Chengdu

It seemed surreal. After all, a Bollywood tune playing randomly in the middle of People’s Square Park in Chengdu was a little unimaginable. About 150 people swayed elegantly to the tune in movements that resembled the serenity of a river. Some of us tried to mimic their actions. But with payal bolay chan chan  in the background, we decided  to spice things up with the Green Light Dance. The Green Light Dance, a classic WEMUN tradition is a carefully choreographed dance routine. At first a little cheesy with the chorus “Green Light, I’m searching for you, always, ___”, the dance soon grew on us, and so we passed on a little part of WEMUN to strangers in the park. So with about 10 energetic people suddenly starting a different routine, onlookers decided to join in and copy the dance. We twirled, we curtsied, and won the crowd, who took pictures of the random foreigners who had decided to flash mob their dance. After about 7 tries, we frolicked away leaving with memories of something that felt out of a movie. That day I found Xinjiang meat sticks on the road side, re-lived my childhood with an exciting round of bumper cars and finished with lychees for dessert.

Chengdu has been great so far. I’m teaching paper writing to 12-15 year olds at Chengdu Experimental Foreign Languages School. My two classes are very different. Group F is younger, with students who are eager to learn hanging on my every word. Group E is a little older, and the class of 15 kids is a bit more challenging, as they are bright students but unfamiliar with difficult English vocabulary. So I’m learning one important lesson as a teacher: always be flexible in your curriculum. In Hangzhou, I just followed a set plan and the order of my slides, but in Chengdu, I’m not using my presentation and class materials. Instead, talking to my TA and fellow teachers, I discovered that the best way to teach my class to ESL students would be more interaction and activities rather than lectures. So we started off with basic Model UN skills. Today my students had a lot of questions on their background guide on failed states, so instead of focusing on what I’d originally planned for them, we spend the hour of class time trying to decipher what their guide was trying to tell them about Somalia. I hope they used their knowledge in their DISEC simulation later in the evening, but with the last class tomorrow and a Security Council simulation on Sunday, my students have a lot to absorb…

Other than teaching, different classes, I’ve also been conducting different workshops. The first day, another Facilitator and I reviewed basic essay writing, and the college process. The second day, we had a panel on Boston University and UC Berkeley, and so tried to sum up BU life for students by showing them an admissions video and answering their questions. Later in the day, my friend Susie and I had one a cappella workshop for about 20 students, teaching them the basics of singing. We divided them into four groups, based on their vocal range, and Susie, who has more singing experience than I do printed copies of The Beatles’ “All my Lovin’” , and I led the Soprano 1s, with the help of a young student who was much better at reading music than I am. We finished with a beautiful rendition of the song. Today, in the morning, Kelsey and I taught time management skills to 200 students. Later in the day, I repeated my Hangzhou workshop on Pakistan. I was happy to learn that one of my student’s fathers worked in Islamabad designing planes for a year, so she was familiar with a lot of things in the country. Also, students in this school have better geography than my old students and knew Pakistan and China shared a border, and were familiar with Sino-Pak relations. One of my students asked me what was the name of Pakistan in Urdu? Apparently China is called Zhong Guo, and so students thought that Pakistan had an English name, and an Urdu name. They were very fascinated to learn it wasn’t so. We covered basic Urdu, from Salam-s and Kiya haal hai-s to more difficult to pronounce words like “theek.” From culture and clothes, to food and tourism, I tried to cram as many cool facts as I could in an hour. Let’s hope I got students from the city of the pandas interested in their neighboring country :).

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