Posts Tagged ‘observations’

It’s now 2011 and I had a good time ringing it in.  I don’t think I did anything remarkable for 2010, but I know that from my freshman year of college to my senior year, I had decidedly limited New Year’s Eves due to the Rose Parade.  Since 2011 marks the 100th year of the Republic of China, I set my mind to seeing a spectacle, and in spite of all the warnings, I went into the city with my roommates.

They had an idea to take the bus to a key MRT intersection and find a club or bar, but I was going to see the fireworks at 101, no question about it.  They decided that it wasn’t a bad idea, and we rode the bus, going slower and slower as we approached the road closures around Taipei 101 and the city hall.

While on the bus, we noticed the masses of people streaming past us, often faster than the traffic, so we knew that it would be as crowded as people said, but once off the bus, the feeling of an oppressive and too-dense crowd never really kicked in.  Not until the fireworks were over was it even crowded in a bad way, and even then it was still pretty orderly.

Favorite moments:

  • seeing the night sky as starry dark blue with sparse clouds instead of as an orange haze as it’s recently seemed in Xinzhuang
  • using a squat porta-john (most pleasantly fragrant portable toilet I’ve ever encountered)
  • walking right down the middle of Zhongxiao E. Road, a main thoroughfare
  • cramped and undoubtedly freezing belly dancers on the smallest stage in the world
  • crowd control in a 7-11 and my resulting grapey-vodka drink (I forgot how much I liked grape juice!)
  • waiting around and seeing the various ways people were occupying themselves
  • counting down the New Year in Chinese, which was disappointingly difficult and made me sympathize with the kindergarten kids I have made do this in the past
  • the excellent fireworks all around the 101 area and up and down the building itself
  • guarding my alley-peeing roommates and almost slipping off the curb playing with a sparkle-stick I had found on the way to said alley
  • witnessing an engagement or even extremely casual wedding go down on the median
  • walking 5 MRT stops but getting good seats and then taking an affordable and comfortable taxi home,  frequently recognizing what I thought would be an unfamiliar area

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Midday hags

Most days I walk to work, I see three old women right at the corner between the park and the school’s building.  They’re not charmingly old or old in a cute way; rather, they’re a special mix that can only be described as weird old.  I’ve been thinking a lot about Shakespeare right now even though I have no reason to, and it struck me the other day that they’re like the Weird Sisters, watching everything and commenting on it.  I don’t think they stir up as much mess as Macbeth’s witches did, but today some old men had taken their customary spot, and they looked about ready to cast some spells that way!

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Over the past few days, I have spent a lot of time with 4 and 5 year olds, and it’s very fascinating how people just don’t change from then on.  There are the tattletales (oh my goodness, are there a lot of tattletales in Chang Long’s 中班! — Teacher, he push and I say “Say sorry to me!” and he no say!), the quiet workers, the power-mad dictators, the helpful and friendly types, and my favorite: the heroes.

Last Monday, I observed this middle class for the second time.  Many of them remembered my name from a few weeks ago, when I observed them in preparation for my first kindergarten teaching ever, so I was touched.  A few of them even came up and asked me questions in the “run and practice with your friends” part of the class.  On Wednesday, I taught and observed (the teacher who was leaving on vacation wasn’t going until late in the evening, so she came in to give me even more ideas and to get paid for 2.5 more hours), and they were still little angels.  In fact, I spent a lot of time trying to smother laughter because they were just so cute playing dodgeball and freeze tag.  Freeze tag was especially hilarious because as soon as they were tagged, they stood spread-eagled and bawled “Help me!  Help me!” until someone came to free them.  I wish I’d taken video!

Freeze tag is not a game I ever thought I would use to assess character, but Bonnie is not just a bossy 5 year old; she’s a loyal little hero and tactical mastermind.  She saves all the kids, even the irritating ones like Nick.  She sizes up how close “It” is before she dives under someone’s legs, and if she might get caught, she rockets off and makes a second pass.  Most of the other kids only save friends, and some can’t even manage that.  They’re content to run and yell, which is not a bad thing, but the contrast is amusing.

Two children who should be carefully followed in the future because they will become powerful political forces (for good or evil) or petty middle-managers: Alice and Angel.  They were the little teachers in the two classes I observed on Monday, and the power shot straight to their heads!  To be fair, though, they don’t need the title to be bossy, as I’ve seen in following classes.  Some kids take the little teacher title and do nothing but lead the class to the bathroom, but those two micro-managed how the class was sitting and took initiative to propose games and activities.

This really makes me wonder how I was at this age.  I suspect I was pretty bossy which implies outgoing, but if so, what happened?!

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