This week was a more relaxed week, relatively speaking. Went to South Bend for an appointment with a doctor about some back and knee pain (also had Chinese food there), chaperoned a trip to Chicago for international students, worked with tech students for the show, focused the lights, and taught my last week of actual classes. All in all, it’s been much more relaxed, which in turn allowed me to make progress in getting to know students.
Since May, I’ve been dealing with some lower back pain and recently, there was tightness and pain in the back of my knee that warranted a check up. So, I requested a van from the school, and after my first class, I took the rest of the day and drove about an hour north to South Bend. A quaint little city that’s home to University of Notre Dame, there I went to the South Bend Orthopedic Urgent Care where I had x-rays done which resulted in a prescription of some medicine that would help the pain as well as a follow up. Since I was up there and was seriously craving Chinese food, I immediately went searching as soon as my appointment was done. Unfortunately, the most recommended spot, a Taiwanese place, was closed and I settled for a restaurant called Ho Ping House. The exterior looked quite eclectic with fake terracotta soldiers and other Chinese paraphernalia. As I walked in, I greeted the hostess in Mandarin and was then given the Chinese menu versus the Western menu. The Chinese menu had made 15 dishes compared to the Western one which probably had 40, though mostly for Western palates. I ordered a plate of 蒜蓉空心菜 (garlic stir-fried spinach) and 香干肉絲 (stir-fried tofu and pork strips). The food was decent and the portions were large, enough to have leftovers. I’m returning to South Bend on Tuesday and I hope to visit the Taiwanese place and just lose myself in really good food.
On Wednesday, I went to Chicago with 96 other students as part of an “International Students Day-Trip”. There were 11 other chaperones, in which each of us had 6-7 students to look after. We started our day, leaving Culver at 8:00 and arriving in Chicago at the Museum of Science and Industry, near University of Chicago. First off, this museum was really cool. There were quite a few very cool exhibits that reflected a modern feel to the museum. Some of the cooler things I saw was: Exhibit on the Doomsday Clock, extreme weather including a cyclone simulation, exploring intricacies and phenomena of the human body, as well as the famed U-505 Submarine exhibit. You can easily spend hours exploring the entire museum and while we did see quite a bit, there was a ton left undiscovered. After having lunch in the museum (which had a pretty decent food court), we hopped on our buses and drove into the city and was let off at Water Tower Place. Almost all the students wanted to shop extensively, and Water Tower Place was one of the larger shopping centers in Chicago. We spent three hours in the area where I took students to Niketown on Michigan Ave and then back to Water Tower. I let my students roam in Water Tower, and chose to relax with a nice cup of cold brew from Starbucks. Finally, we had dinner at the Italian Village and then returned back to Culver. All in all, the experience was pretty awesome. I loved getting to know the students in my group and because they were all upper campers, the relationship that developed with some felt more real. The other thing was, as the day went on, I slowly became a second head counselor for the entire trip, in that I was communicating with bus drivers and coordinating with the main international student staff member. All the decision making and student-herding reminded me of the de facto roles I used to embody when I was at TAS. I remember distinctly during TAIMUN trips that I would be helping with taking care of my fellow students and figuring out plans that my peers would begin to call me 導遊 or tour guide. Being placed in a very familiar situation with the same expectations and assumptions made me easily assimilate into that role once again.
This week, I once again led the camp play tech students in doing various jobs to prepare for the show. We mostly worked on lights and on some days, I taught material from my class. Working with these students has allowed me to see who is experienced and who isn’t, who can take instructions and who can’t, and in turn allows me to make recommendations for their roles on the tech crew. So far, I have some ideas and I’m excited to see how they pan out. Outside of camp play time, the rest of the theater staff focused the lights. We’re almost done as of Saturday night with only one and a half electrics left to go, and from there, the fun begins with cue writing.
With my last week of classes, things went along just the same. Now that I had gotten to know my students it was mainly moving onto more content. On Monday, we talked about different roles that people have in theater production. From writers to technicians and everyone in between. Tuesday, we moved onto sound theory and sound application with some material that was sent to me by my old boss (THANKS ADAM). That lecture went along very well. Thursday we did a props lecture and application. Finally, on Friday I ended with an “assessment” which was just a way for me to gauge whether or not the students learned anything. Fortunately, they did very well and I was able to also squeeze in a feedback section that I will use make note of.