The Only Second Chance You Get

The only second chance you get is the chance to make the same mistake twice.—David Mamet from State and Main


This was a week of second chances. Sunday we had a second chance to find a church. This time we chose a Catholic Church in the old section of Xi’an (which for those of you playing along at home, this part of Xi’an is pretty old like before Mohammad the Prophet for sure and probably before Jesus). The service was in English, and midway through, Asher and I were asked to help carry the wine and host to the priest. Afterward we met people from Cameroon, the Netherlands, and the Philippines. We felt welcome and comforted here.
Monday, I went out of my way to get copies made before class only to find the copy shop hadn’t opened yet. I spent the whole bus ride wondering what I would do if I couldn’t copy the second essay assignment to hand out to my 10:30 class. Fortunately, I made it to the New Campus in time to print. Then I wandered into a room labeled Foreign Language Library and met a friendly woman who made the rest of my photocopies for me. She also directed me to the building I would teach in for the first time on Tuesday. What a lucky accident to find her.
Tuesday was like the dead duck day from the movie About a Boy mainly because it was a horrible day that I hope to not talk about. However, the funny part is that I met two new classes (Freshman Pronunciation), and both classes were waiting for me in the wrong classroom. The teacher’s computer in both classrooms did not work, but all of the students had their own personal working computer. 🙂
Wednesday, we had to take two passes at getting our residency permits. The first time we sat in front of the government official our paperwork was not in order, so we had to get lunch and come back. But in the afternoon, we cut to the front of the line, and a phone call from the college cleared up any remaining questions about Jeremy or my permits. Asher, though will keep his tourist visa which means he has to travel every sixty days.
To celebrate our good sportsmanship, we went out to dinner Wednesday night. We ordered a salad, a chicken stew, and fruit tea. After finishing off our salad and getting a refill on our tea, we realized that the chicken had never been put in and we would not be eating a full meal. We left in disgrace with the waitress laughing at our backs. So Thursday’s big do over was to go back and order the same thing. This time the entire meal arrived at our table, and we felt victorious.
On the teaching front, I spent the week suggesting that the seniors revise their speeches to say something meaningful and entertaining. I pushed the sophomores to revise their essays. And I told the freshman the only way they would improve their pronunciation was to keep trying and not to worry if they fail. This week, I haven’t really felt like taking that advice, but I’ve done it anyway. And it works.

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