Enlightenment, one post at a time...

Enlightenment, one post at a time...

Friday, September 17, 2010

Scheduling the Chinese way

Wow, it's been awhile since our last post.  Soooo many things have happend.  Most importantly, we got our air conditioning and internet fixed!  This means that we have been able to set up our office in the spare bedroom.  It's so nice to finally be able to fully move in.  We've printed a few 8''x10''s that we've framed and hung on the walls (pictures from the cottage, and Hong Kong).

The past few days have been consumed by a spate of attempts to figure out our school schedules.  Today we went to get them, and the staffer in charge of arranging them wanted us to come back Sunday afternoon.  We told her that we needed them "now" and she begrudgingly printed copies for us.  Turns out that I will have class Monday morning.  That would have been nice to find out on a Sunday afternoon.  This first class is going to be with a single student.  It's called the "Chinese Foundations Program" which is a fancy title for "preparing rich Chinese kids to go to England and study".  The first class (Monday at 8 a.m.) conflicts with a meeting we have with the police to get our residence permits.  What a clusterfuck.

Thursday I had my first day actually teaching economics.  This is going to be way harder than I anticipated.  I was given absolutely no information about this class.  I was told a time, a room number, and given the book.  I haven't even met the Dean of the Economics Department.  It's really hard because I don't know what these kids have already learned, and what they have not.  It's impossible to get any sort of cues from Chinese students.  Do they understand?  Are they bored because I'm lingering too long on each point?  Are they lost?  Nothing.

We're starting to figure out our schedule regarding the "holidays" in the upcoming weeks.  I say "holidays," because the first one isn't really much of a holiday.  Next week is the Mid-Autumn festival, and we have off Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  This sounds great, but then we find out that we have to teach next Thursday's lessons this Sunday, and next Friday's lessons the following Sunday.  Meaning, we don't actually get any days off, we just have an annoying schedule rearrangement.  When I brought this up to our Chinese helper, she seemed puzzled, then agreed, "yes, I suppose if you look at it that way, we don't get any days off."  Yeah, I thought so.

For National Day (two weeks later) we have to make up two of the lesson days (on weekends) but then get an additional 5 days off.  This is more of an actual holiday.  It is during this break that Cecelia and I are planning on going to Sichuan.  We want to go to Jiu Zhai Gou, and to see the big buddha.

We just had a visit from Dr. Rama Yelkur from UW - Eau Claire.  She was here in advance of the UWEC winterim program that will take place for this first time this year.  It was really nice to meet her, and I'm looking forward to more Americans coming out here, if only so we aren't quite so novel to the staring Chinese.

During Dr. Yelkur's visit, we met with her and the Vice President of the University for dinner.  Actually, we were brought to dinner early while Dr. Yelkur was still on her campus tour.  The Vice President (a lovely woman from Inner Mongolia) didn't speak a word of English, so for about a half-an-hour we had awkward conversations in Mandarin, which I had to then translate to Cecelia.  Once Dr. Yelkur arrive, however, the dinner was amazing.  The Chinese really know how to treat their VIPs (Dr. Yelkur) and the hangers-on who accompany them (us).

I think it's about time to wrap this up, as Steven is coming over to drink some beer and play some darts.  Hopefully this will be a nice, relaxing night.


  1. Great post, Collin! Good luck with teaching.

  2. i think you guys will be just fine... too bad nothing seems to be going your way there... but things will look up!!! i miss you guys soooooo much!! wish you were here. love ya!! bye

  3. Good luck, Collin! Things will smooth out, hopefully! Glad to hear your apartment is becoming more homey and technology friendly...