One of the nicer things about having a teaching job is the holidays. This is true in the States, in China, probably all over the world. Kids get vacation, and so do teachers.
This is my last week teaching this semester. There has been some drama over the past weeks regarding my AP students, and whether or not they will sit the AP exams in May of this year. The AP exams, as American readers probably know, are quite difficult. AP classes are the equivalent of college level work, and are given in subjects like Literature, History, Physics, Calculus, Spanish, Psychology, and Art. I myself, as a high school student, went to a school that required several AP courses in order to graduate. They weren’t easy for me, an American student, so you can imagine my students, who are taking the exams in a second language, find the exams doubly difficult. The AP class that I teach, English Language and Composition, is very strongly rooted in American culture, which makes the tasks even harder. Not only do they have to grasp literary concepts (remember high school English? Metaphor and allusion and personification an all that great stuff?), but they also have to, for example, write a synthesis essay arguing for or against removing “under God” from the pledge of allegiance. Not too terribly hard for most of us, but considering my students don’t even know what the pledge of allegiance is, much less why it has the phrase “under God” in it, for my students, we’re talking about a near impossible task. So I wasn’t surprised when a lot of my students decided to bypass the actual AP exam, but the school administration sure was! Drama ensued. Sigh.
But that’s all behind us now, and after this week of final exams (today I proctored the computer science exam of all things …), we’re off for a good month! Chinese New Year is on January 26th, and after that we plan to head down to Hainan (our original plans to go back to Kunming were changed after we pretty much decided we’d be moving back to Kunming come June). Now Hainan is a resort island, sort of China’s answer to Hawaii, but not nearly as nice. I’m certainly not expecting untouched beaches or any sort of “authentic” cultural experience. In fact, a lot of expats on various China/travel forums can be a bit snobbish about Hainan, what with its reputation as a haven for Russians and Northern Chinese winter refugees . But I don’t care. It has been at least 6 years since I’ve set foot on the beach, and for someone who grew up on the ocean, that’s practically a lifetime. My husband has in fact never ever set foot on the beach, and so I’m looking forward to introducing him to the joys of ocean swimming (it is reportedly warm enough to do so) and sand castles and sunbathing. It will be so nice to get away from frigid Beijing (although it still hasn’t snowed). I’ve reserved us a room at a nice bed and breakfast and am looking forward to just relaxing on the beach for a week and doing a whole lot of nothing.
But we’ve got Spring Festival to get through first! More on that to come …