Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Holiday Road

China has got some whacky ideas concerning scheduling (there is currently a big debate about the definition of overtime and "24 hours a week" around my office) but the schools do follow a understandable two-semester system with equally long breaks in the winter and summer. The winter break, which we're on right now, is long because it has to accomodate Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) which no one ever seems to know when its going to happen till a month before. And as it goes on for 15 days they need enough elbow room to swing it.

But the necessity to improve ones worth is unceasing in China, what with so many people and not so many jobs or spots in schools. So even if a kid gets a vacation from public school he probably gets a boat load of hours at other extracurricular schools during the vacation time. School like mine.

We call these classes "camp," but don't think it to be all macaroni pictures and panty raids. In fact, its just regular class at an irregular time. But luckily for the teenaged students, we do take them out of Harbin for a few nights to a 'holiday house.'

Spending time with these teenagers really demonstrated some major contrasts between childhood in China and back in the States. The activities that really grabbed these kids would not only have seemed commonplace to my eyes when I was that aged but probably blase if not flat out lame. Surprisingly enough, the 20-something TAs had just as much fun as the teenagers.

For me it was just a nice break from the city. I got to see the stars, experience cold in the neighborhood of -30F, get some swimming and bowling in, and just get a change of scenery. They had a ski hill too, but it was about as large as my neighbor's front yard back in Byfield where we used to sled as kids. Certainly not a ski hill.

Again, I'd write more but I'm pressed for time. I'll give a preview of the upcoming travel tonight.


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