Sunday, November 06, 2005

We've got a scratcher!

Scratch, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.
I know you've got to look hard, but what you see on my wrist is a scratch. A scratch that has broken the skin!

One of my kindergarteners, Robert, wanted something in my hand and when I wouldn't give it to him, he grabbed my wrist and scratched me. I told the Korean teacher she explained to him, in the most patient of tones, that he cannot scratch people. He told him to say "sorry," but he wouldn't. He did manage, after some coaxing, to come up with "Lao shi, dui bu qi," the Chinese for "I'm sorry, Teacher."

Friday, October 28, 2005

Discipline is the foreign teacher's greatest challenge. Different cultures and language barriers, on top of the mysterious ways of children, make knowing what to do foggy, but as anyone who has ever taught, even for a very short time, knows, discipline is essential if you are to get anything done.

In general, for the sake of my sanity, I rule my classes with an iron fist. I have found (through intimate experience) that leniency resulting from the desire to "be a friend" and "make learning fun" is the gaff of a beginner, especially in Confucian Asia, where education is serious business and social lines are quite clear. And I know, that even at my strictest, I am nowhere near the level of fascist at which most Asian (especially Chinese) teachers rule. I have never hit a kid, and I don't think I could (although I understand now why someone would), but some of the Korean teachers I work with keep long sticks on their desks.

My least favorite class is my third and fourth grade "B" class (the classes are graded "A" through "D," "D" being the near equivalent of "gifted and talented" in the States, and "A" being "you are here because you are too young for prison"). As kids, the kids in this class are alright. They're pretty cute and pretty social, but as students, but for a few exceptions, they suck. They play, draw, talk too much, or not at all, sleep and take frequent trips to the toilet and clinic. We actually get very little done in this class, as they are slow to catch on to new ideas (go ahead, blame the teacher) and I spend much of my time telling them to stop throwing, eating, sleeping, drawing, hitting, kicking and talking.

Ron sits in the back of the class. He wears glasses, is always quiet and, except for when I stand directly behind to monitor his activity, he is endlessy drawing pictures of tanks, guns and people shooting each other.

I usually get to class a few minutes early and on Monday, Ron came up to my desk as if tell me something. But, instead of saying anything, he sticks his tongue out at me then walks away with a very slight smirk. I held back the laughter. To be fair, he caught me off guard, and it was pretty funny. I was going to let it slide until Eric, another student, yells across the class "Teacher! He --points to his tongue and then to me-- you?!" The little punk me the butt of the joke (and let's face it, I have a hard enough time preventing myself from making me the butt of many jokes)and because of that, just to maintain some semblance of authority, Ron had to be punished.

The bell rang and I called Ron up to the front of the class. I pointed for him to stand just next to me and he knew exactly why as he instantly got down on his knees (as Asian thing). The whole kow-tow routine makes me a bit uncomfortable, so I told him "Just stand there and don't move until I tell you." And he did. For about 43 seconds. I turned back, "Ron, stand still. Put your hands down. Look forward!" He did. For a bit. And then I corrected him again, and this carried on for about five minutes until he finally gave up and just stood there.

Class continued and Ron stood there. It was my intention to keep him there the duration of the class, or until he started looking genuinely sorry, but when the class got into their readers, the kid started wiggling. "Ron, stand still," I ordered and then, for no reason apparent, Ron started back for his desk. "Ron...!" I started when, after two feeble steps the kid's legs went out from under him. He fell off the step (my desk is on a riser), and went down head first smacking his face, hard, against the corner of another student's desk. He hit the floor with a thud then rolled onto his back, tangling up his feet in the legs of student's desk across the aisle. I dropped the book and ran. "Ron!" I yelled. By this point all of the kids were out of their seats and hovering.

"Teacher! Teacher! You --drags his finger across his neck-- him!" one kid yelled! "He's not dead! I said, allowing the notion to cross my mind, "Go get another teacher!" I told one of the girls.

Ron lay there and but for tears welling up under his glasses, he didn't move. The corner of his right nostril was clearly torn and started bleeding. And then gushing. "Go to the toilet and get paper!" I told another kid. I moved the desk he had his legs caught in out of the way and I put my sweater under his head.

