Last week Megan and I signed a work contract to stay here three more years which will keep us in Tianjin until at least June of 2010. This is my fourth year in China (all in TJ), but Megan has now resided here for almost ten years (95-97 in Nanchang, 99-03 in Changchun, 03-04 year in Beijing and 04-today in Tianjin). Had you asked me back in 2003 how long I thought I’d be in China, I wouldn’t have told you for at least seven years. Starting this fall I will be teaching part-time and studying part-time. I will continue to teach my Book classes, but I will no longer teach world history. I wll also increase my language studies in addition to enrolling in some Book classes. After one year of being a part-time teacher and part-time student, I will return to my duties as a sixth grade Book and world history teacher. I am excited about the opportunity to study more and look forward to what our Father will be teaching me.
This week has been a most eventful week of work. Teaching elementary students is not quite like teaching middle schoolers. Additionally, teaching physical education is rather different from teaching world history and the Good Book. There has been a great deal more crying than I’m used to. These mini people cry for all kinds of reasons – accidently scoring a header against your own squad, having the ball lightly skim your head, feeling responsible for the loss when you fail to prevent a goal from being scored. I’m not always Mr. Sensitive when it comes to athletic endeavors, but fortunately I haven’t been telling my students to toughen up when the tears have been rolling down their faces. The little tots are also a lot more affectionate than what I’m accustomed to. The youngest students might run up to you and start holding your hand as you begin warming up with them. Uh, what’s this? I wasn’t ready for the hand holding, but it has been very cool. These guys are also a lot easier to entertain. I have a # of voices and crazy antics I use to entertain my troops, and these guys never get tired of them. They’re always laughing at my same silly jokes. It has been a draining week, but I’ve certainly had some fun. I’m thankful that I’m in such a stimulating environment where I can contribute.
This upcoming week I will serve in a new position at TIS – physical education instructor. I actually wanted to be a pe teacher at one time , but my counselor at Purdue told me it would be extremely challenging to find a job in this field. Look at me now. I’ll have all the students from junior kindergarten to the 5th grade. Yes, can you imagine yours truly runnin’ around with the mini people?! Me playing duck, duck, goose with the jk students, ultimate frisbee with lower elementary students, and soccer with upper elementary students. It’s going to be quite the adventure. Although the students will know that I’m their teacher, I think I’ll be the one learning a lot. Where are my middle schoolers and all the physical education instructors? The 6th graders are heading north to Liaoning Province this weekend and won’t be back until the following week. The pe teachers are also in other parts of China as part of spring trips. Spring trips are designed to give our students an experience in another part of China and help them to serve in new capacities. I was granted permission to stay in Tianjin because Megan and I thought we would have Grace by now. We are still waiting on the referral, but we’ve been told we will receive it this month or next. We would then pick Grace up within a month or so. Going to be a daddy soon. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
Today as I rode out of my apartment complex for work, I saw one of the most bizarre things in my life. I actually saw a woman wiping the rear end of her dog. Wow. Is that not the biggest waste of paper in the world? Unbelievable. Why would any person do that? On top of that, I’m fairly certain she disposed of the used toilet paper in the bushes. Disgusting. What is this world coming to? I don’t know. Maybe I’m being too harsh. Maybe her dog made this request of her. That could be a possibility.
Yesterday I got back from the International Children’s Educator Conference in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Here are the top ten reasons why my time away was good…
10. I got to try Pepsi Latte for the first and probably last time.
9. I saw a lot of old friends from other schools and organizations.
8. I went from a thick jacket to no jacket and shorts. I did wear a shirt though.
7. I found a country cd for a couple of bucks.
6. I saw tons of pick up trucks and even rode in a couple.
5. I watched a minute of the Colts vs. Bengals game. Go Blue!
4. I had lots of time to read.
3. I gots to listen to real good educotors who help I too teach better.
2. I was able to do some Christmas shopping for Megan.
1. I ate several dishes with chicken, but I didn’t get bird flu.
Learning Chinese has been very difficult for me, but a # of people have been very supportive of my pathetic efforts. A couple Chinese ladies at TIS who have limited English skills will strike up conversations with me, and this forces me to use my Hoosier toned Chinese. Megan has of course been my biggest encourager. It’s amazing to see her read Chinese. Some people say Megan is the brains behind Team Wick. What is Mark? I am the Wick. I’ve put in a little more effort lately in reading characters due to the fact that my lessons contain a significant amount of characters now. I have a really fun teacher that I enjoy a great deal. That helps so much ’cause the passion of my black causes me to not want to study. I take language classes twice a week for just under an hour each time, and it has been so humbling. I used to think I was smart. Now I realize I’m only kind of smart.