The Show Must Go On….

Monday was a day for much needed rest for sure. Keeping that in mind, know that sleeping in till 12pm was me just needing that rest (don’t judge). I really didn’t do anything all day, I didn’t even take a shower when I got up. I just sat in bed and ate some Oreo’s dipped in milk. I talked to my mom for a while but she had to go to bed since it was almost midnight back in Arizona. So for the rest of the day I browsed the internet, watch YouTube videos, oh, and I did watch “Split”, the movie about the guy with multiple personalities who kidnaps three girls, it was pretty good. It was really nice to just rest my brain for once. Caitlyn though, did bug me about my dinner last night with James, saying it was a date, but I kept telling her that it was a “thank you” dinner for helping him translate and fix the English in a document. Before I headed to bed, I finally took a shower and did some last minute writing.

Tuesday we were back in XinZhou for teaching, this week was seventh grade. I taught the same lesson as tenth grade; I just made it simpler and easier for them to understand. Hangman was a great hit, there was this one kid in my second class that used the word ‘twilight’, and for a seventh grader to know that word was very surprising. When I walked over to my third class I was a little early, since there is a ten minute passing period, so I just decided to wait outside of the classroom. I took my phone out and a whole bunch of kids flocked over to me like birds, and they all wanted to know what I was doing. So I turned on Snapchat and went through the different filters, I was laughing so hard because of the faces they were making and the noises too, lol. After classes Yao took us to eat, and after lunch I went to this pen shop and bought some pens. I love Chinese pens, they are literally the best, so much so that I bought 14 of them. (I won’t be needing pens for a while) After that we went home and just passed out for the rest of the night.

 

Wednesday we went back to XinZhou, and classes went well. After lunch we were waiting for the car and this really weird guy came up to Caitlyn all cool like and took a picture with her in the background, it was really weird. When we came home our WiFi had stopped working and we couldn’t even use our Wechat, so since we had the rest of the night off we went decided to just go to bed early.

Thursday Caitlyn went to the college and I was able to sleep in a little. Around 10am I headed over to the center, they didn’t have anything for me to do again, so I called my parents, and then all the sudden the power shut off. At first I thought it was just because they didn’t pay the power bill, but when Daniel came in, he told me that the entire community had shut down. Chen came to the center and he gave me a gift, which was a really nice pair of metal chopsticks. I went home and when I got there Caitlyn came home too, and the power was back on!! However, the WiFi was worse and then our stove didn’t work anymore. Around 2pm we headed to this school to judge another English competition. There were so many kids, at least a hundred total that I judged, and the guy that was judging next to me, well, let’s just say I don’t think he knew what he was doing. He gave all the kids super low scores, asked them really hard questions, and he was kinda rude. There was this song that came on during the middle of our judging, that has you massage your eyes, ears, and what not, and he made all the kids do it and then yelled at them if they weren’t doing it. So scary and so strict. Afterwards Caitlyn and I went home and the power was off…again, and all the buildings were just black, it was really creepy. So we went to our apartment, luckily the elevator was still working so we took it to our floor. We then decided to head over to the center to see if the WiFi worked, lo and behold it did! So we stayed there till about 1am, yes in the morning, and then headed back home and went to bed.

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Friday I woke up around noon and planned my lesson for the elementary class I was teaching that day, the subject matter was about pronunciation. I planned some tongue twisters to practice and then a couple of pages of words that sound similar but are different, like full and fool. The lesson went well and I still had some extra time so I read them a book. After class ended we made our way home and then changed our clothes and headed to the gym. Edis and Walker decided to join us. I didn’t do much but stretch and run for fifteen minutes. After the gym, we went home and grabbed our computers, phones and some food and headed to the center to use the WiFi since ours was still not working.  When I was there I found out that my computer charger had broken and my computer ended up dying on me, so I decided to call my mom and dad and eat a whole half of watermelon (something I do pretty frequently here). When I was on the phone with my dad, I heard a cat meow, so I meowed back, thinking it was Caitlyn meowing, and this cat came trotting towards me. It was super nice, and started purring when I picked it up. I went to go look for some food for the kitty but Caitlyn wanted to go home. When she saw the cat she about freaked and started to get all upset; apparently she doesn’t like cats, so she wasn’t too happy when she saw it. When we came home it was almost midnight, luckily I was exhausted so I fell asleep pretty quickly.