Kids are really tricky. It's hard to know what they're up to sometimes. A stomachache might be a stomachache, but 70 percent of the time, it's scam to get out of class, and teachers bear the burden of having to act on what we perceive to be the truth. Having relatively little experience with kids, I tend to err on the side of caution, but this can often be the wrong thing to do, too, as the kids can and will take advantage of it. So with Ron, I was caught. He was clearly hurt, but the nagging voice of reason was telling me he was camping it up for effect ever so slightly.

Fortunately, two teachers from the next door classes came to my rescue and the kids rattled away recounting the tale in Korean. "Did he hit his head?" they asked. "Really hard!" I explained. I showed them what happened. The Korean teachers fussed over Ron and I ran out for more tissue as his nose was really going. He was up off the floor when I got back and the teachers hauled him off. I apologized profusely, but they didn't seem to think anything was too serious.

Needless to say, class was difficult to resume, but I got the kids back into their chairs and we finished our reading. Class ended without further incident and I went straight to my boss to tell him what happened. Ron was in there in the teacher's room, waiting for his parents, his nose held shut with a giant strip of tape, when I came in. He refused to look at me.

"These things happen," my boss said, much to my amazement and relief, "kids are kids." My Korean co-teacher (we teach the same classes alternately), Wendy, tended to Ron. I explained the whole story to her. Apparently, they all thought he just fell - the part where he was punished for sticking out his tongue at me was neglected somehow. "I see..." she said, which made me feel worse, like I was ratting the kid out.

After school, Ron's parents came. They were an exceptionally well-groomed Korean couple and instead of being pissed and litigious, as I feared (as any American parents would be), they were very polite and grateful for our care. Wendy explained the story and on the way out, much to my astonishment, Ron's mother smacked him upside the back of his head.

I was in the clear.

So from this ordeal, lessons have been learned: Korean parents are reasonable, kids are kids and the next time someone is naughty, I'm sticking them in a chair.


Ron missed class the next day, but came back the day after with huge swathes of gauze taped to the middle of his face. I caught him drawing again, and took away his sketch books, WITH RESISTANCE.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Scuttlebutt

sanlitunmonkeys, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.
I'm back in Beijing and for those of you not in the know, that means I was away.

I finished up the Puma gig in the middle of August, got back to Beijing, found a new place to live (it's awesome, by the way) and got set up with a new job at the Korean International School in Beijing.

Over the October 1 holiday, I went to England to start my masters course at the University of Sheffield, and after England, I went to the South of France to play.

Life is Beijing in good. I work a lot, play a lot, and things have become quite usual.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

University of Sheffield

University of Sheffield, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.
My new alma mater: the University of Sheffield. Despite it's noble and ancient appearance, the school I went to in Boston for my undergraduate degree is actually older by 25 years.

Sheffield, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.
Sheffield from the 5th floor of the Art Tower at the University of Sheffield


Carcassonne, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.
From England, I flew to Carcassonne in the South of France. Carcassonne has an ancient walled city at its center (La Cite). The youth hostel is located within the walls and that's where I stayed.


colliourebateaux, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.
I stopped in Collioure on what became a two-day mission to see the sea. Collioure is a very cute, rather touristy town on the Cote Vermeille.

collioure, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.


Cerbere, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.
Cerbere is the last train stop before the Spanish border. I got off just to see what there was to see, and aside from it being quite pretty, there wasn't much. I was there in the middle of the day and all the shops and restaurants were closed. The harbor is very pretty and the beach is a pebble beach.

fenetre, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.
Yes, I am reverting back to crap student photographer mode.

oldcar, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.
An old car.

Old men in the park...

oldmen, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.
They invited me to play with them, but I was shy, and on my way to catch a train. (She must be Japanese, I heard them whisper to each other.)


Perpignan, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.
Perpignan is the capital of the Roussillon province. It's Catalan country (Catalogne in French) and everywhere you go, you see pro-Catalan posters and slogans and flags.

These are posters for a protest to demand some kind of governmental recognition for Catalan people.


perpignanmur, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Those damned A-rabs!

downwith, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.
If little old ladies (I was accosted by a few) are any indication as to the average Frenchman's mindset, Arabs are on everyone's shit list.

