Friday, Oct. 14. Language exam is over. We spent all- day at Sea Turtle Center getting ready to enter Chinese middle school (grades 7-12) classrooms to teach English. Can we transform our careless “Whaddya wanna do” to more careful “What do you want to do”? What kind of activities can we devise to keep our students focused on learning? Interspersed with sessions of the language-teaching workshop were periods of planning and practice for the evening farewell party.
At 4 p.m. we headed over to a nearby hotel to set up the room for the farewell party. We lugged cookies, cake, potato chips, soft drinks, juice, and tea up to the 9th floor meeting room and began rearranging furniture. At 7 p.m. our guests—host families, friends, teachers, and other local co-workers—started to arrive. Conversations were lively, and guests eagerly awaited the program we had prepared. The choir of all unit members also broke into several smaller ensembles for some numbers. Tongue twisters in Chinese and English (including contributions from the audience) provided some variety. Rikki & Wang laoshi, one of our language teachers, did a skit in which Rikki attempted to recite a Chinese poem. Alas, the poem repeats one syllable (shi) throughout. If one does not correctly pronounce each syllable with the correct tone—and know the characters representing each of the syllables—the meaning is lost. We ended the evening with the audience joining us in singing Mòlìhuā (“Jasmine flower”), a favorite Chinese folk song.