Trip Start Aug 30, 2009
9Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
Saturday, September 5th: I began the day with helping out with the English lessons. Today we had about 17 students and 6 sessions. The first sessions began at 8:30 in the morning and the last one ended at 9:00 at night. During the break some of the girls played a version of leapfrog. They had a wonderful time. They even had a better time watching the video I made of them. Boby came by and we went for a walk around West Street, I was rather surprised how many people remembered me. Forrest the painter almost crashed his motorcycle stopping to say hello. We stopped and talk to the Calligrapher; we have had several requests from foreigners who wanted to learn Chinese writing. He is one to the best in the area and said he would be able to teach if we needed him. Because of the last session we had to hold our Open Talks out side. It was a little noisy and as usual we drew the attention of some of the locals who wondered what we were doing. We also had several new faces. We also had a new teacher from one of the private schools. He just arrived today from Brighton, England and a couple of his students asked him to join up tonight. We had to say good-bye to Arie and Saskia. They leave for Vietnam at 8am tomorrow morning. Their short stay gave us all lots of good ideas and things to think about. We are all going to miss them very much.
Sunday, September 6th: Once again the tutoring center was busy. Basically the same as yesterday. We ended a little earlier so that we could have time for open discussion inside. The regulars all came and we have a good discussion about traditional Chinese and modern Chinese in today's Chinese society. It seems like although they all consider themselves as modern and up with what is happening, they are still very traditional in the way they see their rows in society. First and most important is to support their parents and family, second is to get a good job and third to have a happy family of their own. I was told that they are not allowed to get marry until a man is 22 and women 21. However all who attended agreed that school and job was more important till you were 26 then you had a limited time between 26 and 30 to get married. After 30 the pressures from family and peers in tremendous.
Monday, September 7th: For the next few days everyone was cramming for their exams, which are coming up this weekend. So all week we met in small groups and went over some ideas about taking the exam. Dawn was of great help she have just taken her level 5 exams a few months ago. Level 5 is the highest exams you can take for your English. It is made up of an oral exam in the morning and a written exam in the afternoon. I think most will do great on the oral I am not to sure about the written. It is a very subjective test.
Tuesday, September 8th: Just relaxed. Walked around town and visited some of my friends shops. Julia's shop was full of new fashions she has been getting from Yunan Province, very colorful outfits. She is thinking of selling they on the Internet so if anyone would like more information about them contact me and I will get you in touch with her. I guess it is never to young to start you exercise routine. At the park across from the 49 Juice Bar is lots of exercise equipment. Then there is also a play area for kids. But it is not unusual to see Grandma on the swings and babies on the gliders. Then at the river everyone was going for a swim.
Thursday, September 10th: Had open discussion this evening. We had a couple from Finland stop in. They are a couple of actors who sold everything they owned a month ago and left Finland. Their very loss plan was to go through Russia, Mongolia, China, then Vietnam, Burma, Cambodia and work their way down to Australia. They taught us a little Finish and the group taught them some Chinese.
Friday, September 11th: The sunrise from my apartment is fantastic. I could not get the full effect in this photo but I hope it give you some idea. We began negotiations with the landlord for next years lease. I am not sure what will happen. One day they want us, then the next they want to sell it and then the next the want a longer lease. I guess it is something Chinese about being new landlords. For me the place is great. Close to everything, nice, clean and modern. The rent should be around $200.00 a month completely furnished. I can rent out a couple of the rooms and make back over half of that. So anyway you look at it, it is cheaper then staying at a hotel each time I come. Everyone left to go to Guilin for the big exams. We closed up the Juice Bar early and went out for a special dinner.
Saturday, September 12th, Tutoring Center was full again. We had a few new students. We also had a new teacher sit in on the group. We think we need to get another teacher soon. Each class is made up of 2 sessions, each session is 45 to 50 minutes long. We now have 3 sessions on Saturday and Sunday. We are trying to limit the class size to only 6 people. We had to start a new session on Friday nights. These are all classes for kids; we are also doing adult tutoring in the evenings during the week. Along with our Open Talk every night from 7 to 9pm. The days just seem to fly by. I am not sure how much bigger we want to get. It would be nice if you had more American teachers or at least more foreigners to stop in and teach for a while. It is amazing the difference with the students when there are some other foreigners there. I would also like to be able to help the local public schools especially the School for Vocational Tourism. Shelly my friend from there was in again telling me about the old High School she has taken over to convert to a working hotel with the idea that the staff will all be made up of students from the school. Problem is the buildings all need to be remodeled before anything can be done.
Sunday September 13th: It was hot and humid today. I went down to the Juice bar and did one session and decided to go back to my nice air-conditioned apartment until things cool off. The two gals from the Juice bar Tina and Sarah were back from the exams with a combination of happy and said faces. As I thought the oral exam was a breeze but all the books they bought and read did not prepare them at all for the written exam. Open discussion was a little crazy tonight. It started out at 7:00 with only a couple of people but by the time I ended it we had almost 25 people crammed into the Juice Bar. This is a little too many for causal discussion. We had students from 4 or 5 of the schools plus some students who have either finished their studies and have jobs or who do not have the money for school and just come in hopes to learn English by meeting foreigners. The group also represented people from 7 different provinces so we get a good idea of the different sub-cultures that make up China. It is nice to have so many wanting to come and talk but I think 10 is a good number for causal discussion. We will see.