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I hope I am a boar!

February 15, 2007

Doug & Liz Searles - China 

It's Leap Year in China.  That means there's an extra lunar month in the calendar, and Spring Festival is quite late this year, February 18.  It's a season, really, and large red lanterns already are going up all over town.  In January, the larger department stores cleared out the Christmas decorations in favor of the bright red and gold Spring Festival decorations.

This is the year of the Pig, or Boar.  Whatever you think of pigs or boars, their character, in China they are thought to be chivalrous, gallant, honest, tolerant, thirsty for knowledge, and well-informed.  However, they are also quick-tempered (while avoiding confrontation), and sometimes a bit naïve.

January is teacher-training workshop month for us, and we just completed work with a group of 81 teachers from minority rural areas of Sichuan.  What seems most helpful to workshop participants is sometimes hard to predict.  This time, the evaluation we prepared gleaned two main "most helpful activities":  stick figure drawing, and how to start your class.

The week of training is a drop in the bucket, of course, but it may liberate some teachers from some rigid assumptions about classroom management (teacher always in total control) and new successful ways English may be taught (communication over grammar/translation; fluency over accuracy).  Freeing for some, the transition is very scary and threatening for others.  For a teacher to "have fun" in front of his or her class and talk conversationally to students is quite a leap from the lofty, distant and disciplinary teachers of the past.  Putting away the English-Chinese dictionary and trying to just talk is equally daunting.

In this year of the Pig, or Boar, I guess we hope that our students think of us in boar-like terms.  Because we are westerners, we probably seem quick-tempered, and we certainly are culturally naïve in many ways.  We hope they find us honest, tolerant, and thirsty for knowledge.  In 2007, may we all be (crashing) boars!

Blessings on all your ministries!
Liz & Doug Searles in Chengdu, Sichuan, China

Doug and Elizabeth Searles work with the Sichuan TV and Radio University in Chengdu, China.  They both serve as English teachers.

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