Today my Pineapple class are graduating from prek1 to prek2. It’s also Shirley’s last day at Happy English. It’s been a day of intense emotions.
I went into school early to fill up water balloons, and collect our materials for the park. We would meet the class there rather then at the school. Hannah and I were prepared to bus out to the park, but lucked into a ride with one of our students, Aida.
I had wanted to do park classes with my students for a while, but the weather had never worked out, so this was my first time there. I had pictured the sort of children’s park we have in Canada, with a small plot of grass filled with swings and slides. This park was huge! Filled with trees, a pond, pagodas, and all sorts of locals practicing various types of instruments.
As I led the children and their parents down the path, I stopped to point out vocabulary words to the group, and we paused to watch some of the musicians practice. We never even found the playground!
We set up our group at a collection of circular benches, then, in parent child teams we played water balloon toss, three legged race, and a vocabulary scavenger hunt. At break time we had a feast. Every parent had brought a pile of snacks to share! I discovered a new favourite: nori seaweed sandwiches with almonds in the middle! We ended the class with a slide show Hannah had made from the piles of pictures Melissa had sent us, and handed out the graduation certificates from the school.
Aida’s grandfather gave us a ride back to the school! Now I know where Aida’s quiet, kind, caring nature comes from.
And then I had to say goodbye to Shirley for real. We were still only halfway through our day, but I had to go to the mall again, and wouldn’t be back before the end of work. I started tearing up to which Shirley exclaimed “Don’t cry I told myself I wouldn’t cry today, I have another class.”
“Oh man, don’t look at each other!” I said, half crying half laughing.
I was excited to see two of my students, Demi and Nancy, in my group at the mall! Nancy has earned the nickname “Nancy-stop-it” from Andy, who had her in a group at the park earlier in the summer. She has so much energy, and there is no off switch. It was a two hour class, and she wore me down quickly, but I eventually just excepted her as a weird growth that was attached to the back of my shirt and constantly attempted to tug it off.
We were on our way to Qingdao for our days off, so I went straight to the train station from the mall. I was short on time, so I was surprised to see that I was one of the first ones there. The fools that had left from Happy English had thought it was a good idea to make a Uni-mart pit stop after work, and arrived only 15 minutes before our train’s departure time!
The Uni-mart trip didn’t seem so bad once we were able to relax on the train, and had an abundance of “Rios” a type of cooler common here, for the trip. Sonya, who had been able to get the time off to come with us, even had one!