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This past week hasn’t been as stressful and tiring as past weeks, as life in Zhuhai is becoming increasingly normal and routinely. I grudgingly wake up to that horrible alarm, eat a solid breakfast at school, and teach my English, acting, and football classes. I’m really enjoying spending time with my Duke team and the students, and getting to do more fun stuff around the city is sometimes tiring but exciting and rewarding.

Whether it is during our group reflection time, or just in my own thoughts, I personally feel like I have already come a long way since the beginning of the program. I am growing more confident in my abilities, such as leading, teaching, or just being myself. I don’t feel nervous teaching or commanding my class, because they are my students and I am the teacher. Outside of class, in general, I am becoming more comfortable with the fact that I am who I am, and that’s just the way it is. Whereas I never would have sang in front of others at KTV, I now really enjoy it (although I tend to butcher every other note and probably make everyone else cringe in disgust). The other day we went with Phyllis’ host sister, who was pretty shy, and I tried to be extra open to make her more willing to sing out. Who cares or remembers if you make a fool out of yourself? No one.

Along with myself, all of my students for the most part have become to come out of their shells. While many were shy and talked at a volume of .02 during the first weeks, many are now participating more and translating for each other. My team has had similar experiences with this, and I’m really proud of my students for being more open and willing to listen to me attempt to teach them a language I suck at.

I was told yesterday that some of my students thought I was cold and scary. What? I had always thought my young looks made me seem approachable and friendly (and possibly immature I guess). This really took me by surprise. How could this be possible? One of the reasons, it turns out, is that I don’t smile enough during class. I usually smile a lot, I believe, and I was caught off guard and am still not entirely sure how to respond to this. Another reason is that some students thought I was trying to learn Chinese while teaching them English, and when I ask students what an English word’s translation into Chinese is, I don’t practice the Chinese translation. When I did this, I was simply confirming that they understood what I was trying to tell them. They thought I was ignoring them by not giving some form of acknowledgement that they were trying to help me. Taking these few notes into account, I plan on trying harder to be friendlier to my students, and I hope they aren’t too scared of me. I guess they underestimated my Chinese abilities, which is understandable considering the fact that Nadia’s host brother told me I sound like a robot when I speak Chinese. Thanks Rex, I love you too.

For a few more random notes, many interesting and strange things happened this week. One of my English students brought her pet rabbit to school, and although it was small and fluffy and cute, I was really confused. She told me that her father didn’t like it, when I asked why she brought it to school, and so I just continued with my lesson.

When Aditya, Jonah, and I went to throw a frisbee between English classes, a ton of students began to crowd on the balconies above to watch. They cheered when we caught it and laughed when we epically failed.

I saw Wonder Woman this week, and I really enjoyed it (especially Gal Gagot haha). Also, why do no KTV places have Bohemian Rhapsody? Can we start a petition to make it a requirement across China to add this song to every KTV? Also, I just figured out today that Taylor Swift has made her return to the Spotify realm. Thank the lord.

As a final note, we are going to Shanghai next week, which I am really looking forward to. Thank you, Aditya, for getting the plane tickets. I can’t think of anything you screwed up on this week, so good job. Daniel out.