Here's my second postcard of the day, third if you count the rather longer one I wrote and lost. I love computers when they work but the last few days have re-established my love-hate relationship with the 21st century. The Internet has been down, my new version of Skype didn't seem to download and stymied the previous version so all much-needed methods of contact with the outside world quickly disappeared.
Things are not all doom and gloom, however. My moment of crisis passed and here I am ready to fight another day and a lovely, sunny one it is. We've got Sports' Week at present which means there are no classes but it's not a holiday when you're free to go off travelling. It's been a great time to chat socially with the English department teachers, play and watch some sport, go out for meals and generally relax. We also watched a musical comemoration of the Long March (the all-dancing, all-singing Mao killing fields!?) which was a selection of songs sung by a hundred strong student choir with three or four soloists. Though I didn't understand a word it was good entertainment though the narrators microphones should have been turned down a tad. Chinese voices can be a little strident.
You can see the rather blurred photos of the Sports' week opening ceremony with each department doing a performance. It was very colourful, with lots of local and national costumes amongst the jeans and suits. The sports themselves take place every morning and afternoon, an event a day and people watch periodically,chat,wander about or play cards. Quite a few of the students now know how to play Rummy and Knock- out whist. As for the sports events most of the girls wear their everyday jeans to run in, having no P.E. kit despite having compulsory Games lessons.
Apart from that the students did apple bobbing in my Halloween special lessons on October 31st, to great hilarity, but nobody succeeded in biting the apple. I enjoy teaching the students and I hope they not only enjoy the change from being talked at and the constant reciting but also that they think they learn something from what we do. Some of them talked to Tim and Robert recently on the phone/webcam and said they'd learned such a lot and what an excellent teacher I was! They do tend to over-flatter horrifically and you're supposed to respond 'nali,nali'. They did love talking to real English people in England though.
The picnic was a lovely experience. They came armed with tons of vegetables, pans, crockery, chopsticks, firewood, and a whole plucked chicken and then proceeded to make about seven or eight dishes over a few stones, with amazing efficiency. The entire chicken was used, feet and all,no wastage, and my sole contribution to the work, despite protests, was to eat and do a bit of washing up in the river. It was a great day in a beautiful spot, with superb weather. We then played some silly English ball games, to great hilarity, and had a whale of a time before the minibus was due to take us back.
I've probably forgotten other things to mention but I have to go now. It's time for the staff 'donkey and ball' competition. Don't ask - I reckon I'll just go with the flow. Nothing can compare with my spectacularly bad debut in the volleyball but at least I redeemed myself by making it to 110 in the one -minute skipping. Maybe I'll be a donkey and ball star when I know what it is.
Hope you're all OK back at home. Time's going very quickly here. I can't believe it's November already and will soon be Christmas! Think of me then - I'll probably be working.