Today is the final day of the Dragon Boat Festival holiday celebration! Instead of teaching, today we had free time all morning. I used mine to go on a run on our beautiful campus at SWUSK and then grab some lunch! Then, we we’re taken to Dongchen International School to celebrate the holiday.
Faculty and students at Dongchen welcomed us and gave a tour of their school, which was very beautiful! It is one of the most competitive international schools in the province and it has primary school, junior high and high school students. We learned more about Dragon Boat Festival, Duān wu jié in Chinese. The Dragon Boat Festival is to commemorate the death of Qu Yuan, a poet and patriotic statesman who committed suicide by drowning himself in a river. Cultural tradition on this holiday includes eating Zong zi, which is glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves, which we have eaten multiple times by the way and it is very good! Also, people hang healthy herbs like wormwood on their front doors to clear any bad luck in their homes. Shanti and I have ours that we made hanging on our fridge! The most important activity is the Dragon Boat race, symbolizing people’s attempt to rescue Qu Yuan. This holiday has such rich Chinese cultural heritage and they did mention to us that the significance of the holiday has changed over
time, but it is still so meaningful to so many. Finally, we enjoyed a delicious meal together at their school! I feel like every time we go out for a meal I say it’s the best yet, but I really mean it when I say this meal in my opinion was the best yet!
Since today was our free day we ended up splitting in groups to do different day trips. Four from our group decided to take a bullet train to visit downtown Chengdu. While most of us went to visit downtown Mianyang. Luckily a couple of us had already traveled to downtown Mianyang and knew where the bus station was. As we sat down on the bus I thought to myself how funny it was that the majority of my experience with public transportation has always been in other countries. I never use public transportation back in the Bay Area.
We arrived to downtown and went to a bunch of different shops. Many employees were outside of their shops trying to bring in potential customers. Some had microphones, others had clappers, and some would just be yelling. I thought since the Dragon Boat Festival was the next day maybe ships were having specials or sales in honor of it and that’s why so many shops were advertising in this way. I ended up buying a shirt for my sister, which was really interesting because the store we went to was connected to many others and there was a cashier station in the middle.
We decided to find a place to relax and watch one of the World Cup matches. We found a place called Flags which was styled after an American Pub. We all ordered some drinks. I had a delicious rose tea! And Ashanti taught us a card game. We were able to watch some of the game while we played cards. We were not able to watch the entire soccer game because we all started getting hungry and the place didn’t start taking food orders until 5, so we decided to head out. We found a small place to order some snacks to hold us over until we got back near the university. We also were on a mission to find a bathroom. Luckily we were able to ask a local and figure out where the bathroom was. #baiduforthewin
When we arrived back near the university we decided to eat at this buffet style hot pot restaurant. It was very tasty. Between all 8 of us we counted 160 skewers that went into the hot pot, not to mention all of the potatoes, lotus roots, and other veggies that were consumed.
It was honestly a very fun day. We got to shop, learn a new card game, and eat some delicious food. We all were able to relax and have a good time. #treatyoself!
It's the weekend and this class has certainly earned it. After our first full week of teaching we are off to explore the culture.We started this morning by loading up the bus and heading to Lou Han Tang, which is a temple that was built in 1995. The temple celebrates the begging of Buddha and the disciples who led thousands of people to the Buddha. These men worked hard to make roads for others and later became Buddhas in their sense of the Buddha. After the completion, this became known as the Rohan temple which is where we visited today. Elaborate cultural art decorates every inch of these temples, from the stairways, to the railings, and to the status of the disciples. I was fortunate enough to go into the Arhat temple. Arhat were men who gave up all of their worldly possessions in order to achieve nirvana. Here I prayed for the protection of my ancestors. Then we used a technique that involves counting your age in order to find your Arhat which links to your fortune. At the end of the day we left to KTV to sing karaoke! We had an additional surprise as it was Dr. Paik's birthday! We stayed for a few hours and sang the night away!
