Students and teachers alike are in the midst of finals, ever-adjusting schedules (as I've become quite used to in China), extra studying and grading/paperwork, and the heaviness that comes with preparing to say goodbye (probably harder for the graduates and for people like me than it is for returning students, except those that will miss me). But in the midst of all this focus, work, and emotion, I've been having a lot of fun lately. Been playing a lot of basketball and soccer, as usual, but here are few other "active" endeavors of late.
My friend and fellow teacher Ann taught her students (in Wuhan) to play softball, and they've really embraced it, meeting regularly to play. I joined them one weekend and had a blast. This is me hitting a homerun and taking my sweet time rounding the bases. I believe I went 7 for 7 with like three homeruns. Though to be fair, several of those were probably error-induced homeruns, and there was no outfield fence to stop the ball from rolling. Still...good for my ego to see the opposing team back up when I came to bat, as opposed to hearing the words every little leaguer dreads: "EEEEEasy Out!"
The first of two roller-skating excursions! It's been like a decade since I went roller-skating last, but it came back to me. This was a fun experience for our class. As this pictures shows, there was a lot of help and support given to one another. I didn't mind holding hands with Candi and her boyfriend (in this picture), but several boys and men I'd never met kept insisting I hold their hands. I know (or have decided to believe) they were just being nice, but I guess I just wasn't feeling the "couple skate" with random Chinese young men.
Some shots of us doing our best not to fall. The bottom left picture shows one of my, er, "admirers."
Fun in the bouncy house! I was so proud of Sarah and Candi. I saw the bouncy house and immediately wanted to go in, knowing it would be work to get any of my students to join. It is an opportunity to be childlike, a little crazy, disregarding what others think of you for the sake of uninhibited playfulness. And my students are often way to shy to do things like that, prefering to remain collected and cool rather than stand out. My often-eccentric personality has gotten me called crazy countless times this year, mostly in fun (though sometimes I can tell my students just don't know what to do with me). But I always encourage them to lighten up, take a risk, don't put so much stock in others' opinions. The result on this particular occassion? They had a blast, it seemed.
I also made a friend in the bouncy house. Her mother told one of my students that I was the first foreigner she'd ever interacted with. It's cool to think she'll never forget that experience, and will have such a positive impression of foreigners as being nice and friendly and warm and fun. Maybe a little insane.
Matt's Angels??? The guns were a nice alternative to the standard peace (or for them, "victory") sign they use in nearly every picture. Not that I'm against peace.
Dragon Boat Festival! Classes were canceled Mon-Wed this week for students to go home and celebrate with their families. Though, it seems most of my students' celebrations involved an only slightly-more-special-than-usual meal with family and perhaps watching the races on TV. However, Alex and Catherine--my students--and some of Alex's friends and I went to Dong Hu (East Lake) in Wuhan to watch a few races and enjoy the festivities.
Alex had some connections, so we got to play around in kayaks for a while, which was a blast. The highlight had to be Alex and his buddy capsizing a few minutes after this picture was taken.