Happy Teacher’s Day!

12 09 2009

On Wednesday, I got a text message from Chris (Argentinian who also teaches English here – maybe I need to have a blog with a cast of characters? I’ll think about it … ) saying he had my passport and a ticket for some sort of dinner we were invited to. He had my passport because the Foreign Affairs Office had asked us to turn in our passports so they could be stamped with our foreign expert
certificates, thus making us legal to teach and be in China beyond the terms of our initial visas. So when Chris went into the Foreign Affairs Office, they gave him all the passports of everyone on the 7th floor of the dorms. I went by his room on Thursday, since we now stay at the new apartment, and picked up my passport and the ticket. Well, the passport still doesn’t have a foreign expert certificate. So why they took all of them for a few days is a great question that probably won’t be answered. You would think that after years and years of having foreign teachers and being a very well-respected school, it wouldn’t be such an ordeal to get all the teachers licensed, but as with everything here, you have to say “That’s China!” and not worry about it – I’m sure the certificate will turn up at some random time when no one expects it. Anyway, the passport thing is not the focus of this blog, so we’ll move on.
The ticket was for a dinner in celebration of Teacher’s Day, which was Thursday. On Happy Teacher’s Day, the students give gifts to their teachers in appreciation. As a new teacher, I didn’t expect much, though I got some Hershey’s Kisses, some origami birds and a couple creatively decorated messages (one wrapped around a calligraphy brush, which said something along the lines of “Dear Jeremiah. We like you. We hope you enjoy China very much”) and another one inside a small bottle. Missy cleaned up with gifts from her school, but I’ll let her talk about that in a future blog. I put all my gifts on my Junior 1 desk in the office (I have two desks in two offices, since I teach Junior 1 and Junior 2 – basically 6th and 7th grade). So the school was having a Teacher’s Day dinner at some fancy-schmancy hotel in the Xinjekou area of Nanjing (Sort of like Nanjing’s equivalent of Beverly Hills). They didn’t give Missy a ticket, and when I asked, they looked at me like I was crazy, something that they also tend to do when I ask questions they CAN answer, but I digress. So initially we were planning on me just going to the dinner with the other NFLS teachers and meeting Missy later on. However, we discovered that Chris had been given an extra ticket – or someone had never picked theirs up, since he was given all the tickets and passports. So he gave Missy the extra, since NFLS has quite a few foreign teachers, and teachers from the Grand Canadian Academy on campus (a separate school with an office in the back near the Chinese teachers’ dorm) were invited as well, so we knew she could get in, even though it was “NFLS employees only.” One thing you learn quickly in China is that they will never ask a question that would cause someone to lose face – unless they’re absolutely positive that person is doing something wrong.
So Friday arrived, and we took the bus down to the hotel, a relatively big ordeal, since all the teachers from the seventh floor went together, and it’s always tough to get people organized and moving, especially when they’re all 22-24. We’re so old. Anyway, the dinner was a buffet, and it was super-nice. The food ranged from finger food like a cheese plate and so on, to salad, to Chinese entrees (Crab claws in red curry sauce – tasty, but difficult to eat) to a grill where fresh meat was fried, and so on, and so on. There wasn’t a lot of veggie food for Missy, but she dug up some fruit pizza and had some cheese and there was a boatload of desserts as well. In addition, they had endless mugs of Budweiser (yes, Budweiser) on tap as well as some Haagen Das ice cream (or at least ice cream in Haagen Das containers). For some reason, that spelling looks totally wrong. Maybe it is. Anyway … we tried a bunch of different food. My personal favorites were the pork fried rice, some beef brisket in yellow curry, and chicken wrapped in some kind of leaf. Tasty food. And free! We sat with Matthieu, a French teacher at the school and Zephyr, the American teacher who went with us to the football match. Afterward, a group of us went to Behind The Wall, the Mexican place we tried which Missy may or may not have blogged about – if she didn’t, I’ll do an update on that as well – and had a glass of Sangria with some other teachers. All in all it was a fun time, though I was disappointed to not see any of my Chinese English teachers there. Were they not even invited? More later…