Happy Halloween and Happy November! We’ve finished another week of teaching and along side it another month. Truly the time is flying by!
This week was probably the most fun to teach so far but it did also feel like one of the slowest. Hopefully, now, all kids aged K-8 at the Shuang Yu Xue Xiao know that Halloween is an American holiday on October 31st every year when a lot of people have parties, you eat candy, you do not get gifts, and some people, especially kids, like to get dressed up in costumes and play pretend. All of that, my kids understood just fine but explaining the concept of trick-or-treating was a little more difficult. Why do kids get dressed up in costumes, go door-to-door knocking and screaming “trick-or-treat”, and then get candy from adults? Halloween rituals seemed so normal in my mind having grown up in the US, but when I started explaining it to my kids and the international class, I found myself saying “what an absurd tradition! Why would anyone do that?!” And as I question our traditions I remember all the times I couldn’t wait to go trick or treating as a kid and how, even now, I wish I was in the States so I could dress up and go out with my friends.
Yesterday and today, Duncan gave his kids candy in class after teaching them how to say “trick or treat” – that’s over 200 pieces of candy in less than 2 days! We took some candy corn sent to us by a cousin of mine to QLH and introduced Samantha and Johnson to Halloween candy. They’d never had it before and they really enjoyed it, though they did say it was very sweet.
On Tuesday when I explained Halloween to my international adult students, I also taught them about Dia de Los Muertos/Day of the Dead – a Mexican holiday on October 31-November 2, famous for sugar skulls and ornately decorated skeletons intended to remember and celebrate the lives of passed loved ones.
In China, there is a holiday similar to Dia de Los Muertos – Chinese Ghost Festival. At this festival, people visit the tombs of their loved ones, light candles and incense, and place out their passed loved ones’ favorite foods in remembrance.
On this November 1st, a day of celebration for the new beginnings that start with the new month, and since I will not be in China for Ghost Festival this summer, I want to remember all of those we love who are no longer physically with us.
The most important Halloween flashcards from my classes this week –
The pirate some older students referred to as Jack Sparrow (Disney would be proud):
The vampire everyone thought was a monkey:
The weather today has been just plain gross. Whereas every day last week was blue and beautiful, every day this week has gotten progressively smoggier, colder, and wetter. Truly, the worst kinds of weather all rolled into one. We still can’t get the heat working in our apartment and the washer piping is faulty so the bathroom floods every time we try to wash our clothes – making the process very cold and several hours long for only a couple of loads of laundry. We will get these things fixed, however, as soon as we can find our waiban (who seems to be everywhere when we don’t need her and no where when we do need her, of course).
I did have a realization the other day that is quite amusing. Before coming to China one of the things I was most worried about was the actual teaching part because I was scared and clueless how to stand in front of a class of 50+ students and teach them for 45 minutes at a time, all day every day. But this week, as I was writing on the chalkboard in one of my seventh grade classes, I realized “Wow! I’m doing this teaching thing without even thinking about being in front of students all day every day!” Despite my history with performing dance, I can be shy and very nervous when speaking publicly. I remember quite clearly many times in high school and in college when I stressed for days about a ten-minute power point presentation I had to give to a class. This seems absolutely ridiculous and comical now! Not only do those presentations seem laughably short now in comparison, but also they were almost always about topics I was passionate about and could talk about almost nonstop with friends and colleagues.
This is one way I have definitely already changed as a result of my time in china – I have gained confidence in my ability to talk capably in front of an audience (be that an audience of 50-55 students between the ages of 10 and 14). So take heart dear friends in college and who otherwise might be nervous about presentations – at least you aren’t stumbling around acting like a zombie in front of classes of very judgmental and scowling 13 year olds 14 times a week!
Our quiet weekend in Baoding has begun now that all of the students are no longer at school (all grades got to go home this weekend) and I have been a lazy bum all day. Tomorrow we are meeting our new friend Mei Li Xin again for coffee and I’m sure she will talk our ears off again in the most tiresome and agreeable way.
Until next time,