It’s the Final Countdown!

It's shit like this, man...

I often receive complaints from my readers that I don’t blog enough. That my posts are infrequent and that I should try to focus more on my daily life than on big events. Well, the daily life is generally boring, and you would quickly be disappointed by such details. I would like to take a moment and point out to everybody the infrequency with which my colleagues post to their blogs.

Josh: 11 Blog entries

Marlie: 8 Blog entries

Ben: 11 Blog entries

Marija: 11 Blog entries

Including this post, I will have made 16 posts since August 17, with my biggest lapse in time being from October 5 to November 7. I guess I just want to say that I’m not the worst at keeping you all updated.

So from now until the middle of January life will be a bit more boring. Classes are winding down (this is my last week of instructional teaching) and exams will soon be upon us. I have been quite inventive with the communication exam, giving my students 6 different possible topics relating to our classes throughout the semester. They will meet with me for a 10 minute interview during which we will draw one of the topics and begin discussing the issues at hand. Topics include starting a new club regarding their favorite hobby, running for President of the U.S.A. (despite this being impossible), comparing and contrasting Chinese holidays with American Halloween/Thanksgiving, and discussing different aspects of Chinese and American folklore. I think they’re freaking out a bit, to be honest, but as I’ve told them it’s less of an exercise to test their knowledge of the topics and more of an exercise to get them to talk in free-form conversation (as has been our focus this semester).

Our presenters for the day!

My reading students have not gotten off quite so easily. Their examination will be a bit more difficult, with 5 short readings (roughly 3 paragraphs each) followed by 5 multiple choice questions each and then a longer essay response section regarding one of four possible stories from their books. The exercise will undoubtedly be difficult, but I have no worries that they won’t be able to handle the work.

This is Cola and Grace. Hard at work preparing for the reading exam...

This past week we held our last game of frisbee and our last meeting of running club for the semester (so that students can focus on their finals). During our final run, one of my students Strong Lee expressed his frustration with his education. He had problems passing his grammar test last semester and had to take the test again recently, failing a second time. Strong Lee is a rather excitable person, and it’s difficult to listen to him shout worriedly about his fears of not graduating… particularly while running. I did my best to encourage him, but I ended up just feeling bad for him. As he so succinctly put it: “A semester is not enough time to make up for years of slack during middle and high school!” I am forced to agree with his assessment, but am still left wondering what I can really do for him and other similar students… It brings me back to my own days of stressing over finals… Poor Strong Man Lee.

Despite these misgivings, with any luck (and hard work) I should be finished grading all of my conversation exams by January 1st, leaving only the proctoring and grading of my reading final. So what does that leave us in the way of blog entries for the foreseeable future? Well, I’ve been meaning to begin a new series on the blog called “Shit I Eat” for some time now, but had lacked the camera capacity to do such a series. However, as I am hoping to get a new camera in the immediate future I should soon be able to start discussing on a more frequent basis my dietary happenings. I expect “Shit I Eat” to appear as a weekly feature for the remainder the rest of this semester and into the next… or until I run out of shit to eat.

In addition I will have an upcoming Christmas post (featuring an exciting tale of my Christmas shopping adventures in Kaifeng) as well as a New Years post. In addition I would like to have a guest blog entry by one of my students, Ashley Lee. I intend to ask Ashley to write a bit about her college life at Henan University, but I would also like to include a variety of questions from you readers. Please leave questions either here or on my Facebook questions by December 21 so that I can get the entry moving. Feel free to ask whatever questions you would like– Ashley is a pretty open and ambitious young woman, with excellent English skills and abilities. I cannot guarantee how candid she will be in her answers or post.

And after that? I’m hitting the open road on January 14 (hopefully) and finally taking my tour of Southeast Asia. Be watchful for a bit more of a post about my itinerary during the first week of January. It promises to be a really spectacular journey though, with visits to Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos.

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4 Responses to It’s the Final Countdown!

  1. Michael Durkin says:

    Gotta love that Santa hat. Are the bars on the windows to keep people out or to keep your students in? No heat in the classroom or did you just come in from recess? Mostly girls in that class, too, I see.

  2. Michael Durkin says:

    For Ashley Lee: 1. Describe your teacher, Jon-Michael, in 10 words or less. 2. What are some of your other classes at Henan? 3. Describe some of your non-school activities, like hobbies or other interests. 4. How many hours a day do you study and what is your favorite class. Thank you.

  3. Jon-Michael says:

    Who knows why the bars are there… They are also on the windows of my apartment. The classroom has radial heating, but it’s not very powerful… so everyone tends to wear coats and stuff during class.

  4. Victoria says:

    For Ashley: If you could visit the USA, what would you like to do here? Which states would you like to visit?

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