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Kelsey and I prepared and gave a presentation on good lighting and framing over zoom. This presentation included tips like avoiding lights behind you, making sure your face is well-lit, and teaching from a room with lots of natural light.

Two weeks ago, while we were creating this presentation, I started getting a little conscious of how less-than-ideal my lighting had been the whole time. I started to fiddle around with the placement of light sources in my room and tried to look for windows I could face to improve my lighting. I quickly realized that this wasn’t helping much, because by the time I log off my last class with kids from Zhuhai, it’s nighttime in North Carolina. It’s pitch black outside my window, and the room from where I teach has gotten very dark.

But the students bring light into the room and into my life, light that’s more important than my physical lighting. Their smiles, enthusiasm, and their interesting, sometimes clever and unexpected, answers to questions are really delightful. I’m continually impressed by their abilities: this week, we had some of our classes draw their hobbies, and I was amazed at the artistic talents of some of the kids, and the huge variety of hobbies and activities they all take part in.

Chinese class with Gianni and Austin on Saturday mornings has been an amazing experience too! I am learning a lot about not just Chinese, but also about teaching, and I hope that I can channel some of Zeng Laoshi’s encouraging, positive energy and patience into my own teaching.

As we’re preparing for Week 4, I’m also starting to realize how precious our time with the students is. Eight weeks seemed like a lot at the beginning of the program, but we’re only seeing each class once a week, for 40 minutes. Factoring in time taken up by students logging in and occasional internet issues, we sometimes only have a total of 5 hours with a single group, a good chunk of which has already been spent. I’m going to value every minute I get to spend with these students over the next weeks, and I’ll try to improve both my physical lighting and the amount of light and happiness I’m sharing with others.