Saying Goodbye…

Saying Goodbye…

My head is full of images

My heart will overflow

My hands reach out across the globe

This joy we’ll always know.

At Xi’an Airport

I returned a funny face
to a lady in the queue
We shared each other’s horror
and giggled as you do
The Chinese ladies, in a group, all pushed and flounced and hollered!

While I turned away and smiled
She berated her rampant friends
” Watch your manners!” How she scowled!
“You should be ashamed,
This woman is from Engaland!
Whatever will she think of us?”
And calm was soon regained.

“Nihao” they replied as I warmed to them
“Nihao” we smiled and stared
Then “Man! Man!” the lady said
so I could understand
Not one of us would rush and push
we’d all take it nice and slow
And as we laughed and gestured
My face began to glow
cos here were women just like me,
prepared to have a go

I used my funny Mandarin to tell them who I am
All of us, relaxed in joy,
We could not help but grin
That airport queue became our stage
We didn’t care for show
but laughed and danced while others stared

Mandarin – I did not know!!

As women gathered round
My new panyou, my teacher,
she held my English hand
The phone came out, my picture caught
I put into her hand
My Melton postcard, “That’s my land!”
“Yes, really, take it do!”
“Is this your home? Is this your life?”
Yes keep it, hold it close
We hold this moment in our hearts;
such love will always grow

What an orderly queue we made it then
How pleasant was our show
” No you were first!” “Oh, after you! ”
” You’re welcome! ” “Be my guest! ”
It’s really very nice to know
That anywhere we care to go”
The conference will grow.

 

In doggerel mood, Carole Clohesy 13th October, 2019

Glossary!!

Man – slow

Panyou – friend

 

Thanks to AA Milne

James James  Cleverly Cleverly

Weaving his trickery tweaking his tweeteryTook great care of his party, though he was only reeking of lies and deceit you see

Cleverly smoke screened with CCHQ
Respectable sounding like GCHQ
Trump style, fact checking
dystopian fecking
I’d never go down to the end of the town to witness this blatantly sneaky smoke screenery
Never go down to the end of the town without consulting Who?!

Arrival in China

On arrival at 5am in Xi’an,I was met by Sarinya and a taxi at the airport. The weather was beautiful, warm and dry. Sarinya is a Thai teacher who speaks Chinese and English fluently. She loves cycling and dance too so we agreed to meet up and go out together during my stay. She was kind enough to help me book my internal flight to Shenyang so that was a great help. She took me to Anna’s hotel (yes!!) then after a shower and nap I was taken to lunch by another delightful South African friend who has been in China for just 6 months. After having to ask for help in Chinese to even find my way out of the building  later in the afternoon, I wandered amongst the trees and sunshine on the campus and just soaked up the atmosphere with many special encounters and conversations in English, sign language and minimal Mandarin.  Anna found me chatting with a group of volunteer student guides preparing for an annual conference of International Universities taking place here. We had a great reunion and ate tea in a Muslim cafe making noodles in the traditional way. We then went to a meeting preparing volunteers who work with children. It was exciting and a bit surreal knowing that I had leapt into an alternative universe!! I was pretty desperate for sleep after that and managed to lie in until 11 am while Anna left very early for work and I felt extremely spoilt.

The next day Anna was off work so after a wonderful bowl of rice and vegetables we went to the Wild Goose pagoda. An English guide gave a us a free tour, told us she was volunteering for the Anniversary celebrations as they were expecting many visitors. she taught us a lot and answered lots of questions, even showing us some caligraphy and giving us the painting in a scroll to take away. We caught a taxi back but Anna had to attend a meeting so we dropped Anna off first and she left me to find my own way after reassuring me that the taxi driver knew where I needed to be! I felt very nervous as I never recognise anywhere in the dark in Leicester never mind in a strange city in China! After leaving the taxi, I approached a group of people and asked “Qing bang wo!” (please help me) and showed Anna’s address card but was still unsure about which gate to enter with two security guards on duty. I asked people twice and eventually found my way back. There was an amazing banquet and concert in progress in the hotel foyer so I stood on the  balcony with volunteer student helpers watching beautiful choral and orchestral performances with a film backdrop on an enormous screen. Some of Anna’s friends told me later that the International Teachers had 12 courses and were so intent on getting through it all that they missed a lot of the performance!