"Abat les arabe" is something
like "Down with Arabs." An understandably irritated Arab with a pen turned the message's meaning against the French.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Not only in China...

squatter, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.
The toilets at the train station in Carcassonne.

It is in fact...

baguetteman, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.
...a Frenchman, in a beret, carrying a baguette in his knapsack.

No rest for the wicked.

hello blusters, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.
Without further delay, here are photos from this summer's internship with Puma. As mentioned in a previous post, my friend Benny got me the gig and the four of us, me being the only non-German, made our way through Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, China and then back to Hong Kong.


superauditor, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.
So being an auditor requires stamina, speed, a cunning wit and a super accurate thumb for hitting the "on" button on the voice recorders. Daniel was in the zone that day.

Benny's got the goods...

DSC00777, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.
Oh Hell! (See the following note.)

Was hast du gesagt?!

indignant, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.
This photo was one of the first to spawn our Puma Summer Internship "Oh Hell!" Campaign. (It's an obvious pun on the company's "Hello." advertising campaign. The model pictured is clad from head to toe in Puma apparel and footwear and is displaying items key in the retail shop auditing process: hair pomade, USB cables, cigarettes, various foreign currencies of various denominations, digital cameras, voice recorders, Puma item catalogues and an indignant mug.

Just like Mama used to make...

taiwanice, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.
Whilst in Taipei, Benny and I cruised one of the night street markets. Stalls and kiosks open up after dark, and the streets are blocked to let pedestrians tend to their consumption. Far and away, my favorite dessert, quite possibly in the world, is Taiwanese shaved ice: nuts, beans and fruits smothered with ice slivers and drizzled with sweet milk. I'd only ever had the concoction in California and without dispute, it's better in the homeland.


danielsara, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.
Daniel and Sara made up the non-Benny and Maile Puma team. Sara was studying Chinese in Beijing before the trip, and Daniel flew in from Germany. We were all quick to become pals and when I got back to Beijing, Sara let me live with her for two weeks while I sussed out new digs.

A silent 24-hours...

hktrain, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.
So instead flying back to Beijing, I took the slightly cheaper 24-hour train option.

This is a soft-sleeper cabin, and for about HK$900, I shared it with an older Chinese man who did not once let sound escape his lips. He did however, spend most of the duration of the ride clipping newspaper articles and pasting them, with notes, into scrapbooks.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Alas I have no photos for this post, but so much has been happening that an update, however literary it might be, is necessay.

I am writing from my hotel room in Korea. I have been in Seoul for six days and I leave for Beijing tomorrow. I am currently working for Puma (yes, like the shoes) as an auditor. My friend Benny, who is also here in Korea, got me the job and we, a team of four, have been touring Asia since the 12th of July.

The job's for a month and what we do is go into retail stores that carry Puma products, take inventory of what they have, poke around a bit to get an idea of the store's atmosphere and environment and then we go to the next place on the list and do it all over again. It's actually a lot of work as we also have to write reports (and I am the only native English speaker), but my teammates are cool and we're having fun. We started in Hong Kong, then we went to Taiwan (where Benny and I audited Hsinchu and Taichung, while the other two did Taipei), and now we are wrapping up Seoul. We do Beijing and Shanghai next week and then we go back to Hong Kong to compile and present our reports for the folks at the home base.

So, I hear you say, what has happened to the slick television job in Beijing? The short answer to that is: Chinese business. The kind that rumors are made of. As it turns out, the company hired me knowing full well that they were in dire financial straits. The money from a huge project we completed was supposed to save the day, and would have according to all accounts, but a newly hired manager ran off with the cash and now the office has been shut down and no one has been paid. As far as I understand, there is no legal recourse to pursue and no one has tracked down the manager since. The big boss, Jack Pan the Man, is apparently not responding to anyone and I have been told that my co-workers are owed up to three months salary. I am owed wages for about a month and a half and I have already decided that spending much time chasing after it would be wasted effort. Life must go on and I have learned in a most direct and intimate way that China really is the Wild Wild East.

