We were waist deep in the big muddy…

"... the big fool says to push on!"

I absolutely love the vibrant significance of Pete Seeger’s “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy,” and the implications it held for television censorship when he sang it on the Smothers Brothers TV show during the Vietnam War…

It’s been raining in Kaifeng for two days straight now. China’s drainage system is woefully  inadequate and, as such, the roads are absolutely covered in water. Yesterday the other foreign teachers foraged for pairs of rain boots (I’ve never worn rain boots before in my life, but they are an absolute necessity here!). Check out these pictures of my super wet university!

She looks pretty unhappy, huh?

This is near the main auditorium square of campus...

So pretty much immediately after I finished blog posting yesterday I got a call from Mr. Hou saying that he had made a mistake and that I had a class to teach right at that time! I rushed over to the comprehensive building and met an overeager reading class, with 42 students. The class was a bit of a jumble, but I think we made it through alright. I didn’t have a syllabus or anything, so I assigned them a short 300-400 word essay about creative writing and what it means to them. I told them it was meant to be an open assignment, ungraded assignment just so that I could get a good feel for their reading/writing level and such.

After the class many of the students came up with some questions about me. One gave me an Asian pear (which was delectable) and a few others told me that if I needed any help with Kaifeng or living in China I should ask them. The class ratio of females – males? 20 : 1. Absolutely crazy.

I headed back to my apartment, a little angry that I was so unprepared (honestly, I was teaching in an “I ❤ New York” shirt and I DO NOT ❤ New York). I called Mr. Hou and asked him to please come and cover the schedule with me one more time so that mistakes like this wouldn’t happen again. In an apologetic manner, he complied. I found out that I have another reading class on Wednesday at the same time… so now I have prep work to do for that. 頑張ろうね。

After Mr. Hou left, Marley came back from rain boot buying to go out to dinner with her class monitors (the monitors make sure the class can be contacted easily, as well as ensuring understanding and opening locked doors). It turned out that her monitors were the students from my reading class, so we all went out to dinner together. Delicious hot pot (a meal where there is a boiling pot of stew in the center of the table and you add different ingredients, wait for them to cook, and then eat them). It was a split pot, so I was able to avoid having any meat in one side of it (yay!)

This morning I taught the IELTS students again. I downloaded three podcasts (two from NPR and one from Wall Street Journal) and we listened to them in class. The students then answered some comprehension questions about the podcasts and we had a group discussion on the stories. The first story was a book review about two popular vampire novels (The Passage and Blood Oath) that were released at the beginning of the summer. The second story was about unhappiness in China. The third story dealt with airline fare prices. They most enjoyed the second story, and we had a 40 minute class discussion on the content. It went really well.

Two more classes today and (from 3PM to 7PM with a 20 minute break) and then three more classes tomorrow and then I’m done for the week… woosh.

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8 Responses to We were waist deep in the big muddy…

  1. Elle says:

    I love reading about your classroom experiences.

    The rain is crazy but I’m slightly jealous. It makes me want to go out and buy a pair of silly looking rain boots.

    It also kind of reminds me of when we were little (before the willow trees were planted) and the bottom yard would flood by the creek. All 4 of us would run around the yard in our bare feet. Remember? =)

    After school I will show Isis the pictures and let you know what she thinks!
    I love you!

  2. Judee Genetin says:

    Grammy and I discovered Asian pears about two weeks ago…they are really good. sounds like you are a great teacher! All my children are…it runs in the family!

    • Jon-Michael says:

      Elle> Yeah, you really wouldn’t want to do this in the water here… Let me know what Isis says!

      Mother> Yeah, I used to eat Asian pears back in the dayyyyy. Today’s classes went really well but I feel as though I am constantly playing catch-up. 3 more classes tomorrow and then I am done for the week!

  3. Elle says:

    She used my foot and ‘measured’ how many inches it looked like. She used the picture of the happy girl. She thinks “its about 6 inches – I figure most kids would need to be carried – like Onna”…lol

  4. Victoria says:

    Also, this is what areas around here looked like yesterday! Plus, several tornados. . . Keep writing, J-M. I look forward to your entries and pictures!

  5. Linda E. Marx says:


    There was a monsoon in the Akron area yesterday and tornado touches in the area as well. Hope you guys are hanging in there.

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