Thursday, March 29, 2012


I am wearing too many hats and I am trying to make all the hats fit well. I seriously don't know how I am going to survive the next 2 and a half weeks. I mean, I know I will survive. I just cannot see how things will go.
Being in charge of the drama "Holes" is a tough thing. I have felt like not doing it many times. On one hand, perhaps because this set of students were not mine to begin with. Or perhaps it's because it is so much tougher to adapt from a novel as compared to 3 short stories (like last year). Or perhaps I knew how much work was being thrown at me, so I felt over-burdened. I don't know. Whatever it is, I know I am doing it. We are doing it. And we have been thrown so many obstacles that it's just so easy to throw in the towel. So many issues, ie. commitment, clashes with all sorts of programmes, unavailability of a place to practise properly, etc, have plagued us. But I know, if I were to give up now, then the last 3 months and the next few months with them will be a washout. And I know, we are all made of sterner stuff than this. So we will ... I know I will ... make sure the production succeeds come what may.
Being the head of the editorial board is something new for me. But I am learning. And I am also realising it is a lot of work. I am afraid that we cannot produce the magazine by this year. I really want the work to be at least 90% done before I leave. I am thankful the girls in the board this year are very pro-active. They are a group of very gung-ho girls who seem to be really keen to do their work. I am going to have to meet up with the teachers and make sure they do their stuff of else I will end up doing most things myself. And THAT, I cannot do.
This is my 5th year as advisor to the cheer club / d*starz. The work doesn't seem to end. I have taken a few steps back the last one month. Mainly because I have to monitor my drama as well. And also because I want the girls to learn to take charge more. BUT I am constantly worried about them. And the injuries that have been occurring have been worrying. It's almost like every week there is someone injured or someone whose earlier injury is acting up. This year's team is already as solid as they come. And we cannot have any injuries as we have almost no substitutes. I cried last week because I know, once I have left, they will not have someone who loves them as much or is willing to spend as much time and effort on them. It's hard. I am too emotionally attached. Yet this is one year we just might break into top 3. Yes our aim is to be the Champion. And that, takes a lot of time and effort, from the girls and also me.
Being class teacher is also taking quite a bit out of me. I have not held form teachership for many years. Now, I find it such a chore. It's keeping me busier than I am comfortable with. The girls are nice, but ... it's a lot of work that a form teacher has to do in addition to the other stuff.
Being a mentor - so I now have 14 girls to mentor. Knowing me, I will try very hard to be a positive influence on them. And that will take time. Time which I do not have. Sigh.
Other nitty gritty things .... yeah there are other things occupying my time. More hats that I am wearing. Not even bothered to mention anymore. Too tired. Lord, grant me renewed strength every day, and refresh me in ways only YOU can.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Taking a break

With all the madness going on in school, it is good to take a break. And that, I shall do tomorrow, when I go and judge a drama competition. There will be a lot waiting for me to do but .... I need to not look at work for a few hours. I shall chill.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Day 4 in Shanghai - 13th March 2012

I realise it has been days since I posted Day 3 in Shanghai. I have been so busy the last one week that I could not find time to blog. This shall be remedied now.

Day 4 was an adventurous day for me. I did not expect to be on my own so much, travelling on my own. The initial plan was for LM to drive me to YCIS Pudong campus in the morning and then I make my way to the other places and back to her place. Instead, because she had other plans on her own, I had to travel to the first campus on my own.
Well, the first place I went to, by taxi, was YCIS Pudong campus on Dongxiu road. It is the senior school campus, for Year 5 onwards. If my children were to study in YCIS, Jeremy and Jonathan will be here. Back to the school : I was met by the admissions officer, Mr Abass, an African from Niger. He was very friendly and very accommodating. He took me on a tour round the school and showed me pretty much all I needed to see, as well as bought me a cup of latte. While going on a tour of the campus, I saw an interesting block of apartments. I asked him about the apartments and he said he lived there, as did some of the teachers. It's called Shanghai Greentown. I was very interested. As I went round the school, I found myself very attracted to the school, it's classes, the way classes were conducted. I did not feel the snobbery I felt the day before. I was genuinely happy to be there.
Then after the tour there, he took me on the school's shuttle bus and we went to the junior campus on Huamu Road. This campus is for the "little people", the children in Year 4 and below. Basically the children are 8 years old and below, including the kindies and pre-schoolers. I was able to see how the parents also help out there, and spoke to some of them. I also met with a teacher, Elizabeth, who takes care of children with special needs. Spoke to her about my concerns and found her very warm and friendly. She gave me some very helpful suggestions on how to get Joel into Year 2 instead of 3.

