Meeting Of Minds

It’s sort of an expat joke that the only information determined at a Chinese meeting is the time and place of the next meeting. I think I even saw that on of those “You know you live in China, when…” lists. I was just in an hour-long meeting at which the only thing determined was that we are meeting again at the same time and same place next week to discuss… something.

It was actually a charicature of a Chinese meeting. I got to school at 9:38 for a 9:40 meeting, and I was the only person in the assigned room. My mindset was more Hurray! I can drink cold water without being reminded that it’s bad for my health! than Where is everybody? Then the level 1 TAs and Christina, the other American teacher, showed up, and then surprise! so did the director of the English department, and then the foreign-teacher liason.

Our first order of business was making sure everyone knew that we were meeting today. Yes, really. We were all intensely questioned on when and where and from who we found out about the top secret resistance organization first grade teachers’ planning meeting.

Christina’s TA doesn’t quite speak English, which put poor Christina in a weird position when the TA insisted that she’d told Christina about the meeting far in advance and Christina, shocked and unprepared, tried to explain that this was dropped on her at 9:39 this morning.

Our second order of business was making sure that everyone had their lesson plans to discuss. Another drastic failure, because Christina hadn’t written a week’s worth of lessons in 60 seconds, and the Chinese teachers weren’t told they were meant to bring suggested lesson plans for our classes. (My TAs and I all thought that we’d be chatting about the keeping all the first grade classes on the same level)

Fortunately, the detailed questioning took so long that we ran out of time before anyone could see that my lesson plans were sort of in draft form.

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0 Responses to Meeting Of Minds

  1. threegee says:

    just remember: you could still be at umass.

  2. Heather says:

    I’m lucky that in my current job I don’t have to attend any meetings. My husband, on the other hand, is a manager and must attend weekly Monday meetings. When I saw the “you’ve been in China too long when…” list and that statement about nothing happening at meetings other than planning the next meeting, I asked my husband and he laughed at the profound truth in the words. For him it is even worse, though, because someone will talk for 15 minutes and the translator will turn to him and say, “It’s nothing.”

  3. Meg says:

    haha I also like when the Chinese speaker says one sentence, and then the translator goes “It’s kind of like when … ” and gives a 2-hour translation.

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