Well, I'm back online again - Bianca wasn't using her computer (she has her own all singing, all dancing Macbook and if anyone's stuck for a present for me...). Anyway, I'm using her computer and hoping that my broken one might be quietly forgotten about.
I'm loving the teaching. The kids, as I said before, are delightful. There is none of the teenage angst that we have at home. They never pass one without saying 'hello' and the girls go round holding hands, linking arms and giggling behind their hands when they speak to one. They are kind, courteous and supportive of each other. There is no anger, no animosity, no bravado, no dissatisfaction. They are unmaterialistic, unfashion conscious and sexually unaware (and for years 7,8 and 9, that's saying something!!).
I was also struck by how happy they were to be returning to school after last weekend. I travelled on a packed bus back to school on Monday with happy, laughing, chattering school kids. There was not one sour face on the bus and I concluded that as they were probably only children, their friends must be enormously important to them Certainly we seem to be missing a trick or two in the West. These children are genuinely happy. There is no b****iness amongst the girls and very little physical aggression amongst the boys and certainly no talk of their 'rights'. Probably they are aware that they are having the opportunity of an education possibly denied their parents and almost certainly denied their grandparents. There is no corporal punishment and there doesn't seem to be any need for it. I imagine that 'shame' would be sufficient punishment, plus the mantra 'don't stand out from the crowd'. The only problem in the classroom is that they chat amongst themselves incessantly in Chinese and that there are always 1 or 2 asleep. This, (the sleeping),I tolerate on the basis that if they're that tired, they are not going to contribute much anyway.
Living conditions, for me, fall short of ideal, however. The bed is the biggest issue. It is simply a bed-sized wooden box with a couple of thick blankets acting as a mattress and has become so uncomfortable, even painful, that I've not been able to sleep. Last night I acquired three extra blankets which means more padding between me and the box but it seems that mattresses of any kind are unknown outside 5 star hotels in China.
The rain has returned and with it the cooler weather which, on balance and for working purposes, I think I prefer. We also have the main somewhere to Beijing railway line running alongside the school and every few minutes trains roar past, all guns blazing, hooters hooting, tooters tooting, heading who knows where...
I've just been told that I'll be free from 11 am tomorrow as the classes I teach in the afternoon and on Friday will be having exams - an unexpected bonus (for me!). Well, I wish I could say goodbye in Chinese (I only know 'hello' and 'thank you'), butI can't, so until the next time, bye!