Friday, September 29, 2006

The Breaking of the Fellowship

Tomorrow is Ema's last day. Ema is one of five TAs, and a fantastic person. Money can't buy the abuse she heaps on Duncan, nor the help she's given me and many others. It's thanks to her that I'm doing tai ji quan - her translation and interpretation made it possible. I'm going to miss her, but I know she'll do great out there. This job was a bit below her, but we've all appreciated everything she's done.

So we took her out to lunch today, and forced her to "'ganbe' ganbe" as Alistair dubbed it (downing beer in a toast). She was flushed by the end of the meal, but everyone had a great time. For some reason, very few people were photogenic. I blame the distraction that is abundant and good food.

Ema also helped me book my accommodation in Datong today. So that's taken care of. It's 140 Y per night (2 nights) - not too bad. Now I just need to get there, which I will be doing next Weds morning. Quite a few things on my to-do list once there, the most important of which are Yungang Caves and the Hanging Temple on Heng Shan, one of the five sacred mountains. Also, from Yungang Caves I can walk 15 mins to the Great Wall... and that portion is more or less untrafficked by tourists or locals. I'll also check out the Nine Dragon Screen, a few temples (one of the is considered one of the largest Buddhist temples in China) and a few other places. I'll be there from the 5th until the 7th. The rest of my holiday will be spent relaxing here in Tang Shan, doing tai ji quan, and cleaning my cesspool of a room from top to bottom.

Michelle has been on holiday this week, so I'm covering two of her classes: her intermediate business class and two of her beginner youngster classes. The business class was tonight, and went well. The case study they were doing was of a corporate HR department disgruntled as a result of layoffs. Quite funny. I drew a number of anecdotes, and the class (which included Ema) manoeuvred through the task of settling the issues that had arisen. It was quite fun.

Not sure how the young class will go. One of them is 2 hours, which is nearly unheard-of for a class of 7-9 year olds. But it should be fine. It's all about language-focused activities. My two VIPs (1-on-1s) are good. One is a middle-aged financial consultant (codename: Mr. Happy) for the brewery in Tang Shan that was acquired by Anheiser Bush, and the other is a 17-year-old who will be in Toronto for four years, studying. She was a little slow and tentative to start off with, but is now moving quite smoothly through the material. My other classes are status quo, though I'll be starting a new class soon - Nick's TB 2As (12 or 13 year olds) are finishing up on Sunday, so I get them as 2Bs a week later.

Anyhoo... all is well, though this "weekend" will be hell: we have tomorrow off (except for me... I have a VIP) so we can plan for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Monday becomes Saturday in terms of classes, and Tuesday becomes another Sunday. So it will be fairly intensive. Yet there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel: one week off. So yeah, that's that.


megan said...

Hey Patrick!

Finally getting around to checking your blog and catching up on your adventures- very cool! Sounds like you are adventuring well and working hard. I will definitely check in more often now : )

Take care! hugs, meg

Anonymous said...

Nice to see you're still meandering around the country, not taking it easy :)