Our students are encouraged to spend time with us outside class so that they can practice using their English in a variety of different situations. One of my classes has taken this to heart and we’ve already been out for several meals and activities with some of them. Last night I taught one of the girls the expression “win-win situation” because it is exactly that. They have the opportunity to develop their language skills while we get to experience things we’d otherwise having difficulty accessing because of our lack of knowledge of the language and the culture.
Yesterday was a perfect example. We met Vicky, a native of Dalian, for lunch at a restaurant near her home and experienced spring pancakes for the first time. Spring pancakes are essentially small, thin tortillas that you wrap a variety of stir fried foods in. A little bit messy but very delicious.
Afterward, we walked to Zhongshan Park together. The focal point of the park is an old Buddhist temple. Having seen many of these in other Asian countries we could easily imagine its original splendour but unfortunately, it’s in a sad state of disrepair and people were scattered about the steps and plaza selling a variety of rather junky looking wares.
Behind the temple is what could easily be a beautiful park. Vicky was embarrassed by its unkempt appearance but I could easily imagine how much better it will look when the bare trees burst out in leaf. It was the vibrancy of the many people enjoying the park that delighted me however! Clusters of men gathered around poker games while one group played a form of checkers. Musicians playing a variety of traditional and modern instruments played in different spots throughout the park and on a wide open plaza overlooked by a bronze statue of Sun Yat-Sen, a revolutionary leader of the early 1900s who became known as the founding father of Nationalist China, people were dancing! We stopped to watch and particularly admired one very graceful couple. When the man noticed us watching, he left his partner and approached us. Extending his hand, he asked me to dance and dance I did! The steps were new to me but he was a skilled leader and I soon picked up on the routine. What fun! Richard and I love to dance so on Vicky’s urging, we took to the dance floor together when my Chinese partner returned to his lady.
Moving on, we came upon what at first appeared to be a children’s playground. Upon looking more closely, however, we realized that it was actually a collection of exercise equipment for adults. Of course, I had to try out a few pieces! We also enjoyed watching a man working out on the parallel bars. His routine made my 20+ push ups each morning look quite pathetic!
After leaving the park, we took a bus to a shopping mall where we’d arranged to meet a fellow teacher and a couple more students. We relaxed and chatted for an hour or more in a lovely coffee shop before walking to another restaurant for supper. Three more students joined us there. There were now nine of us and seated in a private room around a circular table, we enjoyed another feast and more visiting before finally making our way home.
It was definitely a winning day!