Thursday, July 23, 2009

Twin girls

This summer, I am teaching three different Chinese classes. One is on Saturday, one on Sunday, and the other class I meet it everyday from Monday to Friday. In my weekday class, there are twin girls. They are six years old, both of them having short hair and wearing glasses, and they are identical. They are sooooo cute and sweet, always sitting close to me, asking me questions. One day, I gave a cookie to the old sister for her answered a difficult question. Later, she asked me, “Teacher, Can I eat the cookie now?” After I said yes, she gladly said, “My sister and I are eating it now.” When I hear they calling “Teacher, Teacher”, I feel my heart is drunk.

Boys are always more difficult to deal with. To tell the truth, I like girls more than boys. Even in the real world, I feel women are generally kinder than men. Nevertheless, I never have a detesting emotion towards any kids. They are merely little kids, who are not yet polluted by the human world. The troublemaker boy in my class is still pure.

Except the teaching hours, I have to spend at least one and half hours everyday to prepare the tomorrow class, which is unpaid. Doing this job makes me rethink people’s common attitude towards job. For the most people, the initial and essential part of working is to earn salary. However, a good job bring a person getting connect to the society. It provides the opportunity for the individual to observe and offer assistance to other people’s lives. When a person gradually gets more and more involving in the society, the initial purpose, earning money, turns to be less important. What you gaining from the job besides the money enriches your spiritual life, which makes you really enjoy your life and this world.

By understanding this, when I do the teaching job, I don’t strictly require the fairness of the time I have input and the money I received. I just try my best to do the very thing in my hand in the present. I expect any bonus neither soon nor in the distant future. Can you understand the idea that doing a thing for no purpose? If I have to tell a reason, it should be enjoy doing a thing itself, the pay is already over there.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Teach and self-study pinyin

In the summer week day school, I am teaching first grade students. In the past, I taught high grades only. The main focus of the first grade is Pinyin. Be honestly, I don’t have sufficient knowledge of Pinyin. I cannot distinguish zh ch sh and z c s, en in and eng ing. Also, in Chinese, there are four tones for every character. My students usually have problems about the tone. I depend on the dictionary to sure my judgment of the tone as well. So, this teaching period turn to be a time of self-study pinyin for me. Nevertheless, unlike children, adults often have better comprehensive capacity. I believe I can catch up in a short period if I really study. The process is hard and time-consumed, but I think it is worthy to do. If I don’t teach Chinese and pinyin, I may never have a strong enough motivation to study pinyin in my whole life.

My students are most in the age range about 5-8. They are so cute. However, it doesn’t produce good effect that I praise and hug them too much. By doing that, they will be quickly spoiled. They are all smart enough to watch the teacher’s eyes and face expression in order to make a decision to obey or disobey. If you cannot control them in the beginning, they will never listen to the teacher anymore, and play and talk throughout in the class. I am deeply and deeply understanding why some teacher who are so strict. They are forced to do that for the students’ sake. Yesterday was my first day of the week school class. There are 15 children. In the past, I had no more than 12 in one class. Yesterday, to control the situation, I had to speak very loudly and even yelling in order to get their attention. I totally dislike that. I wonder I may lose my voice, the worst thing for a teacher. I believe I can find out a better way to teach small kids gradually.

I met my student Zachary the second time yesterday morning. We did the review of materials of our first class. For this class, I prepared a few topics, so we went though them one by one. How to call a taxi, ask directions, introduce oneself, talk about weather. At the last, we talked about food. Zachary knew the term of vegetarian in Chinese. I introduce him the opposite word, meat-eater in Chinese. I don’t know if there is a similar term in English. I asked him that how many vegetarians in his friend circle. He answered that he knew none vegetarian. I was laughing, saying, “I love to eat meat, too.” Sorry Kyoko, I know your husband and you are vegetarians. You may feel disgust to imagine someone gobbling meats.

I told Zachary I am reading Gandhi’s autobiography lately. Gandhi was a strict vegetarian, and in his later life, he ate fruits and nuts only. Zachary said he knew this story. I am attracted by Gandhi's book and wish I have more time to discuss it. Zachary and I will meet again this Thursday.

Monday, July 13, 2009

$35 per hour

It is 1 pm in the noon. I am going to see my student one hour late in a nearby coffee house. I am feeling so nervous now. This is my first time to tutor a stranger. I don’t the person’s gender, race, personalities, or any other information. What I know is that he or she is a college student who is going to go to China next month. For this reason, he or she asks me to tutor him/her Chinese.

He or she will pay $35 per hour although I can only get 60% of the amount. I usually earn the minimum wage in this country, and I am really not used to such a high pay. I wonder how much effort I must offer in order to balance the whole event.

I complained this to my mother when I called her a few days ago. Why those tutors in that tutoring site raise tutoring price in such a high level? Don’t they understand high price implies high quality and responsibility? In my opinion, $12-15 is reasonable price.

