We’ve spent this week working in different classrooms at Martyn and Lynda’s learning center, and getting to know the teachers there. Their students range anywhere from 2 to 6, and are divided into classes by age. They just finished up a unit on the ocean, so I earned street cred by showing the 3 and 4 year olds I worked with pictures from recent beach trips. They started a unit on camping, and it was really cute to watch them pretend to camp in tents and sleeping bags. Tuesday was our first day in the school, and the staff put together a performance for us. We were also asked to put something together, so we taught the kids the motions to Big House by Audio Adrenaline, and Jake led a round of Simon Says because he likes to boss people around.
We were given a block of time Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday to talk and work with teachers. On Wednesday, Jake led a discussion about values. It was interesting to hear the teachers’ thoughts and responses…in our Bible Belt world at home, I think we take for granted that the overwhelming majority of the people we know would say that they find their value from some religious or spiritual base, and that really wasn’t what the teachers responded with. There was also a lot of discussion about “good Christians” and “bad Christians” and how exposure to both had affected their opinion of and interest in Christianity. “Big love” was the term several of the teachers used to describe why “good Christians” had a positive effect on them…that they cared about, invested in, and loved on them, and shared their faith through those actions.
On Thursday and Friday, Miss Kim led a workshop to help the teachers create a toolbox of fine motor skill development activities. The teachers seemed to enjoy the activities, and talked about how they could use them in their classrooms. We spent Wednesday and Thursday night in host homes. Y’all, Southern hospitality doesn’t hold a candle to Chinese hospitality. I think we all had really good experiences, and it gave us a chance to make a personal connection with our host teacher. The amount of food we’ve consumed borderlines on ridiculous…restaurants, home cooked, food stands….it will be miraculous if we haven’t gained 20 pounds each.
Last night a few of us went to Jinli (kind of like Chengdu’s version of River Street) and walked around. We ended the evening at Starbucks, and it was fun to hang around with the teachers (and a couple of the spouses) and the interns who are here for the Summer. Tomorrow we’re heading to the Panda Research Center, and we leave for home early Monday morning. I can’t believe we’ve been here almost 2 weeks!