I had a very rude awakening around 1am, as I ran to the bathroom and was literally puking my brains out. This happened multiple times all the way till 5am, throwing up is never fun.  I couldn’t sleep at all throughout the night and overall I felt really horrible inside. When it was time for me to get all the way up, I was still feeling crappy; however, I told myself that if I just take a shower I will feel better. Well the shower didn’t work and I didn’t feel any better, so I texted Megan and Daniel asking if one of them could fill in or take over my classes for me about two hours before class started. Sadly though they were taking a nap and when they woke up they told me they couldn’t because they had already bought movie tickets and it started in an hour. Then it all just got out of hand because the center promised foreign teachers (American looking people) to teach the classes…. its way to much to explain the whole thing and so to make the long story short they told me I had to come in no matter what. So I did…sick, tired, no energy and not feeling well. So for class all I had them do was read and write a book report, easy. My last class was crazy though, so I told them to work for thirty minutes and if they did well, we would go outside and play basketball for the last 15 minutes of class. After class finished Caitlyn and I went and ate dinner (Yes, I was hungry by then) and then headed over to the center to chill…not think. I was super pooped out, so I left early, went home and straight to bed.

Sunday I had off so I slept till 1:30pm, that’s was when Caitlyn woke me up to eat, and then an hour later I went back to sleep. I didn’t wake up again till 8:30pm. Caitlyn and I headed to the center and chilled there till 1am, once again using the WiFi since we still didn’t have working wifi at home. This week I come home and I’ve been planning my trip, writing down directions and checking and re-checking my routes. I am excited to come home finally!!!

 

 

What’s your favorite finger?

Monday was another lazy day; I was able to sleep in till way late, and do what I wanted to do. I took an extra long shower, taking up most of the heated water. Then I worked on some personal business. For lunch I made some dumplings….so delicious. After that I headed to the center to pick up the teaching lesson plans for the week, so I rode my long board over and picked up the papers. When I got there Edis, Samantha, and this other Chinese co-worker were there. I was about to walk out when I saw Edis trying to put together these file things, and she was struggling…hard, so I offered my help and put together a few for her. After helping, I dropped off the paperwork at home and ate some lunch. I was about to walk out the door to go for a ride on my long board when Caitlyn came through the door. She was finally home from Hong Kong!!!! She talked for a little about her trip and I showed her the lesson plans, after that I went for my ride. It was actually really funny because everyone was staring at me, probably because they thought I was crazy. Picture this – I had on my Bluetooth beats, my Beijing hoodie, and I was riding a long board, so I know I looked weird to those I passed. However, I didn’t mind, I was in my own world, cruising down the streets of Taiyuan looking at the complex I lived in and simply enjoying my time. After an hour I decided to come back home. I didn’t do much but made dinner, watched another movie, planed a lesson for the next day, talked to Caitlyn for a little, and to finish off my night I read my scriptures. It was a necessary fulfilling day of relaxation and reflection.

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So this week we are back to teaching tenth grade, and Caitlyn and I had to be in front of the center at 7:30am. We took our usual hour long drive to the school and yes, I slept the whole way there. For class I taught them hangman, and we played that for a while, and surprisingly they really liked it. I did the first word to show them how to do it because when I would explain it they all would look at me like I was talking about astrophysics or something, but once they got it they loved it. The lesson was very simple, it was just going over some new vocabulary, then reading a paragraph that had the new vocabulary in it, and then answering questions about the paragraph to make sure they understood it, comprehension. Classes went by super fast…like really fast. Every time I finished going over the last question the bell would go off. The bell system here isn’t a typical bell sound that you would here at schools in the U.S., when class was over you would here a Chinese song that was singing about how class was over. All four classes went awesomely (my new word) and soon it was lunch time. Yao took us to the same restaurant, and we ate regular rice with buttered broccoli, and some other dishes that Yao picked out. When we went back to the center, Daniel wanted to have a meeting about the schedule for the week, which he called the “Just American Meeting”, haha. So we began to talk about what he was just told by our Chinese co-workers; which was that we had another class to teach on Wednesday night and that there was a conference that night in like an hour that they wanted Daniel and I to give a 20 minute speech, luckily Daniel told me that I didn’t have to go, since I had already taught for a couple of hours and it was last minute, so he didn’t want me to stress about it. We then had a heated conversation on how the company was working with doing all this last minute planning, and how frustrating it was, also how it was all going to work out when I left for home. We then got really off topic and started talking about a lot of things, during our meeting Chen and Caroline came in, and we were all surprised to see them, since they quit their jobs at the company. It was crazy to see how happy they were compared to when they were working. Chen came in to just check in with Daniel to make sure he was ok, and that things weren’t too stressful. After our meeting I quickly ran home and grabbed Chen a shirt that had “Arizona” written across it (a souvenir from home), it was a gift I was suppose to give him a while back, but couldn’t because someone didn’t want me to but I followed my intuition and gave it to him anyway.  I then rode around on my long board for a little bit, went home, ate some dinner, read for a little, took a shower, and then went to bed.

