Monday, 18 August 2008

It's Kind of Hard to Mime That...

Today was day one of session B. Waking up at 6:30am to get ready for the opening ceremony, first of all, is not my favorite thing in the world. But the response I received from my group made up for my lack of sleep and immediately gave me that burst of energy that I needed. Standing in front of these 150 students, giving my small introduction to myself, I asked, "So where are my group H people?" Expecting nothing more than a few reluctant hands to be raised to eye-level, much like every other person's group, I stumbled backwards from the sudden loud screams from about a dozen girls from the back row. I knew from that moment that this group was going to be amazing.
When I got to our new rooms, I immediately's freakin' hot in here. The air conditioning was O-U-T, out. I felt like a skin was glazed with sweat from the most extreme heat that we have experienced yet. The humidity today was ridiculous. That would have been an interesting introduction..."Hey everyone! Don't worry, your teacher isn't melting. Just ignore the puddles!" Thank goodness someone got it fixed before everyone showed up.
As the class progressed, I realized that my assumption that this class would be crazy and rowdy was totally and 100% correct! Some of these students had such lively and robust personalities. I was in shock--my previous students would barely speak, even when I called on them. These kids are actually volunteering and are just spilling their guts. I'm so excited for the rest of the class. I discovered, through the last couple weeks, that when they don't understand something, I generally have to mime a word or phrase for them. A student had given me a Taiwanese magazine to look through during lunch and on an ad for Valentine's Day, there was a phrase with the word "dung" in it. I just had to giggle to myself. I asked them how to pronounce it here to see if it was the same, mainly because as you've probably read, I have really discovered the importance of pronunciation here! Sure enough, it was pronounced the same. I told them, "It's just kind of funny, because in America, 'dung' is another word for poop." They gave me the look; the look I was dreading after uttering that sentence. The look that said, "I don't have a freakin' clue what you just said." Oh great. How in the world a I going to get them to know the word poop. Thank goodness I could describe my way out of that one, because miming 'poop' might ruin my integrity as their teacher. I can just hear them now, going home to their family or roommates; "You will never believe what our teacher did today..." Oh good lord, the mortification.
Later in the day, showing my pictures from home, one of my students asked me about my friend Jeff's shirt: a Hooter's t-shirt. She asked me what it was. Again, what in the heck am I going to say or do to describe that "classy" part of American culture?? But once again, after a few key phrases, I got her to understand. Once she understood, she mentioned that there was a similar kind of restaurant in Taipei. Ten bucks says that it's not considered a "family restaurant" like Hooter's pretends to be. Ahh, the education that I'm giving... poop and boobie restaurants. Classy.

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