What ARE you doing?

Maria Niechwiadowicz


So, I mentioned that last semester was my last semester teaching full-time at Ningxia Shifan Xueyuan. We are now into Week 3 and I’m sure you have been wondering – “What the heck are you doing?” Let me give you the updates –

Arnold (my GMF teammate) and I were tasked to plan and teach a Interpretation Skills class. This 6-week course that we are designing is for the new class of translation majors in the department, about 30 freshman students. The purpose is to build their confidence in speaking/interpreting in English but also to give them problem-solving techniques. This is actually quite ingenious on the part of our department because it utilizes Arnold and I’s skills, respectively. When we teach class together, I am in charge of the technique training – vocalization, analyzing expression, building confident body language, etc. On the other hand, Arnold’s background in languages makes him a perfect teacher to present the skills needed to problem solve while interpreting.

The department is also expecting both Arnold & I to give lectures on Western and/or American culture. Timings TBD.

Sing It Workshops a.k.a office activities once a week with Miss Niech continue as normal. :)

In the meantime, my life is not planned more than 5 days in advance! :) Activities have been springing up left and right, and I expect that to continue.

For example, week 1 we find out that the school will be hosting a performance for Women’s Day, March 8th, and the foreign teachers may be invited to participate in the departmental contribution. A few days later I get a call – turns out that I have been assigned to plan and organize such performance, meaning I am in charge of the English department performance that would be presented in the school-wide event. Though I was totally caught off guard, I have to admit it was incredibly thrilling. All of a sudden I had a challenge – 5 days to plan and rehearse a performance of my choice and with who-knows-who participating. After much deliberation I had it – “Holding Out for a Hero” by Jennifer Saunders. Bam!

For the next 4 days I rehearsed with 9 energetic, female teachers from the department, and boy, did we have fun! I’ve never seen anyone get so excited over ‘step-touch-step-touch!’ I learned a lot from these women. None of them were dancers, none of them had much experience, but they were filled with energy and an eagerness to learn. By the end of those 4 days, they nailed the ‘step-touches.’ We were united as women, and the women held a new confidence to get on that stage. What a blessing to be a part of!

Once again I think, “Really, God? You’re funny, you know that?” Just another example of how my skills and gifts have been used at this school and how the people here are transforming me.

My plane ticket as been booked – April 30th – and I eagerly await more moments to be challenged, used, and transformed up until my final day in Guyuan.

Photo Credit: Huang laoshi