“Travel in the younger sort is part of education ; in the elder a part of experience.” Francis Bacon

3rd Instalment : China Adventure

Sometimes while helping students to write persuasively, I remember writing a persuasive letter in earnest to my parents announcing that I was sufficiently grown up and responsible at 16 to spend a week backpacking in the Yorkshire Dales with my best friend, Anna. The proposal was agreed to on condition that I would successfully plan and navigate a day’s hike with my Dad beforehand. We had a great day walking and getting lost together near Sheffield following which my Dad reported that I was no worse than him at map reading! Since he was known for getting lost very frequently and walking or running many extra miles as a result, this was hardly encouraging! My map reading skills have not improved but , as the poem below suggests, you can’t wait to be an expert, you just have to go , ready or not!

Scout’s motto : Be Prepared!

If I had waited till I could

Read maps, use apps

Remember faces, names and PIN

Read the signs in Mandarin

Walk for miles without a limp

Feel brave, learn to save

I never would have left the house

I’d still have been a frightened mouse

So, was I ready? “Be prepared!”

Not entirely, pretty scared..

 “Go with the flow”

Inspired by my Dad, who died 3 years ago this month, I chose to use his name on a rucksack ; Tom Shepherd, adding    ‘ s daughter Carole Clohesy . This bag had gone with him to America  and another special hand made bag I selected was a gift from friends returning from Mozambique.

  With advice and information  from past pupils who are British Chinese, I obtained a Visa by travelling to Birmingham and Manchester, got my vaccinations, tried language learning via Duolingo and the Confucius Institute at DMU, and thoroughly enjoyed researching and writing my lectures. On my daughter’s advice I set up Wechat, a VPN, Maps ME app and avoided talking too much about how to cope without Google or the Internet!

How and when did my connection start with Shenyang University?

In April, 2011,I was excited to learn about the setting up of an International School at Brooksby Melton College and wanted to be involved so I confirmed my PGCE qualification in Teaching English as a Foreign Language achieved in 1981) and applied for a management role not suited to my abilities at all.  I was not offered the post but in the process I met Rob Grant who was leading the project. He engaged me on a zero hour contract for a period of two weeks in July to teach English Literature, British Culture and History to the visiting group of Chinese teachers of English from Shenyang University of Technology.

After just a couple of days with this group of enthusiastic, knowledgeable and passionate teachers, I came to realize that I needed to ditch my thorough, detailed plans for delivering a curriculum which I had devised and collaborate with the teachers in planning the sessions. In this way we embarked on one of the most stimulating and enjoyable periods in education I have ever experienced. In a spirit of equality and mutual respect, we discussed our plans for each day which generally included time for the teachers to ask me questions and to share their own perspective, some film reviewing, reading extracts from novels, poems and plays which we discussed and used as stimuli for activities.  During the activities such as role play, reading aloud, discussion of case studies and worksheet based writing tasks, I modelled a variety of teaching methods and strategies which were currently trending in British classrooms. The ensuing discussion about how these strategies could be adapted for use in Chinese classrooms and University lecture theatres was stimulating and challenging for all of us. It quickly became clear to me that my own trust in the stereotype of Chinese teaching and learning contexts was unfounded since these teachers were just as keen as we are to encourage critical thinking skills among their students. My commentary with reference to the strategies and techniques required to manage behaviour and engagement  in a British classroom was much appreciated and we all explored together which elements of group work, Drama, recitation and kinaesthetic learning would translate well into a Chinese learning environment. This experience taught me that, whatever the restraints of a society’s education system, the students who become teachers will, almost inevitably, progress towards a pupil-centred approach in their desire to meet individual students’ needs and to promote real understanding rather than relying on limited rote learning and memorisation.

Shortly after this, in April, 2012,  I took up a full time teaching position as Head of English at Maplewell Special Secondary School  where I learnt a lot about engaging children and teenagers with behavioural difficulties. I hoped to study for a Master’s degree in Education with a focus on International Education but the funding was not forthcoming. I resigned from that post in 2014.

