Now that I have finally achieved VPN status, I can share some of my stories as well!
As my second year in Qufu, I slipped quite easily back into life here. I moved apartments from last year (as all the other teachers are fully and completely aware, I stored my things here over the summer) and am enjoying my new living space on the top floor of the Qushida apartments.
One thing very different from last year for me is I have so few classes. Last fall, I had 20 teaching hours, which is actually over the contract limit (for which they paid me extra). Now, I have only 8 teaching hours. I teach more advanced classes, which in theory requires more preparation, but in general I have a lot more free time than last year.
Therefore, I’m finding ways to keep myself occupied, such as this week I will be a judge with Max at an English speech contest at Qushida. The contest consists of a prepared speech (topic: what word has changed the world?), a short speech on a topic they get only a few minutes before, then a question from a judge. One night will be English majors, and another night non-English majors. The winner from each night will go on to a competition in Jinan, the capital of the province, and if they win there they would move on to Beijing. It is an ambitious goal, but I really respect the students for getting in front of a room full of strangers and making a speech in a second language.
Nick covered all of the stunning pictures from Taishan, so I will post a simple picture of some of our new Chinese friends, Connie and Crystal. Connie is a dean at Xingtan and in charge of the American crew over there, while Crystal is a translation teacher at Qushida.