Wednesday, June 30, 2004

I make apologies for my slackage so often that I think it's no longer worth the effort to bother with them. Excuses are also tired, but here you go: Been super busy with finals and end of term stuff; this coupled with a general lack of creative inspiration. Plenty of noteworthy things have happened in the MONTH since I last wrote, and then before, but I've also been reading a lot and watching a lot of DVDs--symptoms of what I call a general "intake" phase. Writing is best done in "output" phases...or so my general laziness has convinced me of.

In any event, an entry outlining recent goingons is in order. And by the way, Tales from Xian are officially on the back burner until futher notice.

My term here at the Dalian Institute of Light Industry (Qing Gong Xue Yuan) has come to an end. I gave finals last week. All but one of my students passed (the one came to only five classes and didn't even bother to get in touch with me to take his final). I was also informed that my night class students, the ones who were preparing to go to the University of Swansea, all passed the required English exam, and all of them are headed to Wales for mid-July. Brings a tear to an English teacher's eye...

My mother also came to visit this month. She was here for a total of 10 days, but half of those days were spent in Beijing with her gentleman friend, Jim (they flew back and forth between Dalian and Beijing). While she was here, I put Mom to work in my classes. I was stunned with the results. My students LOVED her. I told them (and her) that they weren't to speak Chinese, even though they could. AND THEY DIDN'T. Mom took over the classes completely and in her usual bull in a china shop (no pun intended) tact, bullied and grilled each of them into genuine English discussion. "Mrs. Cannon (we never explained the divorce bit) what is your stance on Taiwan (we told them she was born there and she staunchly expressed her devotion "One China," much to their awe and satisfaction)? What challenges do you encounter as a Chinese in America? Why did you marry a foreigner? Do you consider Maile to be a success? How long did it take for you to speak such GOOD English? Was your father a Guomingtao solider? Do you play sports? You look very young..." The questions flowed like Qingdao beer and I sat in the corner shocked to learn that my students actually knew how to speak English. But only with other Chinese people. I brought Jim to class the following week and when confronted with a "real laowai," all the students could muster was "Do you like Chinese food? Can you use chopsticks? Do you like Dalian?"

In other news...I have accepted a job to teach in Beijing starting August 15. Carden School, my very own pre-school and kindergarten alma mater (in Orange County, Calif.), runs the English department of a private boarding school and given my, albeit brief, history with the institution, they offered me a plush gig for the academic year. Not only will I be making more money and living in Beijing, I'll be working fewer hours, with an assistant, at a school with a SWIMMING POOL!

I'm leaving Dalian Monday the 5th and I'll be in Kona until I leave for Beijing. Kona peeps, prepare yourself for a neverending run of pizza, Bale tofu sandwiches, burritos at Tacos El Unico and hours at Middle Earth...

And for those of you with the patience to check in regularly, thanks, and I promise, more is on the way.