The next day we had to be up early, and in front of the SMS at 6:30am. I had the same lesson to teach as the day before, and again it really well for all five classes. When we walked out to wait for Yao, one of the English teachers in the school came up to us and started talking to us. His English was really good, and he had a very big vocabulary (impressive).  I think out of the whole conversation all I remember was him saying that we looked very spunky, haha. We then went to eat and had our usual, this time Yao ordered these black rice sweet things (really have no idea what they were called), but they were soooo delicious. When we were all full from eating there were four more of the rice things, but I was to full from eating, Yao tried making us eat them, but we didn’t want to so we played rock, paper, scissors, Yao lost so he had to eat all four of the rice things. After that we got into the car and went straight home. I was super exhausted, so I slept a little, and then we got a message form Daniel telling us that the company planned more and that we would have to judge English competitions Thursday and Friday evening.  He also mentioned that the class we would normally have Friday night was cancelled. After receiving the message I got ready and Caitlyn and I headed to the committee office of “Star of Outlook”, to teach a class about how to do well for the English competitions. That class was only two hours long, and it ended around 8:30pm. After it was finished they put us into a taxi and sent us home. The car ride was funny because the taxi driver was trying to talk to us but he was only speaking Chinese, and I couldn’t understand him. I think he got really confused though because I was teaching Caitlyn some Chinese, and was speaking a little Chinese, all well. When we got dropped off we were really hungry, so we headed to our dumpling place. On our way there, there was a group of older ladies dancing together. Caitlyn wanted to join really badly, so she gave me all of her stuff. I don’t think they understood the song they were listening to because one, it was in English and two, it was singing about sex. I slowly walked away, and soon Caitlyn caught up to me. When we got to the restaurant we each ordered a plate of dumplings which hit the spot just right. When we got home I talked with my family for a while and then went to bed, it was really late.

Thursday I slept in a little, but I had to be at the center by ten. When I got there I kept asking if I could help with anything, and they never needed any help, so I just sat around for a couple of hours. When Daniel came in, he didn’t have me do much either. We did have a long conversation with our Chinese co-workers because they were again planning things without telling us and they planned more English competitions for Saturday and Sunday; however, Daniel got upset because in the past he told them that we can’t work Sundays do to our religion, and he tried to explain that again, saying that they already had us doing the weekend English class, and that it was not fair to us. They then started to ask a lot of questions about our religion, but we were getting close to the line of proselytizing, so we had to tell them that they couldn’t ask any more questions. They then started asking more questions as to why we couldn’t answer their questions; it was just kind of all over the place. After that though, I did get on a computer and I found a train ticket to Beijing and calculated out how much time I would need to get to the airport, how long it would take to go through security, buy tickets, and what not for my trip home.  I was going to purchase my ticket but I needed Daniel to do that and he was in a meeting, so I just told him I found out everything and he told me to get with him when he wasn’t busy to buy the tickets. I then went home and got ready to go judge the English competition. When we got to the English competition it went way longer than I thought.  In total we judged 80 kids….80. So how the judging works is there are three judges, one foreign and two Chinese/English speakers. So the kids were a mix of fifth and sixth graders that have to give a speech for a minute and a half (on anything they like) and then they have to answer questions we ask them. I like to ask weird questions like, “What’s your favorite finger?” or “Would you rather have no eyes or no ears?” So each of us judges took turns asking question, so we would rotate asking question with every kid, in other words one kid had one judge asking them questions. The scoring was that the speech had a total of 55 point, their interaction to the question is out of 30 points , image, the way they present themselves, is out of 10 points, and time is out of 5 points. So we were judging for three and a half hours, my brain was so dead, and I felt really bad because sometime I would zone out, I tried really hard in the end to pay attention. I think on every scoring sheet I doodled some kind of picture. When it was finally over, Anne took Caitlyn and me to this really fancy dumpling restaurant that was in walking distance of the school we were judging at. Anne ordered three plates of dumplings, two meats and one vegetable. They were so delicious, or as the Chinese would say, “Hen hao chu!!!” After we were finished eating, Anne took us home, and it was really late, but Caitlyn and I stayed up and talked for a while, luckily we didn’t have to be up early the next day.

