New Students

I'm a little embarrassed at how quiet my blog has been this semester.  It's not for lack of stories, certainly; more for lack of time and any functioning brain cells left at the end of the day.  The fall semester has swung out of the season of me feeling like I was waiting for everything to start into the jam-packed busyness that I normally associate with spring semester. 

Mom and Ben came and traveled with me and met a lot of my dear friends and students.

I have about 320 new students this year.  It's a lot of new names and faces to learn, especially when I only teach each of them once a week.  They're a fun and friendly bunch, eager to talk and learn and share stories and eat meals together.  Each of the three years that I've taught at Chuan Wai I've been in a different building and different department -- this year gives me the furthest walk from my apartment to the building where I teach (about ten minutes) and the most sophisticated technology (basically smart boards!)

Christy, who texts me things before class like, "I will give you a big hug!" and totally follows through.

Lily, who has the cutest sweater I've seen this fall.

Sometimes, of course, they make me crazy.  Last week I introduced the idea of impromptu speeches and they all signed up for when they'd be giving an impromptu speech this semester... this week my phone has been flooded with students asking what they should be preparing for their impromptu speeches. 

Always, always, they make me laugh.  When they talk about their hometowns, they try to make all of us acutely hungry by going into great detail about the foods that are specialties where they come from -- of course, none of it can be matched by anything around here.  They get into such loud arguments with each other during games that I have to yell to be heard (a problem I'd much rather deal with than having classes that are quiet and disengaged.)  When I tell them, "Have a good weekend!" they reply, "You're going to have a good weekend, too." 

I'm so thankful for the ongoing relationships with students from previous years who are still around.  One of them texted me yesterday and asked, "How about your new students? Do you like them? I think you'll say 'yes.'"  She was right, of course.  Or today, when I was walking to pick up a package (because I finally caved and learned how to shop online in China...) one of my students from my very first semester here saw me and dodged into my path, making sure that I saw her and moving in for a huge hug. 

This year is full of lots and lots of emotions, as I balance the joys of getting to know new students with the knowledge that this is my last year of being in China.  I walked down Snack Street today and thought about how so many of the familiar smells here are unique -- the different foods cooking, Chinese brands of shampoo.

Maybe "balance" is the wrong term.  It feels more like a leaning into living here, leaning into relationships with students or getting to know other teachers from my department, and also living with excitement and anticipation for the future.  Life's complicated like that. 


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