My last week of classes were simple: finals finished, I had some music loaded on my MP3 player to share, lyrics printed up, and I just went in, ready to talk. There were a lot of questions for me, questions about Europe and finding a job when I'm back home and the inevitable girlfriend (it's bound to happen some time, right?). We took a lot of photos, and I was glad that my truncated week included two classes that were a particular joy to teach this term.
These jokers ...
... and these characters.
As per usual, on Wednesday evening we attended the weekly English Corner, and for almost all the students there, it was their last time to see me. I didn't plan a big dramatic goodbye, but it kinda turned into one, as a lot gave me gifts, took (more) photos, started to tear up, and many worked up the guts to ask for a hug. (I ended just hugging everyone there ... it felt good.) It was a nice way to say goodbye, the week of classes to bring our time to a close, but always with the "oh but we can see each other at English Corner on Wednesday!" corollary to keep them a little chipper on their way out the door of our final class together. Only a handful could actually make it to English corner, but those who did were the students that I actually connected with in some way over the term, in or out of class, and so it was an effective if unintentional thinning of the so-long herd. So I wasn't having teary-eyed goodbyes to Student #16 of Class 7.3, but I was saying goodbye to Memento and David, Atlus and Amber, Hawaii and Maureen and Cassie and Violent and a whole lot more. It was personal, the students came because they wanted to, and that's what made it feel special.
I also did something that I hope will set a blazing inferno to whatever bridge connected me with BeiHua: I gave my students their final marks. Not the school's official bullshit final marks, but *my* marks, the real marks, the ones I kept and calculated based on their actual performance in class all term. Since the jackasses in charge just threw my grades out the window last term, with no regard for my assessment of the students or the student's performance, I got a little sneaky this term by making a photocopy of all of my grades, and handing them both their grades as well as the marked finals papers. With any luck, the powers that be at Bei Hua will be furious, and the students will either have enough leverage to keep my grades, or solid proof that those in charge of the school are crooks. Strong words, perhaps, but I'm never gonna see them again, so I don't care! In all seriousness, what will happen is this: BeiHua will continue to be oblivious to me and my actions, they will change the students grades, and despite having proof, the students will remain impotent. Sad that I can already see what will come, but that's Bei Hua.
On a lighter note, here's my little beer collection as per my leaving:
Those beers are: North Coast Brewing Company's Red Seal Ale, Rouge's Dead Guy Ale, Rouge's American Pale Ale, Harpoon IPA, Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, Duvel Belgian golden ale, another North Coast ale, this one the American Pale Ale, Bucanero, a cheapy Spanish lager, and finally, a Belgian white many may know, Hoegaarden. There are two big bottles of some unspectacular Russian beers hiding in the back there, too. I don't know why, but I am both proud and ashamed of this picture.
And here's Jenny taking a nap:
Aw, lookit 'er! She's exhausted from playing with a roll of tape, like a kitten with a ball of string!
What? This isn't Jilin ... is it? Cold blue skies, ice-capped green mountains ... where could Matthew be?! Tune in next time ...