Not only did the students in Ling Shui teach us dances, of course we taught them, too! Both in and out of the classroom they could benefit from our various cultural backgrounds and immense creativity and we had lots of fun together. During the first day, we taught different classes in English. In pairs, we visited three classrooms, introduced ourselves, sang songs and told the students about our countries. The students were aged 13 to 16 and very excited about meeting us overseas students. They already watched us from upstairs in the academic building when we arrived!
I taught together with Matthew, my co-year from Hong Kong. At first they asked us many questions about Hong Kong and Germany, e.g. if we had big sports cars in Hong Kong or famous historical buildings in Germany. For the later, I explained the story of the Berlin Wall in an extremely simplified way – namely without mentioning the war or politics. Matthew helped me to translate: “In the middle of the 20th century, Germany was separated into two independent Germany’s. The two were separated by a wall. Today Germany is re-united.” That was as simple as it could get. I remembered my China Week in Guanzhou in the beginning of my firstyear, when we had painted an orphanage’s walls. We drew a beautiful picture of the globe but had to completely re-do it, because we forgot to put China into the center of the world. Hence during teaching, we were careful about what to say and what not. When some of the students asked us for example for MSN or our profile in the Chinese version of Facebook, we had to explain to them, that the only methods they could reach us by were email and mail – without mentioning Facebook.
To practice their English lessons with them and make the lesson more creative and loose, Matthew and I decided to teach Head, shoulders, knees and toes to them. To enhance their understanding of the lyrics, we wrote them onto the blackboard first and let the students read the words out loud. Luckily, the students had already learned the body parts in class, so they understood the song very quickly and we could go on to dancing it with the movements. The students found it especially hilarious how we, their teachers for the lesson, embarrassed ourselves with weird moves on the stage. This was surely an immense change in their daily teaching schedule!
What I found especially intriguing was the children’s deep affection and admiration of us oversea, “exotic” students. Countless times was I told to be “very beautiful” by the students; Matthew was asked if he was a “real Chinese” because he was “so handsome”. After one of the lessons, one student asked Matthew and me for autographs – and the entire class of 30+ students rushed forwards with their English notebooks, stretching them into our faces and asking us to sign them with our names and some motivational words. Whenever we gave a notebook back, the children’s faces beamed with joy and they ran back to their seats, showing off our signatures to their peers who still waited in line in front of the teacher’s desk. To Matthew and me, the situation seemed a little surreal, but it made us very happy to see all those smiles.
At break time, some of the students asked us to take pictures with them, and our whole PW group took a picture with my and Matthew’s class. This gratitude for our teaching and sharing was truly overwhelming.