STARTING TO LEARN: Day 97, Wednesday December 04 2013

I had just finished a much needed clean of the house, and was on my way to work when the phone rang.

“Hello Candy,” I said.

“Jenn where are you?”

“On the bus on my way to work, what’s up?”

“I forgot to tell you, you know you will judge the competition. You know the stars and stripes talent contest. You will go with Emma and Shirley to the school.”

“What? When is this happening?”

“You will go to the school at 1:30pm.”

“Candy, you didn’t give me a schedule, I’ve got no messages or emails. I need more notice then on the bus on my way to work.”

“I know I know sorry sorry. When you get here?”

“I will be there for 1:30pm like I am every day.”

“Ok, ok,” click.

CANDY I fumed, the day was not looking good. I was rushed out the door as soon as I got to the school and found myself jumping up and down to keep warm with my two assigned CTs: “happy and friendly on the outside, but catty as hell under the cover” Shirley, and “goofy, almost western in some ways”, Emma who had picked up her nearly flawless English without setting foot outside of China. Surprisingly it didn’t take us too long to find a cab.

The school (where the competition was taking place) was situated above the city partway up a mountain’s sloped base. I could see stairs that had been attached to the mountain’s steep cliff. They led up to a pagoda.

We met the kids in a large basketball court. They chattered and bantered as the teacher organized them into semi comprehensible line clumps. We were led into a large auditorium with a raised judges platform. It must have been a very intimidating layout for kids to perform on. We did in fact have a couple that completely froze up.

There were a few Happy English kids in the mix including an all too familiar face: Nemo, a demo kid from the weekend with excellent language skills but terrible listening abilities. Too smart for his own good. When it came to be his turn to preform he refused.

We passed most kids, only the ones who were incomprehensible, sang in a language other then English, or didn’t preform at all, didn’t go on to the next round.

I felt bad for the children that went at the end. The poor things had already been sitting in the auditorium for three hours, and we were running out of time for their auditions. Poor planning had led to more kids being scheduled in then we could fit in the allotted time period.

I was much more cheerful in the cab ride back then I had been on the way to the school. Shirley and Emma helped me practice my few Chinese phrases. I learned how to say “I like” (wo xihuan). The girls were very amused as I listed everything I liked (that I knew how to say anyways).

Since Emma is a fairly new teacher she has been doing mostly demos, and has often been paired up with me (which is awesome because she’s super fun to work with). Apparently the other day she overheard a conversation between a little girl and her mom as they watched one of my classes (originally in Chinese, this is Emma’s translation), “Wow,” the mom had said, “She looks like a princess.”

“Like snow white,” the child replied.

“Wow she does look like Snow White”

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We went to get some BBQ after work with our fellow foreign teachers. We had only planned to stay for a bit since we had a painting lesson that night, but we ended up loosing track of time and had to jog most of the way to the art school! We learned how to paint gold fish, and we’ve been given some homework to do. Our painting teacher gave us a sheet where he painted a tree, some animals, butterflies, and flowers. We are supposed to practice painting these at home.

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