I have been stressing for the last few months about the new ESL program at my university.
I’m the director.
I developed the curriculum.
I hired the teachers.
I chose the books.
It makes me tired all over again just to type that! But now, the time has finally come- the students are here. Now I can just be excited, right? I have been spending time with the students a lot over the last few days, and I’ve really been enjoying it. We’ve been getting them registered and getting them oriented, and I think they’re finally starting to ease into everything and feel more comfortable.
My time in China really made me be able to appreciate what it’s like to be in a foreign country, to not really understand what people are saying, and to be confused about how even the simplest things are done. I am trying my best to remember to explain how things work, and I am trying to talk…..like……this……slowly and with lots of pauses and lots of hand motions. Oh how I appreciated the dear Chinese people who pantomimed everything they were saying in their short, choppy Chinese so that the poor laowai could try to understand!
When I lived in China, I couldn’t even do something simple, like return my DVD player that wasn’t working. (Returns apparently don’t go so well in China- even with a receipt!) I couldn’t figure out how the process of eating in the teacher’s cafeteria worked the first time I went in. (Oh, the rice is in that 4 foot pot over there and you get it yourself?) And I couldn’t even figure out which building I was teaching on my first day of class. (Doh!) I think back to the many people that helped me. Yes, they were simple things for a Chinese person to do and to know, but without them helping me, I probably would not have been able to accomplish these things. I hope to be able to help my students accomplish tasks that they struggle with, to teach them how to do things, and to give them the language skills they need to make all this happen. I am excited for this school year, and I hope they…..are…..too.