After a few months in Macau, I feel like I’m finally starting to settle in. I’ve attended local events, accomplished menial life tasks, and made friends with strangers! I’ve also reaffirmed what I love about teaching and giving myself to others through my work.
Last week was Mark’s birthday and we celebrated in the park by surprising our New Orleans native with cake and red beans and rice! It’s starting to cool off so it feels really nice out at night. The day before, Mark and I attended Macau MGM’s Oktoberfest and I got to experience another grandiose, luxurious, ostentatious, perfume-saturating-the-air casino! That’s what I love about the casinos here, they’re not just a casino, they’re an experience. They want to “Wow” you from the moment you walk up to their flashing lights to the moment you walk out with their signature perfume stuck to your clothes.
Other than that, I’ve successfully:
- completed an international wire transfer
- deferred my student loans until next year
- received a care package at the post office
- meal prepped and upped my weight at the gym
- kept up with reading [Batman] and writing [this blog]
- watched a movie at the movie theater
They may not sound like much, but I had to relearn how to do most things that come as second nature back home.
Lessons on Teaching
Up until my most recent lesson, I was becoming worried that my work here wasn’t helping. I was worried that, even though I came here to teach English, my students weren’t getting anything from me. But then, my lesson on “Job Interview Skills” went really well and I had a lot of fun! I realized that I was setting myself up for failure by obsessing over negative thoughts while undermining success stories. For example, I work one-on-one with a student who is trying to improve his English writing for the IELTS test so that he can go to design school in Melbourne. He comes to the writing clinic week after week with new drafts of prep questions he’s spent hours answering. The beautiful thing is that he is improving, and I’m really proud of him. I have to remember that there will always be a handful of students I’m going to help, but I can’t expect to help all of them — that’s just unrealistic. I also have to remember that each student, each class, and each lesson is unique, so I should treat my work — including the challenges and rewards that accompany it — with respect.
Bay to Bay
Today, I made a friend all by myself! Thirteen friends, to be exact. This was something I was struggling with given the obvious language barrier and fact that I spend all my time on campus. But, as fate would have it, I met some folks in the gym who are on the Dragon Boat team! I had been staring at their poster on the wall for weeks, wishing I could read Chinese characters so that I could contact them and join, but — lucky me — I ended up running into them instead! Karl, their coach, invited me to practice this afternoon where I got to meet the rest of the team. I used what I learned from SACA Golden Dragon in Tampa so as to not embarrass myself on the water. I even learned a few new tricks, too.
It always surprises me how much we can learn from each other even though we don’t share the same language. With minimal English exchange, I was able to participate in their group activity and feel welcomed.
Fun Fact: Dragon boat racing is a 2,500 year old tradition in southern China.