It is really hard for me to put things into perspective since everything here is new and exciting. Some of you (teachers from Israel) have asked me how old the students are,and actually most of them are around 20,but in comparison to Israeli students they are a mix of more mature and yet more naive. I will try and explain.Firstly today on the way to class I met Livia, our assistant, who was overjoyed to see me and told me all about what she has been doing,what she will do at the weekend,which cafeteria to go to and so on. She was more like a 10th grader than a 2nd year BA student. However during my class (where I taught No man is an Island and I am a Rock) the students said the most amazing insightful things about the poems and I felt they were much more adult (and interested and curious) than most Israeli students I have taught. Then as I went around the class and they worked in groups,the discussions in each group were going off into different areas eg Religion,Music,Parental restriction of freedome etc. I found them to be sensitive,insightful and mature. Above all,they want to engage the foreign teacher in discussion and learn about him/her.
Then as class ended one boy ran after me and asked to talk to me. He told me his take on the song and was a little hesitant but clearly keen to make an impression. Another girl came after me (on her bike) and presented me with a small bracelet. Both continued to accompany me to the dorms,and tell me what they thought about the class. Tom,the boy,wanted to know if I needed any help in my daily interaction with the Chinese speakers.
Overall,I am overwhelmed with their kindness and their openness.Every day we learn something new… even though I couldn’t make it to Chinese lesson today.Tomorrow we have a departmental dinner with the Head of Foreign Languages,and Friday another dinner with the secretary of our office,and then Monday is a day off for the Mid Autumn festival (whatever that is)