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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Of Garlic and Visitors

Garlic. It's good for you, it makes virtually everything taste better, and I've been eating a hell of a lot of it these days. How much? Today Kevin Clancy, the Big Boss of the Maryknoll teaching "volunteers" in China, had lunch with Kevin, James, Jim, and myself, and over a simple bowl of noodles, I was able to consume five raw cloves of fresh garlic.

That's five cloves, in one sitting. And raw: I peel the cloves and nibble a little bit off to chew with my food. I should probably chew more gum.

Kevin has been up here checking in on us Dong Bei'ers (Northeasterners). He's here to make sure we're doing our job, but also making sure we're being taken care of by our school, and to just check up on Maryknoll's people in general. Kevin taught four years in Zhanjiang (where I taught last year, for those keep score at home), and I was lucky enough to know some of the very people he taught with before he transitioned into a more official role in Hong Kong. Kevin's insight and advice has been invaluable to me personally and Maryknoll teachers generally, so it's been great having him up here in the north. Kevin's also getting married in a month, to Kaishan "Snow White" Kong, and if I can, I'll be attempting to travel to Guangzhou for the wedding.

Anyway, Kevin came to sit in on one of my classes today, and it was the dreaded "crashing blood sugar levels" post-lunch 1:30 class.

Fortunately, Kevin's mere presence seemed to perk everyone up, and as he and I walked from group to chattering group and engaged the students in a discussion of the story we had just heard, I was really happy that my students, shy as they are, perked up just when they did. Christ knows they didn't keep that energy up for the second half of class (when Kevin was off visiting another teacher), but it was great to see them talking and genuinely discussing things in English when normally they lapse all too easily into Chinese. I realize now that the class I had prepared was a bit too free-talk heavy, and the nebulous structure saw interest wane toward the end. They were probably sore that I didn't teach them a song like I promised, too.

I feel bad that October is already half over, and there have been scant few updates on my blog of late. I've been doing more Chinese, more reading, more everything, and the blog just kinda tends to get pushed back. Oh well. Here's to "more to come."

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