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And then there were 5

I've been listening to music on Youtube all evening and forgot about posting. So a short and shabby one, because I'm going to bed.

Yesterday Joe and I had dinner with Queen and Sirena. I tried to encourage them to read some books in their Spring holiday. Neither of them want to, but they want to open their own English school, which is what every other Chinese person who wants to make a fast buck wants to do at the moment. I said they could borrow some of mine because I know they don't have suitable ones for students, who are expected to read stuff like Pride and Prejudice or the Old Git and the Sea, which they are not ready for or interested in. I was quite surprised when they decided to come round later, of their own accord, and borrow a couple. Especially as it was getting late. But then i guess 'encourage' is not the word. I simply went for a wander round my own enthusiasm.

Queen took Mr Tickle and Sirena another children't book called Stone Soup. She giggled with joy when she saw the pictures, which a Westerner would not bat an eyelid at. Seriously, these folks are really starved of culture compared to us but there are a billion Chinese right now who are prepared to swear before a statue of Chairman Mao that China has an unbelievably rich culture.

Today Kangping came around and gave me a toffee lollypop. Then she finished her cleaning and told me she wouldn't do it anymore because she has no time. That might be true but it's more likely that some authority figure has put a stop to the arrangement. Joe says that what happened in Batou.

Maybe I don't talk about it enough but we are living in a semi-correctional facility. They fixed the back door a while ago and now we ARE locked in at night. There are more security cameras than you would guess around our building, our land line phones appear to be bugged (they have that strange echo bugged phones have), as is our internet activity, and of course the students act as spies too. I teased Suzy about it the other day. She asks me how my lessons are going and I say you know and she says actually she doesn't then admits later she does. I actually approve of the surveillance, because I can drop some hints about etiquette on the phone, for instance.

Anyways, one of us is leaving at the end of the semester. Stay tuned to find out whom.

Posted by safemouse 08:01 Archived in China

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A lot of really keen sophomores this year have asked me to recommend some 'great books' for them. But as a continuation of what you say, it's so hard for me to do so, not so much due to the difficulty of the words per se, but due to the cultural awareness required to really understand themes or plot elements that we as Westerners almost have 'hard-wired' into us from adolescence or even earlier. So 'Of Mice and Men' is a wonderful simple tale, but can you really read it without a decent understanding of the Depression? As is 'Fiesta' by Hemingway or 'The Great Gatsby' but can you appreciate anything without an idea of the Jazz Age? Really one needs an idea of the Enlightenment to appreciate Pride and Prejudice but finally its a love story and what you end up doing is diluting the deeper messages and hoping they just enjoy something universal: poor Lenny etc.

by baby_james

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