before leaving for taiwan, i had this vision of tender taiwanese children, full to marrow and bone of a sense of obedience and respect to elders, hanging onto my every word and being engrossed by my every move. i have since learned that children are children no matter where you go. you could be in the backwoods of ohio or in the crowded metropolitis of taiwan and still come across children that cry for their mothers, leap out of their seats without permission, not do their homework, and give attitude to teachers.
but, on the more charming and endearing side, you could be in either side of the world and meet children that brag about their father's strength ("my daddy so strong, he lift up dis desk wit one hand"), their family's wealth ("we have two house: one in taiwan, one in america." "we have three house!")
i introduce you to some of the charming parts of my job: the children themselves. i will introduce you by their english names as i haven't the slightest as to what their chinese names are.on the left is young four-year-old jeremy, whose mind is sharper than some of his peers a year older than he. his energy and ability to find ways to get into trouble sure do keep me on my toes. i think he is a young boy that needs his positive actions reinforced, so i take the opportunities that i can to encourage him. this picture was taken when he knew that the camera was aimed at him. i think he was feeling slightly unfriendly with me at that moment.
to the right is benjamin, jeremy's older brother, who i am truely grateful to have in one of my classes. he is sweet, helpful, and even told me that he would go home and "fix jeremy" one day when i was having a difficult time trying to keep jeremy contained. don't let this get out to my other students, but he is one of my favorites. he was the first child to smile at me and greet me with a "miss-uh may-gun!" when he saw me outside of class. it was the encouragement that i needed after a rather stressful first day of school. and plus, isn't he just a doll? i see both jeremy and benjamin monday through friday. they are in my "KBR" class, which is like a transition between kindergarden and elementary school.
the above picture is of my afternoon kindergarden class. i team teach this with my roommate miss connie. connie and i are a bit mystified as to how to get the two darling girls excited and interested in learning english. think it'd be fun to make snacks and play games in english right? apparently not as cracked up as it seems to be for these chicks. they are too cool for school and connie and i are more than a little baffled by it. the kids, well half of them at least, are balancing bowls on their heads. we were talking about the different characteristics of a bowl: round, plastic, when zoey, the girl second from the left, made motions about stacking bowls. well, i can't say that zoey isn't cute in this picture. i wish her attitude matched the angelic look on her face. i also can't say that she doesn't have a good work ethic. after snack today these kids took cleaning up to heart. i have never seen five-year-olds that intent on such perfection in kitchen matters that i was a little stunned. i knew that my mother would be dubly impressed so i took some video:
my last class is an english language enrichment class. it is a class where kids are really feeling the cram-school culture. they have been sitting in chinese school all day and then come to english cram school to perfect the materials that they will eventually be tested on to get into a good high school. from what i've learned about the educational system in taiwan, kids at the jr high level are under the same amount of pressure, if not more, to get into a good high school that their american counterparts experience in senior high school to go to college. so these kids come to me looking a bit frazzled and so i do my best to give the kids the best of both worlds: quality brush-up skills time along with some quality play-time. to the right is selina, who is a china doll to the t. she is a bit shy and quiet, but has amazing flexibility as she showed me today during some stretches. of course, the rambunctious louise grabbing her leg couldn't miss out on a photo op. lucky for him, selina is a true china doll and a lady so she bears this patiently.
she is a gal not without a sense of adventure and i found her gleefully referring a game of ping-pong air hockey in the midst of those rough-and-tumble boys today. i think there is a lot more to selina underneath the surface.