Today concludes our first week of teaching our lesson plans! After teaching today, we have each taught our lesson plan twice. We can now reflect on our time in the classroom and make improvements to our lesson plans. I have personally made several modifications to my lessons. From switching the order of nearly all of my activities, to adding and removing some entirely, I am getting a good sense of what works for the students. My partner and I have had some difficulty in communicating with our students to resolve conflict, but we are working to better model behavior and provide more visual examples for our students to reference. We hope that this will help us further improve our lessons plans.
After teaching, the directors of SWUST, Southwest University of Science and Technology, invited us a a beautiful luncheon. They welcomed us to the University and spoke of the hope that our universities continue to collaborate in the future. The SWUST teachers, faculty, and students have been so kind and hospitable towards us. We couldn't be more grateful!! We are looking forward to a weekend to explore the city with the SWUST students.
I am grateful for being able to come to China to teach for the second time. Every moment here is a learning experience for all of the students and the professors that are here. Even though I have been here before, I still have much to learn about the language and the culture, and I have much to learn about myself too.
I'd like to take this time to thank every single person who made this trip possible and everyone who is on this trip with us. I am grateful and appreciative of the hard work everyone does every single day in and out of the teacher setting and I am sure everyone is as grateful as I am to be here experiencing the world together in a whole new way that some of us may not be used to. I would also like to thank my teaching partner, Julia, who is teaching a class for the first time, yet is already a better teacher than I am. I am excited as we still have a lot of time left here to make more memories and a lot of time to continue to grow and prosper.
The day started off like most days since arriving to SWUST. Wake up, get ready, eat breakfast, walk to the preschool. My partner, Andrew, and I hit our first bump while we were going over the lesson plan with our Chinese student helpers. Our lesson plan theme is bees. There is a story we read that says "Bee kind to the trees" and "Bee kind to the flowers" and so on and so forth. The Chinese helpers were very confused. They were asking "Mifeng?" And if "Bee" was a type. We quickly realized that the story would not translate over very well. Although "be" and "bee" sound the same in English, that is not the same for mandarin. We ended up telling the helpers it was a typo. Andrew and I were both surprised that we didn't catch that sooner. It seemed so obvious to us and we both laughed how neither one of us caught that little snafu before. But we were able to move on and continue with our lesson plan.
The kids seemed to really enjoy our lesson. As Andrew was reading the story, I would act out simple gestures that we both encouraged the children to copy. They raised their arms up high like trees and below kisses to the flowers among other things. When we passed out the papers they would be drawing on, we had each and everyone of them say "please" before receiving their paper. We had them draw a friend on their small hexagon cutout. During this activity there was one little girl that seemed a little upset. So I had one of the Chinese helpers translate for me. She told me that the little girl wanted a particular green marker her friend had. So I instructed the girl to ask her friend "please". She did and her friend handed the marker to her right away. Success! It was an awesome feeling to know that they understood the lesson and were able to use the tools we taught them.
The lesson plan ended with a race outside. We had them bring their papers and play a stop and go game. At the end of their turn the kids had to place their papers on a big piece of construction paper we had at the end. When they were all done we taped their papers on a big piece of construction paper we had at the end. When they were all done we taped their individual hexagon shapes together to make a big honeycomb that depicted their friends. It really was a good day and Andrew and I felt the lesson plan was a huge success.
