Well we are fast approaching the end of our first semester here at ZAFU. The time seems to have really flown by. Everyone is making plans for traveling over the 5 weeks or so vacation that we have. We are going down to Xiamen for 2 days,then on to Hong Kong. From there we will come back here to fly home to Israel for a couple of weeks,before returning here mid-February to start second semester. I have been reflecting on the teaching experience a little here- and it is really hard not to make comparisons with “back home” even though it may be a little unfair,since I have not really taught much in the University in Israel (except for the Hebrew U summer programs and a few short courses here and there). Anyway what have I learnt? Firstly students here are SERIOUS! And I mean that. They are now all studying hard for their final semester exams,sometimes leaving the dorms at 7am and leaving the library at night.They don’t seem to have much life outside their studies except for a few clubs and activities that they participate in. Now the students who did presentations for me in class were very earnest and tried very hard,but were very boring on the whole.Many used powerpoint and played movie clips and music,but mostly just read from the slides and were terrified to just speak,in many cases they had no clue what they were actually reading. I think they had used the Chinese version of wikipedia and just run it through the translator.Yesterday I gave a class on the Liverpool Poets and tried to explain to them about the atmosphere of the 1960s,the Hippies and the Psychedelic music and art,and they were completely baffled. I just can’t get them to be creative at all,it’s really hard.They are polite,and attentive but they just answer you what they think you want to hear.
I would be happy if my colleagues respond as I am curious how it all sounds to you from “over there”. It’s pretty cold over here now-thank goodness we have a/c in the apartment and the electric blanket was the best thing we EVER bought. And the noodle soup in the new cafeteria helps a lot too (it’s a do-it-yourself thing-choose what veg,noodles and meat you want and they make the soup for you and all for 6 shekels a bowl!)