Sunday, March 20, 2011

Qibao

Being a nice sunny day I took the opportunity to visit Qibao an accent town that was established during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1126) and is 18 kilometers south east of Shanghai.  This quaint little place was very traditional and very relaxing and surprising was packed with people considering it was a Sunday afternoon. The highlight of the visit though was the street food, in which there was a whole alley on the main  strip dedicated to it, lets just say I made it well worth my time as I devoured all the good food.






Fancy Cotton Candy
My finished cotton candy





Tri-Ball

          After being invited to come play numerous times from a friend of mine, I finally cracked and decided to check it out with my good friend pat. Of course it was raining so it made for an interesting experience. The game essentially a big game of smear the queer. In which you tackle the person who has the ball, while the person tries to score into these tiny goals. There are three teams and three goals so each team has the opportunity to score on 2 different goals or can create an alliance and aim for just one. The ball is a huge torpedo like shape that was very odd and is about 2 feet long. Further information can be located at http://trifederation.org/.   Tri ball is a new game made up that is trying to catch on in china and all over the world. While still in its initial state, it supposedly is the next big thing. Initially planning to watch the game first and then join in later, short on players we got to jump right in.  After playing for a few minutes I could definitely tell I was out of shape. It was the first time I had done sprints in lord knows how long and after a few plays I was already winded.  The game was fun and definitely nice to be able to run around and tackle people and of course meet new friends. I have since joined the league and will be playing on the weekends so it will be interesting to see how things turn out

