I can honestly say that the last 30 or so days have been some of the most interesting since I have arrived in Chongqing. There has been a lot going on and I haven’t been writing it down and that makes me a little sad, but I am trying to now think back on all the things that I have done since December, and the list is long. I changed my job, I participated in a poetry reading as part of a show outside, I hosted an essay recitation competition, celebrated Christmas, celebrated a very Chinese New Year’s Eve, I was invited for Dinner by a former student’s father, I cooked Xiaomian for the nurses at Southwest Hospital twice, I did a TV station interview, I attended the New Oriental annual ball and I also recorded a New Year’s Greeting in Chinese that will be displayed as advertisement on the subway lines.
I decided to quit my job at Wawii as the foreign teacher supervisor. It was mostly because I didn’t feel like the ideas I had, made any headway and I didn’t feel like I was being listened to. At the same time, a friend of mine, Roger, who works at New Oriental reached out to me about a supervisor position in the New Oriental POP Kids department, a position that I decided to go for. So on December 13th I had my last day at Wawii and on the 16th I had my first day at New Oriental. A somewhat less hectic beginning than I imagined, but I really liked how everyone has been very supportive and attentive of me, and easing me into the process of the jobs that I am doing. The department is quite small, compared to the more famous overseas test prep department, and so there are also fewer teachers here. I have been spending time trying to get to know the school and the people better, getting a feel for what everyone is doing, what is working and how I can somehow do my bid to improve here and there. I have now started interviewing for new teachers, I am working on some new marketing material for recruitment, I am diving into some teaching materials that we are using and creating some forms and translating forms from Chinese to English so that they can be more widely used by the foreign teachers.
On the same Sunday as I started working for New Oriental, I participated in a small poetry reading as part of a bigger show for opening a business center. A colleague at new Oriental had a contact that needed a foreign teacher, and I was lucky enough to have the time to go. It was a big event, we practiced for several hours and when we finally went on stage we all did really well. It was a cool experience, but I can feel my stage fright is still a little bit of a problem for me. At least while I am waiting to go on stage, I am pretty nervous, but once I am up there, I am so focused on remembering everything, that I forget how nervous I am.
Only a couple of days later, I was asked to participate in an Essay recitation competition at Bashu Secondary school. The students had prepared essay readings, and some even a talent show and they were all competing for a prize. Bashu middle school is affiliated with New Oriental and many of their students also study at New Oriental. I have never hosted such a show before and it was another great experience. The students were great to work with, everyone was happy, even when the technicians messed up the PowerPoint and little and couldn’t make the songs work properly. I had a beautiful co-host and it all went really well. The only trouble was getting back home after the show, impossible. The subway station was far away and traffic was in a gridlock ha-ha. But after a successful show, nothing was really going to ruin my mood. I was surprised how well everything went, considering that my co-host and I only met and started practicing for the first time earlier that day.
Christmas was a bit of a blur. Because I celebrate Christmas on the 24th in the evening, but most others in China celebrate on the 25th, there wasn’t much for me to do. Actually, I wasn’t really planning on doing anything, as it is hard finding much of a Christmas spirit in China. I ended up spending Christmas eve with a friend having dinner and playing pool. On Friday morning I went to a public school in XiaoLongKan to do a Christmas lunch. And i have to say I was very surprised at their attention to detail and how much they did for their students. I really liked making them all happy!
New Year’s Eve was a bit of a mess. I had a class at a public school in the afternoon in Jiazhou district, which is also a little far from everything. Subway station is far, traffic was some of the worst I have ever seen in Chongqing and there were so many people on the move, that even the subway stations were closing down and not letting people get in to get on the trains. It was incredible. In the evening, I met up with Abby, who used to work in the coffee shop near my old school. We haven’t seen each other for a while and we finally had a chance to catch up. We met at Sanxia square looking for a place to sit and have a drink. But there were so many people outside, that finding a place to sit was simply impossible. We walked around for almost two hours, before finally deciding on just eating some street barbecue and toasting to the New Year. Ha-ha, a very Chinese experience indeed. While were eating, her friend MeiYang showed up and joined us for a little while. New Year’s Selfie, for the win.
The New Year has begun, and on January 1st, one of my favorite students, Serena, her father asked me to go and have dinner with him. He took me to a very nice hot pot restaurant. The dinner was originally for a couple of this students, very hard-working people. He teaches doctors at the South West hospital and he is a very renowned man here in China. He is the director of the Burn unit if I am not mistaken. And he has helped establish several projects in Africa regarding education and health care.
By sheer chance, a couple of days later, a new friend named Robert invited me to go with him to Southwest Hospital to cook Xiaomian for them. He has his own brand of noodles that he is selling, even to the US. He used to work with the Danish consulate here in Chongqing. A very nice guy he also came around to my office to give me a very nice and very Chinese gift. A statue of Confucius and his scripture written on gold plates. We cooked noodles for the nurses at the hospital for lunch and they all seemed to love it. What a smart way to promote your brand!
In the last couple of days, I have then been interviewed by CQTV for a program they did on education and what students are doing during the winter holiday, New Oriental had their annual ball and we recorded a short New Year’s greeting that will be displayed on the subway line for the Chinese Spring Festival.
It has been a big ride, with a lot of experiences already these past few weeks. And I looking forward to continuing my adventures in 2016.