Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Up For Adventure?

Just a quick note as I have to finish many things in the next hour--because we're off to Tianjin!

Many people know that while the Phillips are the reason that we are in Qingdao, our close friends in Tianjin are really the reason we came to China. We first met them when they were on leave in the States about two and a half years ago. When we found out they really lived in China, we thought that it was so cool! And look now where we are...

Tianjin is only a five hour train ride a way, and when we first found out we were not going to be sent there, I consoled myself with the fact that Qingdao is the next closest city that our company has a school in. Only five hours is not so close in reality! So between the play and everything else we've been doing, this is the first time we could get away for a whole weekend. I'm so excited!

I'm also incredibly nervous. I was surprised by this. Qingdao has come to feel so much like home that I've become very comfortable with exploring on our own. I always know that even if I get lost I can grab a taxi, give the name of our street, and direct them home. Getting on a train and navigating across a town I've never been to is another thing entirely! Our Chinese lessons have focused on pronunciation, or "pin yin", so far rather than vocabulary, so our conversation language is still incredibly lacking! But, in this modern age, we have dictionaries and cell phones, so we're hoping for the best. Good luck to us! Can't wait!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Joys of Teaching

Some days I spend running around, it feels like in circles, with hardly time to breathe. I start class rushed and frustrated, and from there, everything goes downhill.

Today felt like it was going to be one of those days. I came to school and needed to print some pictures out before my first class. I had forty-five minutes before Chinese class, this should have been plenty of time, no? That was before the computer wouldn't turn on, the internet wouldn't work correctly, the printer became jammed, and the copier had the wrong paper in it...but I finally got what I needed, just in time.

I then rushed to my Chinese class. Normally I don't meet on Mondays but I had arranged to make up a class I had missed a couple weeks ago when I was sick. That went well, but ran late.

I had left the papers I needed for chapel in my office, so I ran back there, then to my small group's meeting area. Having been so rushed, I was not nearly prepared went alright, but from no fault of my own.

And this is how I started my first class; tired, frustrated, and late.

But having awesome students makes everything better. My first class, sixth grade, had two projects they were working on. I got them all started on one project and then pulled them out one by one to work with me on the next. It was a little hectic, but worked.

My HS class was great. They all are in the middle of a project, so they came, got out their projects and began to work. I circulated and gave them pointers as they got stuck.

Last but not least, my MS class. Cultural Art in 3D. This one started out as the beginning of my day had. The material that I thought was plaster, was not, and not wanting to ruin their projects before we experimented with the new material, I made a quick and executive decision to put the project on hold. So where does that lead me? 17 students and no lesson plan. After quickly brainstorming, they wanted to play pictionary. The only problem is that I had to come up with the words for them to draw. Then a lightbulb went on...what a great way for them to review and learn vocabulary words! By the end of the class, all of my students knew words like, shape, balance, texture, ceramics, paper mache, sculpture, and many more. The great thing was that they (and I!) thoroughly enjoyed it! Next time I will have to actually plan this in advance-they'll be learning and they won't even realize it!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I just have to post...our Ayi is amazing! Not only does she generally anticipate our needs before we can say something (we never run out of paper towels), she is an amazing cook.

Many people know that I am allergic to gluten, which makes finding a variety of foods often quite difficult. In the States, ingredient substitutes were quite easily found at our local HEB or Whole Foods. Unfortunately, Qingdao does not have an equivalent of either, and their local specialty "jiaozi" (pronounced jout-za) is completely wheat and gluten filled. It is similar to a dumpling, bread-like dough wrapped around a tasty filling, usually meat. Due to my allergy being against the main ingredient, I have been unable to take part in this local delicacy.

When we first hired our Ayi, our translator explained to her that I cannot eat wheat or gluten. The first night we came home to her food, she had prepared fried chicken...I was concerned until I realized that she had used a cornmeal mix to create a wonderful breading. For the first time in years I was able to eat fried chicken!

Since then she has prepared fried shrimp, noodle dishes using rice noodles instead of wheat noodles, and many other tasty treats that have been absent from my diet since I discovered my allergy.

However, Monday she topped everything she had ever done. We came home to her preparing a gluten free jiaozi for me! She has created a potatoe flour substitute to wrap the meat with, and it was fantastic! It was so good, I was afraid once again that she didn't truly understand my allergy and had used wheat, but I did not get sick. She has proved her worth to us in many ways, but what has come to stand out to me the most is her deep care for us. She continues to go above and beyond! Thank you Ayi!

From Random

Friday, November 7, 2008

Late Nights...

So it's 1:00 AM here and I'm still up. Amazing since I've been up since just past five. Adrenaline will do that to you. Way to go Fiddler Cast--you are amazing! Only one more performance to go!

Actually, it works out well because it's actually late enough to call home. I think the time difference has been the hardest thing since moving here. Oregon is a sixteen hour difference, which means that to call in my evening, their morning, I have to stay up to 12:00 AM just for it to be 8:00 AM there. If I want to call in the morning, not only do we never have time (we've never been early risers) but weekdays we have to leave by 6:30 AM. This means we'd have to call by 6:00, which is only 2:00 PM there and few are home that time of the day. So it's Friday night or Saturday mornings for us. And everyone knows how busy weekends are.

Skype is a wonderful tool however. We can call Skype to Skype for free, and to call a phone is only 2.5 cents per minute! I don't know how people lived overseas before our millennium. Especially before e-mail. We are still tying up loose ends back home. Thank Goodness for my sister who is absolutely amazing at helping us get stuff done on that side of the world! Well, I am hoping to call one more friend before I find my pillow, so I shall sign off for now.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Night Owl

Last night was the opening night. It was great! The kids are awesome. So much fun, but all of these late nights are wearing us out. :-) Two more days, then we can all sleep...

I'll try and post some pics of the play soon, but for now I have a really cool picture I wanted to post...

From Random

Yes, that's an owl! It was so cool. It was in our dance hall for some reason yesterday when the drama students went in for class. The windows don't close well in that room, so I guess it just thought it found a cool place to roost. One of the students caught it (it was either hurt or very disoriented from being woken up in the middle of the day) and we took it over to the science department. They set it in a box outside overnight and it was gone this morning. Whether it flew off or became food, we don't know, but it was a fun interruption yesterday! I've never seen one so close up. And yes, even though the picture looks fake, it really was real!