Friday, December 18, 2009

WeLcOmE hOmE!!!!



After many many hours of traveling, I am back in the USA!! The first thing that we did was head to Chuck-a-Rama for some great food. It is great to be back, and I am having a blast hanging out with my family and getting ready for Christmas.
I already miss the other girls!!! I can't wait to see them again.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

SPECTACLE!!!



We did it, we actually survived SPECTACLE. We have been preparing for almost 2 months now for our big end of semester program. The kids have been diligently learning dances and English songs along with actions everyday for weeks. They were pretty good sports about it too, even though I am sure they wanted to just throw the props at me every time that I said, "Ok, we have to sing it one more time before we can go to snack." The kids are not the only ones who had to prepare though, the teachers and I also had to perform a dance at the program, and I had a piano solo as well. Why all this work you might ask... Well let's just say that the Chinese are very into presentation. These kids are 4, 5, and 6, and they cannot help the fact that they are these ages, besides the little mess ups that occur just add to the cuteness. Well we think so anyway, but the Chinese teachers don't necessarily agree, and they forced us to work the kids until they could do their skits perfectly. My class sang frosty the snowman, and they did a great job, I was so proud of them. There was also a fashion show featuring the younger class, it was cute beyond description. My family will be forced to watch the movie with me, and also forced to listen to a description of all of the kids little personality quirks...whether they want to or not. Today I had the unfortunate experience of having to say goodbye to my 37 new little friends. Who would have thought that in 4 months we would get so attached to all of their cute little faces? We had a slide show prepared that we watched with the kids, and then the tears started flowing. Some of the kids are old enough to understand that we are leaving, and it was way sad to see them cry about it. The other kids got way confused, they did not understand why all of their teachers were crying, but they were quick to give hugs to try to fix the problem.

For our last night here in Xiaolan we had a big dinner at a nice restaurant with the Principal and some of the Chinese teachers. The food was super good, and there was Karaoke afterward featuring lots of Michael Jackson. It was a great way to end our stay. Tomorrow we start our never-ending journey home. We take a van to another school where we spend the night before taking a ferry to Hong Kong. At about 1:30 PM on Thursday we leave Hong Kong... our destination... the great US of A. We will arrive in LA California on Thursday at about 11:45 AM... yes we are going back in time!!! Too bad the 13+ hour flight couldn't really be negative 2 hours. Anyway eventually we will make it back to SLC where hopefully someone that I recognize will be there to pick me up. Then it is on to Cedar City for a weekend at Megan and Andrew's. I am super excited, I can't wait for all the family fun.

I have had such a great time in China, I still can't believe I have been living here for 4 months. This has been the experience of a lifetime, and I have had the chance to see so many cool places. I am going to miss so many things about China, mostly the kids, my new friends (why is SUU so far away?), the yummy food, and cheap shopping. I am super excited to see my family though, and to eat American food again. After traveling around for a good portion of 2009, I am ready to stay in the states for a while. I am looking forward to Christmas with my family, and getting back to Cedar City for school. Oh and running, I am looking forward to running again, you see none of the other teachers like to run, and since we are not allowed out alone, my running has been very restricted. Since Megan and I are planning on running the half marathon in March, I better get training.

On to my next adventure...




















Monday, December 7, 2009

THANKSGIVING IN CHINA!!!

I know this post is a little late, but better late than never.
We had a great Thanksgiving here in China. Oddly enough the Chinese do not eat turkey, they will eat just about any other animal, but there are no turkeys to be found. We had to teach on Thanksgiving, but as soon as we were done, the 3 girls that I share an apartment and I started Thanksgiving dinner #1. This dinner consisted of some microwaveable stuffing and turkey, mashed potatoes, beef and potatoes, and some chicken and pasta dish. Obviously we have been in China way too long because even these microwaveable meals tasted amazing to us.
Later that night we had Thanksgiving dinner #2. We invited the cook and his wife, the guard and his wife, Annie (our coordinator) and her boyfriend, and a few of the Chinese teachers. There were 18 of us total. We made some mashed potatoes, pumpkin cookies, corn bread, jello, pudding, stuffing, and even a pumpkin pie. Annie made some Chinese food too. After all the cooking was done the feast stared. Our Chinese friends were very hesitant to try the American food but we eventually got them to. Once they tried it they really liked it, especially the mashed potatoes. They were so happy that we had invited them to our Thanksgiving dinner.