Pudong campus

I had a good time getting to know the school. I was sure this was where I wanted my children to be. I felt that there was a genuine interest in the children, instead of just keeping the school's name up there.
I was done with the Pudong campuses by 1. And I decided to go to their Puxi campuses immediately. I had an appointment for 2pm. So off I went, in a taxi. It was rather funny initially as I tried to communicate with the taxi driver. He didn't know where the school was. And he asked if he could stop somewhere later and ask. The journey was quite long, so I had a bit of a chat with him. I asked him where he thought would be a better place to live in, esp for a family with young children. Without any hesitation, he said Pudong. It rather confirmed my gut feeling about Pudong.
Anyway, we made it to YCIS in Gubei. That is also their senior school. I met up with Julia, the admissions officer there. She is a young lady from Shanghai itself. She explained to me that the two campuses basically practise the same things. Only the location and the climate of the school is different. So off we went to tour the campus in Gubei. I noticed that the school was not as spacious as the Pudong campus. But it still felt welcoming. I was even shown the Design & Technology lab, where the students were doing woodwork. It was very interesting.
After we were done with Gubei, Julia took me to the junior campus in Hongqiao. Again, because it is situated in an older part of Shanghai, it lacks the space that the Pudong campuses have. But I noticed the children were happy and well taken care of.
After the tour, Julia sat down with me and explained some other things Abass did not tell me, like admissions procedure, and dealings with relocation companies etc. It was very helpful of her. She also got for me a map of Shanghai and the Metro routes. That would help me along as I made my way around on my own.
I bade her adieu. I was starving, so I walked into a restaurant and ordered myself a bowl of pork chop noodles and a cup of soy bean drink. I was very proud of myself and also thanked God for seeing me through the whole exploration. After eating, I walked to the nearest subway station and took the train on my own for the first time. I took the train right till East Nanjing station and changed to Line 2 and made my way to Dongchang Road station. From there, I walked back to LM's apartment. I made it! I was really happy, and I knew God was seeing me through all the way. It was indeed an adventure for me.

YCIS Puxi campus
Pictures all related to YCIS

Back at LM's place, I told her she was right about YCIS being a better school for my children. I enjoyed the the tours on the campuses. I also told her, although the Puxi campus was supposed to be more popular, I preferred the Pudong campus. Told her also about Shanghai Greentown, and also another apartment I passed by, Xiangmei Garden. She was of the opinion those places were good, and inexpensive.
Well, the day went well, indeed, for me. I was happy I got to visit on my own, not influenced by someone else. And I know I have no regrets getting to Shanghai on my own for this trip.
Well, the rest of the day was spent in LM's apartment, playing with her daughter while she cooked. After dinner, it was time to just relax and not worry over too many things.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Day 3 in Shanghai - 12th March 2012

Today was about visiting my first school in China. It was Dulwich College, Shanghai, situated in the Jinqiao area in Pudong. This was my first ranked school. I had made an appointment to visit on this day, via email with one of its admissions officers. The school looked impressive from outside. The building looked real solid, and very British. The students all wore very smart uniform as can be seen in the two photos above (not my photos).
LM drove me there, we went in and were brought to meet with the head of admissions. We had a really nice chat about the school, about what I expected from the school, what my sons were like. Then, one of her assistants, Dora, a new staff, took us on a tour of the school grounds. She showed us a lot of things about the school. I was impressed with some of the facilities. However, that was about all I was impressed with. I felt the snobbery of the school. I felt that a lot of importance was placed on the school and its reputation but not much on the students' interests and welfare. Maybe it was just me. Or perhaps it was the educator in me. I was just not convinced it was the school for my boys. I was worried. My first ranked school was not looking good. One of the things which I didn't particularly like was that Jonathan's level onwards will require the students to have a Mac laptop each. Imagine that!
Anyway, after visiting the school, we adjourned to a shopping mall nearby, in the Biyun / Jinqiao area. It was next to the Carrefour. We went to Carrefour first, to have an early lunch, then to buy a few things. After that we went back to the mall and bought a few more things from Pines, where one could get imported goods. Next we went to a sports shop called Decathlon. The shop was huge and sold lots of sports related gears - from tents to clothes to equipment. And the clothes were really of good quality and CHEAP.

This is Decathlon, Longyang.
I managed to buy quite a lot of things, mainly clothes, for myself and also for the boys. It was satisfying to know there are places I can get things for a much lower price than expected.

After visiting the Biyun area, we went back to LM's apartment and she called on a real estate agent to have a look at apartments in the neighbourhood. Jenny, the agent, came by and we went to have a look at some apartments within out rental budget, well, actually slightly above our budget. We looked at 2 apartments in Summit Panorama and 2 in Summit Residences. They are near to LM's apartment, and can actually see the Bund from some of those apartments. Nice. Gave me an idea of what we can expect.

We spent the rest of the evening in the apartment. I spent a lot of time with LM's daughter. Tried to draw her out of her shell and get her to learn to respond. It was tiring actually. But I was happy that she was responding to me.

In the night, before bed, I had a good look at the brochures and booklets given by Dulwich. On paper everything was good. I prayed. I prayed for the next day which was going to be an adventure as I would have to be on my own from afternoon onwards.