Monday, June 7, 2021

June 2021: Making the Most of my Situation

 Sunday yesterday felt like an elongated moment, wherein I (as time) seemed to take my time instead of finding more things to do and moving through them just to get them done. Perhaps this is because I have finally completed my preparations for the next couple of weeks of online classes. Here by myself in my apartment in the relatively small town of Wufeng, Taichung, Taiwan, I sometimes notice a space within myself that I might have once defined as loneliness. Nowadays, I simply breathe through it as part of my decision to untie myself from self-definitions, so as not to be defined, not even myself. A couple of very large birds just outside my main window have set up a nest, they and the geckos keep me company.

 I used some class time the other day to teach students about sound symbolism and how to look and listen more closely to words. I said the word “pharmacy” very slowly to clearly enunciate its three syllables, pharm (farm) a (uh) cy (see), and I then asked them what sounds they heard. Nothing! So, I explained to them that “pharmacy” sounds like “pharm/farm a/uh cy/see” or see a farm (which is where medicine used to come from before big pharma came along). Then I pointed out the name of a major vaccine supplier called Sinovac (see/no/vac), and asked them, what sounds do you hear? Still nothing. So, I tried the name of one of the so-called “remedies” for C19 called Remdesivir. Hell, I’ll just give that to you: rem/remedy + desivir = remedy deceiver or deceiver of remedy. As they say, it’s all in the words.

 Teaching online sometimes feels like I’m talking into a dark void of scattered awareness. While the technology generally seems to work, and students usually seem to be able to see and hear me, most of them do not take the initiative to speak out. Perhaps for fear of exposing their locations, I’m not quite sure. Therefore, it’s up to me to track them down, which I do by gently calling out their names and narrowing in on their presence. I liken this to coaxing frightened rabbits out of their dark dens to come out into the sunlight, see the green fields and eat the dandelions. Yea, that’s about it. Even if it takes me the entire first period (which is usually does), I will, one by one, get each of them to come out of hiding, sound off and sometimes even tell a story, sometimes.

 I talk a lot online to my students. The funny thing is, I feel that they might actually be listening more intently than they did when we were in the classroom. I’m guessing from their responses, that they don’t have anything better to do while being stuck at home. Come to think of it, I might even enjoy listening to Thomas if I were stuck at home in their shoes.


Mike Lammers said...


NoNextCycleForMe said...
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