Just a few of the things I am even more thankful for since coming to China:
Carpet
Soft couches
Milk
Boneless meat
Chocolate
Ok just American food in general!!
Normal showers
My family and friends
LDS.org
SKYPE
The cute kids we teach
Purified water systems
Only having to drive about 10 minutes to get to church
Cheap China shopping









ULTRAMAN!!!!!!!!!!!!

A post for my little buddy back in America. This is ULTRAMAN, he is the biggest Chinese action figure around. Why you might ask??—well his ability to make himself get bigger and bigger might have something to do with it.
In the series the Science Patrol is always ready to protect the Earth from rampaging monsters, but sometimes finds itself overmatched. When the situation becomes desperate, Hayata, the Patrol's most capable member, holds the key to salvation in the form of a power-object called a "Beta Capsule", which, when ignited, allows him to transform secretly into the amazing, super-humanoid-powered giant from space—Ultraman.

I hope Parker enjoys this, can't wait to see him in less than 2 weeks!!!


Friday, November 27, 2009

Yangshuo Vacation!!!

Last weekend we went on a super fun vacation to Yangshuo. (A little side information about Yangshou. There are hills and mountains that pop up randomly everywhere; it is like living in Dr. Seuss world. We were so excited to see mountains again. Also they have a great mixture of Western and Chinese food. We would usually order something like a burger, and a Chinese dish, and then split up everything. It was great!) Ok on with the vacation…We took a sleeper bus, and ended up getting dropped off at a random street corner at 5:00 AM. We immediately ran into the con artists that our travel books warned us about. They tell you that they work for your hostel, or that they can get you tickets or tours to places, then they either try to sell you things, or they take you to fake destinations. The one we ran into actually almost got in a fight with the guy that was really trying to help us. Anyway we did make it to our hostel, and after some breakfast we rented bikes and started out for the caves. These are water caves so we climbed into a boat and they take you deeper into the cave. After a little tour of the cave we put on our swimming suits and were ready to play in the mud. The mud is not very deep, and it was pretty cold, but it was lots of fun to play in. After getting all nice and muddy, we were ready to hit the hot springs, and boy did they feel good. After the caves we grabbed lunch, and then headed off to hike to the center of moon hill. It was definitely colder in Yangshuo than it was in Xiaolan, so we were pretty cold and ready for a nice warm dinner after all the biking and hiking. The next day it was raining, but we were determined not to waste our vacation, so we did a bamboo raft tour in the rain. It was freezing!!! I am still glad we did it, but I would not have complained if it had only been half as long. That night we geared up with hats and gloves and coats so that we could tackle the rice terraces the next day. On our way to the terraces we stopped at the long haired village. They do a little show, and 4 lucky guys from the audience even have the chance to get married. Strange cultural quirk; in the village pinching someone’s bum means you love them, so we got pinched a lot, and let me tell you – they really go at it. Next we go on up to the rice terraces. It is a bit of hiking to get to the top, but since I love hiking, I did not mind at all. The hills look so cool; they are completely covered with terraces for farming. That night we decided to go dancing. Fact; Chinese guys cannot dance, but it is sure fun to watch them try. The Chinese get pretty excited about Americans, so they all wanted to get to dance with us. Guys kept offering us shots and beer, but we were just there to dance. Some guys even tried to get us up on the pole with them, but we were definitely not having any of that. Interestingly enough, the guys have no problem dancing on the pole with each other. It was a pretty funny night. The next day we rode a freezing cold sleeper bus for 13 hours and got back in Xiaolan around 1:00 in the morning very disappointed to find that it was just as cold as it had been in Yangshuo. Unfortunately we don’t have heat, so we now wear our coats, hats, and gloves all the time, even when we teach and sleep (it is really annoying). Pretty strange since just the week before we were in shorts with the AC on. Fun times in China!!













































































Friday, November 13, 2009

The Kids!

