Wow, it sure has been a while. I was planning on trying to keep my blog posts frequent and short, but it seems life has prevented me from achieving that particular goal, at least over the last few weeks.
When I think about the content of my next blog post (which I do, frequently, throughout my various day-to-day activities, I always run in to the same problem, an odd paradox. As I get settled in to my life here, I feel like I am doing the exact same thing every week, work/’social’/gym/cooking, so what is there really to write about? However, at the same time, so many little things happen within each of those aspects of my life that I want to share, it seems the amount I will be writing grows exponentially as the days progress! So for this blog post, I will try to summarize the most interesting things that have been happening lately.
Teaching has been really great lately. Stressful, yes, but I’m still enjoying what I do. I have had another class added to my schedule, and SSAT cram course on Sunday afternoons. The SSAT is virtually the SAT, but for middle schoolers who are trying to get into American or international boarding/high schools, as opposed to high schoolers trying to get into university. Since I only took the SAT one time and received a mediocre score, it’s pretty funny that I am now teaching those concepts and test taking skills. I really have to prepare for that class so that I’m not stuck at the front of the classroom looking dumb in front of my students (which I would – when using words like ‘olfactory’, it’s testing me just as much as the kids).
The past two weeks I’ve also been substituting for a Life Coaching class. It’s really been so much fun, and really great preparation as I will be teaching three weeks of life coaching classes starting in the middle of December. We cover things like how to be proactive in our daily lives and how to stay positive and lead happy lives – which I think is really important for my students to focus on, as they have a lot of different forms of stress pressing on them all the time.
Lately I’ve been concerned about whether or not I am actually teaching/getting through to my students. We’re over halfway through the semester, and it’s pretty hard to really gauge how much you’ve really taught your kids. That’s why I was so pleased when the mother of one of my ELA 5 students stopped by the classroom after we had finished our lessons on Friday. She told me that her daughter had recently taken an English test at school and received the highest marks of her entire class. She told me that they were so pleased with their decision to enroll her daughter in classes at New Pathway and that she was so grateful for me. It really warmed my heart, and put a huge smile on my face. It seemed I was receiving tangible evidence of how my kids were improving in their classes – which is wonderful.
Finally, last update for work – next week I will be going to Hong Kong! I need to get my actual work visa, and that requires me to leave the country, get my visa, and then reenter. I leave very early Monday morning and return Wednesday afternoon. It’s just a short trip, but it should be fun and I hope to be able to see a little of the city while I’m there!
My social life really consists of two things, volunteering and church. My involvement with Sonflowers (after school program) is limited really to teaching, and I have been having limited success. The kids already have so much homework, it is often impossible to drag them away for even 5 to 10 minutes of English class. This is frustrating to them, because they spend so much of their time learning already that they don’t want to be bothered for additional classes, and is also frustrating for me because to make the one hour round trip trek twice a week, only to be yelled at and whined to, is never fun. I try to remind myself that people don’t volunteer because it’s easy, and I do my best to practice my patience with the kids.
The holiday season is a busy season for Eden ministries. I am continuing to teach my Tuesday morning classes, but in addition to that, we have a lot of jewelry sales that are happening now. Yesterday I spent the entire day at a winter bazaar hosted by Shanghai American School, and today I am spending the day at Rainbow Bridge International School, selling jewelry for teachers and parents. I will be away next week and unfortunately will miss my English class at Eden, but the next sale I’m doing is on the 10th of December. These events are always really fun, because the other vendors are really friendly, and of course we get to sell some awesome products for an awesome cause. For more information on Eden Ministry, and to do a little shopping (yes, they ship within the US!) you can visit their website at www.edeniministry.org.
Church has been a great constant in my life as I’ve gotten settled here. Not only do I look forward to attending the service every Saturday (the worship at AGIF is just amazing) but I have made some great friends in the small group/bible study I attend every Sunday evening. Since I’ve never had a group of people similar in age to talk to about my faith, it’s very refreshing while also comforting to spend a couple hours every Sunday with my small group. Going out to Pudong for church also gives me the opportunity to see my self-appointed Godmother (I should say fairy godmother) Nhi, who clothes me and feeds me and gives me a ridiculously comfortable bed to sleep in. J
As mentioned, the rest of my social life is relatively non-existent. I think this is a result of two things. For one, I am very busy, and therefore don’t have a ton of free time be out and about. The second reason I think stems from the fact that I am a “TCA” or, Third Culture Adult. I haven’t done too much research on this yet, but it was brought up briefly at last weeks small group. Third Culture Adults often struggle to form relationships while they are abroad. Often, the knowledge that people in Shanghai come and go very often (and perhaps even yourself) can act as a good reason not to grow close to people and develop relationships. Also, the stress of being away from your friends and family can hinder your ability and desire to form a new social life.
Gym & Cooking
I put these two together, because they go hand in hand, as they both fall under my new ‘healthy lifestyle’. The aforementioned lack of social life means that I have a lot of time to focus on myself, and I have been using this time to make sure I go to the gym at least five days a week if not six, and to indulge my hobby of cooking to include healthy meals. I haven’t gone out to eat (apart from social outings with coworkers once or twice) in the past month and a half, and I have been having an absolute ball trying out different recipes, even though a lot of the ingredients are either really hard to find here, or very expensive. I have been seeing some good, albeit slow, results – and actually not but thirty minutes ago I ran into one of my teachers from the summer and she commented on my weight loss, which is really motivating.
I have a fun Holiday Themed post coming up soon, and I will also upload some pictures later this week!