Adventures

Based in Xian, China until May 2, 2013
This is to help collect & share all of my adventures in China's first capital
With this photo, I do declare, I am saying goodbye to China. It has been a surreal experience. It has defeated me at times, and I conquered it at others. Beijing was an excellent way to go out of the country. We managed to meet individuals in each place we traveled that were kind enough to guide us in the right direction and not play us for fools. It has a taken a good deal of patience, reflecting, adjusting, and I would like to think courage.
For a first time traveler, China is no country for the weak. We have seen unbelievable events. A nation that is attempting to make progress to a capitalist/democratic nation. We have witnessed citizens stuck in the past, and those who’s only hope is in the future. 
Between Kentucky and me there is only a half mile walk to the metro with 60 lbs of luggage, several flights of stairs (there are not enough escalators in the underground here), three metro line changes and a 14 hour flight. 

Goodbye china, you’ve changed me for the better. 

再見 “goodbye”

With this photo, I do declare, I am saying goodbye to China. It has been a surreal experience. It has defeated me at times, and I conquered it at others. Beijing was an excellent way to go out of the country. We managed to meet individuals in each place we traveled that were kind enough to guide us in the right direction and not play us for fools. It has a taken a good deal of patience, reflecting, adjusting, and I would like to think courage.
For a first time traveler, China is no country for the weak. We have seen unbelievable events. A nation that is attempting to make progress to a capitalist/democratic nation. We have witnessed citizens stuck in the past, and those who’s only hope is in the future.
Between Kentucky and me there is only a half mile walk to the metro with 60 lbs of luggage, several flights of stairs (there are not enough escalators in the underground here), three metro line changes and a 14 hour flight.

Goodbye china, you’ve changed me for the better.

再見 “goodbye”

A mere glimpse at the adventures in Beijing.

Gānbēi “bottoms up”

Wénzi “mosquito” 

Using ice cold beverages to reduce the swelling of the mosquito bites. We have waged war against the mosquitoes that got into our room. Two out of three dead.

Wénzi “mosquito”

Using ice cold beverages to reduce the swelling of the mosquito bites. We have waged war against the mosquitoes that got into our room. Two out of three dead.

Arrival to Beijing

Nikki, Laryssa, and I have arrived in Beijing. Our hotel is lovely. If you ever end up in Beijing, hotel kapok is the best value for what you pay by far. We waddled out into the streets feeling rather slap happy and realized very quickly, this aint no Xian. Pedestrians are actually expected to abide by traffic laws and there are A LOT of fair skinned folk in this town. More natives try to scam you here and less (almost none) stare at you like a caged animal.

In a way, we have all become simple tourists within one two hour flight. It is strange to be treated as if we know nothing about china, one again.

We had some dumplings, and walked about our area of town for a bit, did some street dancing and then hit the sauna in the hotel. Three of us to one king sized bed…I suppose that might be where we get the idea of the incerdeible “value” of our hotel.

Yóukè “Tourists”

There comes a point when you think or feel that you are a true citizen of your new home. You are constantly prepared with your personal toilet paper and your PPP(pee particle protector). You know how to communicate what you need or want without any words actually being exchanged. You know the hours of all your favorite restaurants (however strange those hours may be) You are comfortable with the metric system when buying meat. You know which street vendor will give you the best deal on fruit etc.. But most importantly and sometimes saddening, you are so adapted, that you no longer find things surprising. Babies with their bare butts exposed defecating on the public sidewalks, grown men doing the same. The smell of any open water source, bathroom (you would never believe the smells), the number of people that will crowd onto bus 29 (as if another bus was not ever going to come) I mean seriously, there have been times, I could have lifted my feet up off the floor and levitated within the sea of people.

Even the more drastic things, like electronic fuzzy animal “cars?” become another part of the scenery.

正常 “normal”


Photo credits: Jeff Castro

On the cold days, the smog is much worse.

Wēnróu de shā wǒ “killing me softly”

Hotel information guide from downtown Xian. WHAT.

Hotel information guide from downtown Xian. WHAT.

The Chicken or the Egg?

它讓世界周圍的各種 “it takes all kinds to make the world go around”
Within the package my mother sent me were both Cadbury eggs and Peeps. I received the package only minutes before I was scheduled to give my class on social justice and so overwhelmed with happiness that I had to share with my students. I showed them every item in the box and explained them all, prior to teaching.

Being as the subject of human rights is quite controversial in this country, any student who was willing to speak out (which they did!) most certainly deserved some of my candy along with my usual high five. I walked around the student holding the Peeps and Cadbury eggs beside one another And the students simply died laughing. They could not believe the Peeps were edible, nor could they answer the question, ” which came first, the chicken or the egg?” This started a debate that had students coming into my office hours to discuss it further. They said they had never been asked a question like that and had no idea where to start. (The Big Bang…that’s where they wanted to start.)

Anyway, the lesson (1) did not get me in trouble (2) inspired a great many students to write to me about the inequality among women and men in china, the inconsistency and lack of equality within the education system and even one student spoke out against freedom of speech. At the end of class one of my students did tell me that if I was Chinese I would have been “talked to” and I told them that I’d I had been in America it would probably have been worse than that. Either way, I took the opportunity not to convince students of a certain way of thought, but to remind them that in the end, we are all human. We are all equals and as my mother has told me since the beginning of time, “it takes all kinds to make the world go ‘round”

This sign when translated are the guidelines of marriage. Don’t try to steal someone else’s wife, don’t abuse your wife, only have one child, go to the doctor, marry a woman with an education and take care of your parents….

I believe that every person has their own idea of what success is or what a successful person is. At many points in my life, I have felt the strong sense of failure and on the opposing side, the strong sense of personal success. This has come is many unique forms and has driven me towards the person that I am now.

This trip has taught me that success knows no boundaries. I have talked with foreign language learners in a communist nation about the injustices they suffer from, I have spread the idea of equal rights to education among the top achieving students in The Shanxxi Province and most importantly, I have learned unforgettable and unteachable lessons about being a teacher. I understand why my ELL students need extra help, because although numbers are a universal language, the way math is taught differs everywhere. I understand what it feels like to be an outcast amongst an entire society of people. I have been met with many discomforts, but overall I truly feel this experience has been a success.

Yesterday, we hosted a CHETL forum and discussed what it means to be a highly effective teacher in China versus America. With no surprise, the characteristics of a good teacher are the same no matter where you go.

報捷 “report a success”