The past week since last sitting down to reflect in a blog post has gone by, no matter how cliché it sounds, in a blur. I have settled down with my host family, began to build connections with students, got to explore the neighboring area, became more comfortable with teaching, and have gotten the opportunity to get to know each person of my team better. We haven’t really had a steady, consistent schedule as of yet, as our first week started on a Wednesday, the kids have school on a Saturday today, and we don’t start again until next Wednesday. Despite this, I have almost been able to get into a daily routine. This consists of waking up and getting ready at 7:30 am (I’m surprised that I’ve been able to do this, as I thought I wouldn’t be able to before I started the program because my sleep schedule was horrible during the Duke semester), walking about 10 minutes to No9 middle school, and teaching classes. I have yet to go to the gym, which I yearn for dearly.
Living with my host family has been an interesting, but not too unfamiliar experience. It still feels as if I am living in a stranger’s house, though, as I am eager to continue to grow in familiarity and comfort talking with the people I share this residence with. I am thankful, though, for their hospitality, air conditioning in my room, and good food (although my host mother thinks that I’m lying when I say that I like all her cooking).
There are several inconveniences in China I still experience, such as the heat and having to escape to my room for air conditioning. I realize, however, that the challenges I face aren’t as bad as the challenges some my teammates face. Those that are unfamiliar with living in China face a language barrier, unfamiliar food, staring (which I guess may not be that bad, but I don’t know because I look like I’m native to China), and other difficulties that I am probably unaware of. I, on the other hand, am enjoying the food I am eating, can communicate (at least sort of, because my Chinese kind of sucks a ton just a little bit), and don’t feel completely out of place in this country.
Every time I had a new class, I played a game to help them get more comfortable with speaking English. One person asked the group if they preferred one thing or another, and then designated which side to stand on for what they prefer. For example, if you like dogs you stand on the left, and if you like cats you stand on the right. I found that there were a few consistent opposite pairs that almost every class mentioned, and I found it intriguing. These are the only ones I can recall at the moment:
– meats vs vegetables
– blue vs red
– soccer vs basketball/football
Growing closer to the members of my team has been rewarding, as earlier on I often found myself missing the friends I had made the previous year at Duke. Getting to know each of them, and beginning to understand their strengths and weaknesses has helped us all as a team to better teach the students and to have fun with each other. I look forward to growing closer to them all as we journey along.
As a last and final random note, walking around the school or Zhuhai and seeing excited students recognize you makes me feel like a Duke basketball player, and it makes me feel happy haha. Also, Aditya is at his host family so I can’t tell what he is doing or if he screwed something up again. Just kidding Aditya, you’re a cool cat. That’s it for now. Daniel out.