Volunteering in Jinze village Arts and Education center 8/6/2017

As I breathed in the distinct smell of cheap chinese calligraphy ink, I knew that this was like no other classroom that I’ve been in. The woolen pads on the long rectangular tables are stained with dark splashes of ink; The computer monitor was askew and grimy with dust; and there was a line of neatly placed brushes on the desk before me. But one thing was surely different. It was my name, cut out from paper in big block characters, stuck on the forest green black board, right next to the word Teacher.

I hadn’t expected quite as many parents and children to show up. By 9:40, half of the medium sized classroom was filled people staring at the blackboard, right at me. I opened my mouth to tell that that we’ll begin promptly at 10, but those words got lost somewhere through the path from my voicebox to my lips. I could only manage a few small choking sounds that I disguised as coughs as my face turned the color of ham.

But despite my inability to stop my spinning head from nervousness, time crept on and soon, it was 10. I walked to the front of the class and introduced myself. 30 pairs of eyes stared at me. Trying my hardest to keep my voice steady and my words slow, I began the lesson I had planned.

IMG_0663“Okay, read aloud with me.” I projected, “In the moonlight, a little egg lay on a leaf.”

There was a moment of silence that seemed to stretch on for ten years. I could feel my breathing start to hitch and heart regain its pounding. Oh my god, no one is going to say anything. This is awkward. I groaned inside.

Then, a little girl opened her mouth, and everyone else joined in.

“In the moonlight, a little egg lay on a leaf.” the children said together.

“Great!” I let out a sigh of relief and my body starting loosening up from its cramped position. 


Before the hour was up, we read a picture book, described our interests, and played pictionary, I see, and Simon says. I was smiling at the end, my heart no longer threatening to burst out of my ribcages. The children were laughing and talking with each other. I got to know some of them pretty well and learned that they are smart and considerate kids.

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