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Friday I got up around 10am and got all of my dirty laundry together and went over to Daniel and Megan’s to use their washing machine. While I waited I watched “Sing”, such a cute cartoon. When I finished Caitlyn came over to do her laundry, and I went home to hang up all my clothes. I called my sister and talked to her for a little while and then took a shower and got ready, since we had another English competition to judge. This English competition was at the same school, but this time I was to judge 96 kids…ninety six, and instead of doodling on many score sheets, I picked one sheet and doodled on that. It took about four hours to get all the kids done. Whew. Afterwards, Anne took us to the same dumpling restaurant, this time Tommy came with us. On our way over there I saw this really cool building with Spiderman on it, we also saw this car with a very interesting paint job, I took pictures of both so you could see them. For dinner we had four plates of dumplings and an extra dish of meat balls, the kind of mini meat balls you would put in with spaghetti. We ended up with leftovers, so Anne gave us the rest of the dumplings. After that we headed to the center to drop off some stuff for another competition they were going to have in the morning. They had the place all set up, and they had these pamphlets, and lo and behold, I was on the front along with Daniel, Megan, Nita, and Alex….it was weird. We also met some kids that were going to help with the competition, they were all about my age… actually they were a little older, all around 20 years old. There was this one boy who was asking me all kinds of questions including asking for my WeChat so that he could practice his English. The kids had to go to another room for a meeting so it was just Caitlyn, Tommy, Walker, James, and I, and we talked for a long time, and when it was about 11pm we decided that it would probably be best to go home, so Caitlyn and I walked home. I couldn’t sleep, and ended up staying awake till 4am, good thing I didn’t have to do anything till 2pm the next day.

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So since I didn’t go to bed till way late I slept till 12pm, took a shower and then planned for my lessons for the weekend English classes, which for this week was music. So I went over to the center and I taught the kids the cup song from “Pitch Perfect”, and surprisingly they all loved it, maybe not so much of the singing, but doing the cups was fun for them. My first class was only two kids and they were OK, they tried doing it with the music and had some difficulty. My second class was Franklin, whose English is really good, he is in the highest class, which is sadly only him. He did really well and got to the point to where he could sing and do the cups at the same time, as long as I did it with him, and by the end of class he could sing and play along with the music almost perfectly. For my last class, there are a lot of students, eight to be exact, so I had them play musical chairs for a while, and then I had them learn the cup song. They were really stubborn at first and said that they couldn’t do it, but with a lot of repetition they were able to get the cups down, play with the video, and pass the cups around. After classes Caitlyn and I went home and changed into exercise clothes because we finally got a gym card!!! So we met Megan and Daniel at the gym in our complex and we did a small workout that Daniel planned. It felt so good to be in a gym with actual equipment that they have in America. After we did our workout, Megan and Daniel went home to shower and cook dinner, which they had invited us to. So Caitlyn and I stayed for a little longer and I really wanted to run, so I did a five minute run, I wanted to do more but Caitlyn doesn’t like running. So we headed to the dance room and Caitlyn practiced some of her dance moves. After the gym we had to buy drinking water for our apartment, so we went to SMS, and bought water along with some snacks. We headed home and dropped off the groceries, changed, and then headed over to Daniel and Megan’s for dinner. Megan had made mash potatoes, chicken, and fired green beans, it was so good!!! We also watched “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, and when that finished it was almost 11pm, so Caitlyn and I headed home to go to bed.