In other news, I have been accepted into a graduate program at the University of Sheffield! Studies commence in October and I'll have to go to England for an orientation program. It's a MSc course in Chinese Business and International Relations and I will be completing it through the university's distance learning program, which I think is really cool, as I'll be able to stay in Asia while I work on it. Hee hee! I'm going to grad school!

The last bit of update is a sad one. My beloved Macintosh iBook has shit the bed and is no more. This happened two days ago. I took the sick baby to the local Apple doctor and they diagnosis they gave me was that the repairs necessary for a healthy recovery would cost more than the price of a newer, sleeker and sexier baby. Truth be told, the computer is not so new. I've had it nearly two years and I got it used from my friend Baron who had it for at least year or two before that. But it's still sad. And so fucking typical for this burn and churn society in which we find ourselves. Anyhow, Granny Smith is getting the heave ho and I've already decided to change parties and get a some kind of PC when I get back to Hong Kong. As much as I like the slick Mac design and the idiot friendly OS, in Asia, PC is really the only way to go. It's cheaper, there's plenty of software and plenty of support.

So that's me in a nutshell. Back to work...

Monday, July 04, 2005


stockings, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.
By no means am I a fashionista of any variety, however I know enough to realize that this Chinese affinity for wearing ankle hose with skirts, shorts or really anything shorter that something dragging on the ground, is clearly a fashion faux pas of the highest offense.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

I am not dead, just exceptionally busy. The month of May was crazy for me: I went to Shanghai; I've been unusually social, of late; I've been teaching my kids the Huki Lau and spending hours cutting out little paper flowers for leis; I got a new apartment, and I got a new job.

I hope to expound on some of these topics soon, but until then, enjoy the photos.

Rock Stars!

IMGP0034, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.
Not really, but other people thought they were rock stars. The guy on the right is Benjamin, a German. I met him just before I left for Shanghai and he invited me to an art project where more than 400 foreigners got together in these blue suits to be photographed.

The suits they are wearing is what maintenance workers all over China wear. Not a single person I spoke to could explain the objective of the piece, but in the end, I guess it was just something to do. I didn't participate (not foreign-looking enough), but took lots of pictures of Benny and his friends who were willing and accomodating models. This picture is definitely one of the better ones.

Since then, I've hung out with these kids a lot.

House Party

houseparty, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.
I had a house party this month. A couple dozen people, a good mix of Chinese and foreigners, crammed into my one-bedroom apartment and drank copious amounts of alcohol whilst trying to understand each other. It was a tremendous success.

Chinese people don't have house parties and more than two who came thanked me for their invitation saying "it's like a whole different world!" Go figure.

Shanghai Holiday

shanghaiboats, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.
For the May 1 holiday, I went to Shanghai and stayed with my pal Tony. (We met in Dalian last summer.)

It was a short trip and all we really did was hang out, eat, buy DVDs and fight the hoardes of tourists also spending their May 1 holiday in Shanghai.

Good times, though.

Tony and I

distorted, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.
The only decent picture of Tony and I from the trip came out blurry, so I doctored it up to look like this.

Tony's doing well. He's teaching in Shanghai and dating a local girl who's a journalist.

Huang Pu river water

huangpu, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.

A view from the river cruise

shanghaicruise, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.

Oh we're going to a huki lau!

PICT0041, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.
Children's Day was June 1. It was a big to do for the school and our department spent two weeks teaching the children songs and dances. There was supposed to be a performance competition and my boss made a huge effort to be sure that our routine was the most original and creative. Any ideas as to who came up with the Huki Lau?

The competition was cancelled in the end (we all suspect that the other departments caught wind of what we were up to and called the whole thing off), but the kids performed non-competitively.

Our kids made waves with their Aloha shirts, leis and skirts and for the most part, the parents were thrilled to see their little darlings steal the show against their uniform clad contemporaries in the other departments.

This is Lauren, one of my best third graders. Here is she doing an excellent job of hiding her protests of "Miss Cannon, can I go now?"

Fourth grade boys...

PICT0035, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.

Hang loose, brah!

PICT0033, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.

Cool fourth graders...

PICT0030, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.

Local kids...

PICT0039, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.
Here are some third graders. They really do look like local kids...