Later that same day five of us were invited to visit Cheng-Mian Primary School. It was located in the city. We split up into two groups and taught two lesson plans. Marissa taught her lesson plan with Julie B. and Angelica taught her lesson plan with Tommy and I as her helpers. Her lesson plan involved a lot more physical activity. It was perfect for the older kids. They had to throw a ball into a box and pass it to the next person. Then we played a hula hoop game where we had to join a big circle, hold hands, and pass our bodies through a hula hoop. Duck, duck, goose was also played which the kids were very familiar with. And lastly, there was a clapping game we had them play. I think all the kids enjoyed it and they had fun. Afterwards we met up with some of the English speaking faculty and play a game to get to know one another. We folded a paper into fours and wrote our names in the first box. Then we switched the paper around and had to draw a picture of the person whose name we got. Then we passed it around again and had to write our first impression we thought about that person. And we passed the papers around again for the last time and wrote one wish for that person. It was a great way to get to know one another and a good ice breaker. After leaving the school we realized that the cameras were filming us that day were a part of a news team and they were doing a piece on us. Were were told that it would play on the news tonight and that the channel has 5 million viewers. It was all very exciting. Luckily one of the Chinese student helpers were able to find the news article about us and shared it with us. All in all it was a really great day. We learning how to better modify and improve our lesson plans and we were able to get exposure for our program and lessons that represent SFSU to the fullest.
Tuesday! After being here for one week, we were finally getting to do what we had came here to do. Yesterday we met the children in hopes of creating some rapport. For some of us that was an indicator of what to expect for today when we began to roll out our lesson plans. Back in the US, the CAD ( Child Adolescent Development) department has been making a strong push to implement learning stories in the ECE (Early Childhood Education) centers. The idea is to take teacher's observations and personal relationships with the children into account when tracking a student's development and progress. Most ECE teachers are requires to fill out DRDPs (Desired Results Development Profile) which is an assessment tool for teachers to reflect on the learning, development, and progress of all children. Learning stories are different because they allow teachers to include their emotions and do not strip away the individual teacher's perspective of the child. In honor of what I practice with my students back home, I would like to share my first day letter to the children from myself. This letter is similar to the learning story model. I hope you enjoy!
Dear class of 2-03,
I was so excited to meet everyone today. I admit I was nervous, because I had forgotten how to pronounce everyone's name, and I wanted to make a really good impression. I thought about how I could make sure my lesson plan would keep everyone engaged. This was tricky because I did not know you well enough to determine this beforehand. As soon as I stepped into the room, everyone greeted me with smiles, waves, and big hellos. I felt so invited. I grabbed your attention so easily when we sang out opening song. Everyone learned it so fast, I was honestly impressed. We san our good morning song and I reminded everyone what my name and Angie's name were. When I picked up my book and started reading, I noticed how quiet and respectful everyone was being. You were all ready to listen. I wondered how much you would like the story if it was being read in English and translated in mandarin for a period of 15 minutes. I did not want to lose anyone's attention! I was proud to see everyone's curious faces scan the pictures as I read, and saw the understanding displayed when you made the connection before the translation was given. We discussed the story and the meaning behind music and how music means different things for everyone. We had a small discussion with the help of our translator and how music makes us do different things. For example, one classmate shared how he likes to dance while listening to music, while another likes to draw. From that discussion I challenged everyone to play a game. Everyone eagerly stood up to join. The goal of the game was to copy my sounds and dance moves as I added to the chain of events. I was everyone's determination as I began. It was hard to confuse anyone and we had a laugh on rare occasions that someone messed up. Seeing how well everyone could follow directions and how closely you could pay attention, I introduced the final activity known as Musical Masterpiece. I was curious to see how you all would respond to my music selection. When I explained the concept of the activity, I really did not know if everyone understood what we were doing or if everyone was nodding their head because they were just ready to color. Regardless I was confident you would catch on. The first song was from Frozen, "Let It Go". That was a success! Everyone knew the song and began coloring away. I was pictures of snowflakes and pictures of Else herself being drawn on your papers. I called out to the class to share colors and to stay as quiet as possible so everyone could hear the music. Not one did I have to remind you all to keep the noise level down or to share. I saw some of you even standing up and going to other tables to trade colors and quietly returning to your drawings. There were noticeable differences in your drawings when I played Star Wars "Imperial March", Frozen's "Do You Want To Build a Snowman", and "Rock a Bye Baby". I was really excited at how well this activity translated for everyone. I noticed even your primary teachers were smiling at your work. Finally finished with our hours and we took a class picture. Everyone was eager to hold up their interpretations of the music played. We discussed how different everyone's art looked and how this translates over to how different everyone feels all the time. I was so proud of the amount of work and effort everyone put into their drawings. I wanted to keep them, but I knew they would serve as a better reminder of our time together if you were able to display them in your classroom. We learning one more song, the "Thank You", song. I appreciate the time that was given to me out of your school day to share these activities with you all. My goal is to encourage you all to pay closer attention to our differences and how they make us unique. I wish time would go slower so that we could spend more time together, but I'm very excited for everyone to experience all the lesson plans that were developed just for you. I hope you extend the same respect and eagerness to my peers as you have to me. With that, I want to say learn a lot and have fun!