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Sunday I decided to stay in bed till I absolutely had to get out and go to work, which was at 2:30pm so I stayed in bed till 1pm, awake but I just didn’t want to take off my blanket, haha.  My first class I taught was my “cartoon” class, which is just having the students read children books out loud since their English is at the lowest level. I had three students this time so we read some books. I feel really bad because that class is really boring, but also extremely helpful for them.  For my second class I had my music class, we played musical chairs and then sang “You Are My Sunshine”.  After that we did the cup song, some of the Chinese employees wanted to join the class, so they came in and I taught them the words and then the cups to go along with the words. I only had one student, who was having difficulty doing the cups, but with everyone’s help we were able to help her get better and better and by the end of class we could play to the music and pass the cups around in a circle. It was such a great moment to see.  For my third class I had the kids from my first class and a random new girl had come along and so she joined us as well. When we played musical chairs, Henry was out of control, he was holding on the jacket/shirt of the kid in front of him so when the music would stop he would pull them away from the chair so he could win. After that, we sang “You Are My Sunshine” and then did the cup song….again.  For my last class I had English Literature with the girls from my second class. They are reading “The Adventure of Tom Sawyer”, which is a little advanced for them; however, we still read it, but just go over everything. So first the girls take turns reading and while they read if there are any words they don’t know, they ask and I explain, then when we finish a chapter we go over what we learned in that chapter, and then we have an audio that reads the chapter and they just listen. If we finish a chapter we move onto the next chapter. After class, James wanted help fixing his English for a document he translated, and he asked if I could help him. For any of those that know me, know that I hate editing, but I was helping a friend so I agreed to help. We literally spent three hours going over this 18 page document and fixing the English. James was so happy that I helped him, so he repaid me by taking me to Hot Pot, which was right by the center. It was really good, and we ate for a long time. James told me some interesting stories about his time in England, some stories were not what I wanted to hear, like about how it was his fourth day in the new country and his roommates wanted to go to a bar but instead walked into a strip club….. so awkward. After dinner I walked home, and when I walked through the door it was almost 11:30pm, so late again. I decided that I would be best to go to bed, so I did a little writing, a little reading and then fell asleep around 2am.

To Be or Not To Be….Confident

Monday was not quite as exciting as most have been, a lot of sitting around, sleeping, and just doing the things that I needed to do…like writing this blog. I woke up really late, and ate some food, then took a shower. My roommates just did their own thing too. Caitlyn slept till way late, and I didn’t even see her till that evening when we were eating dinner. Nita was in her room and only came out some times, to grab a drink or food. Monday was a down-time day for sure. Daniel and Megan came back from Tahiti, sounds like they had tons of fun. Sadly Daniel told us that they wanted the blankets and pillows that we took from our last apartment back because they wanted to wash them and put them back in the apartment, where they belong. So Nita and I put them in sacs, like what we did last Monday, and carried them to the center, and again I couldn’t help but laugh, but this time because the blanket bundles we made weren’t staying together. Luckily there was a lady that was cleaning the sidewalk where we were walking and she came to our rescue and helped us carry our mess to the center. I had no way to thank her but say thank you over and over again. Now, every time I see her I wave and say hi and she waves back and smiles. When Nita and I came back to the apartment, we decided to see what movies our Chinese TV had to offer, we ended up finding “Suburban Girl”, which may I say is not the greatest movie, it was really bad…as in being really cheesy and bad acting; so bad that Nita left to go to the other room and Caitlyn and I finished it. After that we just did whatever and then went to bed.

So before I continue, my week is a lot like the week before with some minor changes and details. Tuesday was like the Tuesday before, Caitlyn and I woke up early and met up with Yao at 7:30am; however, this time we were going to teach 7th graders. It was actually kind of fun teaching them because they are way more expressive, but also difficult since they thought they could do whatever they wanted figuring we didn’t know how to handle them, haha. My first class I had was super great; they listened and asked questions… lots of questions. Then they then asked if I could give them English names, so I went around the room, and tried to give them names that fit how they look and that sounded close to their Chinese name. After the first class they just became more out of control. By the time I got to my last class they just didn’t want to sit in their seats, and pay attention. So very frustrating and now I completely understand what teachers go through when a class won’t listen or pay attention.