Becoming a Young Pioneer

PICT0044, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.
In China, you'll see most Chinese school students wear a red scarf around their necks. This means that the child has attained the status of "Young Pioneer," the party equivalent of having received first communion.

Up to rather recently, children had to prove themselves fit for the honor by demonstrating their academic prowess and mastery of all things Young Pioneerness, but now, especially at my school where the children come from affluent families, all of the students receive the title.

On Children's Day, all of our first graders received the stamp of Young Pioneer and in this photograph you can see the older students bequeathing the little ones with the red scarves.

The children, of course, take all of this rather seriously. If my third and fourth graders are any indication of what's to come, I'm sure the little ones will wait almost a week before they start wrapping their scarves around their heads, their waists and sucking on the ends until they're gooey and frayed.

The new job...

S1113877953_image, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.
So the big news is that I have a new job. I work for this man. The one who is not the governor of California. The man is Jack Pan and he hosts a television show called 21@21. It's a half-hour interview show where Mr. Pan gently grills pretty high profile folks such as Arnold, Nicole Kidman, Yoko Ono, Madeline Albright...

My official title is PRODUCTION ASSOCIATE and what I do is help with research, offer input during question drafting and I make sure that all correspondences leaving the office are well-crafted and Chinglish free.

If you want to read something about my new boss and the show, checkout these links:

Imagine that. I'm back in the media and in China of all places.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Yang Fan

yangfan, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.
This is my new Chinese name: Yang Fan.

The first character, Yang, was easy to choose. It's my mother's surname. Choosing the second character, however, was not so easy. My first Chinese name was given to me by my first boss. It was Mei Le which is a horrible name that means "beautiful and happy." My university students told me it sounded like a farmer's daughter's name (and in China, being a farmer is exceptionally bad socially [so much for socialism]). My second Chinese name was Hong Lian. A Chinese man I sat next to at a football match gave it to me. Hong means "red" and Lian was taken from the second character in the name of the city I was living in, Da Lian. I was also told by my students that Hong Lian was too farmerish, though better than Mei Le. My third Chinese name was assigned to me by the mother of a friend and that was Hai Lan. This means "sea blue." Also farmerish, apparently, and I never really took to it.

Finding the Chinese people around me inadequate in their ability to give me a name, I took the task upon myself and, like many Chinese in search of an English name, I went into the dictionary.

Most Chinese words or concepts have a few characters, so I started with words starting with Yang (second tone), a very common Chinese surname that means "poplar." I didn't find anything I liked, but the next character listed, also Yang in the second tone, can be written with Fan (first tone), which means "sail," to mean "hoist the sails" or "set sail." This I liked, but I didn't like the idea of having the first name "sail." I continued for other characters for Fan in the first tone and found what you see in the picture. This Fan means "to have an altogether different flavor."

So there we have it: "poplar of an altogether different flavor," but when said together I'm to "set sail."

The name has since been approved by those around me to a good and very Chinese sounding name. One of my private students, a very hip 15-year-old girl, even told me it was cool and that the wife of a nobel prize winner at Tsinghua University (the MIT of China) has the same name.

This is Yang Fan, signing off...

Saturday, April 16, 2005


humidifier, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.
I was half way through a post about my shitty day yesterday and I lost it! Now I'm too irritated to start over.

The rant, in a nutshell, is that I hate China. Or at least I did yesterday. I got sick, Chinese doctors are incompetent and someone in the hospital nicked my fucking cell phone. (May the motherfucker who has it now not know enough English to change the functions over to Chinese!)

Apart from this battle with something nasty that has affected, at different times, my throat, nose, head and bowels, things are pretty good. I work seven days a week and I'm pulling in decent money. (I'm working like a machine now, but counting the days until my contract is up...) I got a membership to the local gym and up until fight with the flu (or whatever it is) I had been swimming nearly everyday.

This silly looking thing (the photo) is the latest addition to my family of toys for hypochondriacs. It's a humidifier and it keeps my air purifier company.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

I'm back Beijing. In fact, I've been back a month. Forgive the delay and the impending brevity...I've been super busy. I've got two jobs at the moment and I'm tutoring a special group on Friday afternoons. Things are going along and I'm hoarding every fen. I will write more when the opportunity presents itself.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Even the the turtles slack in Hawaii...

punaluu, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.
I half-assedly played tour guide for a week for Christian, a friend who also works in Beijing, who came to vacation in Hawaii. We went drove around the island one day and before we got to Volcanoes National Park, we made a stop at the black sand beach in Punaluu.