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Diary of a Mad China Man



             While it’s be obvious that TA Hannah has been a bit crazy, lately she’s gone over the top. After our little incident a while back, there has always been some awkward tension between us.  I like to think that I am a mellow guy and not much gets me irritated, but somehow she manages to do it. After teaching a class with her as my TA for a week and with Sherry having her as a TA now, it has become very clear that she sucks, and defeats the purpose of being a TA, because she doesn’t help at all. She plays on her phone all class or talks to the Chinese teachers and cant even get the kids to listen when she actually does work, so she has been on a very short string in the English office.
             The lunches at my school are very hit and miss, some days they are good other days they are horrible, but regardless of the day, one thing I can count on besides the plain white rice is the fruit. One day last week the food was clearly a miss so I went with my backup plan and took 2 bananas out of the big bowl of bananas to compensate for my hunger. After eating them, on the way out, I grabbed one for the road and that is when Hannah went out of her way to call me out in front of all the teachers. Eyeing me like a hawk she stands up and yells “You eat too many, only 1 for each person, you no take anymore!” I look at her with a dumb look on my face and see that she has three banana peels on her tray. I laugh and walk out with the banana still in hand. The nerve of her to try and call me out on such a silly thing, but what do you expect from someone named after Hannah Montana.
             Things do get better though, since my encounter she has found herself a man who she loves to talk obnoxiously loud on the phone to as Sherry and I try to do homework or take a nap during our break, literally for the whole 3 hours. What could you possibly talk about for so long? I do not know but she somehow manages to do it. After numerous failed attempts of telling her to tone it down or leave so we do not have to hear her, she has gotten a bit of an attitude with us making sassy noises like she runs the place when we try and tell her things.  To emphasize that we don’t want to hear her whining and making other noise to her boyfriend and that she needs to go outside of the office, I made a sign and posted it right next to her chair. 
           Through school and sports I’ve learned that to the best way to memorize something is through repetition so today I once again made a sign emphasizing that there you need to go outside if you are going to talk on the phone. Learning my from my mistake, in which my sign was ripped to shred, We took tape and placed it over all the paper so that it could not be ripped and kindly posted it next to her chair. She ripped it down of course but no worries I kept with the repetition and put it back up for her to see again .Fed up with Hannah being a wet blanket, and doing nothing in class but making things worse, Sherry contacted the office to tell them they need to speak with her about doing her job. While Hannah is napping she gets a phone call, which I’m sure was the office telling her that she needs to get her act straight. Upset she hangs up goes on a rampage. She looks at our sign and rips it down off the wall and tries to rip it apart but since it is taped up, she can’t and she gets even madder. After multiple failed attempts, while Screaming Chinese and I’m sure cursing like a sailor, she takes scissors and cuts the sign before tossing them across the room along with a few other items. Sitting in my chair trying not to laugh I sit there and watch in pure entertainment. After her little debacle she sits down for a few minutes to eat ironically a banana in before throwing a few more objects and then leaving the room.   
           After work Sherry and I had to go to the office to discuss with our boss and the other Chinese administration about the situation to try and find a solution. Hannah refused to go to the office prolonging the event. Having received bad reviews on the Shane company from Concordia students, Robert, my boss has gone out of his way to make mends and changes to improve the workspace since Shane will need about 24-30 Concordia students next year. 
           The good news coming from the visit to the office though was I am officially cleared.  A few weeks ago I had implemented a spray bottle filled with water as my from to correct misbehavior. Following the same concept of spraying cats and dogs with water when they do something wrong, I thought it would have the same effect on little kids. Not surprising some kids hated it while others loved it but when all said and done, the kids got their act together and were better behaved. With all good things come something negative and that negative is the one child rule. Since families can only have one child, these kids are spoiled and pampered and seen as perfectly good angels regardless of what they do and parents will do some ridiculous things for their children. To make a long story short, one anonymous parent was upset that I misted their little angle for misbehaving in my class and claimed that the water got in the kids eye and the pressure from the water caused damage to their vision. While this is quite the bogus claim, the parents even went on to say that they were considering pressing ASSULT charges!!! Yes ASSULT charges, for spraying, better yet misting their kid with water. But not to worry, everything is fine nothing a little kissing butt won’t fix, it seems to make everything ok here. The whole claim is poposterous but at the same time hilarious but I must say that China you are a bit ridiculous some times but you always keep me on my feet.
           After being promised that Hannah wouldn’t be at school in the morning after were concerned for our  “Safety” as Robert told the Chinese staff as she threw object in the English office, I arrive to see Hannah at school, while this isn’t that big of a deal for me since I am not the one that Hannah is a vendetta out for (sherry), I think the situation has been blown way out of proportion. Hannah was supposed to meet with administration but refused to go and rather showed up at the school. One of the head administrators was at the school also so I figured she was with her. As it turns out I was wrong and she refused to meet with administration and came to the school instead. I taught my first two classes and things were going fine and as my second class was about to end, Sherry busts into my class saying that we have to leave the building right now like it was an emergency, since Hannah was there and our safety was in danger. While I find drama to be entertaining, I hate when I get dragged or am part of it. While obviously I had not concern for my safety one bit, Robert wanted us to know that he was looking out for our safety and keeping his promise that we wouldn’t have to worry about her.  Rather than teaching my third class we had to get up and leave the school, which seemed ridiculous. To be quite honest I would have rather risked my “Safety” and taught my last class, preserving my face and not looking bad for not showing up, than to leave. As I gathered my belongings, I noticed that the bed that we normally take a nap on was drenched with water from guess who? Hannah. While I was starting to feel bad for her initially after all the ridiculous things she’s done within the past two days it has made me have a change of heat.  I can confidently say that Hannah is psycho after all the madness. Initially we were told we could have a free day and to just go home after work but as we got in the taxi we received a phone call saying we needed to go straight to the office, a few minutes later we get another one saying to go to office at 1, which was a few hours away. After all the madness sherry wanted to go to a place that reminded her of home so were do we go? Ikea, who knew a furniture place would bring so many warm feelings, but I did not complain as the food sounded very appealing. After our lunch we were about to head to office when we get another phone call saying that Hannah finally left the school after refusing to leave, so we had to make the hour trek back North to go teach our last two classes.  In all these madness it seems that I am simply a chess piece getting moved around with nothing to gain from it. While the drama is supposedly in my best interest, it has done the opposite and caused unnecessary stress and has turned annoying.  This situation could easily be summed up with obvious answers, Hannah is psycho and she needs to do job, doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that one out.
        The saga of Hannah continues, I received a text saying that that I have to switch TA’s and give up Lulu and take Hannah as my TA. For all the stunts she pulled I am surprised she was able to walk away with so little punishment. Since all the Shenanigans that she has pulled lately, I am on very thin ice with her, and won’t be afraid to call her out on it. While I’ll accept this change because I’m forced to in hope of having a better work environment, there are a few issues that come to my attention. I am far from the confrontational and yelling type with my students unless I have to and Lulu is the same way. Yelling is only used when necessary and I feel that yelling at student’s stunts their learning rather improves it so I try to refrain from it in my classroom. Hannah is a yeller; she loves to yell and is crazy so it makes for a deadly combo.  I feel that mixing the two disrupts the classroom environment that I am trying to create. But who I trying to fool, Shane only wants to do what is best in their interest at the least minimal cost to them at the cost of the employee satisfaction.

