All throughout the month of July, instead of running school for specific Taipei County elementary schools, our program opened up to any 5th grader who wants to come and attend an English summer camp. We run the program exactly the same as when we have kids from 2 different schools, yet the variety of students as well as their English ability elevates our camp onto a whole new level.

As a teacher, I’ve gotten really bored teaching the same exact class, week after week, speaking like an excited robot in slow and over annunciated syllables to students who probably only understand about 10% of what I’m even saying. However this week, we’ve got the cream of the crop English speakers. It’s incredible to actually have conversations with my students during class. They can tell me about their families, their favorite foods, who they have crushes on-it’s extraordinary to be able to connect on a deeper level!

Most of these kids come from higher economic backgrounds, probably because they have to pay to attend (about $65 USD, as opposed to the free week that the government provides schools), and many of the students are teachers’ kids who I’ve noticed are quite educationally motivated.

One more advantage to having students who are strangers to each other when they come to camp is that they are wildly insecure, scared, and yearning for a friend. I just came back from supervising the girls’ dorm, and I was so happy to see the absence of cliques as the girls ran around chasing each other. They were playing a game of truth or dare and the girls kept “daring” each other to hug me or the other adult supervisor, Sherril. They were hilarious as they shared secrets of kissing boys, passing gas in class, and who they thought was handsome. (the English adjectives for boys and girls that are attractive are always “beautiful” for girls, and “handsome” for boys-forget words like “cute” or “hot”, although “sexy” is starting to make its rounds).

We have one kid this week, we’ll call him Sammie, who has a terrible case of ADHD. This boy can not sit still for anything!!! He is always touching, talking, moving, wiggling, and cannot and will not sit still if his life depended on it. I always have to give him something to play with in class so he’ll somewhat pay attention and I’ve noticed that the others in his class are starting to get really annoyed with his antics. During flag raising this morning, I moved him to the back of the line because he was too chatty. Immediately, Sammie started running his mouth and then walked away to play with rocks. Another teacher walked him back to line and Sammie then bent down, picked up a wad of grass, and put it on a girl’s hair in front of him. The other teacher had had enough and took him away to give him a Green Slip, which is just a discipline report.

I love Sammie, even though he really tests my patience a lot. I want him to feel love here, because I know that he probably gets negative reactions wherever he goes and it’s very obvious that he has no control over his body sometimes. I sure hope his parents are enjoying this week without him. Oh, on a quick sidenote, Sammie tried to call his parents today to tell them that he had injured his eyes and was going to go blind if they didn’t pick him up. The camp nurse was mortified. Luckily, they didn’t pick up their phones-probably because they’re on an island somewhere basking in the glorious quiet of Sammie’s absence.

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