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Last Days of Beijing…I mean Zhuhai.

August 1, 2012

Goodbye Natalie from nataliegoes on Vimeo.

All good things must come to an end.  and all mediocre, crappy, frustrating and rat infested things, too, must come to an end.  My days of teaching in Zhuhai are over.  I tried to quit the job at the end of last semester, but somehow they pulled me right back in.  When it came time to talk about a new contract, I had some stipulations.  Most of which they were willing to agree to.  But the one thing they weren’t willing to agree to was fair pay.  I didn’t take the job for the money, but being taken advantage of gets on a girl’s nerves.

Once I realized I wouldn’t be going back for another year, I took a deep breath and began to relax.  When I first took the job I was quite excited by the prospect of working with the same kids for several years.  See, when the kids move up a grade, the teachers move up with them.  I thought it would be amazing to watch them progress, and know everything they knew about English was because of me.  And I was right, and it was amazing.  But I found a big drawback to staying with the same kids.  I found I had less patience with them and got more frustrated with them.  I knew what they were capable of, and what they had been taught.  I found myself smacking them upside the head more, giving them more spanks on the bottoms and being utterly disgusted with them on more occasions.  Sometimes as a teacher of a second language I find it’s very useful to throw a fit in front of the class and show a lot of drama when they are misbehaving.  When you can’t use words because they don’t know them, a dramatic emotional show is better communication than a lecture.  In the beginning when I would do that, that’s all it really was was a show.  But lately it had been for real.  So, I came to the realization that both for the kids and for myself moving on would be a good thing.

One thing I did differently from school policy, was to always tell the kids what’s going on before it actually happens.  I made a big calendar and every morning we talked about things coming up in the future.  Like when a field trip was happening, or when I would be away on vacation and when I would come back.  But the school’s policy was to not let the kids (or parents) know that a teacher was leaving the school permanently.  I think this is terrible, but it’s completely common practice here.  I, however, put a big “N” on the calendar a month ago and told the kids that was my last day.  I also followed it up by telling them they had three weeks vacation “No school! Yeah!” and that when they came back they would be in “A Class” and not “B Class” anymore.  We talked about how they would have to start using chopsticks, and how they would be learning to read and how they would have a new English teacher.  Everyday we talked about this all in a very positive light.  Maybe too positive.

As my last day approached….nothing happened.  As usual at this point in the school year, parents stop bringing their kids to school.  Some take them on long trips to visit families, so don’t want to pay for a partial month, some just can’t be bothered.  Plus, during the last week we had a typhoon hit.  Blew down lots of trees, storm drains became flooded, debris blocked roads and it continued to rain for days.  When it rains parents are less likely to bring their kids in as well.  So, my last day came…and I tried to say good-bye to the kids one by one as they left.  And that was it.  Out with a whimper.  Got all my belongings back to Macau.  Good-bye Zhuhai.  It’s been….something.

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