Just another day in the office


 Here is the video I took for one of my school classes. I apologize for the upper right corner of the film; the Ayi (Cleaning lady) put a backpack in front of the camera by accident. Furthermore, here is a look into my classroom.


Down for the count


          On Thursday, I woke up at 5 in the morning, sick to my stomach with my tummy turning and  was sick  out of both ends. I sat in the bathroom for an hour preparing for the worst, before trying to go back to sleep. I could not call in sick because I only have a couple sick/holiday days left to last the rest of the year and I had to film my class teaching today for one of my assignments for school. Oddly enough when I got up my roommate mike also felt stomach pains but clearly I had it worse. I had not felt this bad in as long as I could remember and I felt like I was going to throw up at any moment. For my video I mustered up as much energy as I had and tried to seem as enthusiastic as possible. To be honest, I am not sure how I made it through the day, it was a God given blessing that the kids were pretty good and I was able to make it throughout the day without too much trouble. We were supposed to have a work meeting at 6, but that was cancelled so I was able to go home after work and sleep. Still feeling horrible, I was asleep by 7:30. Yes that’s right 7:30!!!!  Thinking Mike and I were the only one sick I later found out that my other roommates Francesca and Annie and her boyfriend also were struck with food poisoning. Initially I thought it might have been the boiled eggs, spaghetti or this Chinese fish snack that mike and I both ate but since everyone was sick at the same time I think it was Annie’s birthday cake that we all ate the day before.
        The next morning I work up feeling better and thought that I had weathered the storm. It was my fellow student/coworker Sherry’s birthday so I was excited for the festivities she had planned for the weekend. Work went smoothly and I thought that everything was fine but when I went to the gym, I cut my workout short after a few lifts figuring it was better not to push myself until I was at full health. For sherry’s birthday we had reservations at 10:30 at this classy restaurant called Mr. and Misses Bund, right on the riverfront. Since it was so late, they have a late night menu, which cuts their plates to ONLY 200 RMB ($30) a place. Being in a big group of 14 young people who typically shouldn’t be there financially, we did not get treated as properly as we should and were overlooked by the staff. We waited and waited and waited and others kept getting seated as we waited some more. It wasn’t until about 11:45 that actually got seated even though our reservation was at 10:30. For such a classy establishment I was not impressed with their customer service and their food in that matter as half my steak was filled with fat. During dinner it became very obvious that my stomach was still upset as the bathroom and I became very good friends, making a to every 15 minutes.
        While Saturdays are usually my day to explore the city or do last minute homework, I was stuck spending my day at home afraid that I would be searching for the nearest toilet. Propped up in my bad, I spent all day catching up on my television shows. To make matters worse, it was actually a nice sunny day out and would have been perfect to go take pictures of the city as I had initially planned on doing before I got sick. It was also the auditions for China’s got talent so I also missed my chance there. After catching up on my television shows and drinking liquids like crazy, I felt good enough to go to Sherry’s ABC party (Anything But Clothes) where you come dressed in anything but clothes. While some people got creative, I kept with the comfort and attended in my LSU Snuggie that my mom sent me for my birthday (Thanks Mom!). Being the wonderful host Sherry is, she had tables of goodies to munch on including multiple cakes, sushi, chips and salsa and even had activities for us to do including a piƱata who she named Hannah after her TA, who is now the infamous Hannah.