***I’d like to make a shout out to my sister Emili who is graduating from High School in a few short hours. I am so proud of her, and wish I could be there to watch her accept her diploma. Love you Em!***
Laoshi. Pronounced: laow-shur. Meaning: teacher.
Well, the kids still call me Ayi. But I don’t think that the words “nannie,” or “helper,” or “aunt” suit my line of volunteering-ism anymore. I have slightly (or maybe entirely) become a laoshi. Bekah the teacher.
No, really. I am a teacher.
I teach the preschoolers every Tuesday and Thursday. For the entirety of preschool. You may well call it the Bekah show. I have found myself in the line of writing lesson plans, cutting paper for crafts, planning activities, and thinking along the lines of preschoolers who speak Chinese but should be learning English.
It’s really alot of stretching for me. I am learning as I do this. Remember, my major is Music Management. There is no place in that major for teaching anything, no less teaching younger kids a second language. The Internet has been a big help. So has a book in the preschool teacher’s office that is filled with ideas for lesson plans pertaining to specific topics.
Last Tuesday was apples. Last Thursday was ants. (Last week was capital “A.”) Yesterday was (kind of) airplanes. (For lower case “a.”) The paper airplanes I helped them make were a big hit. Tomorrow is purple. Let me tell you that I drew lots of purple circles for a craft about grapes tomorrow. 263 tiny circles, to be exact. And I cut out 63 of those circles. It was SO MUCH FUN! Haha. So, I am a preschool teacher who is learning solely by experience. It’s very challenging, because seriously, I have no idea what I am doing. But I am definitely having so much fun with it. And then again at the same time, I can’t see myself EVER doing it again after this summer.
So, Bekah the preschool teacher. That’s not all. I am also a private tutor for Savannah now. For an hour and a half a day, I am teaching this beautiful 6-year-old girl English. She knows so much English. She understands much more than she ever lets on. So, I am attempting to teach her how to read. In doing so, I am trying to think back to when I was in Kindergarten and learning how to read. How did I learn? I have no idea. I am making things up. But, there is progress being made! Savannah recognizes alot of her letters now. The only problems at this moment are as follows: Her attention span is not quite as good as it was when we first started. I think she’s gotten too comfortable with me already. Also, we do not have enough books on the correct level for Savannah. Most of the books here are too easy for her. But everything has been working out well so far, and I have no doubt that things will continue to work out as needed.
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We took 6 of the kids to pick watermelons last Friday morning. It was a sticky but incredibly wonderful morning. You should check out some of the pictures of that morning and other adventures on New Day’s website!
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I have eaten two home-cooked Chinese meals in the past week. One at Amy’s house last week. I teach Amy English every afternoon, and she invited me and my roommate Jovy over to eat dinner with her family. It was a wonderful time and very good food.
Jovy and I had Amy and her daughter over last night for some American food. Actually, it was Italian, but I wasn’t about to cook hot dogs or hamburgers or something. Because that is gross. But, we had fruit salad with mango, grapes, cherries, apples, and bananas, and then noodles cooked in olive oil and garlic and peppers and onion and tomatoes, served with pesto tomato sauce and parmesan cheese, and for dessert we made a no bake chocolate pudding pie. I’d consider that all fairly American. They enjoyed it, I think. They told us they did.
My other home-cooked Chinese meal happened on Monday night. One of the English students here, Jill, told me that she wanted to cook for my roommates and me. So, we went to the village and bought all the ingredients (literally, all of them, as we have next to no food in the apartment), and came back to the apartment. I got to watch her cook Chinese style and I tried to remember everything she did. She made four dishes, and every one was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten, seriously. The Chinese have a way with spices. Too bad all the spices were labeled in Chinese characters. I don’t know how I’m going to figure out what to buy when I want to cook that flavorfully.
Maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to cook a Chinese meal when I get back to the states. We’ll see.
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Three weeks in China. I feel like I’ve been here forever, and forever is somehow not enough. Sometimes, I already feel sad that I’m leaving at the end of July. Maybe I should stop thinking about that.
I feel at home here. It’s such an odd concept for me to wrap my mind around. I am generally one who does not fare well with change. I like the familiar. I like my environment. I can get pretty shaken up when I am taken out of it. I don’t get strung out over things, I’d say I’m even a bit too laid back for my own good at times, but big changes generally take an intangible toll on my emotions.
So why is it, though I am literally half a world away, 12 hours ahead of normal life as I know it, buying food in an open market place with money that makes little sense to me in a language I barely understand, sleeping in a bunk bed on the 6th floor of an apartment in a village of a country with a culture that is massively different than mine, why is it that I am so completely comfortable here?
One word: Purpose.
I was given a heart for this country. I only feel complete when I am doing work for the orphans here. That is one of the pieces of my puzzle (oh, cliches).
Tangibly fulfilling a sense of purpose is one of the most rewarding acts I have ever experienced.