I also picked up a lower-level reading class. I don't like complaining on this blog, but I will do so shamelessly now. This was a class of seven students, all from Sacred Heart. I’ve had plenty of other kids from that school, and, with exceptions, their English proficiency and their behavior seem to be inversely proportionate. Let me say this: those kids have exceptional English! They're usually among the most advanced students in class. True to form, five out of these seven were perfect villains. I only had them for six classes, but it felt like twelve days rather than twelve hours. I’ve never faced a higher concentration of rudeness, impatience, utter selfishness and social ineptitude before. Whiny, demanding brats who couldn't see that I was speaking to another student, or setting up a game or even in the middle of a class discussion, who sat there wailing at the top of their lungs and ordering me to drop everything and pay attention to them. And this includes my CE07 class, which could still very much hold its own in the high-stakes rounds of national immaturity championships! It made me marvel: this is the next generation? Such infantile behavior certainly isn't limited to Taiwan, either; I saw plenty of tantrums in the US, too, and not just from kids. Luckily I’ve become quite good at dealing with overgrown babies, and to their credit this class did improve their behavior somewhat during the six classes I had them. We read three books in that time: The Ugly Duckling, The Gingerbread Man, and The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse. Three favorites of mine, and they did seem to enjoy the stories quite a bit. In those moments when they were relatively content, they loved to chatter on about things in the book. That part was great fun.
We’ve been having unusually sunny, dry and warm weather. Doubtless the effects of global warming, but this particular change is hard to complain about. My sinus problems have been nonexistent and walking to work has been quite nice. The downside is that I’ve had such a full schedule these past few weeks that I’ve barely been able to enjoy it! Last Sunday, Jennifer invited me and Neil, our new teacher who has arrived from England, to join her and her family in Taipei for a bike ride. It was cool and windy, good biking weather. We rented the bikes for two hours and followed a trail along the river that ran between Danshui and Xindian, though we certainly didn’t make it to either city. That would have taken a whole day. My only complaint was the bike seat was designed for a male pelvis and it was far too low, so I was quite sore the next couple of days, but worth it to get outside and play again.
There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.
- Robert Louis Stevenson