When classes were over, we waited for Yao and as usual we were stared at by all the kids and passer-bys, it’s almost become such norm for us. We ate at the same restaurant for lunch, and our major dishes were broccoli which was steamed in this buttery sauce with rice, and compliments of fired mushrooms and this meat dish that had a lot more vegetables than meat. When we finally got back to the center it was 2:30pm, we just stuck around the center waiting to be told what to do, I ended up going on this app called “Taobao”, which is a Chinese app that lets you buy items before they are shipped out for super cheap… literally the best app ever!!! Needless to say, I bought a long board, and I was told that it would take three days to get here. We then were told that this would be the last week Nita and I would be teaching the middle school public speaking class because they wanted a full time teacher, and to be honest I was really excited for those classes because I enjoyed teaching those kids and that subject so much. It was really disheartening to hear that this would be the last week I would see them, we were also told that the class would be on Thursday instead of Wednesday. After making my purchase and getting notified of the schedule change, I was told they didn’t have any more work for me to do at the center so I went home, made some dinner, planned for a little and then went to bed.  Not the kind of day I was expecting to have, nor feelings to have with my kids that I teach, but everything I do is learning opportunity for something greater and I am sure there will be more to come.

Wednesday was also similar to last week, except we didn’t have to wake up supper early, and had to meet Yao at 7:30am. When I woke up I had a super runny nose and sore throat… YAY for the start of sickness!!! (insert sarcasm here). When we got to the school I wasn’t such a happy camper as my usual self, my excitement just disappeared, maybe because the next class I would teach would be the 13th time talking about myself, and I was tired of explaining who I am (really isn’t my favorite thing to do), but I put a smile on my face and thought about the kids, and made it an awesome experience for them, because after all experience (of any kind) brings growth and growth spurs opportunity. By the end of the last class I had talked about myself for 16 different class periods, and now I don’t want to ever have to talk about myself again, lol.

The first class went really well; their English teacher sat in on the class and watched from the back. She was super nice, after class she pulled me to the side to thank me for coming and helping the students with their English. Some of the students came up to me and told me how excited they were to have me as their teacher. As the classes went on, they just got less and less attentive, and by the last class when I was going around the class room asking their name, age, and something they like to do, they were making the excuse that they didn’t know how to speak English. However, what they didn’t know was that I could speak a little Mandarin, so when they said that they couldn’t speak English I would repeat the question in English and then in Mandarin, and then they gave up faking not speaking English and would speak English. It’s always so funny seeing their faces when Mandarin comes out of my mouth; they are always so star-stuck. After classes were finished, we decided to go out to eat for lunch. We ended up going to the same restaurant that we’ve been to many time, but there were a lot more people this time, most of them were trying to take sneaky pictures of us. At the end of lunch Yao told us that there will be two Chinese teachers accompanying us to Tai Yuan, so we had an awkward ride home, and I think I almost fell asleep on the lady next to me, oops. When we got back they said that we didn’t have anything else to do so we just went to our favorite dumpling place and got some dinner and then headed home.

 

