Skip to main content

I learned how to say strawberries during my first Cantonese class. I got some Costco strawberries when I arrived in Durham and have not stopped saying si6 do1 be1 lei2 (the numbers represent one of the six Cantonese tones). Last Friday, Sara, Andrew, Matthew, Gianni, Jessica, and I went strawberry picking at Page Farms. It was a life-changing experience. After having the sweetest and juiciest red strawberries in my entire life, I felt the urge to throw out my Costco strawberries from my fridge when I got home. It was really nice to have the day off and spend time with some of my DukeEngage team members. It was the first time that I got to do a fun activity with them outside our team meetings.

Yesterday, Hsiao-mei re-iterated that my DukeEngage experience should be about me, not my students. Even though all of my focus has been on providing a fruitful lesson for my students, the last three weeks have been so enriching and enjoyable to me. Going strawberry-picking with the team was so fun. Together, we looked for the juiciest and sweetest strawberries and ate them on the go. We also got to know each other on the car ride, playing games like Contact. It was nice to smile and laugh together.

Not only have I had fun with my team, but I have also had so much fun and enjoyment with my students. This week, I had my classes draw their favorite hobby. I had a student say their favorite hobby was sleeping and the entire class burst into laughter. Just through laughing, I think students are becoming more comfortable with my class, even if it may be just that they are laughing at me. Yesterday, I showed my adult students the magic trick I was practicing all week, but I messed it up twice in a row! They laughed at me, but still supported me when I got it finally the third time.

I am recognizing some classroom dynamics. Some classes have been very nice and calm, while others have been wilder, but also very fun. Some students have made my life easier. For example, when I choose someone to speak and do not answer, one of the students will take lead and speak in Chinese to that person and that person will talk. I found that even struggling together has been fun. Yesterday, I asked my adult students to talk about their favorite dishes and how they cook them. The language barrier provided plenty of opportunities for using Google Translate. It was fun to just learn together and now I know more about cooking, like stir-frying and making tomatoes with eggs. I look forward to smiling and laughing more with my students.