As the days go on, things are getting easier and easier to handle. It’s not nearly as stressful as it was the first couple of weeks we were here. The only parts we’re still struggling with are making lesson plans and completing all of our history papers along with our online course homework.
I’ve found that preparing lesson plans for the primary school, Love Community, and Longzhou Community is very difficult. The middle and high school classes are easy because they enjoy learning sentences, so we just think of more sentences that may be more difficult. It’s tough, but we get it done. It was a little girl’s birthday this past week at Love Community. Her mother brought a cake, clementines, oranges, and many other snacks. We sang “Happy Birthday” to her in both English and Chinese and she wore a crown that Frank made out of balloons, which was very cute. He also made her a flower.
I love the classes I’ve been teaching. They’re great and most of our students try very hard when I’m teaching them new things. This week, we taught the middle and high school students different sentences that really made them think. It was very interesting hearing what they had to say to answer each question. We taught the primary school on Friday about different emotions, such as happy, sad, angry, tired, and disappointed. Some of these words were difficult for the young children, but they all tried very hard to get each word correct, which was very nice to see. To help some of my classes of first-graders learn the words, I would have a few students come up for each emotion and tell the class what it was. After they said what emotion it was and read the sentence beside it, I would ask them to show me what each emotion looked like. My favorite one was angry; the students would show me their angry face. They were so cute and it really made me laugh. All of the children are so adorable!
I am really getting attached to many of the elderly people we teach at Longzhou Community as well. When we go teach them on Sunday mornings, it makes my day. They work so hard on anything we have planned to teach them. We usually teach them different questions and sometimes answers to the questions. We generally go through each sentence three or four times to make sure that they all understand. After we go through each question a few times, we go around to each person and help them say each word of the question, then the full question. Some of them get frustrated because they can’t say a certain word, but I try to encourage them and I continue stating each word, which helps.
This past Sunday when we were teaching the adult class at Longzhou Community, there was one lady who was trying to say the word ‘appreciate.’ You don’t realize these things until you’re put into a situation like this, but ‘appreciate’ is a pretty tough word. After she worked at it with me for a while she got it and we were both so excited. I gave her a high five and she blew me a kiss, which I though was so cute. I thought she was going to cry because she was so happy! I love seeing them all happy when they work so hard to get something right. It makes me feel very accomplished at the end of the day.
Kirstie and I have finally learned (for the most part) how to use chopsticks. This was a big achievement for me because at first, Kirstie and I would just use a spoon to eat our food. We continued trying to learn how to use chopsticks, though, and it’s finally clicking. I feel like I fit in more with everyone when I actually use them. There are certain foods that I still struggle to pick up with the chopsticks, but for the most part I think I have it down. It has gotten to the point now where I use chopsticks any chance I get because I just enjoy using them. It sounds weird but it’s so true.
Overall, our last several weeks have only gotten better as they went on. There was one particular instance at the No. 7 Middle School which felt amazing. After I got done with one of my classes, all of the children came out and wanted to take a bunch of pictures with me and they asked me tons of questions. I think I was holding a smile for about 20 minutes straight, which really made my face hurt but it was so cute. While they were asking for pictures they told me my hair was beautiful and they asked me to take it down because I had it up in a ponytail. So, I took my hair down and they were obsessing over it, which was really cute. Then Kirstie was showing the students pictures of our boyfriends. Somewhere during all of this, one of the girls walked by me and showed me that she had a piece of my hair, which I thought was really funny. Then there was this boy who got pictures with two other girls and myself and then he showed me the picture and said “beautiful girl,” which was just about the cutest thing ever. Before long, though, we had to go to our next class and our next adventure.