At last I could afford to study a 1 yr online Masters module in Educational Research with the Open University. I gained a PGCSE (Postgraduate Certificate of Professional Studies in Education) and I fulfilled a long held ambition to take a CELTA (Cambridge English Language Teaching to Adults) course which I knew would help me to improve my delivery of ESOL (English for speakers of Other Languages) for adults and EAL (English as an Additional Language) in schools. This was a 6 week intensive course in Nottingham which was very challenging and tremendous fun mainly because it renewed my confidence in my ability to teach (which had dropped dangerously low during my two years working in a school) and it re-fuelled my enthusiasm for travelling.
From 2014 – 2017 I tutored teenagers from disadvantaged backgrounds who had been excluded from schools as well as the Pupil Referral Units where such children are usually taught. They needed 1:1 support and encouragement. It was hard work and quite risky, but rewarding when it went well! I also taught staff who work in Care Homes to raise their English qualifications to level 2 (GCSE equivalent) for a company using government funds.

I left that in 2017 to teach a WEA (Workers’ Educational Association) class in ESOL to Muslim women from African countries, mainly Somalia. That was very rewarding and I won an award from the WEA (Workers’ Educational Association) for this role.

My current jobs (2019) :

LSC (Learning Support Company) – Dyslexia and ASD Specialist Study Skills Support Tutor to University undergraduates and post graduates.

Electronic Note taking

Teaching Personnel 1:1tuition for LAC (Looked After Children who are fostered or in Care)

Private tuition : GCSE resits and at Sixth form College

Voluntary, unpaid charity roles :

LSR (Leicestershire Shared Reading) trained by national organisation based in Liverpool called The reader.org.
Weekly volunteer role leading a Shared Reading Group at a local library.

“After 18”, a charity, weekly teaching English to refugees

Community library volunteer work keeping East Goscote Community Library open since the government will no longer fund it. (Austerity)

Why did I visit China in 2019?

Our daughter, Anna, went to China firstly as a member of a team of students  from Cambridge University just for the summer holidays and later, for a year to teach English in a University  in Bejing in 2007. My husband, John, visited her during that year but I had never been very keen to go myself until 2011 when I was privileged to become acquainted with Chinese teachers  who were visiting Brooksby College. After spending two weeks working with these teachers, I felt inspired to return the visit and to enhance my understanding of the environment which had fostered the talent of these teachers.

In December, 2018 John and I were lucky enough to be invited to visit Punjab, India, by my friend and ex-colleague who used to live there. This friend not only arranged for me to visit schools with her but she also understood our yearning to meet with ordinary people, to join in with singing and dancing, cycling and , of course, sharing delicious meals! Through her thoughtful arrangements and the generosity of our guide, a Sikh who lives in both Punjab and Canada, we were able to visit Colleges, private and government schools, farms, private homes and Gurdwaras as well as some of the most famous tourist sites such as the Golden Temple. We experienced first hand the renowned Punjabi hospitality as we were warmly welcomed into homes  ranging from basic hospital staff accommodation to palatial family homes where the marble floors shone and the domestic arrangement using dung fuelled cookers and heating were second to none.  We were most  uncomfortable in the posh hotel in Chandigarh (although very grateful to our hosts for their kindness) and most comfortable in ordinary homes where many neighbours and relatives came to join in the fun. We were able to learn from local people about the schooling, local cuisine and gardening, weddings, agriculture, small businesses such as bee keeping (even selling some honey at the market stall!) and our very faltering attempts to speak Punjabi were delightedly received or tolerated.

My main feeling after that trip was that I must return and that a combination of work and leisure on such a trip was crucial to my enjoyment of it. I would love to go back some day to teach in the schools and to learn more about the education system there first hand. However, , I remembered how much I wanted to fulfil my promise to my colleagues from Shenyang University who visited us in 2011 and I felt more sure now that I would like to combine a holiday with work.  I started to plan a visit to Shenyang and to Xi’an where our daughter was in her 2nd year of teaching at the Xisu University of International Studies. So, when John announced that he would visit Punjab’s biggest Agricultural University in Ludhiana and offer to deliver some lectures there, I had already decided that my next big trip overseas would be to China. He was taken aback when I announced my intention to visit Anna and to teach at Shenyang University instead of accompanying him and so the adventure began for both of us – this time, after 36 years of marriage, to travel separately and to be apart for a month! Since it was to be my first time flying alone and travelling independently beyond our island shores, it was a brave decision! And so began the communications with Dr Wang Yaguang, Dean of the University of Technology at Shenyang and the process of obtaining a visa permitting me to visit China during its 70th Anniversary celebration to which even the BBC had not been invited!