My self evaluation for SST

5 11 2005

Music: 懂事 by 孫燕姿 (if that shows up as ???? it’s because it’s Chinese)

this was an assignment for SST, and I’ve decided to post it, because it gives some overarching insights into my experience. It’s long, so only read it if you’re really interested. Love Steph

1 Academic
a) Group learning activities:

The group learning activities was one of the areas that I put in a good amount of energy, but could have put more in. On a scale from one to ten I’d give it a 7. I did all the reading, so that was something that I put a fair amount of energy into, and between that and the lectures feel that I learned some good foundational knowledge on which to build my personal interactions. Some of the lectures were difficult to concentrate in, and I should have worked harder on focusing on those, but some I was completely engaged, and most lectures I asked at least one question. During the field trips I tried to spend time learning from the guide, or material presented to us, and also taking time to be by myself or in a small group to really take in what was around us. I also participated in one of the optional fieldtrips. I think that Red China Blues and River Town both stood out as tools that I steeped myself in. The video during mayterm also stands out to me as does the many field trips that weren’t just tourist traps, but a glimpse into China’s past as well as the current Chinese view of themselves. No wonder they are such a proud people!

b) Individual learning activities:

I tried as much as possible to vary my journaling so as to capture SST in a variety of writing mediums and moods. I tried to pinpoint major events and emotions as well as reflect on my learning and general thoughts about China and the world in general. There were weeks were I put the journaling off until the end, and wish I had spent more time on them, but there are other weeks that I gave myself a good amount of time to put myself down on paper. My project started a bit late, but I feel that the project that I will present is not my whole project. My whole project involves the interviews of the artists I did for my first project, the time I’ve spent just watching the painters at the market, the painting class I’ve been involved in, the dance class I’m in, the legends I’ve had told to me and written down, the poems I’ve read and written, and then finally, the songs I’m learning. I think that I’ve tried to delve into the culture and learn about ancient traditions, but also see how those traditions are used and modified today.

c) Chinese Language:

I did not do well in language class. I have trouble concentrating; I have trouble finding the motivation to study. I don’t seek opportunities to use my Chinese (except with the occasional child I see). I’m one of the poorest Chinese speakers in the group. I just don’t get it. That said, last night a bunch of the girls went out with our Chinese dance instructor who doesn’t speak English, and I was so excited to try and communicate with her in my limited Chinese plus lots of gestures. I loved it. I’m also fairly competent in using survival Chinese. I feel that in some ways with my SST experience, it seemed inevitable that one area would fall by the wayside of sorts, and although it seems a bit cocky, and others may not agree, Chinese seemed like the best choice. I hope that in the future I can put more effort into the language, and return to China.

2. Intercultural/Interpersonal:

I see this as my strongest area. I have poured myself into getting to know people. I’m still making new contacts. I meet Tony at English corner on Tuesday and went to lunch with him yesterday. I’m getting to know Tim better from painting class. He’s one of the teacher’s assistants, and he wants me to come to a party he’s throwing on Friday. During the Halloween party I made myself available for, and sought out interactions with the Chinese students that came, not just the ones I already knew. I’m still hanging out with my roommates, and I feel that I’ve really started to make a true friend of Eunice.
One of the experiences that really stands out to me is going home with Eunice. I had the chance to see her home life on a daily basis, have fun hanging out with her family and spend a significant amount of time with her. Another is my time with my roommates. We had long conversations about relationships, cultural differences and just life in general. The wedding I attended was also a formative event for cultural learning.
The most difficult thing has been the time that it takes to get to know anyone here. It’s not just the language, which does play a large role in the difficulty level, but also the cultural differences, or perceived differences. I know how to get to know someone in the states, I’m just skimming the surface of knowledge as to how one goes about getting to know another person in China. It’s hard, but worth the effort.
The area that I failed in as far as this category goes is my host family. I’m not completely to blame for this, but I could have put more effort into contacting them again, and making it clear that I did want to get to know them, and be involved in their family.

3. English Teaching

I’ve improved so much as a teacher from the first day of teaching. I started out with good ideas, but I didn’t know how to adapt those to my student’s needs, or learning style. While I’m still not teaching the way their Chinese teachers probably do, I’ve found a way to take a few steps their direction while still trying to give the students as many speech tools as possible. I still have a long way to go, and I’ve had lessons that bombed because the students just didn’t care about what I was talking about, but the last few lessons have been wonderful tools for me to learn about China, for them to talk about topics they care about, and for them to see a bit how a native speaker would go about forming arguments, questions, etc. I found that flexibility is key and that there are many teaching tools that are common place in the US, but not really usable or difficult to use in China, like “raise your hand if….”

4. Personal Areas

Obviously, SST has been strongly shaped by my break up with Jesse. I don’t even know where to begin to talk about how that’s affected it yet. In every way really. I am proud of how I’ve done in SST. I’m proud that I’ve learned as much as I have. I found that I am a strong woman. Through contact with other religions and religious practices, I’ve found that I am passionate about my faith. Through learning about another culture, I see the world even more as a global community with global concerns and needs and characteristics. This is something that I want to explore more deeply throughout my life. I found that going overseas is really important to me. This is an important discovery because it was something that I almost gave up.




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