Saturday, December 19, 2009

No pictures, just words. Maybe Lindsay should take over...

Well, it's that time again. "Write some more! Give us an update!" Well, I'm afraid that it isn't that easy. So, I figure I will write another novel as I attempt to convey uninteresting times to a potentially uninterested public.

These past few weeks have been testing for the level 1, 2, and 3 English Teachers at Wuhan University of Science and Engineering. That means that Lindsay and I have been giving our students tests. And I literally mean giving. Lindsay especially had made it really easy for her students to pass with flying colors (well, half the students passed with flying colors. She's just a good teacher. She doesn't give away any answers, but she gave the students amazing preparation). I gave my students almost all the answers before the test started. The issue is that many students don't come to class. On the actual days of testing, Lindsay had 15 students blatantly choose to skip the testing, and in McKay's classes he had the number of students triple to 12 or so. Needless to say, we have spent the past few weeks failing students. It is rather satisfying, actually. Nothing feels better than failing the students when 1/4 of them blatantly cheat, 1/2 don't follow directions, and another 1/4 just don't show up.

The Chinese students here have a strategy for passing English tests. The first is to put as many words down as possible and hope that one is right. I have seen that one a lot. The next, and the easiest for the students, is just to look off of each others papers. Of course, the fact that the students are sitting arm and arm doesn't help. As a student, you automatically are looking at your neighbors paper. You don't really have a choice! The desk forces you to cheat! Then, some students blatantly cheat: asking their neighbors what the answer to number 2 is, in Chinese, thinking I can't understand them; keeping answers from previous tests in their cubby under their desks, like I did in first grade; or using their cell phones.

Occasionally, meaning three students total in McKay's classes, students just work through the semester and do a really good job. In McKay's classes, there are only three of those students, but they make things a lot more fun. Lindsay is either better or luckier, because she has a lot more students who are good and try hard. Those students are fun. Speaking of which, you may notice the percentages. McKay has about 5 good students and 110 students total. All of the stuff every Westerner is told about Chinese students being so much better than any American student is bunk. They are good at math. Not thought. Actually, I think that if they had to do anything except exponents the Americans would win every time. Every time. So, don't let those stereotypes get to you. They are not true.

We have found tapioca drinks on the back street. That means that McKay is going crazy buying various flavors of milk tea without tea with tapioca added. How is that for complex Chinese? They are good. Lindsay is proving herself as a supportive wife by going along and drinking strawberry tapioca milk as we speak. (McKay has chocolate AND blueberry!)

On another note, China has a issue with people paying money. They require you to pay at various locations within stores, but they do not make any of them convenient. I have become sympathetic to Chinese thieves. I have had my fare share of times that I wanted to join their ranks. At Carrefour they attached tags to some measuring cups, but they attached them to the ring with a large hole in it. On the rack there were six measuring cups, but only two had tags on them. We grabbed one, and it immediately fell off. We picked it up. It fell off again. We put it on again, and held it in our hand on the way to the cash register. Now, the cash registers have a 20 minute wait. They take their sweet, precious, Chinese time, and we all wait impatiently. Somehow, between putting it from my hand to the cashier the tag fell off. Again, and was lost forever, so they wouldn't let us buy it. Seriously. Lindsay was irate. McKay was dejected. So, we went to try buy it again. McKay found the last one to buy it again, but didn't want to wait for another 20 minutes at the registers at the other end of the other floor. Going to the other registers wasn't any better. One cashier refused to serve us, and McKay gave up arguing with her in broken Chinese and increasingly indecent hand gestures. After going to the other register, we found it was twice as long of a wait as the other levels. I was tempted to put the measuring cups in my coat, walk out of the store and call it a day. But, being a good, moral person, we fought our way through the throngs of Chinese to the lady who before had refused us service. Ignoring her we practically forced her to take our money. China is weird. I would have thought that the first part of my business would have been figuring out how to get money from my customers, not to increase a customers yearning to steal. I don't understand Chinese logic.

Anyways, we have bought some really inexpensive, 5 yuan, stockings. We are totally going to fill them with stuff! And then throw them away. You get what you pay for. I'll be surprised if they last a week, but we are both really excited to have them. We are discussing where to hang them up.

Lindsay has spent the past day and a half baking. She has made some delectable cookies, decadent cookies, and a few scrumptious cookies too. You may notice the trend. Lindsay likes making cookies, and they are very good thanks to our mothers supplying Lindsay with some decent ingredients. Yesterday, Lindsay decided that she wanted to get some food coloring for her sugar cookies. We went out on a search, and it was my job to talk to the bakeries and try to buy some. After a few minutes we found a bakery that was willing to sell us their near-empty bottle of pink food coloring: 5 yuan. We jumped at the chance, and Lindsay promptly tried it out on her imported frosting from Metro. And then she almost gagged. The food coloring tasted like toilet cleaner, and she took in a large spoonful in anticipation of the sumptuousness she thought she would soon encounter. Needless to say, we wasted a bit of frosting that way. One thing we noticed as we went about trying to find the food coloring was cakes. There were lots of little cakes with little strawberries on top. Well, they looked like strawberries when I first saw them. They were actually tomatoes covering a well-decorated chocolate cake. Come to think of it, Lindsay's Thanksgiving cake had tomatoes on it as well. The Chinese use tomatoes as a fruit. They put them on cakes, in fruit bowls and dishes, and eat them instead of breakfast fruits. It is a very different use for tomatoes. Even the Flannery's children pick out the tomatoes from a fruit salad to suck down on their juicy not-good-aloneness. That is a Chinese custom that we are not going to bring back with us. It may be healthy, but it sure doesn't seem appetizing.


Kayli said...

Tomatoes? Weird. Of course Lindsay's baking! I wish I could taste of her deliciousness. Merry Christmas in a few days!

Krystal said...

"Nothing feels better than failing the students when 1/4 of them blatantly cheat, 1/2 don't follow directions, and another 1/4 just don't show up."

That just made my entire day :)