Hawaiian green sea turtles (see photo above) are unique in that they bask in the sun. According to a placard posted about the creatures, there is no reason for this; they just like to sit on the beach and take in the sun. Learning this, Christian was impressed: "Wow, even the turtles are lazy in Hawaii."

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Happy Mardi Gras!

mardi, originally uploaded by dadapunk80.
Here I am in Hawaii. I suppose there are things I could write about, but complaining about the same old things is tiresome.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

My friend Bonnie tipped me off to this article. Yet another reason why Jon Stewart of the Daily Show is awesome...

CNN Will Cancel 'Crossfire' and Cut Ties to Commentator
New York Times
Published: January 6, 2005

CNN has ended its relationship with the conservative commentator Tucker Carlson and will shortly cancel its long-running daily political discussion program, "Crossfire," the new president of CNN, Jonathan Klein, said last night.

Mr. Carlson said he had actually quit "Crossfire" last April and had agreed to stay on until his contract expired. He said he had a deal in place for a job as the host of a 9 p.m. nightly talk program on MSNBC, CNN's rival.

One NBC News executive said that no deal had been completed between MSNBC and Mr. Carlson. "Tucker is a great journalist and we are exploring options with him for a 9 p.m. job," said Jeremy Gaines, a spokesman for MSNBC.

"I don't know what CNN is saying," Mr. Carlson said. "But I have no dispute with CNN."

Mr. Klein said the decisions to part company with Mr. Carlson and to end "Crossfire" were not specifically related, because he had decided to drop "Crossfire" regardless of whether Mr. Carlson wanted to stay on.

Mr. Klein said, "We just determined there was not a role here in the way Tucker wanted his career to go. He wanted to host a prime-time show in which he would put on live guests and have spirited debate. That's not the kind of show CNN is going to be doing."

Instead, Mr. Klein said, CNN wants to do "roll-up-your-sleeves storytelling," and he said that was not a role he saw for Mr. Carlson. "There are outlets for the kind of show Tucker wants to do and CNN isn't going to be one of them," he said.

Mr. Klein said he wanted to move CNN away from what he called "head-butting debate shows," which have become the staple of much of all-news television in the prime-time hours, especially at the top-rated Fox News Channel.

"CNN is a different animal," Mr. Klein said. "We report the news. Fox talks about the news. They're very good at what they do and we're very good at what we do."

Mr. Klein specifically cited the criticism that the comedian Jon Stewart leveled at "Crossfire" when he was a guest on the program during the presidential campaign. Mr. Stewart said that ranting partisan political shows on cable were "hurting America."

Mr. Klein said last night, "I agree wholeheartedly with Jon Stewart's overall premise." He said he believed that especially after the terror attacks on 9/11, viewers are interested in information, not opinion.

"Crossfire" may be continued "in small doses" as part of the political coverage on CNN's other programs, Mr. Klein said.

Mr. Klein said he intended to keep CNN's highest-rated program, "Larry King Live," much as it is because Mr. King does not do "head-butting debate" but "personality-oriented television."

The rest of CNN's prime-time lineup will be moving toward reporting the day's events and not discussing them, he said.

Mr. Klein said he had no intention of changing that approach, but he added a caveat. "Not unless the first batch of things we're trying to do don't turn out well," he said.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Just a quick post. I will be back in Kona on the 23rd. Things have been crazy here as our schedules are wacky due to the upcoming holiday. Here is another writing assignment from one of my fourth graders.

By Larry, age 9

Ms. Yang is our English teacher. Her English is very good and she is very strict. Ms. Cannon is our English teacher. Her English is better than Ms. Yang's. She is very cute. [Really, he wrote this.] Sometimes Ms. Cannon is angry.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Those who know me know that I'm not a huge fan of kids. I suppose this sounds a bit strange given that I am a school teacher, but it's true. Kids are smelly, noisy, demanding, manipulative, self-centered and completely unable of getting through the day without adult attention. What this job has taught me, though is that children can also be quick to learn, genuinely good natured, creative and because they have yet to develop a solid idea of what society determines to be "right" and "wrong," they are prone to saying whatever is on their minds at the moment, and often what they say is funny.

