Right after my training, I hurried back to Jiangyou to begin classes. Actually classes had started the Wednesday before, but since we still had training, we started the following Monday. This semester beginning was a major headache. Some third year students had returned for further study after spending a semester practice teaching, and the school wanted them to have some foreign teachers. This meant a complete rearranging of our schedules. Despite the fact that school started ½ a week before our arrival—Mary’s and my teaching schedules were all out of whack. I was told I didn’t have any classes on Monday, so I took my time in the morning on that first Monday and went for a run. Towards the end of my run I get a text, then another, then a phone call “Where are you?! We are waiting for you in class!” I didn’t know what to think. All week I had similar situations—why aren’t you in class? We are waiting for you. I was simply following the schedule I was given, but there seemed some major miscommunication going on between departments (I teach in multiple departments). By the end of the week my schedule was resolved and my teaching schedule is as follows:
Monday 9-1045 (culture of America and England. 3rd year students)
Tuesday 9-1045 (oral English. 2nd year students)
Wednesday 9-1045 (oral English. 2nd year students)
11-1150 (oral English. 1st year students)
130-225 (oral English. 1st year students)
320-405 (oral English. 1st year students)
Thursday 9-1045 (oral English. 2nd year students)
11-1150, 130-215 (oral English. 2nd year students)
225-405 (oral English. 5th year students—students that come to the school after middle school and study for 5 years)
Friday 11-150, 130-215 (oral English. 2nd year students)
Another headache this term was the new English Library. I finally have a place for the books, for an office, and for student activities. I purchased books using money from a grant that I wrote for, and received books from Darien Book Aid—a book donation organization. It has been a long process but it is nearly done. I cannot express how much stress it caused me, though—having to wait, ordering books via a Chinese website with someone who didn’t know how to use it. But next week I will turn in my final report for the grant and, hopefully, be finished. Despite the stress it has all been worth it. The students have really taken to the library. We have a good group of students that come to volunteer to oversee the running of the library. Students come to watch movies on my old computer that I have donated (though I am not sure how much longer its lifespan is), and about 200 students and teachers borrowed books within the first month of it opening.
Besides the library, I have several new activities that Mary and I offer students on a weekly basis.
Monday 130-430 office hours (students can come to borrow books, ask me questions and get help for things)
430-530 culture club
Wednesday 5-6 English Corner
Thursday 630 Women’s club
Friday 430 game club (I used some of the grant money to purchase games, such as scrabble, twister, pictionary, guesstures, clue, monopoly, life, uno, cranium, etc.)
Saturday 10 writing workshop (practice and learn new writing skills)
This semester has been busy for the students—with tests, performances, practices, etc.—so attendance for activities is not as high as it was last term, but there are still students attending. As long as 1 student is in attendance, I will continue to have these activities every week.