Friday, June 17, 2005

Coming around the stretch 

Day six of our Sauerkraut training

Today we finished the first half of the training. All the cross-cultural stuff is now packed in the official binder. We ended up with an interesting little game where the group was split in two and each group was sent off into a separate room. Each group was taught a "culture" and then everyone took a turn going over into the other "culture" and trying to fit in. It was fascinating how we were able to adopt our own "culture" and then encounter serious frustration when attempting to cross over to the other. After the exercise, we gathered together to debrief. Each group was asked to describe the other, and surprisingly it was mostly negative. While it never got out of control, tempers and pride rose as we discussed our artificial differences. It put me in awe of those anthropologists, traders, explorers and plain ol' immigrants who actually have gone out to a people of an alien culture and attempted to interact with it without the benefit of books or training. It was a sobering and challenging experience.

Tomorrow starts the specific training for ESL, or TEFL, or whatever acronym you use to describe teaching English to someone who didn't grow up speaking it. The handful of folks who are not English teachers have received their official Sauerkraut certificates and decoder rings and will be shipping out either today or tomorrow morning.... except for me.

Technically, I'm not going overseas as an English teacher--I'm going as a child wrangler, cook and dishwasher. I'll start my official training tomorrow, since the usual kids' program isn't running. Noodles will be starting her ESL training, and I need to watch
das kinder. We'll do something fun, I'm sure. Once the kids' program resumes on Monday I have the choice of sitting in on the ESL classes or goofing off. The latter is tempting, the former seems a bit more responsible. Of course, since I'm not qualified to teach ESL in China, the courses may be as useful to me as sitting in the campus library and surfing the web all day. I'll have to think about this one. I almost wish I had known about it before hand so maybe I could have gone home early and done some painting.