Sunday, March 14, 2004

What the hell is going on out there? First Haiti, and now Spain? Has the world always been fraught with such constant crisis? I am somewhat limited in my access to world news here (maybe a good thing) and much of my news comes from the BBC World Service, so I can't imagine what you are seeing on Fox News (the most played up and terrible, most likely) and CNN (somewhat accurate, we hope). There is an English station here, but I never watch because the news anchors' English is just painful to listen to. That and the news itself is poorly presented and obviously filtered. A lot of what I hear on the radio runs along the lines of "it's just a sign of the times" and "terrorism is the 21st century's plague" blah, blah, blah. Any comments?

It never ceases to amaze me that, despite the media becoming more and more of a pervasive force in our lives (as Westerners), there hasn't been much effort made to raise public awareness of how media is made. People just absorb without question. Often, anway. Just think about it how much the word "terrorism" is thrown around the media. It once had a very specific and powerful meaning and now it's used like pepper and table salt. Take a boring topic, add "terrorism," and now the story is interesting and people get scared and upset. Just like when that asshole Cheney called the teacher's union a "terrorist group"--yeah, it was a stupid thing to say and a lot of people got pissed, but I bet a greater number of people heard it, didn't think about, but felt it. And now, on a very, very, small level, but on a certain level indeed, a large number dimwits associate the word "terrorist" with "union." People are simple and the media is powerful. This is my take anyway, and I have digressed.

We have lost two of the foreign teachers. One returned to New Zealand for "family reasons" (the reason could be found at the bottom of a bottle, I reckon) and the other, a middle-aged American who is not bashful about telling anyone who will listen that many of his students remind him of his ex-girlfriend, left because he felt the students were "unteachable." The more I see the more I find that the "teaching in China" market is rampant with middle-aged men who couldn't hack it in their home country so they come here looking to pick up a young girlfriend who doesn't have the cultural wherewithal to sort out the losers from the not, or even the uglies from the not. (How lucky I am to be biracial!) The flipside of this however, is that many of these girls take to these creeps for fairly selfish reasons, anyway, namely money and the possibility of getting to leave China. So I guess it all works out. Plus, this also means that there will be more hapa-haoles in the future and that's a good thing 'cause I plan to unite them and take over the world. We are genetically superior, after all.

I digress again. Yes, two teachers are gone. One has been replaced already by the ideal laowai: blonde hair, blue eyes, big nose and the fact that she's Israeli and speaks with a heavy Hebrew accent doesn't seem to bother anyone. She and her Chinese husband moved in a few days ago AND they put her in charge of teaching AMERICAN AND BRITISH CULTURE. As the only NATIVE SPEAKING person AND the only AMERICAN here, I can't imagine why the blonde-haired, blue-eyed ISRAELI got the class, but that's China for you.

After re-reading this I find a certain negative tint to this post. Not my intention. I'm actually pretty content.

I've lightenen up on my classes, that is more music and games, and my students are slowly starting to respond. I did lay down a pop quiz last week and most of them failed it. (Several failed because I caught them cheating. "The beast" came out on quiz day. No talking, no dictionaries and no cheating. The first one I caught cheating got their paper ripped from them and crumpled in front of the class.) My pop quizzes have only five questions: three vocabulary words, one sentence to write and a throw-away, "Tell me ANYTHING else you have learned." Most of the students were baffled by the throw-away and didn't even answer it. (Independent thinking is definitely not a strong suit of the Chinese. All they expect from oral English is to memorize dialogues.) I was pretty disappointed that my students did so poorly and they were pretty embarrased for being poor students. I told them that if they bombed the next quiz I'd start loading them up on homework, which I don't like doing (more homework for them means more homework for me and I know they're already busy writing lines and lines of words like "agoraphobia"). Thankfully, I think the quiz made them take me more seriously and since I've seen more notebooks and just a little more participation. I think I might throw another quiz at them just to keep them on their toes.

I also got a haircut. It's very short and now I look like a Chinese girl. Or boy. Maybe not that short, but definitely short. Canuck took me to the hair salon, but his coiffure vocabulary proved less than helpful and I left the floor with more hair than I have on my head. But it looks alright and I'm getting used to. It will grow back after all. And I only paid 10 kuai. (That's the going rate. About $1.25. For a salon cut with shampoo. I see now why all my students look like rock stars.)

Yes, this post is boring. I will try better next time.

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