The kids that we teach at the school are super cute. We teach 3 older classes, and 2 younger classes. It is really fun seeing all the different personality traits that
they have. In fact one of the number one topics that our conversations focus on is the kids and the funny things they do. (Well sometimes we exchange tales of the horrible things they do too)
The kids love to yell "Teacher, Teacher," and they run up and give us big hugs, or even group hugs where we feel like we are going to fall over. It is so fun.
We got to give all the new students English names when we started. Of course much ingenious planning went into the names, as we of course had to cover all Harry Potter characters, and there was even an attempt to get one kid named MJ for Michael Jackson. As time has gone by though, those well thought out names have been modified into little nicknames. For example:"Crazy Crack Crystal" (yes we think she is on crack), and the most famous, "Sweaty Sue." (Pictured above).Poor little Susan sweats constantly, more than any other kid, she will seriously have beads of sweat just rolling down her face when we are just sitting in class reading a story.
Most of the lessons just consist of playing with the kids while we make food or do crafts and such. Last week I even got a "you so good teacher," with a thumbs up, as we explored the wonders that food coloring and shaving cream will do on paper. It is fun to hear their English progress. It is also quite amusing to hear the funny... well we will just call them grammatically incorrect phrases.
For example, “I go buffalo teacher?”
Translation: May I go to the bathroom.
They are so fun, and I am going to miss them all when I go home.









































Monday, November 9, 2009

A Well Balanced Breakfast!!


Today we had house visits with some of the students in our classes. Becca and I trekked out early to meet 2 of the other Chinese teachers and be on our way. We were scheduled to meet with 5 students. We knew that there would be breakfast at the second house, and then lunch at the last house. With this in mind we stop at the first house where we are immediately offered a big bowl of miniature apples. To be polite we take some, and munch away not realizing at that time that we would not be allowed to leave the house until all of the apples were gone. We were also given chestnut soup in the middle of the apple munching, so we left the first stop already full as we headed off to breakfast with the next family. So now you will find out what the Chinese consider breakfast food. First off there are chicken feet, dumplings, beef balls, and bean paste filled steamed buns wrapped up lambus bread style. Oh and we cannot forget the carrot-apple puree, pistachio pastries, and bok choy (a cross between broccoli and celery). Then the meal was topped off with a nice steaming bowl of kidney and intestine soup. Yes we ate all of it: chicken feet, kidney, intestines and all (intestine is really chewy). We left feeling very full, and of course we were given more food at the other stops.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Halloween!!!!

Halloween here was awesome. We dressed up on Friday for classes with the kids. After teaching only 3 classes, we got our classes back, and once the bags were decorated the Trick-or-Treating started (or the madness as it is more accurately titled). It was so funny to listen to the kids try to say Trick-or-Treat, and they kept coming back over and over for more candy. Next we did the donut on a string game, a game that is a little lost on the Chinese because the donuts here leave a little to be desired. Anyway it was hilarious to watch the kids try to eat the donuts. Some of them were concentrating so hard, but they just could not manage to succeed at getting the donut into their mouths. There was a little sprinkling of sugar on top of the donuts, really not much at all, but the kids still managed to have sugar all over their faces. It was a really fun day.
That night we had the big party at the bond office with all the kids and their parents. The kids performed some songs we taught them, and then we performed “Thriller.” Then it was time for the main event… the Haunted House!!! We spent many afternoons for the last 2 weeks slaving away in the dusty rooms at the bond office building a SCARY Haunted House. This was quite a feat, considering the lack of human resources that we had, and the lack of physical resources that we had. For example, we asked for a strobe or a black light, they brought us Christmas lights. Anyway after much ingenuity, we created a truly scary experience. It was really fun getting to be in the haunted house scaring people, although I did get hit right in the face with a plastic sword by a very scared child. Our kids knew we were in there, and it was way sad to hear them say, “No teacher, no,” when they were scared.
Much of the fun happened after all the kids were gone, and we were headed home. You see Becca’s face was painted like the Joker, mine was pure black, Chelsey was a Zombie, and Keara was a skeleton. The Chinese do not celebrate Halloween, so they are not used to seeing strangely dressed people walking down the street. We got quite a kick out of sticking our faces silently in windows until the people turned. Of course many times we got the desired reaction of terror. Some people really did look terrified like they had seen a real ghost. After the initial scare we would wave, and be on our way (most times they would laugh and wave back). Then people would want pictures with us, and they would watch us to laugh when we scared other people. What is normally a half an hour walk home took us two hours. I hope everyone had a great Halloween!!!














Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Happy Birthday!!!



