Saturday, April 17, 2010

Knitting in the Garden

This morning, after spending two hours on my bike in the quiet of my mind and the silence of the countryside, with dirt and dust surrounding me, I realized that I am awfully irked and tense this semester. Teaching 12 hours a week of senior classes where 0-8 students attend has been frustrating.

My motivation to teach and to do secondary projects has waned.
If no one wants to learn, why teach?

Today I waited in the garden for students to gather for the 2nd official meeting of knitting club, expecting no one to show. I hadn't posted any posters. I hadn't told anyone. I was just hoping that the 10 students who attended the first meeting would show up again, but a large part of me doubted the students. After one holiday weekend and after spending another weekend in Chengdu, two weeks had passed since the first meeting. Would anyone remember? Would anyone want to come? Would the knitting club just fizzle after one meeting?

Eighteen girls showed up.
It warmed my heart.

Only three admitted to being able to knit. The rest denied the fact that they had ever knitted before; however, I was a bit suspicious. Either they were all naturally talented, had learned how to knit through osmosis by watching their female relatives knit during their lifetimes, were super fast learners, or fibbed a bit about their knitting skills. All of them after one lesson had a small knitted swatch with very little teaching from me or from the three who admitted to knowing how to knit.

It was a brilliant learning English outside of the classroom opportunity.

They all spoke English, teasing each other with playful comments like "You're a grandmother." "So ugly." They learned new vocabulary- knitting, yarn, needles, knit, purl, cast on and cast off. They used the vocabulary they knew to express themselves, "Put the stick in the circle."

Next week I wonder how many students will come. We will start our projects. Some are even interested in knitting sweaters for people who lost everything in the recent earthquake. I suggested we start with hats.

After the third knitting meeting, I will be out of town two weekends in a row again. Will the knitting club die?

The last semester as a Peace Corps volunteer (PCV) is great because you know your community, you know what they want, you know how to get things done. Secondary projects have the potential to be very productive during the last semester. You know what you are doing; however, during the last semester as a PCV you have the potential to be out of site a lot. There is a COS (close of service) conference and you want to use your last three day holiday weekends to see different parts of China for the last time before returning to the USA. The last semester is great and also not so great.

No comments: