Moments of Pleasure about Chang Xing Primary School....

The school of life’s teaching is so meaningful to me; I will never forget the student's smiles. They are full of love and fun. They all seem happening in the scene of a novel and always come up in my mind. It makes me cheerful even when I am alone; I would miss them when I looked at the photos and when the students were eager to ask "Ms. Wing teacher" to have our picture taken together. You may think I'm weird, but at least I go through life and find my inner self. Yes! I've found it!

My school is located on Chang Xing Island that is a bit far away from the city of Shanghai. It takes about 50 mins by Metro, and then a 15 minute walk to the ferry pier to buy a ticket. If I am lucky to get a "fast boat" then I can get to the island in only a half an hour (instead of 1 hour for a the larger, slower ferries) and then a 10 minute walk from the ferry terminal to the school. This is my favorite school: Chang Xing Centre Primary School.

"Hello, everyone! My name is Wing, your English teacher - how are you today?" This was my first speech to students, they responded with "hi" to me and said - "I am fine, thank you" and then the students and I were smiling together. I teach English to grades 3 and 4, two classes per day on average, with English Corner on every Monday and Friday. If the weather is nice, the school holds a morning assembly at 7:45am on almost every Monday. All students, teachers and the principal will attend it on the playground and watch the flag raising ceremony too. During assembly, every class is organized by column; students use their hands to measure the distance in between classmates, a teacher will stand on the stage and read announcements to the students in Chinese. After that, two students are assigned to raise the flag while all present sing the national song (except me =). I felt really strange at first and wondered why the school has to do this every week - but I understood it was a part of the national culture so I knew I should respect it.

My first week was an introduction week. I put a lot of photos on PowerPoint to introduce my city and my family. I hoped they can remember me easily so I had asked my students... "When you go to have chicken wings, remember that wing is the exact meaning of my English name." After that, they sometimes called me "Chicken Wing" or "Wing Wing" when I walked by them in the hallway at school.

The teachers gave me some topics that I could teach during the week, and then I used my creativity to design different PowerPoint presentations using special sound effects to stimulate the students, making them more interested and able to concentrate on what I was teaching. Exaggerated body language, facial gestures and happy faces proved to be helpful in communicating with them too. Because at this age, they could be so limited in memory, I usually wrote around eight new words or vocabularies and underlined them on the blackboard. Before turning on my Powerpoint, I would teach them how to pronounce and spell the words, and then we went through the content. They loved it when I asked them a question because they could practice their English in front of the other students: especially they loved to do dialogues as partners but I usually inserted some exercises for them during their practice, like game dialogues, I would use table tennis, air hockey and see-saw etc. There were so many games with pictures, then I requested them to pretend that they were playing with friends in the playground with conversation, everyone had fun and turned slightly silly at the moment, but no one would skip that part and remember these very fast, in the last 5 minutes I would recap all the new words and they had to spell them loudly together. I would like to make them feel friendly, and being tied closely together. I could ask them how to say this word in Chinese from the new vocabulary, after a few seconds I would say the Chinese meaning, then I asked them to match the English words. They liked guessing, so they felt happy when they got it correctly. I also learned some Chinese from them!

My placement was started in February when the weather was so cold on the island. I had a cold shower three times when the weather was below 3 degree because the school uses solar heat, and if the weather is cloudy during the day, there will be no hot water at night. But I was able to tolerate this situation because I assumed that it is just a part of my experiences and I never expected this to be a luxury vacation. Jessie, from Xu Bo, and the school teachers were very helpful to me: they helped me to fix the gas and electricity on the floor my room was on, so I could get hot water after that. I remember that I was so scared to take shower after the first 3 days with icy water, until I could think about one thing, which was my students, they warmed me up, and then I took a deep breath and jumped into it. I knew nothing about the area or the school, but two students smiled and came to me, they gave me a note - "Welcome to our school." I didn't know how to respond but I was sure, from that moment on, that I would enjoy my teaching.

My office was on the third floor and I had lunch at school canteen with the other teachers. They taught me some Chinese when they were free. I enjoyed joining students' games during school break, like skip-rope, hide-and-seek etc, and I never felt uncomfortable about entering the children’s universe: they all loved to talk and play with foreigners and this became clear very quickly from their body language.

The final week was my sour week because I was so sad to leave the school. The teachers gave me the freedom to choose how to say goodbye to my own classes. I chose the theme "7 Continents and 5 Oceans" using sea-world photos for grade three and the theme "9 Planets and the First Chinese Astronaut" using space photos for grade 4. At the end of class, some students came to me and said, "I love you, hope to see you again, safe back home, you are my good teacher", and so on. My eyes were turning red and my heart was torn - I couldn't speak and tried not to make eye-contact - otherwise I knew I would cry myself. Some students hugged me tightly and didn't want me to leave... but, thank goodness the bell rang for lunch, and I said, "Wow! How about we get some lunch?" I got lots of little handmade presents from students, like paper animals, note pads, stickers, etc. One student gave me a pin with little stone and said, "I don't have money to buy, so I gave my candies to other people and exchanged it for you." I took it in great appreciation and hugged her to thank her, but my heart felt sad. Before my placement, I was a quite an impatient person, but the students have helped me change me a lot. They made me happy and let me know how wonderful the world canbe, the world should be beautiful, no warw, no conflicts and people can respect and help each other. I can't explain this pleasure exactly, but I have some special words Iwant to share with my lovely students - "I have found what I need and what I want to be. Thank you and I love you guys."

Thank you Xu Bo for giving me all the support during my placement. If someone is reading this and has not yet decided where you would like to volunteer, I would highly recommend Chang Xing Centre Primary School, where you can have fun and amazing teaching experience.