This entry may be a little pedestrian compared to trips to Taiwan and Korea,but life goes on and we do have an everyday routine,even if it is far removed from the one we experienced before we arrived in China.
This week was the culmination of a month’s work with our Speaking Competition team who competed yesterday in the Regional finals in Xiamen for the chance to compete in the National Competition in Beijing.Last year the competition was held in Fuzhou and our team consisted of 3 wonderful girls (and a fourth who was in the reserve team) who have now become our “XIamen Daughters.” In fact one of them,Shirley confided that after working with the boys this year we would “love her less”. I assured her that this would not be the case.And in fact,although we again had a great experience working with the two boys to prepare them for the contest,the relationship did indeed prove different from the one we built with our girls.Edison and Daniel worked very hard and made second prize in the contest,but were not lucky enough to go to the contest in Bejing.This year,unlike last year,the contest being held at Huaqiao University,only 10 minutes bus ride from our house,we did not need to travel by train or stay overnight in a hotel,another factor which I think influenced our relationship with the team.We did go to the hotel where the boys stayed the night before the contest,and gave them a final coaching session,and my husband ironed their shirts for them.
The contest was fun,but again,I found myself contemplating the many differences between the Chinese and Western styles of education.Many of the students had just memorized their speeches and declaimed them in the Chinese style,whereas our boys had received coaching in the Western method of Public Speaking,using body language,eye contact and voice expression.
The topic too was a telling one:”When Confucious meets Socrates” ,requiring students of course to bring to a Harmonious conclusion that a synthesis of Western and Eastern traditions would be the best for China.
We are now over half way through this semester,which means we have to think about final exams and grades and plan our trip home in January (what to take,what to leave behind).It is always a funny part of our lives here to be here and yet occasionally dealing with issues back home.
In other news,we attended a classical music concert down on the island with some other friends.It was great,and the Xiamen Philharmonic are as good as they were last year,even though the lovely old lady conductor has finally stepped down at the age of 84 or so.The new young chap was dynamic and capable,and they whizzed through Wagner’s Flying Dutchman,some Mozart and some Brahms.We also went to a rock concert here in Jimei.The bands were not up to much,but the atmosphere was great and the whole of Jimei was lit up and really fun.There are lots of new little restaurants and coffee bars in Jimei,including a real Italian serving proper (as opposed to Chinese) pizza and pasta.
Last week we attended a Cultural Fair at the Xiamen International Convention Centre.WE were taken there by Daniel the Taiwanese guy we met at the port on our way there.He lives right by us and has a car,which is useful! Anyway the fair was very interesting with many curious art exhibits and handicrafts.There was also a Cosplay part which cost money (the other part was free entry) and was rather disappointing.After the exhibition Daniel took us for lunch at the Wanda Plaza shopping mall,which we had never visited before,at GOlden Olive,a Greek restaurant run by real Greeks,and featuring Souvlaki,Gyros,Olives and Feta cheese! We have since returned to this restaurant.
Classes are going well.My students this year seem to be more able than last year’s.They are Second Year students in 2 majors-International Business and Chinese as a Foreign Language.I had another class of MA Engineering students but only for 8 weeks so that class is already over!.The work is enjoyable and really not taxing at all,as the students are cooperative and pleasant if a little shy.
So that wraps up for today.Next week we are planning a birthday party at the weekend,where we will invite the girls from last year and the boys from this year’s competition and give them a taste of Israeli Falafel and Hummus.Stay tuned….