Thursday, August 25, 2005

Am i safe anywhere?

I have one little boy, JiaLun, whom i teach now on a voluntary basis every week. He was part of my group of kids that came twice a week for some good old fun and games in English. The other students' level of English were significantly higher so i was always trying to cater to the different levels yet trying to maintain a fun and conducive learning environment.

We made banana bread a few weeks back which was, of course, a huge hit. This week, however, one of them went on vacation in Korea, and the other started regular school again (did you know every child starting from high school in China must attend a mandatory one week military training where they get to learn how to fire their OWN gun?), so I got some one on one time with JiaLun.

He has impressed me with his vast memory and his ability to pick up new words. Above all, he is so very keen and eager to learn. Brilliant! It motivates me to see him so motivated. The most significant improvement that i've seen in him these past few months is his level of confidence which has been soaring. It says a lot when you can witness that in anyone, but particularly within a child.

Have been more conscious about trying to be safe on the streets as there are many cars, trucks, tractors, bikes, horse+carts, that sort of just appear out of thin air when crossing the road. Even when walking to one side of the road, you can never know when a moving object will suddenly turn a corner into your path or if it will suddenly be heading straight for you (even on a one-way street!)

This is how dangerous and unpredictable Urumqi streets are: I was walking this morning, lost in thought (as usual) when suddenly this humongous piece of plywood from a store sign fell right in front of me, causing it to break into a dozen pieces and the dust to rise in my nostrils. I looked up and saw two workmen hacking away at this building, no protection on, and no signs or fenced area to warn pedestrians of falling objects, nothing. You really just have to fend for yourself here. It would save many people a lot of grief if there were some magic herbal medicine that one could take where extra eyes could be grown at the back, side and top of your head. It would do one of two things: prevent more accidents or have drivers/bikers drive even more recklessly. Come to think of it, it would probably do both. Back to square one.

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