Meeting the freshmen 2

JISHOU, HUNAN — The trade-off for a week-long National Holiday break this year was seven days straight of teaching, including my first meetings with the 109 freshmen who have enroled in our college. Unlike American colleges, universities usually bring in their freshmen after everyone else has arrived. At our uni, they arrive during the second week of classes, then have two weeks of military training — mostly formation drills, physical training, and practice with mercifully unloaded rifles. Then we all take off for the National Holiday. Originally, I was not scheduled to teach the freshmen, but we didn’t start the year with two foreign teachers. My dean rather timidly asked me if I would consider taking on additional classes to help the college out. I agreed to take on oral English for the frosh, which added six classes to my load. If Chinese students need any instruction, it’s in spoken English. I figured missing even a few weeks of class with a foreign teacher would hold them back even further. Besides, taking on the freshmen means, at least for this term, I will have taught every student in our college at least once. So, what is this crop of first-years ...
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