Monday, March 28, 2011

train tickets

China is all about train travel.  They have a pretty awesome system of various trains that will take you almost anywhere you need to go.  While I refuse to be on a train for over 24 hours (I'll take the couple hour flight thank you very much) traveling overnight on a train is the perfect solution.

Buying tickets...that takes a little bit of skill.  First you have to locate a place to locate tickets, and try not to be there when there are really long lines, which can be impossible.  Then, you have to wait until at least 10 days before you plan to leave, as most tickets are not available until at least then.  Luckily, there is a place to buy tickets not too far from campus that is usually not very crowded.

Early last week I decided I would travel to see some students this break.  Originally I had an adventurous plan of seeing students in multiple cities, but, since I will be by myself I scaled back and am just going to that area.  After a little research to find out which train I would take I headed to the ticket office with the train information, the city name in pinyin and characters and my phrasebook to hopefully bail me out of any communication gone wrong.

I walk up and to my surprise there is no one there!  I successfully tell the lady which city I want to travel to on the first try which automatically upped my confidence and then we were able to figure out which day I wanted to leave.  Then came the nerve-wracking part...telling her what kind of seat/sleeper I wanted.  It started ok, but then I began to crash and burn but luckily just as that was happening a man came into line who could speak English!  With his help we were able to finish and I happily left with the tickets I wanted :)

So, in a few days I am off to Jiaxiang, Shandong.  I'm pretty sure I'll see my students school and maybe teach a lesson, tour around her hometown and one day we'll go to Qufu, which is where Confucius is from.  Should be a fun time!

Beijing Aviation and Transportation Training Center

One day a few weeks ago I was asked if I could attend a full day seminar.  I agreed, thinking that it would be in Chinese and I would just sit and try not to act too bored the whole time.  The next day I found out it was for high school students and would be in English.  Then came the information that they had a list of English phrases and I would be helping them with those.  But wait, they aren't high school students, they are actually college students.  

Armed with some information I leave at 6:30 in the morning with one of the Chinese staff, Amy.  A car picks us up and drives us somewhere on the outskirts of Beijing and we eventually arrive at the Beijing Aviation and Transportation Training Center.  I walk into the classroom and find out that I am not just helping, I am the teacher...for the entire day, and all the material I have to go off of is a 4 page document with English phrases the students are supposed to learn so they can pass their exam and become workers on the first bullet train from Beijing to Shanghai.  
Needless to say, I had to do a lot of thinking on my feet, but honestly it was a great day.  Once I got over the initial shock of having to think of activities for the whole day I had a great time teaching them and helping them.  It was pretty refreshing to have a change of pace from life at TIP, but I was more than ready to leave at the end of the day as I was completely exhausted and went to be not soon after I arrived back on campus.

So, without further ado, meet the first Beijing-Shanghai bullet train employees, who thanks to me can hopefully speak some useful English :)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Session 45

Since the next session is starting Thursday I thought I would give you a glimpse of the past session.  I was blessed to have enough of a break in my leadership duties to be able to be a class facilitator this session.  I facilitated with the newest facilitator, Karen, and really enjoyed the whole thing!  Class C was full of 21 amazing teachers who really made this session pretty amazing.  From the quiet nervous faces the first day to tears and hugs on the last I really wouldn't have traded it for anything!  Here's a peek into some of the fun times!

Uno is always one of the students favorite games to play.  It takes a little bit for them to catch on, but once they get it they want to play all the time!  Most of the student leave Beijing with several decks to take home so their families and students can play too!

Class time is always fun.  My favorite activity will always be body part labeling.  It is so amazing to see a class go from being nervous to say anything and watch them bond together and build so much confidence in their abilities while they are here.  I am truly honored to be a part of it.

One of the students favorite activities is always the photo scavenger hunt.  It is always fun to see the pictures that result, and to see them having so much fun.

The last weekend we have a talent show where each class does an act.  Such a fun and relaxing time for the students and the facilitators.