I was walking down the hall when I heard little voices yelling "Miss Cannon! Miss Cannon!" I turned to see two girls waving at me from their line where they wait to get into class. There were really small, second graders, so I didn't know them.

I say hello. One girl pipes up, "Miss Cannon! I like you!" The other parrots the first, "I like you!" I laughed. I had no idea who these kids were.

"Why do you like me?" I asked the girls. "Huh?" They didn't understand me. "Why?" I asked again. "Huuuhhhh?" They still didn't understand. "Weishenme?" I finally asked them in Chinese. Their teacher can worry about their English.

The first girl, without thinking about it says "You is very cute!" I laughed. The second girl chimed in, "You is cute!" I laughed and told them that they were very cute and that I like them, too.

Kids also have a keen sense of character.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Come teach English in China...

My school is already looking to recruit teachers for next Fall. Anyone out there looking for a job?

The job itself is what it is. You teach an English curriculum to young Chinese children. It's not the best curriculum in the world, but it's hardly the worst and it's a curriculum. You don't have to invent your own. The classes are small: only 15. Each class has a Chinese teaching assistant and to be honest, that person does most of the work.

The kids are kids: noisy, smelly, greedy, they cry, bleed--but they can be cute, surprising and eager to do good. I have third and fourth grade, so their level of English is impressive, especially my fourth graders.

The school is one of Beijing's elite. We are the American department. The facilities are nice, especially for China, but we still use chalk and blackboards. We technically teach 15 hours per week, but we spend a lot of time more at school with lunch breaks and grading. It's still no 9 to 5.

My boss is amazing! She will take care of you! She will listen to you and do her best to make you comfortable! When I got hurt, my boss came to my home, made me dinner and then did my laundry and cleaned my apartment! She speaks good English and knows how to relate to Westerners (she lived in California for 20 years)! She will take you to dinner and get you liquored up! She is one of the best bosses I have ever had and in China, finding a good boss is like finding a clean toilet in the countryside.

The goods: The pay is 5000 RMB per month. Not a lot in dollars, but more than enough to get by here. I actually SAVE money here. You also get a place to live (my place is pretty big and comfortable), basic utilities are paid (not phone) and a driver comes every morning to take the teachers to school. We have emergency health insurance and all of our paperwork (residence permits and things like that) are sorted out for us by the school. Also, the school pays for your plane ticket: half up front and half after you finish the school year (it's fair).

Living in China is not like living in any developed nation. It's dirty, inefficient and crowded. You cannot drink the water and nobody has a clothes dryer. The people can be rude and ignorant, but they can also be the most genuinely kind people you'll meet. The city is old, but always building. People still shop in open air markets (though there are plenty of huge foreign supermarkets), but everyone has a cell phone. The buses are slow and smelly, but the subway is fast, cheap and clean. The bread and cheese is awful, but if you go looking, you'll find the real McCoy better than it is at home. Being the capital of China, Beijing attracts people from all over the world, so there are always interesting people to meet. There is a night life here, beer is cheap (though you can blow a budget clubbing) and there are 24-hour restaurants that serve cheap meals. Beijing has theatre, film, music (not stellar, but not bad), gyms, parks, museums, food stalls, talkative cab drivers, fortune 500 headquarters, universities, pretty Chinese girls, handsome foreign men (I suppose there are some good looking Chinese boys, as well), shopping, bootlegged DVDs, bookstores and EVERYTHING. I like it a lot here and I highly recommend it.

To work at my school you must:

1. Be a North American native English speaker
2. Have at the least a 4-year degree in any subject
3. Tolerate small children
4. Have a sense of humor and be flexible (again, China is not efficient)
5. Not be a dirty old man.
6. Not be an asshole. (I don't want an asshole teaching my kids!)
7. Have a sense of adventure.

Write me if you have any questions. This is serious. We need some good people to be teachers next year. Tell your friends.