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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Here we go again!

All right! The Great Firewall has once again blocked Blogger! Like the changing of the seasons, seeing this cyclical nonsense continue makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, glad to be "back home" in Zhanjiang again, no longer oppressed by the shackles of reality and the constant burden of unfettered access to the truth! It's nice to know that someone, somewhere in this confounding country, has arbitrarily done their job once again!

If they're going to prevent me from actually viewing my blog, you'd think they could at least unblock Wikipedia. Alas!

My classes this week have, in short, KICKED ASS. I cannot explain how happy I am now that these literature classes have actual life and participation! I've been using a lot of attention-grabbing materials in class to engage my students, and I really think it's paying off. Group work, power points, short videos (thanks YouTube), music, and a few other tricks have breathed new life into these once-stale literature classes. It feels great to come out of a class, a class where just last term I was threatening pop quizzes if they didn't start speaking, and be enthused and delighted by how engaged they were! I've even had to SPEED THROUGH and even SKIP some prepared material because the class discussion TOOK UP TOO MUCH TIME! I can't believe it either. I don't know if I'm beginning to find my pace as a teacher, or if the students are just comfortable enough with me now to really engage in class. Hell, it could just be American Literature and its modernity compared to the old crusty British Literature of last term. Whatever the cause, it's great, but I know I can't take all the credit.

About eleven days now until "the sibs" arrive in Hong Kong. It's an exciting time. I still have a lot of planning to do for the trip, for my classes while we're traveling, and all that, but I am getting so damn excited to see someone from home. It's hard to explain, really, a special kind of excitement you can only appreciate after a truly extended separation. At Villanova, I could (and did) drive south for an hour and I'd be "home." It's been almost nine months since I've seen or had "home."

As I look ahead to the rest of the term, I'm beginning to realize just how quickly all of this will happen. By the time I travel to Beijing with my siblings, it'll be April; by the time they go home, April will be half over. Come May, there's the Golden Week holiday, and when we get back from that, there's the rest of May and then class in June, and, well, I'm looking for flights home already, and June 28th looks like a difficult but doable departure date. If I can get my finals done and marked early, I can leave just as classes end, and I won't have to squander two and a half weeks waiting around to give exams and preparing my final marks. It'll take some organization and a lot of work, but if it means going home a few weeks earlier, well ...

And then there's The Big Decision: will I be coming back to China for another term? Will I be coming back to Zhanjiang? And if not, what's next, what's the next step?

You know me, I'm so bad with endings ...

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