Connecting Mandarin and English,
Denvy's First Day of Classes
(September 1, 2008) (return
become accustom to the constant flow of students as we walk the five-minute
stroll from the apartment to the university entrance, but when we turned
the corner and could see the entrance to the classroom building, and there
appears to be just the one, about 10 minutes before the first class of the
day and term, we were highly impressed with the flow of students. Unbelievable!
Maybe it might be comparable to everyone leaving a Beavers football but
there's nothing close to it on Western. But then if there are 20,000 students
and one classroom building, what can you expect?
All classrooms are the same on the inside:
seven rows of students, designed like a jumbo jet with two aisles, two seats
on the outsides of the aisles and five seats down the middle all very stationary
and fixed. Classroom layout comes with the flexibility and imagination of
the mind and certainly not with the movement of desks or chairs. There's
a little stage for the teacher, a lectern or pulpit behind which the teacher
may retreat and brittle chalk for the blackboard. High tech means that three
of the four ceiling fans are working and the windows open.
At ten minutes before the class was scheduled
to start, 34 out of 34 students were in their seats ready to go and so we
started. I wrote my name on the board and pronounced it and 34 voices chimed
in and repeated the same. Ah, yes, I'm not in America. I wrote my name on
the board in Chinese and they applauded. Yes, I like this place.
I finished my introduction and they
looked attentive. I asked if they had any questions and true to stories
and traditions, it seemed as everyone knew everything they wanted to know
about me. No questions. Being a writing classes I asked them to introduce
themselves through a brief writing assignment. Names come in three forms:
Chinese characters, Chinese names using the English alphabet called pinyin,
and they all have an English name either given to them by a former English
teacher or one that they chose themselves. One asked if I would help her
change her English name. Sure, why not? So how do we do this?
Everything seemed to go well. About 85 minutes
into class and five minutes before the end, the hallway filled with anything
but quiet students awaiting their next class evidenced through the open
louvers over the doors. The second class was a rerun of the first but perhaps
in faded pastels instead of the brilliant colors of the first class. Maybe
the instructor lost his pizzaz.
A note about Chinese basketball:
Across the walkway from
our appartment and our primary view to the north is a boys dorm.
Beyond that dorm are outdoor basketball courts, maybe twenty of
them, always filled with boys playing half court baskball. They
love their basketball. I suspect someday we're find the table tennis