a game where the students had to identify the activities shown in the pictures. A picture of a man hanging on a cliff with his bare hands to a backdrop of equally steeply inclined mountains came up on the screen. After the students had correctly identified the picture as climbing, I asked whether they would want to go climbing someday. “No,” the students replied unanimously. Their brutal honesty made me laugh. I do hope I was just as adorable when I was their age, although I’m not so sure.