Thursday, April 12, 2012

Continuing Preparations for China

I'm now three weeks away from my trip to Changsha and couldn't be more excited.  I now know I will be staying in the foreign student building and that it will be equipped with television, phone, internet and personal western-style bathroom.  I guess there is a community kitchen, but I don't anticipate I will be doing much cooking while I am there.  The food is supposed to be very cheap and so why not enjoy the local cuisine?  

My classroom will also be fully equipped with a projector and sound.  My usual teaching style in the U.S. is to bring into class an outline of the major concepts I want to address.  I systematically go through those and then illustrate them with either examples from my own life or video illustrations from news or popular culture.  Often, I will engage the class in discussion about these topics.  I hear from my Korean friends that my style is not going to work very well over in China.  For one, I tend to introduce topics in just lecture format before I illustrate them and we discuss.  With English being the second language of all my students, I'm not certain how easy it will be for them to listen to me without visuals.  So, I will put some of my material up on a power point, even though I am worried about powerpoint "overkill."  

Also, I sometimes access online content on the fly because not all of my videos are stored on my hard drive.  I am frantically trying to ensure that all my illustrations are saved and ready to go.  I likely won't be able to gather any that I forgot to bring with me later because of what is known in the Western hemisphere as "The Great Firewall of China."  I also need to be ready for moments when I think I've got some good material and I just get stares because I am big-nosed, bald, overweight (by their standards), and a little hairy.  Oh yeah, I'm 6 foot 2 inches as well, which will make me a giant over there.  I doubt the students will participate much in the beginning, but I'm going to make every effort to help them to get to know me and to feel comfortable with me.  I expect I will need to adapt much more than they will, however.

(I know it's a small thing, but the fact that I see "Welcome" and "Information" on the signs at the Changsha airport makes me feel a little better)

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