A couple of weeks ago I went to Chengdu for a meeting about a group called PPS (professional peer support). We are a small group of volunteers that are seeking to make the job of teaching easier in China for volunteers. Some volunteers don’t have a strong background, or much experience teaching, especially English as a foreign language. And in reality, regardless of your teaching experience, the experience of teaching in China is far different than teaching in America or even in many other countries. So we work identifying ways to make it easier and better to teach in China.
We are working towards providing resources for volunteers, including games, activities, lesson plans, tests, syllabi, and full curriculums. These are provided by any volunteer, and the group works to standardize them, and putting them online for easy access. The second objective is developing a newsletter that has practical advice for volunteers. The third is to connect the volunteers and their Chinese colleagues; to provide an opportunity for dialogue about the different teaching methodologies, and to learn from each other. There are many things that we are working on and trying to get the kinks out. Our purpose of meeting in Chengdu was to gain staff support (check!), work out our objectives (check!) and make it sustainable (1/2 check). Individual members also have a few objectives of their own that they are working towards. Lindsay and Dina in Gansu are working on no technology activities. Hunter and Chelsea in Sichuan are working on a teacher training video. And my far reaching goal is to develop an oral English video curriculum. Each video would cover vocabulary and idioms for a particular topic with a short listening quiz at the end. I will enlist the help of my students in creating this video. Time will tell if this gets developed or not, now it is just a goal.
But while I was in Chengdu, I happened to have the chance to help audit Peace Corps China. The inspector general for the Peace Corps organization is in China for 4 weeks to audit PC China. One part is individual interviews with volunteers. The interview takes about 2 hours for each volunteer. Mine took 1.5 hours because my answers were very succinct. The purpose is to see the efficiency of the program and where staff and leaders can make changes. He will also visit some sites to see how they are operating and to see about the safety and living conditions of the volunteers. The Inspector General said that each PC country should be audited every 7 years, but due to the lack of budget, their office is getting to China after 11 years of being away. There is a lot of statistics and precise measurement done with this kind of auditing, and he said that around February the final report will be posted online (I am guessing the PC website) for anyone to see. It was an interesting interview and what’s more, he brought candy from America! So nice. I think he knows what we like, since he said he served from ‘96-‘98 in the Ivory Coast. Anyways, keep an eye out for the report, and I hope the report will be able educate that Congressman who is trying to get the PC China program shut down.
This is completely irrelevant to this post, but I didn’t want to start another post to describe last week. Last week we had no gas. Okay, what does this mean? It means: no cooking and no hot showers. One day I took a cold shower, but the weather is colder now so I thought I would never stop shivering after that. The cooking I didn’t mind as much, except that the vegetables in my fridge were going to waste. But the showering was the problem. It wasn’t just my apartment, it was the whole school. SO throughout the week we saw more and more pimpled faces, more and more smelly students. Thankfully the gas leak was fixed and we are back to having gas. But Mary and I were worried for a bit. Nobody had any idea when the gas was going to be fixed. Awful. Oh and thankfully, the gas came back on the day Mary and I were having Kerry and Eliam over for dinner (I made pizza and she made roasted veggies and a pear bread). Okay, that’s all. Really.