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« Peking Duck | Main | Culture Shock »

Week 2 

Hi Adria.

Hope by now you have heard from the school and have an idea of your schedule.  It’s frustrating in a way, as you say, but oh, all that time to pursue other activities.

Such appreciative parents!  I’m sure their gratitude makes all your hard work worthwhile.  You must remember some of what they said to you. You also wrote that you didn’t realize you had built up such a relationship, but they were invited to your daughter’s wedding, right? So they are certainly more than casual acquaintances.  

Oh yes, Peking duck. When I lived in Hong Kong and went out with my Chinese friends, it was all about eating. Whatever activity we were taking part in, food was involved at some point. I love eating with chopsticks as one can only pick up morsels. It seems more civilized than watching people stack as much food on a fork as possible and then shovelling it all in. Westerners seem to have a hard time with the concept of sharing food though.  We seem to be afraid of not getting our fair share. It is never like that when eating with Chinese friends. They make sure the guest has plenty and there is always more than enough for everyone. And no one mentions money after the meal, right? The bill appears. It’s paid with someone’s credit card and before leaving the restaurant everyone has paid back his/her share. My friends could not understand our habit of dividing up the bill (in open view of other patrons), and passing money around.

The ‘Phlox House’ really does seem inhabited by wealthy eccentrics in a fairy tale.  Your whole description was fascinating – a surreal canvas: The Mother, standing at the door, The Child, an ephemeral character in white, The Brother, almost sinister with his intense stare and The Madonna, hiding from view. Such a different reality from many of my ‘clients’ who live on the streets in downtown Toronto or in group homes.  Interesting dichotomy.

I have to say that my classes are quite good – a grade ten with several ESL students who are clever and learn quickly.  But most of them need to work to support themselves and help out the family, so absenteeism is an increasing problem.  One of the boys, one of the luckier ones, came here from Mexico last year, with both parents.  He was telling me that they arrived in the fall and his mother photographed almost every tree she saw.  He said there was no stopping her; she was so overwhelmed by the beauty of the changing colours.

At the end of the day, I was in the office and one of the students, a boy whom I had chastised earlier about missing so many classes so early in the term (who just kept saying sorry) asked if he could help by carrying the box of books I was holding.  He proceeded to take it from me and bring it all the way to the portable.  How sweet is that?

My bag is full of tests to correct. Ugh. The bane of English teachers.  As the kids say don’t give us so much work and then you won’t have so much to correct.  Good thinking. 

It is unfortunate about next weekend, Adria.  As I said, I may have to go to Montreal because my Aunt, the smaller of the two small women you met when we had breakfast together at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel, is now in long-term care and will probably never return to her apartment. Isn’t that sad? I now have no one left in Montreal with whom to stay when I visit.  It is truly the end of an era and very difficult to take it all in.

Blue Sarah

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