Its amazing to me the changes a year can wreak. In terms of job proficiency, I have skyrocketed. No longer is Dazed and Confused by Led Zeppelin my theme song, but instead Black Sabbath's Wheels of Confusion.
Wait, that doesn't sound better. I'll keep working on my metaphors.
I now have a pretty good formula for class: vocabulary and pronunciation practice, followed by work out of the student's text book. This usually takes up the first forty five minutes. During the second period, I like to have some sort of activity, and this changes on a week by week basis. Whatever I have them do, I like getting them to turn on their brains as well as exercise their mouths. One week we did a unit on poetry, another American folk tales. I also have one week where I make them invent and act out a skit.
The prompt for the skit making on this particular occasion was “weird family”. As the week went on, results varied wildly, mostly by class. Its weird, but classes tend to perform on the same level. If the first skit for the day is a dud, its pretty likely the rest will be bad as well. If the first skit is hilarious, you're in for a fun period.
There aren't a lot of skits that I remember, but some of them... well, they stick with you.
The period started off well. It was probably the first time I'd laughed out loud at anything the students had done. As the last group finished up, the next group got up to present. I wiped a few tears from my eyes. The class and I had burst a collective gut.
The group had nine members in it. Their spokesperson stepped forward and told us that they'd be performing Snow White and the Four Dwarfs. I was not amused. I'm usually unhappy when the students rip off their work from another source. But, I changed my mind pretty quickly.
The students went down the line and introduced themselves, first Snow White, the Four Dwarfs, the magic mirror, the queen, and the huntsman. One girl acted as the narrator. When they finished going down the line, I leaned back, expecting the skit to begin. Instead one more cast member was introduced.
“And Derek will be playing the Prince Charming.”
Before we continue, I should inform you that out of a group of seven girls and two guys, a dude had been chosen to play Snow White. I gave them all a suspicious eyebrow raise.
The story progressed as normal at first. Snow white lives in the castle with the queen, has to scrub the floors, boring, boring, yadda, yadda. Then comes the magic mirror scene.
“Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the most beautiful of all?” the student/queen asked. Mind you the queen is being played by the other dude in the group.
“You are, my queen. But although you are beautiful, there is one who is still more beautiful. It is Snow White, and you love Snow White!”
Follow the scene where the queen orders the huntsman to take Snow White out into the woods and kill her/him. When he (one of the girl students, actually) comes back with the pig's heart (a crumpled up piece of paper), the queen once again quizzes the mirror about who is the most beautiful.
“Your love, Snow White, is the most beautiful!”
Now wait a minute. Is the queen trying to kill Snow White because she/he (gender was getting really ambiguous by this point) is beautiful, or because she (or is it supposed to be a he? You guys know a queen is a she right?) is in love with Snow White?
The queen kills the huntsman and goes to do the job herself. When she succeeds, the four dwarfs (played by the giggliest group of girls I have ever met) come skipping over to me, hoping I'll give Snow White a kiss to bring her back to life. The dwarfs looked at me expectantly, the class held its breath.
I totally kissed Snow White. Well, sort of.
Snow White was laying dead behind one of the tables where the class (except for the front row) couldn't see him/her. I leaned down, out of eyesight, and made the loudest, wettest kissing sound I could manage. After the howls of laughter had subsided, and Snow White had been revivified (that's right, my kisses can bring chicks/dudes back from the dead), the narrator continued.
“And then, the Prince took Snow White back to his castle.”
Without missing a beat, I grabbed Snow White, threw him/her over my shoulder, and marched triumphantly across the room to my castle. When we got there, I was in for a surprise. I set Snow White down, and he/she spoke to me.
“Thank you for saving my life. But I don't think you are my one, true love.” Snow White turned to look at the old hag who'd just poisoned him/her with an apple standing on the other side of the room. “I am really in love with the queen!” And Snow White rushed into the arms of her murderer. The treacherous harpy.
I still feel really confused. On multiple levels. A big part of this confusion stems from the question of Snow White's gender.
Option A) Snow White is a dude.
Ramification: I kissed a dude.
Option B) Snow White is a girl.
Ramification: My kiss drove Snow White, the mythic incarnation of beauty and love, to lesbianism. Maybe.
Really, this whole situation is a great metaphor for wider life in China.
I guess that wraps things up for this week. Life goes on. I have read a book and a fourth in the week that has passed. I devoured Eric Brown's Kings of Eternity (which was good), and I've started Stephen King's Eyes of the Dragon (which promises to be even better). Eyes of the Dragon is a fantasy novel no less, something that surprised me when I picked it up. Stephen writes it in a style that's somewhere between a children's fairytale and a campfire story with your grandfather. A change of pace from his usual approach.
Writing continues. My daily word counts are increasing, but not as quickly as I would like. I progress, but slowly. In fact, I still have yet to have begun today's work, and its nearly 5:30. Stupid teaching. It always seems to be getting in the way of things I'd rather be doing.
Only 366 days, 6 hours, and 21 minutes remain until the Hobbit premiers in theaters. Can you tell that I'm excited?
Oh, and by the way. I am now obsessed with the idea of learning the cello. I don't have any idea if this conviction will hold out until I get back to the States (or if it will survive the incredibly low income level I'll likely be living at), but right now, I'm pretty pumped. I found this awesome web video a few days back (shout out to Bethany Howell!), and by extension a really talented cello player whose music blew my mind. I may have gone out on iTunes and bought up everything he's ever done after-wards. I also might have a slight man crush on him. I'm still feeling confused after that skit, alright?
Hope life is treating you all well. (Really, this cello music is incredible. Steven Sharp Nelson. Learn who he be!)