A couple of thoughts after having completed my first week of work at Liangxiang High School:
The students are a delight. Much more disciplined and enthusiastic about their education than the American children I have dealt with. The school itself, a boarding school, is well funded and well equipped, and it is affiliated with Beijing Normal University. It seems a very prestigious place.
While many of the students seemed at first intimidated, they participated in speaking activities readily enough. Some are very enthusiastic about having a genuine foreigner with whom to practice their English, and at least one girl seems to have the bad taste and low standards to have developed a crush on me.
There are a large number of Uighur students in attendance. Perhaps a third of the student body, perhaps more. Enough that the vice principal, when we met before the beginning of term, asked me if I would have any difficulties dealing with Muslim students, or their dietary needs (?).
What I’m wondering, though, given what’s going on in Xinjiang these days is; are these students here because they have excelled academically and won their places at this school? Or is it part of a program to remove young Uighurs from their homes, and force them to assimilate into Han culture?
I’m not entirely sure I want to think about that too hard.
I teach eighteen classes per week, and it’s a lot like working at cram-school in many respects. I was told not to teach from the textbooks, but to let the children have fun and practice their English on me. In fact, I plan to sneak in as much learning as I can. Still.
I’ve got my work visa, and although I am paid half of what I had been making last year, my apartment is free, as are my mid-day meal at the school canteen. So I should be able to save a significant amount of money. In fact, based upon my hours, I’m actually getting a much better hourly wage than before.
The neighborhood is pleasant enough. There are many shops and eateries within walking distance of my flat, and as you’ve seen from my previously posted video, my current apartment is far larger and more comfortable than my old one-room cell.
With the time I have to myself each week, I should finally be able to get back to writing seriously, and as soon as my foot heals, I can also jump back into a more regular training schedule.
I kind of miss home, but then, what’s really left for me anymore? I shall just have to hope my health holds out for another five or ten years, and that I can put aside enough money so that I can eventually come home for my last couple of years.
If anything interesting happens, I’ll post about it.