Today was my last day of lectures for the semester. Weird. I feel like I just stopped working overtime last week and all of a sudden the semester is over. This week has been a really great experience for me because I finally realized that yes, my students do like me and they will indeed miss me next semester.
My last class was at 3 p.m. today and only ten people showed up in the classroom. One of the girls came up to me and nervously said, "Umm, Janae we should have class outside today, it is so beautiful out and you know, we would pay extra close attention!" I could tell she was up to something because she was really nervous.
I agreed, and the ten of us walked out into the 60-degree, late afternoon sunshine. Once I got to the lake in the middle of campus, I noticed the other two-thirds of my class waiting patiently for me. When I was finally close enough, the entire class erupted into a cheer wishing me a Merry Christmas and thanking me for being their teacher. I only had to talk to them for ten minutes about their final exam before two of the students took over and directed class. They planned activities and games because they wanted to make sure their last class was "unforgettable." We took took a lot of photos and they gave me at least 25 hugs before I left to get on the bus.
"Will you go home to your family for Christmas?" on of my girls asked me. "No, I'll be spending my first Christmas away from my family this year."
"Ohhh, that's sad. Don't be worried though, we will be your family."
All week long Alex and I have heard sentiments like that from students on campus. At English corner, the giddy freshman gave us random Chinese home decor goods for a Christmas present and our department, who we have worked so hard to try figure out and earn their respect, has been treating us exceptionally well.
It's nice to actually feel like I did some good the past two months.
Alex and I still don't have set Christmas plans, most of the restaurants here have special Christmas menus that run $80-$300USD, which is expensive even by American standards. Some places offer special couple discounts, so we might rock that. Regardless of what we do, it will certainly be a quiet Christmas.
This week also brought some new random jobs. I will be tutoring a 14-year old who wants to study in Canada each Sunday, which will either be awesome or very frustrating. My second job (I'm really excited for this one) is working for an international company (based in Chicago) that is having some intercultural communication troubles. The American and Chinese employees are having a difficult time relating to one another. Beginning next week, I will go to the company for two lunchtime seminars each week to help the Chinese employees understand American values and teach them professional communication. I found out about the job through a teacher at school, and this is something I've thought about trying to etch out a career in.
Here's to hoping I know what I'm doing and they like me. I think it could be a really fun learning experience. Never ever did I think I would put my degree to use in real life, especially the dense theoretical stuff, I guess NDSU set me up well.
Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, but it might as well be any other day at work. I am finishing the last of the job interviews and posting final grades. And I will most likely spend most of my day trying really hard to forget the date on the calendar. Dare I say I feel a little bit bah-humbugy?