Well, we found out tonight that Erin doesn’t like tequila.
What a nice last evening in Dongguan.
Giant burgers with homemade bread.
Electrical blackout in the restaurant.
Actual conversation that doesn’t include getting “shit-faced” or complaining about our school and students.
Of course it would be the last night in Dongguan that I would actually find a group of more like-minded girls.
Before you read on I want you to know that this trip has been incredible. I have loved *most* moments and the students and TAs have taught me so much about teaching English as a second language. What I wrote about does not mean I think China is awful. It was simply an experience I had. One of many – good and bad.
I realize that I haven’t posted anything about school yet, but I felt like this was…
Then had to hide the fact that I was crying from my 31 students.
Why was I crying?
The school director hit one of my children because he was talking back to her.
We were practicing for the closing ceremony and my “problem child” wasn’t cooperating. He was talking back to me, touching the other children, refused to do the dance, and just wouldn’t stay focused. I yelled at him a bit (something I hate to do, but is the way it works here in China) but to no avail. Finally I just let him be. If he wants to perform poorly in front of his parents, then so be it. This ceremony is a HUGE deal to the Chinese. I know I’m going to sound cheesy saying this, but if he doesn’t perform well, it will bring dishonor to his family. I walked away and decided to focus my energy on the students who were paying attention.
From a distance, I saw the director walk over to my student and begin telling him to straighten up his act. He refused. She proceeded to yell at him. He yelled back. She tried to pull him out to talk with him. He planted his feet and pulled back. I thought she would keep yelling at him, but out of nowhere she slapped his arm as hard as she could. I jumped a bit and stared in disbelief. The tears welled, for both me and my student.
There he was - my toughest student in the entire class, red-faced and crying in front of 7 classes. There I was - a teacher only trying to help my student but watching him slide further down the hill.
In the US, it is illegal to physically punish a child.
In the US, it is frowned upon to publicly humiliate a student.
In the US, the faculty would recognize that there is something deeper causing the child to act out.
But I’m not in the US, am I?
China has neither the time, patience, or the resources to investigate and help their students.
You succeed, or you don’t.
The first part of our trip was leisure travel, although I wouldn’t necessarily describe our adventures as leisurely. Each day was scheduled to the minute of places to go and sights to see. A typical day began with the bus pulling out by 8 AM and returning around 8 PM. Twelve hours each day is a long time to be out in China’s extreme heat and humidity, but every sight we saw was worth it.