Friday, September 26, 2008

Sharon's Headache

Sharon just went to the hospital. This is entirely due to the students. For the last few days, she has had a constant headache. These students, more specifically these boys, are making her crazy and have given her a headache that may manifest itself into a brain hemorrhage at the rate that she is going now. I have told her and told her that she takes her job much too serious. She cannot force these boys to study. They must take the challenge upon themselves. This is not her responsibility.

Before she left, she told me that Elliot told her that the other boys cheated when they marked each other’s tests, the test that I gave them yesterday afternoon. Really, I guess I am not entirely surprised by this. Maybe I was a fool to think that Danny only missed 3, Venice only missed 2. Nevertheless, I told her that they are only hurting themselves, famous last words coming from an adult.

Leta had Elliot's to correct. Leta did not cheat so she marked all of the wrong answers on Elliot’s test. Elliot complained to Sharon about this. I told Sharon that’s what happens - the other boys in the end screw over Elliot (which I am not sure if she understood my delicate terminology) because they marked their friends’ papers and cheated while they did so. This made Elliot and Lillian the big losers.

Jane had Kevin's paper and I know that she would not cheat. Lillian did not cheat for Paul who missed 6. Leta told me that maybe some of the boys were giving each other the answers in Chinese. This is why Leon who cannot utter a word in English only missed 6.

Even though it is Friday; today is not a true Friday because I work this weekend because next week is Golden Week, an important weeklong Chinese holiday, which is really only 3 days because we have to work Saturday like it is a Monday and Sunday like it is a Tuesday - confusing, I know.

Nevertheless, Friday afternoon is rather slow. Sharon traded her afternoon class for my morning class. I still have an after school class but I am not sure if the boys will show because there is a sports meeting. That is fine. I am a little annoyed with those cheaters anyway. Actually, I love them and really, I care but it does not devastate me that they cheated. If they are hurting anyone, they are really only hurting themselves. If they cheat, I have no idea what they know and what they don’t know.

While the boys are at the sports meeting, I talk to the girls about the cheating incident. I know they are not the ones that I need to talk to because they did not cheat, though I know that Lillian would cheat if she had the chance. I tell them that I know they, the girls, would never cheat and I am not sure if the boys know what a serious crime cheating is in America.

Leta tells me that it is a serious crime in China. If you are caught cheating in high school, you carry a paper with you that you are a cheater; you carry it to university and then you carry it to your job after you graduate from university. That is serious, I told her.

In America, you could get kicked out of school if you cheat. Really, for me, it does not matter that much that the boys cheated because I know that at these high priced Chinese boarding schools, grades are changed if they do not suit the parents so I am not going to fight it just to lose in the end. Nevertheless, at some point, the cheater will get caught (or become president, one or the other).

At the meeting at my company yesterday, Edgar asked me if I would teach an IELTs course. I said I would but now I am having second thoughts. I would be the second teacher teaching a class that is not the better students but the class that is the lower level students which are usually the students who could give half a crap. I guess it would be easy money but it is not that exciting to me.

In addition to that, a former student from XiangMing has emailed me a few times about teaching his mother spoken English which I think would be fairly easy. This I would do in the evenings one or two nights a week. They live fairly close.

Then, out of nowhere, I got an email from Emily who took me to get my physical last September and who is no longer with the company. She sent me an email to see if I could teach her spoken English. Really, I am so busy at the moment that I really do not have time but I like her and I told her I would. She then replied that the lessons were not for her but at her new company. They would be business English classes.

She sent me the contract with the specifics. And, actually, it is a great part time job, an hour and a half a week for about $50 a session. Of course, there are a few drawbacks. One is that it is almost all the way out to Songjiang on the metro, which really is the boonies.

The other drawback is the lessons have to be during the day and really my schedule is such that the only way that I can make it work is if I go on Tuesday or Wednesday in between my lessons. On Tuesday, my lessons end at 9:50 am. I would need to be there at 10:45 am, which might or might not be cutting it close. Over this holiday this next week, I will have to ride out there and see if it will be problematic or not. I guess it comes down to $50 extra a week, or $200 a month for 15 weeks. I will have to think about it.

In addition, to everything else, I have still not signed the new contract for this term with my company. I have an email agreement concerning the new school but I have not actually sat down and signed the paper contract.

After the sports meeting, the boys came back into the classroom. Sharon, back from the hospital, talked to the class for five or ten minutes and then handed the class over to me. She then left. I am happy to see that her brain, skull and face are all intact. She had no hemorrhage, no bursting blood veins.

I tell the boys that I heard that some of them cheated on their tests; I have to explain ‘cheated’. I them tell them how serious cheating is. Danny has a smile of guilt on his face the whole time. Kevin is innocent as is Paul. The guilty ones are Danny, Venice and Leon. I do not get mad. I just try to explain why they shouldn’t cheat.
I smile and it is over.
After my little talk, we fill in the blanks with music. Today we do ‘Last Nite’ by the Strokes and ‘Daft Punk are Playing at my House’ by LCD Soundsystem. I explain that Daft Punk is the name of a band and that you have to move all the furniture into the garage so that you can have a big party. I explain ‘working the door’ but I do not go into the fact that ‘Sara’s girlfriend’ refers to a lesbian relationship. They can learn all about that stuff when they go to America.

After class, Danny walks up to me. He has his vocabulary work sheet. He tries to tell me something but he cannot find the words. I tell him it is okay and I squeeze his shoulder. He smiles.

In the last month or so, since I have got back from the States, I have somewhat befriended one of the new guards at my apartment complex. At first, I just said ‘Ni Hao’ when I passed and then as the days and weeks passed our conversation has become more involved each time I pass.

If you saw him, you would see him as the quintessential Chinese man. He is a little guy with glasses who looks as if he is about 14 years old but he must be at least 18 and I am sure he is probably in his mid-twenties. His uniform fits like it’s about three sizes too big. He has a belt that he cinches tightly around his waist; this, I’m sure is the only reason his pants are not down around his knees when he is talking to me.

And, the talking, the talking is what is most endearing about him because I look at him while he is on a roll and then if he thinks that I do not understand a word, he will replace that word with about 50 other Chinese words. Sometimes, a stray migrant worker will wander up and listen to what this young guard is telling me. Usually, the migrant worker, who belongs to the building crew building the office building at the entry of my apartment complex, will nod in agreement or look at me to see my response. This Chinese guard is always most adamant in his rapid-fire presentations.

For the most part, I think our conversations have something to do with eating or with watching DVDs but I know no specifics beyond that. Maybe I have even inadvertently invited him over to my apartment sometime in the not too distant future to watch movies. I do not know.

At this point, in our relationship, I do not have the heart to tell him I do not understand a word he is saying.


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