Week # 1
Xi'an Travel Blog› entry 4 of 12 › view all entries
Sorry for the delay in my updates. These past few days have been really tiring, and the idea of spending an hour writing up an entry just didn't seem appealing. I've now finished with the first week of classes. I'm teaching grades 1, 3, and 6. My first lesson didn't go so well. On the day I observed the class, I noticed that they had a lesson coming up soon on animals. So I asked the teacher if they had already learned Old MacDonald, and she said no. So that is what I built my lesson plan around. Well, for the first class I went in and started to introduce the song, and they started singing along! They already knew all of it. I had built 15 minutes into the schedule for teaching them the animal names and sounds and practising them. So suddenly I had 15 minutes of free time. The teacher had to give me some ideas of things to do at that point. So that night I worked up a new lesson plan based on holidays in the US. One of the other volunteers, who is Australian, added a section on their holidays. Then we both presented that information to the 6th grade classes. It went over much better. They especially enjoyed hearing that the Easter bunny brings chocolate eggs, and that kids in Australia are out of school during the months of December and January. So I've adapted that lesson to fit the other classes as well. (Without the Australian bit, because she couldn't come to the next classes.) Next week I'm planning to do something on American sports. If anyone can think of any catchy and easy sports songs that I could teach, please let me know. I wish I could do Take Me Out To The Ballgame, but that is too complex.
I've been adventurous with food a few times over the past week. On Wednesday night a friend and I went downtown in the evening. I was looking for some new shoes, and she was looking for a specific book. We ended up wandering up and down some of the streets, and decided to have dinner at a small local restaurant. We have no idea what the name was, as it was in characters. When we entered we were shown to a table, and then the waitress gave us the menu and stood there waiting for us to order. The menu consisted of photos and characters. But we couldn't tell what the food was based on the photos. My friend wanted duck, so she looked up that word and ordered it. I was hoping to get some pork dumplings like GaoLing makes, so I asked for jiaozi, which is what those are called. But instead I got little fried donut thingies with red bean paste inside. They were pretty good. But the duck was exceptionally hot! I don't actually like duck, but I shared the meal and after a few minutes we were both sniffing at the table, with tears trailing down our faces. It was really one of the spiciest things I have ever tasted, and I ate several bites. Luckily we had also ordered two beers (I made sure to learn how to order that in Mandarin) and they ended up being really big. So we downed them pretty quickly. We took home about 2/3 of the duck, because we didn't want to hurt the chef's feelings by leaving it uneaten. But no one else here can handle it either, so it is still in the fridge. That night my stomach was very unhappy, and I'm pretty sure that is why. I didn't get much sleep. But that has now passed. Today I went back downtown and had some Korean food for lunch, and it was really tasty.
I gave up on my no western food rule a few days ago. I was really craving dairy, espcially cheese. And I hadn't had coffee in a week. So on Wednesday night, after the duck, we stopped at one of the several Starbucks that are now located in Xi'an. I had a latte, and we got to relax for a few minutes. It is amazing, but Starbucks in China are exactly like Starbucks in the US, except that there are a few Chinese characters on the menu in addition to the English. The staff all speak English. They have a western style bathroom, and they even had toilet paper! (That is not stocked in public bathrooms here, you must carry tissues with you everywhere.) So for a few minutes it seemed like I had returned home. (Angie and Sandi, if you hadn't cancelled your Wed meeting this week we would have been at Starbucks at the exact same time. It was 8:30pm here.)
Tonight we are all heading out of town to visit the "panda people". Those are the volunteers who stayed here the first few nights, then went out to the panda reserve on Monday. (Obviously we are going to see the pandas, too.) It is in a rural area, so I hope I can get a little taste of what life is like in the villages. And it should be quite scenic. So now I need to go pack. I definitely plan to take some photos there, and I will post them once I get back.