Sunday, May 16, 2010

May 15th and 16th: A Wet Weekend

Rain, rain, rain. And it's still raining.  It's been raining for the past week, and it's supposed to continue all week.  You know, I had just decided that I need to get more exercise and start taking long walks again, and I was actually motivated and ready to do so.  I've had the time this past week.  And it rains.  
Other than feeling soggy, things are going pretty well.  I've had a busy weekend; my real days off are usually Tuesday and Wednesday.  On Saturday, I was again the guest of the College English Association (either they like me, or I'm just easy to talk into things--I've been the main speaker two out of the three months I've been here). I don't mind, though--I've never minded public speaking, and this is a fun group who really do want to learn some English.  The president, Elizabeth, told me that the evening would be divided into three parts: first, learning American slang; second, a role-playing activity; and third, learning a song in English.  I was to provide the first and third.  So, I put together a power point with about twenty terms or expressions--and I believe I chose well; they only knew one of them already: piece of cake. A few that were new to them were 24/7, back seat driver, all-nighter, epic fail (I know, I know, I don't usually mention faddish things, but they love knowing the latest lingo), bent out of shape, klutz, hyper, screw up, catch some rays, typo, airhead, and at the end of my rope.  We had fun with them; I tried to pick some that would be relevent to the life of a college student. 

The second part of the evening was the role-playing.  This involved eight different scenarios.  A volunteer would pick a number, and then they and whatever friend they picked had to act out the situation.  We began with one of my favorites (I've used it in role-playing in my class, too): a diner at a restaraunt finds a fly in their soup.  Another funny one was waking up to find a stranger sleeping on your couch.  Another was  meeting your best friend from elementary school on the street only to find that she doesn't recognize you. Finally one of them got smart and realized that if they wanted to do it well in English, they should pick me as their partner (I was the only native speaker there), so I got dragged into it.  Our scenario was finding that your wallet has been stolen on a crowded bus.  Somehow the missing object got changed to a cell phone in the middle of the skit, but I had fun freaking out and accusing various audience members of having swiped my stuff--eventually it was discovered that I had dropped it under the seat.  We had a lot of laughs at the role-playing.  Sometimes this sort of thing is difficult for my Chinese students; creativity and spontenaiety haven't always been emphasized in education here. 

Finally, I had to teach them a song in English.  I was told to pick my favorite song, but "one that the Chinese students would like--nothing too hard."  Which meant not my favorite song, because the Chinese students wouldn't like most of my favorite songs.  Freebird would be a lost cause, and they would probably just cover their ears at anything by Guns N' Roses.  All the students like here is pop music, or maybe classical.  Nothing very loud or hard--most rock and roll is just too abrasive to their ears.  Unfortunately, I have a low tolerance for pop, and especially for the type they like--Madonna, some guy that sounds like a girl named Justin something (not Timberlake), Britney Spears, that sort of thing; and even better if the songs is sappily heart-renching mush about long lost love.  And anyhow, I can't get to most of my music right now since my computer is down; all I've got easily accesible is the country and a few Italian things on my mp3 player.  I ended up picking Garth Brooks' "The River."  It's a simple melody, it has a good message, it's the sort of thing that they would like (not too twangy), and furthermore, I can actually sing it.  This last point was important because, knowing their penchant for kareoke, I wasn't sure by what method exactly they would want me to "teach" them the song.

I made a power point with the lyrics.  I played it through for them, then tried to explain the lyrics, then we sang along the second time through.  And then they made the request for me to sing it without the music (I was afraid that was coming).  It went suprisingly well--I made it through  with no major mistakes and an actually recognizable melody.  Now, I like to sing and sing often, but I'm usually terrible at kareoke.  No matter how well I know the song, I forget the tune or the words or both if I'm singing by myself.  However, this went fine.  I think it was because I sang it a capella--I think I just don't know how to sing with music. So, it was a rare occasion that I sang publicly, alone, without embarrassing myself. :)  

Anyhow, today I woke up to yet another rainy day.  I got up early so I'd have time to swing by the internet point and talk to BW for a bit before going to the meeting, at Dale and Lisa's today.  I miss him every day, but today was worse than usual; I'm not sure why.  Ooh, because of the rain, it's been rather cool the last few days, so I got in one more chance to wear a scarf today before it's too hot.  My scarves are like portable comfort blankets.  I'm always ecstatic every spring when I can wear flip-flops again (it's a personal holiday--flip-flop day!  I celebrated a couple of weeks ago) and the crisp day in the fall when I can finally wear my scarves without melting into a puddle.
I got my grocery shopping done in the afternoon.  I wasn't in a hurry so I had some time to poke around the RT Mart (similar to Wal-mart, but better, at least here).  I'm going to be having people over to my house a lot more in the near future, and I'm rather tired of the same old things I always make; both good reasons to try to find some new recipes that will work here.  It's just that ingredients that I'm familiar with are so lacking here; very few of my stand-by recipes are possible.  I'm going to have to do some experimenting.  

Once I got home, I made some wonderful pasta sauce, better than I've made in quite a while, with tomato sauce, cooking wine, olive oil, garlic, bell pepper, eggplant, and, I can never remember what those are called in English. Oh, leeks, I think.  Similar in taste and texture to onions.  I've got plenty left over, so it looks like that'll be lunch tomorrow and maybe the next day too.  I get in a rut as far as cooking goes, but I do like to have fun with pasta sauces, although that too is limited by available ingredients here.  


Post a Comment