Your friend and teacher,
At the opening ceremony we were welcomed and greeted by the chairs of various departments such as the chair of Foreign Affairs, School of Law, and other university students and other guests. As a matter of fact, we discovered that the Department of Psychology is in the School of Law! It was wonderful to see a collaboration between SFSU's Department of Psychology and Southwest University of Science and Technology (SWUST) in hopes of building bridges between countries.
Immediately after the ceremony, we walked to SWUST's preschool to familiarize ourselves with the school that we will be working in for the next three weeks. As we walked, I admired the beautiful campus and noticed the hills that reminded me of San Francisco
The preschool gave us another warm welcome! We were given information about their school and what they offered. They were very enthusiastic to share that they had one of the best reading programs. We got into our teaching groups and paired up with the Chinese college students as they will be helping us in the classroom. Next, we were able to spend some time walking around the school and meet the children. They seemed very excited to see us, taking the time to introduce themselves. I am excited and ready to work at the preschool for the next three weeks.
Today we as a team had one hell of a day. From barely getting any sleep, moving from the international students dormitories to the teacher dormitories, having a meeting with fellow Chinese students, getting our SIM cards, to ending the night by happily celebrating the Dragon Boat Festival with the international students...we survived. Together, we overcame great obstacles and managed to end the day on a beautiful note by learning how to make zongzi in celebration of the Dragon Boat Festival. I am proud to be a part of a group that is able to put their heads together in times of need and exercise the social emotional skills we have learned over the past 6 months.
The day has started with all of us eating breakfast with our luggage and then figuring out how to fit everyone onto the bus to head to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. Somehow, we managed to fit all of the students, faculty, and luggage all on one bus!
When we entered the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, we saw a panda named Welcome, who was named on behalf of the 2008 Olympics that took place in Beijing, China because he was born in 2008. We got to walk around the beautiful reserve that was filled with lush forestry, bamboo, trees, pandas, red pandas, and surprisingly noisy peacocks.
As we walked around the park, we were able to observe adorable pandas eating, sleeping, and lounging in trees. After seeing a few adult pandas, we stood in line under beautiful greenery to visit an infant panda who was three days old and a baby panda.
The baby panda sat in a way that made him look deep in thought, when actually he was just sleeping. Our guide told us that although pandas sleep in seemingly uncomfortable positions, they are actually very comfortable. We then visited the red pandas who were running around and playing with each other.
Although they are named “red pandas,” our guide told us that they more closely resemble North American raccoons than they do bears. After visiting the reserve, we all made our way back to the gift shop where we spent time shopping and buying souvenirs for ourselves, friends, and families. We then ate a fantastic Sichuan lunch with cool sliced cucumbers, rice cakes, spicy kung pao chicken, tofu, veggies, noodles, pork belly, an egg dish, and soup. After lunch, we boarded the bus to head to Mianyang Southwest University of Science and Technology where we were greeted by an incredibly nice university student from Malaysia named Irene. She showed us to our dorm rooms, taught us how to use the showers and washing machines, set us up with our ID cards on which we placed money we are going to spend
on food and essential dormitory things, and took us to the cafeteria thus concluding our day. What an exciting day it has been!