Low expectations

Just when you thought you were scraping the bottom of the barrel.

I’d been told that my boxes would be being moved from the school yesterday at 9.15am, but true to form I’m still sitting around half an hour later and nothing has happened. A little man appears, disappears and reappears pulling a handcart. No, I’m not kidding. This is how the school intends my boxes (about 100kg or so) to be ferried to this excuse of a domicile. (Excuse of a domicile? sez you. Does that mean…?)

The little man insists on loading them all on the cart, although I tried to limit him to four. When he realises that the two of us aren’t going to get very far, I start removing boxes, but he still think five is OK. We pull the cart along and struggle to keep it under control as we’re coming down the lane (it slopes down to my gate). What I realise on the way back is that the handcart is probably 25kg to 30kg alone. We get the other three boxes and I help the worker return his cart to school.

By the end of that, I was knackered. I’m also rather annoyed that the school would be so, well, contemptuous as to expect that such medieval means should be used to bring my boxes to the flat. I can report that nothing got broken this time, and the boxes were treated comparatively well.

A little later, the little man and his friend brought me a cabinet which I rapidly filled with books and DVDs. I thought I had about a hundred books, but I appear to have somewhat more than that.

[08.08.14. This was also indicative of how cheap, mean and miserable the school was.]

Meet the imbeciles.

We then thought that we were going to have to split the classes ourselves with only a list of names in Chinese to work from, but in the end that was left to their form teacher. We were also told which classrooms we’d be using, and yesterday afternoon, Glen, Row and I came and had a look. I chose (from a distance) a classroom where several of the window frames are without panes, and a couple of others are broken. Apart from the basics, there’s nothing in the rooms – no TVs, no projectors, no air con. I’ve been in one other room that was marginally worse, but none of the windows were broken and at least it had central heating.

I had my first class this morning. I already knew that Class 13 would be the science class because of the preponderance of boys. A few seem to have a reasonable level of English, but I’m an old hand with such classes and can spot the vegetables a mile away. Of course, it didn’t help that we started teaching on Friday and there was no point to the class. But I feel that I’ve returned to the original Class 2 at LuHe. We’ll see if they’re as bad as Class 1, Senior 2 was in my final year there.

As Todd and I discovered, the information about our classrooms was inaccurate. I ended up in Class 13’s homeroom (?), and Todd was in a room opposite the loos.

I had the IELTS class mid afternoon. They’re also in a room opposite the loos – the incredibly stinky boys’ loos. They’re OK, but their reading needs some serious work. They told me they wanted practice, and that’s what they’re going to get.

After that, Class 14, the arts class, which is mostly girls. A much nicer class to teach. You can actually have some fun with them. There was one very large boy called Alexander. I said, “He’s most of Class 14”, which got a laugh. If I’d tried that with Class 13, they would’ve looked blankly at me and then carried on chatting.

As for the rooms, they merely show how much the school values the foreign teachers and the classes that use those rooms.

After two classes one after the other this afternoon, I’m feeling rather exhausted. I think the humidity is sapping for a start. As Glen said to me later, his voice was almost giving out, and so was mine.

[08.08.14. In the main, our pupils in Fuzhou were privileged and thick. In fact, I suspect that some of them would quite possibly have been assessed as having learning difficulties. None of the classes had anything to recommend them. The stinky loos weren’t stinky by chance because the school deliberately turned off the water to them.]

Early one morning just as the sun was rising.

We had to get up horribly early this morning and introduce ourselves to the school at the start-of-term ceremony. Fortunately for us, it was all over promptly, and we were then allowed to leave.

Now I’m wired.

As you may have noted above, I talked about “this excuse of a domicile” as if I was in the flat. Actually, I am in the flat, having had Internet access plumbed in this afternoon. Hurrah! It’s all paid up for a year and the rate is much more reasonable than what the previous occupant was paying. And they’ve used the existing ethernet connection.

I’m off surfing.


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