Tuesday

Wenshu Monastery, Chengdu

It was slightly cooler today, and it rained during the afternoon. It was day 2 of English Summer Camp. I asked my first class, “How’s everyone doing? Are you having fun?” Most of them said “NO!” They’re giving up 3 weeks of their summer to spend hot steamy days cooped up in classrooms and lecture halls. Some of them are so knocked out by the heat and humidity that they keep their heads on their desks half the time.

I have my favorites in each class, mostly the students who are awake and look interested. Some of them hang on my every word. Say, that’s a good phrase to teach them. I must remember it. We spent today mostly listening to boring video conversations by bad actors who were reading their lines. I think the textbook is way below the students’ level. I must come up with some new ideas tomorrow.

One of my ideas is to put together a Power Point show of a Visit to Hollywood. I don’t have enough of my own pictures, so I’ll have to download some. I’ll have groups of students role play meeting their favorite movie star or something like that. Anything to keep them interested.

We had a Foreign Teachers’ meeting with the Foreign Languages Department head who gave us a pep talk and said some of us were teaching the students below their level. One of the teachers then had the nerve to ask if the bottled water they provide for us in class could be served chilled. Here we are, pampered beyond most Chinese people’s wildest dreams, in luxury air-conditioned apartments, at salaries higher than other university teachers, and he wants chilled water.

Sunday there will be a teachers’ field trip to the Giant Panda Preserve. Wheeee!!

I took the afternoon off, had lunch (no bones in the food today), and napped for an hour. I asked the building manager for TWO 5-gallon jugs of water, and they were delivered within an hour. Each jug costs about $1.50.

At dinner I met two teachers from New Zealand. They shared their woes with me – turns out we all teach Speaking and Listening, so we’ll put our heads together on some lesson ideas. There’s no communication with the other teachers, so we may organize some meetings to talk about common concerns.

After dinner I set off on a long walk, taking advantage of the cooler evening. I walked down the First Ring Road (Chengdu is circled by 3 Ring Roads) to a shopping center and looked at clothes. In the lower level of the center there’s a grocery store and housewares section. I need reading lamps, since I’m about to go blind in my apartment with 40-watt light bulbs. None of the desk lamps had higher than a 25-watt bulb – is this a Chinese peculiarity? Surely there must be 60-watt bulbs somewhere. I explored some more, taking a circuitous route home, and discovered the huge outdoor food market. It was closing down, so I found my way back to the river and then followed the river home.

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