However, my mother disagreed with my opinion. She thought I should not look down myself. “You should have the confidence that you work is worth 35 dollars.” Woo, how can I have such a kind of confidence if I have been continuing to struggle for a living many years. I have worked for a wage as lower as $4 per hour and kept working for the wage of $5 per hour many months. Is it reasonable asking me to feel comfortable and easy to take a $35 per hour job? I have not a princess, and never.

When after my tutoring, I’ll come back to tell you how things going on. Bye, Pink Tear!

Three hours later…

I finished my tutoring and came back home now. The guy came half hour late, but I don’t blame him for that. I stay at the nearby coffee house, paying no transportation fee and time, but he drove to come to me. He is a nice guy. What he wants is to focus on conversations of daily life. I think he was satisfied by today’s tutoring and the place I chose. We made the deal to go on to meet next Monday and Thursday. I really earned a salary rate as $35/hour. It is amazing.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Help Candy to prepare GED test

I helped Candy to prepare GED test yesterday. After knowing me free today, she asked me coming to the Flushing public library again the next day to help her. I am happy to do this for her. Today, I met her in the noon. We had Korean noodles as lunch. Every time when I have meal with Candy together, she always can introduce new restaurants to me. It is always nice to try new foods.

After lunch, we went the library to study. There are five sections of GED test, including writing, reading, social science, science, and mathematics. The writing part is the toughest one. Candy has a friend who took the test recently. She passed all the sections except the writing part. Except mathematics, Candy feels difficult on social science and science too. For example, today we encountered one question asking the idea that the fittest beings will be survival but the weak beings will die out belongs to which school of thought. I knew it is the key idea of Social Darwinism. This is a test for general knowledge. However, for people lacking of it, it is hard to take a guess in the exam. Unfortunately, it can only be a gradually cumulate way to gain this kind of knowledge, but no shortcut to get a sudden improvement.

There are always benefits of being a volunteer. If I have not offered my help to Candy, I probably will never know the informant of GED test. I am also going to tutor Barry in Chinese soon. Yesterday, I presented my honor certificate to Barry. My purpose is to prove my quality in Chinese. I don’t care that people may think I am showing off, but I believe my action is necessary to provide additional confidence to Barry. Barry told me he would email me when he is ready to study with me. I like to do that because from tutoring him, I will gain more tutoring experience, which ultimately benefits myself.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Summer reading

I am reading Gandhi’s autobiography lately. In the passed spring semester, I took the Early Indian history course by Professor Sen. Professor Sen is very knowledgeable Indian and friendly to me. I enjoyed his class very much. When I found he would teach a graduate course about Gandhi and non-violence next semester, I was attracted by this topic immediately. At the end of the spring class, I asked him to recommend a few book for me in summer reading ahead for this course. He suggested me to read Gandhi’s autobiography, The Story of My Experiments with Truth.

So far, I have already finished more than half of this book. I like it very much. The language of this book is plain. I think this attribute excellently matches Gandhi’s lifestyle, spirit, and philosophy. In this book, Gandhi portrayed his private life very briefly, but his emphasis was on how to serve the public. Gandhi was open-minded. He never tired to contact with variety of people to help him in public work. It is not because Gandhi himself had anything special, but what he did for others making him saintly. I quoted many good expressions of him on my facebook page for record. Inspiring by this excellent book, I am planning to read a few more famous books after I finish this one.

Reading New York Times articles is another summer plan for me. I try to everyday reading one. There are double benefits by doing this. First, when I read the article, I read it loudly. If I encounter unknown vocabulary, I check the dictionary to find out both the definition and pronunciation of the word. By doing this, I corrected a number of mispronounced words. Second, through reading newspapers, I become more familiar about the last happenings in the world.

Today I read an article that is about President Obama visiting Russia. I couldn’t fight out how to pronounce Russian president’s name. When I met my tutor Barry this afternoon in Flushing, I conducted him this question. After told me the correct pronounce, Barry mentioned that even President Obama could not pronounce this name. Can you believe that?

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Chinese Tutor

Barry asked me if I could tutor him Chinese this summer. He said he’d like I read to him, and also listen to his reading and correct him, for which he couldn’t do alone. He said he had sought Chinese tutors online. Although he didn’t feel their charge high, he prefers study with me since we know each other well. It is my pleasure I can do something for him.

Later, when I recalled about his words, I told myself that why I am not to be a Chinese tutor? I have already gained my BA in East Asian Studies with honor in Chinese, and I also have around one year Chinese teacher experience. After done some Internet search, I successfully registered to be a Chinese tutor in a website. Although there are many Chinese wanting to tutor but seldom somebody seeking a tutor, I still expect to get a tutoring job. So far, I have gotten three potential tutoring opportunities. The last person had already deposited his/her credit care number but finally being lost contact. I didn’t know what’s happened within the process and had no way to find out the real reason. I couldn’t deny my disappointment about it, but it was really not strong. If somebody approached, I have confidence that somebody else will come soon or late. I am waiting for the future success.