|From Tai Xing|
Two weekends ago we went to Tai Xing to teach at a small middle school. The purpose was to give a demonstration for a company’s winter English camp. For us, it was a paid excursion to a new town to see rural China.
Tai Xing, a 2 hour bus ride and a 45 minute car ride north, is considered a small town by Chinese standards. The “small” middle school was a complex of three new multistory buildings housing 70 classes of 61 students each. Hordes of students gathered at the windows yelling, “Hello!” as we walked toward the canteen, where we feasted on warm almond milk, hard-boiled eggs, and the local specialty, “yellow bridge cake” under a cheery “Prevent Poisoning Practice Hygiene” sign painted on the wall.
While we waited in the glass-walled office for our assignments, little twelve-year-old faces pressed up against the glass to watch us, like the nocturnal mammal exhibits at the zoo. As we went into the classroom, eyes were glued on us like we were movie stars. During break, children ran up and shoved notebooks into our faces for our autographs – we were pinned to the blackboards by 61 starry-eyed, eager Chinese preteens. Even the teacher asked for our autograph, which the students thought was a riot!
We taught about Halloween (many of Matt’s students are planning on being the Monkey KingMonkey King next Halloween) and body parts with Simon Says and the “head-shoulders-knees-and-toes” song. Simon Says was a the highlight of the lesson with collective “Ooohs!” ringing throughout the hallways when people made mistakes. For all interested locals, Matt is planning on starting a Simon Says club.
People in the suburbs rarely see foreigners, so they are even more hospitable than the Nanjing ren (Nanjing locals). One older man let us take a picture with his bicycle-truck. Their transportation forms were more varied out here, as well. Like in Nanjing, they have found amazing ways to transform bikes and mopeds into vehicles for different uses: pick-up truck style bicycles for carryings things and carriage- cycles for moving people. They also had three-wheeled minivans, and a kind of tractor-truck with its innards on the outside.
|From Tai Xing|
We were sold on the trip by a promise to see “rural China.” While we did take a short walk along a muddy family farm, China’s economic success is extraordinarily apparent in the brand-new development. New residences to match the new school were built alongside the brick and white-clay houses of the vegetable farm, a stark contrast.
A nice trip, but it’s good to be back in Nanjing, where the weather is warmer and drier, the sky bluer, and real coffee nearby.