End of Term – Reflections on a Year

After being wiped out by the long series of holidays, the end of term was coming up fast. So fast in fact, that we didn’t have long to rehearse for the end of term production. This time around it was Robin Hood, but not as you know it. Robin was flamboyant, while Maid Marian had hairy legs and an attitude problem (I was Maid Marian). Robin chased the Sherriff of Nottingham around the theatre while Benny Hill played, and the Village People were followers of Marian, who danced about her money problems to the tune of Abba. It was gloriously awful and as such the children loved it.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the only English production we had to do. I was coerced into re-writing “The Three Little Pigs” – as in, the version that Lulu the teacher found was so awful that I just had to re-write it for the sake of my sanity. It was still awful, but at least I wasn’t going to go insane due to the bad English and inconsistent plot. It was just the simplicity of the English and conversely its difficulty that caused me headaches.

The first order of service was to write the scripts and have us very experienced copy-editors check it for good English (spoiler: it wasn’t very good English even after we had at it). Then we had to have the children record the pieces. This caused me many a headache, mostly because you can only repeat a sentence so many times, for the kid to get it wrong the same way each time (no matter how many times you say it, Annie, “baby” is not pronounced “Beebee”!).

The kids cried. The teacher nearly cried. I cried laughing. While writing this, I have just re-listened to the recording of “The Three Little Pigs” and my kids are fantastic at English, but while recording, during the first couple of takes, “sticks” became “dicks” and “bricks” became “pricks”. And I have the maturity of a thirteen-year-old boy. I caught those however, and was able to coach the children through the pronunciation. However, I did not catch that I, the narrator, on at least one occasion, said, “The three little bigs…”. Yes, I’m embarrassed. And once I’d heard it once, I couldn’t unhear it. And I couldn’t re-record it, because putting the whole thing together had been many nights of unpaid overtime for the Chinese teachers. Re-inserting a bit of my speech would have been too much effort for them.

My other KB class had a confusing Aesop’s fables style story about a tiger and a fox. The fox convinced the tiger that he was the King of the Forest, because all the other animals were scared of the tiger, so the tiger ran away. There was also a weird subplot about an enormous radish that the fox, the rabbits and the horses were obsessed with. It was very confusing.

My BB class teamed up with KC5 for their performance, which meant Matt was roped into playing a very sad lion. I was the narrator again, which meant I didn’t have to go on stage in a lion costume. I just got to see two-year-olds be very cute in little lion costumes.

All the other classes did English play-type things to fairy tales. One class clearly ripped us off from last semester as they did Snow White, but I wasn’t involved in any of the other classes, so I just got to watch them at the end of year show.

And then in a flurry, it was the end of term. It was different to the last time, in that none of the kids (as far as I know) are leaving. There was no crying as I left, because they would all be back next term. It was just a goodbye and see you soon. Of course, if I had known that the coronavirus was lurking, I might have behaved differently, but I am no psychic and there was not even a hint of it yet in Shenzhen. It had barely left Wuhan at the time, and certainly wasn’t public knowledge.

But the end of term did signal the end of the year for me. But, as I have already stated in my previous posts, I have decided to stay another year. I have fallen in love with the children, and although the school leaves a little to be desired in the way of communication, it is a good place to work, and I couldn’t bear to leave yet. As my parents said in August “You’re not done with China yet.” And I’m not. It’s a beautiful country (current viruses (Viri? Virodes? Viruseseseses?) aside) and there is so much left to explore. Not to mention the proximity of other countries on my bucket list; Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Indonesia, etc. why not explore them while I’m here. I’m a lot closer and so it’s a lot cheaper to travel from China to each of these places.

I currently plan on staying until July 2021 (once I get back to the country after the virus has wrought its destruction) and seeing my current KB classes graduate before I come back to the UK to start my PGCE. China has taught me many things, and I have learned much culturally and personally about myself. And it has finally found me a career I want to pursue. I want to work with young children as a teacher. I will have my fill of the East then I will return to the UK and its glorious western food, and go back into education to become an educator myself.

But first, bring on another crazy adventure filled year in China! I’d say throw your worst at me, but as that is currently the coronavirus and I am currently in quarantine over it, you’ve already done that, so let’s try throwing your best at me instead!

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