Today we were going to the other Pleasant Preschool, which is in Langfang, about an hour from Gu’an. It is situated in a city, among rows of restaurants and businesses. In the lobby, we were greeted by Candy, a teacher at the school and our contact person with whom we had been corresponding. This school had fewer students than the one in Gu’an, so of course the staff was smaller. Candy began to take us on a tour of the school.
First, in a math class, we saw seven children working on addition and subtraction facts for the number seventeen in their workbooks. We learned that these were the oldest children in the school, and they would soon be graduating. Then we saw an English class. The teacher began by blowing up balloons. The children had to match a balloon with a square of the same color on the floor. The children all said the familiar, “Teacher, teacher, let me try.” Each of them had a turn. This was followed by movement activities done to a video.
We saw that just as in Gu’an, this school had a library filled with beautiful children’s books in Chinese, English, or both. There was a large gymnasium that was used for all physical education activities, because there were no outdoor facilities.
It was time for lunch (veggies, mini-hot dogs, rice, and egg drop soup). While the children were napping after their lunch, Nick and I showed the staff and the headmistress our power point presentation. That was followed by a question about how we encourage the children to be independent. The first thing that came to my mind was that we teach the children how to put their jackets on by themselves. Because of the hot weather, no one had a jacket, but I told them we would bring one the next day so we could do a demonstration.
There was another question about our presentation. A teacher asked why we didn’t show our math textbooks. I explained that we definitely do verbal addition and subtraction every day, but we don’t use textbooks.
We were driven back to the restaurant mall in Gu’an for dinner. It was early, so we wandered through a wonderful playground across the street, filled with parents and children. This evening we tried a different restaurant. Each table had a grill in the center on which diners could cook their own food.
While chatting with Eric, he asked if the name of our town’s high school was Westport High, and I explained that it was Staples High, named after one of the town’s founding fathers. He said he had a friend back at college who had attended Staples High. His friend’s name was Mark Schachter. I was astonished. Mark Schachter had been my student at Earthplace. This led to a series of texts. I texted my colleagues who remembered Mark, and Eric texted Mark to ask if he had attended Earthplace Preschool. Of course, he did. He didn’t remember the names of his teachers, but he remembered the name of his preschool girlfriend, and I remembered it, too. What were the chances of meeting someone in China who was a friend of one of my former students?