Summer holiday update 1

CHANGSHA, HUNAN — Here’s my summer so far: 3 T’s. Teaching, travel, Thailand. Except Thailand starts tomorrow. (4 T’s, then)

The spring term wrapped up for me around July 4th. Right away, I started teaching some middle school students English four hours a day for 20 days straight. I also finished up working with some university faculty preparing study and research abroad. Together, these two jobs netted me 10,000 RMB.

With one group of students, we spent one hour with oral English and the other with their textbook, New Concept English 2. Despite its title, NCE was first written in the 1970s. It’s more suitable for adult learners than teenagers, but that’s what they use at their training school. I tried to make it not too boring.

The other group has better English, so we read an American juvenile novel, The Midwife’s Apprentice. I had found a classroom set in a Louisville St. Vincent de Paul store in April, and brought back eight copies. It was slow going, because the vocabulary is pretty advanced even for American young readers, but the story is interesting and it held their interest. Explaining the culture and history behind the story was harder. We watched an episode of Ivanhoe to give them a sense of the period. (Not too accurately, though. Ivanhoe was set in Richard the Lionheart’s time and The Midwife’s Apprentice in the time of Edward Longshanks some 150 years later. Still helpful, though.)

After these lessons ended, I took a motorcoach to Chongqing on the new highway that was just finished last year. We traveled over the Aizhai suspension bridge and reached Chongqing about seven hours later. My former student, Parker, who is a graduate student there met me at the station and we had some of Chongqing’s famous hotpot (火锅 huoguo) in a restaurant that was almost as hot as the dish despite too overworked air conditioners.

The next morning Parker saw me off at the train station, as I was taking the high speed rail to Chengdu, about two hours away. There, I met up with Sarah, Mick and son Riley, old friends from Louisville who were visiting the family of his college roommate. (Centre College, yo! My daughter’s alma mater)

I’ll write about Chengdu in more detail later. While I was there, I decided to book tickets to Bangkok, after waffling about it for most of June and July.

Changsha was after Chengdu. I spent a week here also doing some teaching for another former student who runs a summer training school out of her flat. For a week of work, I received 4,000 RMB, giving me plenty of cash for Thailand. This experience also deserves a separate blog, so bear with me.

Tonight, I take a redeye flight to Bangkok, beginning a two-week sojourn in the Land of Smiles. I am psyched!

Please note that I am typing this on my Android tablet, which puts the space bar next to the period. So, if you see random periods in strange places, that’s why. Also, it’s a pain to select text for format changes, so this is in plaintext.

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