Yesterday, Monday, I had my first hour with the younger kids at the Migrant School. I have stood up in front of a lot of people before and have delivered messages long and short and have always been rather collected. Yesterday, I nearly fell apart. I walked into the room…no….I squeezed into the room and counted: 67 kids in a room that would be approved for 20 in other places. The kids were actually sitting on each other. I noticed a couple of the more ‘narrow’ kids were sharing one stool. The desks were so far forward that there was not really much room for me to turn around.
Of course, due to the sheer density of the crowd there was a lot of jostling and complaining going on. It was almost impossible to control the back quarter of the room as there was no way to get back there (unless you are under 5′ and weigh less that 70lbs). As I mentioned before, the method of teaching the kids are used to is simply repeating after the teacher….anything the teacher says. It’s kind of like listening to your echo through giant rock concert loudspeakers. So even if I switched over to Chinese to say “turn the page”, they repeated in Chinese….TURN THE PAGE….I don’t think they were kidding.
The sheer thrill of having a foreigner stand up in front and pay attention to them seems to be incentive enough for them to want to work (well, for about 90% of them…no class is without it’s goldbrickers). After an hour of high decibel repetition (there was just no way to ask individual questions in that forum), they all filed out of the room, each one thanking me and saying that I should come back (even the goldbrickers). About 8 stayed behind and brought out short hand brooms with which they swept the massive amounts of garbage on the floor into a big pile, lined up the desks and put the stools on top. My kids back in America would have a fit if they had to clean up after their classmates.
Today I took a walk to the cleaners to have my clothing washed and my shirts washed and pressed (one of the things that isn’t cheap in China – actually costs more there than in Kansas City) and went by the bank. The grandmother in my host family is now preparing handmade noodles, stewed pork belly (no, it’s really good), what looks like wild asparagus and something else that smells really peppery….we’ll see. At 12:45 I’ll catch a car back out to the school.
Thanks for reading.