HaPpY bIrThDaY!!!!
My birthday was great. I am not too excited to be getting older, but it is always fun to have an excuse to party. The girls here were so sweet and heart attacked my door. There were all sorts of fun quotes on the hearts, and they made me smile. The precious blueberry pancake mix was brought out for a special birthday breakfast, complete with American syrup and everything. I decided that I wanted us all to go swimming for my birthday, so we got all ready in our suits and everything jus to walk down to the pool and find out that it is not open between 8:00 AM and 4:30 PM. Aren’t those prime swimming hours? Anyway we camped out at a little CafĂ© for a few hours playing cards and eating banana splits until the pool opened. It turned out to be only lap swimming, which I didn’t mind, but the other girls were not thrilled about. So swimming turned out to be a bust. Next on the agenda was a visit to our Italian mafia friend at Little Italy. The pizza was heavenly!! After that we did birthday cake, and being the chocolate freak that I am we had to hit McDonalds for some hot fudge sundaes. The night ended watching "American Outlaws" (one of my favorites). It was a great birthday.








Friday, October 16, 2009

Beijing Vacation


I just got back from one of the best vacations ever. Everyone should try to hit Beijing at some point. It was awesome.
The trip started off a bit rocky, but we knew it would considering the fact that we had to book standing tickets to Xian because of high demand during the week of the National Holiday. Have you ever stood on a train for 26 hours? I have!! And I have 2 words to say about it; NEVER AGAIN! It was horrible. There was not really any place for us to stand, so we were crammed into the very back of the train body to body with what felt like a hundred sweating Asians. Luckily people soon started to get off and we were able to get seats for about an hour or so at a time until more people got on. We eventually made friends with 2 hobo looking Asians in this little room at the very back of the train that was no bigger than a hallway where we camped out on their newspapers so we could get some sleep. We were all determined to not use the squatter on the train, so I did learn that I can go over 22 hours without going to the bathroom, unfortunately our train ride was 26 hours. Only 2 out of the 6 of us were successful. Looking back on it we all laugh, and we know we can stand just about anything now, but I will repeat NEVER AGAIN.
In Xian we got to walk between the 3 pits of the Terracotta Warriors while eating yummy pomegranates before heading to the Muslin Quarter. The Muslim quarter was really fun. There are streets just packed with little food stands (I don’t even know what half the foods were), and fun souvenir shops. After a day in Xian we reluctantly boarded another train, luckily this time we had seats. Thirteen hours later we were in Beautiful Beijing.
From the minute that we got to Beijing we loved it. It was cooler there than it is here in Zhongshan, but drier as well. In the desire to pack lightly none of us took any lotion because we don’t need it in Zhongshan. Well after a few days of walking all over my heels were very dry, then after a few more days they were cracking and bleeding, it was a tad painful, but we got to do so many fun things in Beijing. There was the Forbidden City, The Summer Palace, the Zoo, The Lama Temple, and Tiananmen Square. We got to go to a Kung Fu Show and an Acrobatics show. There was of course great food, and we even got to do a Hot Pot dinner where they bring you plates of raw meat and vegetables and you cook them in 2 different boiling sauces right there in the middle of the table. We got to walk the Olympic Line, and since I am an Olympics freak, seeing the Bird’s Nest and the Natatorium in person was one of my favorite parts of the trip. We did our share of bartering at the Silk and Pearl market, I have never seen so much merchandise packed in one building. But of course the best part was climbing the Great Wall. We got a private tour guide that took us to a part of the wall that is not open to the public. It was awesome to have the wall all to ourselves, and to get to hike around wherever we wanted. We had an awesome trip. I LOVE CHINA!!!
Some of the trip highlights:
· Feeding hobo Zhou (pronounced Jo) sesame covered bean paste balls on the subway
· Visiting our cute friends at the cookie stand
· Eating Lambus bread from the bread stand
· Petting zebras at the zoo
· Running down the Olympic line
· Cuddling with strange Asians on the train
· Having fall weather
· Getting away from the humidity of Zhongshan
· Ditching our tour guide to make an ice cream run
· Eating lots of delicious sweet and sour chicken/fish (the waitress didn’t know the word for chicken so she kept calling it fish)
· Having many Asians want their pictures taken with us
· Visiting 2 silk factories because, “you don’t like…you don’t drink tea?”
· Getting strange looks from Asians for eating Oreos with Peanut Butter
· Going into the secret room of the movie store
· Guessing at the pronunciation of Subway stations
· Trying chicken feet
· Feeding the monkeys at the zoo banana chips and hairy meat sticks
· THE GREAT WALL!!
· Having tons of fun with all the girls!!!


This is my tiny spot on the trainTerracotta Warriors



The Great Wall

Our Hot Pot Dinner