Of Course I Know Kevin

I just posted about our decision to stick with the devil we know for our job in China. We don’t really like it a bunch, but there are things we like. The new place would also have things we liked, but new things to dislike too. When we were being toured around the city, the woman in charge of seducing us to come there mentioned a Kevin for a foreign teacher they previously employed. Bella said, “Oh, I know Kevin.”

The woman was certain it was a different person. After all, there are 600,000+ foreigners in China, and 1.3 billion people in China, what are the odds you would know a specific foreign teacher in this ocean of people, 15 hours away from home. The woman started to describe Kevin in order to show it was a different Kevin, “He this, he that, he the other thing.” We said, “Yup, yup, yup.” She continued, “His wife is Chinese,” we said, “yup.” Sure enough, it was the Kevin we were looking for, or at least knew.

She shot a message off to his wife with the picture of me from WeChat. She responded quickly, “Oh yes, we know him!” We made plans with them for the next day to go for some coffee.

It was nice catching up, and having a chat with someone familiar. I don’t know many people in China. We had already made our decision about sticking with our current job before we went out with Kevin, and his wife. When we were out with them, he told me about how he used to work for the company we were interviewing with in the city.

“I used to work with the school you are here to visit. They treat their teachers pretty well. The problem was when they got their new headmaster [the current one] he looked at how much money they were spending on the several foreign teachers at the school. So, he said they were doing away with the foreign English teachers because it isn’t worth the money. They didn’t even wait until the end of the semester, he just fired us all right then, and there.” was the story Kevin had to tell. This story was not meant to scare me away, just making conversation, and answering my question about what it was like to teach for this company.

His story did not make our decision, but it was one more piece of evidence we had made the right choice. If the headmaster killed the program once, there really was nothing stopping him from killing it again without giving us any notice.

What a small world it is though. A random city, chosen from a pile of job offers, and we happen upon one of the 4 people I know in this country.

Welcome Back Kotter

Vacation has come to an end, as has my first week back to school. Ugh, it was a long week. Nothing terrible, horrible, very bad, just long. I am happy to say, Friday night is here, and I have nothing to worry about until Monday morning, 8 am.

Here’s my week in a nutshell:

“Welcome back to school, good luck ditching vacation mode.”

Monday morning, I was a train wreck. There was no force in the world strong enough to make me want to go to school. I woke up, healthy as a horse, and cursed my luck to not be sick.

Pinkeye is my disease of choice. A little uncomfortable, but all in all, it is a free day feeling mostly healthy.

Monday is grade 1 day, the day requiring the most energy. The kids were sweet, and kind, and they are really well behaved, for the most part, but they are high energy. All in all, grade 1 is starting to be my favourite grade to have classes with as a whole. Monday night I died, all night.
“Hey, it’s Wed. night, how would you feel if your fridge died. Doesn’t matter. Dead.”

There was a power flicker, followed immediately by another power flicker in my apartment. The result, a burnt out lightbulb, and a very dead fridge. I wished, and hoped, and prayed it would just be a blip, by morning the motor would be buzzing away… but it was not meant to be. Long story short, I got a replacement fridge from the school at suppertime today (Friday). It could have been worse, but there were casualties reported. I lost the bananas I keep in the freezer for smoothies, so I’ll have to replace those for $2. The biggest loss was my cheddar cheese. The fridge didn’t just go, “not cold,” it went into a swampy sweat. The already grated cheddar cheese didn’t stand a chance.

*Sheds a Single Tear*

” Friday means Grade 6, pains in the neck, the lot of them.” 

There was a time last semester when grade 5 was the bane of my existence. By the end of the semester, it was grade 6. I remembered within 3 minutes why this was. I don’t beat the children. Might sound strange to open with, but their teachers punch, kick, throw things at, wallop, bop, slap, hit, and smack… among other things as a punishment. I refuse to do this. My classes are, at the request of the school, homework free. I am there to teach conversation English. So, upping the homework is not an option for me either.

Last semester I struggled to think of a way to keep grade 6 in line, because if I’m not hitting them, why would they listen. That isn’t my statement, it is exactly what one of the students said when I told them to sit down, be quiet, and pay attention. I finally *crosses fingers* came up with the solution to my unwillingness to participate in extreme corporal punishment.

Today I warned them, “Last semester, blah, blah, blah. It is not going to happen this semester. Anyone who does not want to obey the rules will have a letter sent home to their parents, which must be returned signed by their parents.” Xiu Xiu will be writing the letters in Chinese. One boy shouted out, “No, please just beat me, it would be easier than taking this letter home to my parents.” Hopefully knowing I am willing to communicate with their parents will put them into the learning frame of mind. 😀

“Sweet Freedom”

After school I got my new fridge, which was of course a used fridge they had already. I don’t care, it works.

Then, Xiu Xiu and I went to the movies. There were quite a few people there, but we still got pretty good seats to see Jupiter Ascending. It started off a little slow, and I questioned whether I was going to like it, but it delivered. I was very happy I saw it. Next week, Paddington Bear. It is a jackpot of foreign films this week!

Now, I have my weekend ahead of me. Here are the bullet points:

  • Morning market tomorrow to get 15-20 kg of potatoes, because I have a problem. No, because they are super cheap there, and I eat a lot of potatoes.
  • FoodLove with the girl who showed up at my door shortly after I arrived in China, “You help me with English, I’ll help you with Chinese.” I haven’t seen her since Sept. because she was busy at school.
  • All you can eat buffet with Xiu Xiu! If I did it everyday, it would be gluttony, but on Sunday, I shall call it a feast. 2 people, $20.
  • Whatever else comes my way.

I also decided to start a budget this week. I have the next two months marked out in a notebook, “how much I spent,” “total for the month,” and, “what the total should be.” I have actually been doing really well with it (I’m shocked too). Here’s hoping I can keep it up. 

Give the Gift of Receiving

Most, if not all, of us have had something offered to us which would fall under the category of an everyday kindness. Maybe it was someone offering us their seat on the train, or being allowed to go first through … Continue reading

We Fail All the Sports!

We had a project to do for Computer Class (or Media Arts, or whatever it was called) at Kingswood University, five video clips of five seconds each. It was a very basic class, and Alex and I were both always looking to get a laugh. We were looking for a laugh mainly because we are 12 year old children, and don’t know any better. We both did separate projects, but decided we would do the exact same video as each other. It worked out even better than expected, because when Alex hit the tether ball, the rope broke which meant I could end my video differently. This struck us as a funny punchline and went with it.

We got some laughs, but I don’t think anyone found it nearly as funny as we did. Oh well, we both received an A on the project, so, we were happy. I hope you enjoy watching this at least half as much as we enjoyed making it.

Shawn Failing at Pool

Shuffle Cards like a Casino Dealer

Most people don’t know how to shuffle cards, because they have never been taught how to do it properly. It is important in almost every card game to not know where the cards are/aren’t in the deck. It is simple to learn how to shuffle properly.

Riffle Cards