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Thursday I was able to sleep in a little since Caitlyn was feeling much better, she could go teach the college class…whew. So I got up around 8am and got ready, then headed over to the center and worked on some items of business, and planned for the middle school pubic speaking class. I went home for lunch and talked to my sister forever and then I had to be back at the center by 4 pm to go to the middle school. I was super excited about the class because it was about having confidence, and not only was it a lesson for me but it was also for them. At the beginning of class I wrote the word ‘confidence’ on the board, explaining what we were going to be talking about that day, after having them tell me what they thought confidence meant, I went a little deeper into its explanation. I then told them to write a speech about anything, they had to write it in three minutes and they couldn’t use their paper to give their speech. After the three minutes I said something along the lines of, “Who wants to show their confidence today?” I had a few kids raise their hands and they came up and gave their speech, and they were actually really good. I then had them write down five things that make a speech good, in their note books. After they had done that I told everyone to go on to the board and write down one or two things that make a speech good. I read some of them out loud, like relax, smile, taking with your hands, and then tied it all back to being or having confidence.  If we lack confidence we wouldn’t be relaxed/comfortable/able to deliver, and so on and so forth. It’s really neat to see kids faces light when they understand, and finally put it all the pieces together. We then watched a TED talk by Drew Dudley about leadership, after the video we talked about why he was a good public speaker. I then had them write down a goal of how they were going to practice confidence. After that I had them say “I am confident” a couple of times really loud, they all had these huge smiles on their faces AND then I broke news that this would be my last day with them. They all got really sad and the teacher in the room had me take a picture with the entire class, and as the kids went out of the classroom I gave them high fives and told them to be confident. Some of the students gave me a hug, and wanted me to sign their note books; they also wanted me to take pictures with them… lots of pictures. It went very much the same for the next class. I felt so bad because some of the girls looked like they were going to cry…it was so sad. When we came home Caitlyn was planning and packing for her Hong Kong trip, she was so stressed out because she was still planning and she was leaving in the morning, and it didn’t help that she was going by herself (never good). I ended up making her eat some snow pears, which were from a previous dinner and Oreo’s since she hadn’t eaten all day yet. Exhausted from the day I went to bed.

 

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Friday I was able to sleep in for a while and then I headed to the center to do…. nothing. When I got there Nita was there, and we just chilled for a little. Mr. Jin came in and had a serious talk with us trying to persuade us to stay for a couple of months longer, he was relentless, he tried just talking us into it, he even got to the point to where he would pay us a lot of money to stay. Unfortunately Nita and I couldn’t stay longer and we had to explain that to Mr. Jin, and soon after an hour he gave up and left the room. After that episode, Nita and I were told that we were going to be taking pictures for advertisement around 2:30pm so we went home and got ready then went to our favorite noodle place to grab some tomato noodles to go, and we headed back to the center. As we ate our noodles we watched “Chasing Liberty”, which was a super cute movie. After the movie we sat around then went to go take some pictures, luckily it was very fast so we didn’t have to be there long, they had us stand in some really funny positions, like we stood a foot or two away from each other to take the picture (it felt beyond awkward). We then went home, and literally seconds after coming home I got the news that my long board had arrived, so I quickly ran back to the center and opened it up, I was so happy at that moment for such a monetary item, you don’t understand, this long board gave me a lot of joy…which I needed.

After sitting around a while we left to go the elementary school, and when we got there the kids were getting out of class, a lot of them were screaming “mei guo” (which means American) and pointing, and we literally got swarmed by a hundreds of little children. We forgot where to go, but luckily I recognized some of the kids from my class and they recognized me and we figured it out. For class we were suppose to take this English test so we could gage their English skills level, but all of my kids couldn’t read or understand any part of the test, so I had them crumple up their papers and I decided to go over some simple vocabulary sets like colors and family members, we then played little sally walker and I taught them “You Are My Sunshine”.  After class some of the girls came and gave me a hug. Oh and I forgot to tell you, I found out that I don’t just have third graders in my class, I also have a lot of second and first graders, so they know little to no English…perfect!  After class, we went to this really fancy BBQ restaurant as a farewell for Nita since she was going home back to America on Sunday. This place was actually really cool; it was a buffet but with BBQ. For the BBQ you get these white containers that have very thin cut pieces of meat that are raw and in the middle of the table there is a grill and you grill the meat in front of you. It was so good and so fun. There was me, Nita, Daniel, Megan, James, Walker, Anne, Edis, and Samantha, some of the names you don’t recognize are just some of our Chinese co-workers. I ate a lot of fruit, especially dragon fruit, and some meat. I also tried this sushi that had caviar on the outside and banana on the inside, it wasn’t so good. After diner we came home and since it was late we went to bed so we could work the next day.

Saturday I didn’t wake up till 10am, thank goodness I didn’t have to be at work till two. So Nita and I watched “I won a date with Ted Hamilton”, and then I got ready for the day and planned my art lesson for class. Classes went well, I showed them some different types of art and videos of people doing some art, then I taught them how to do some different doodling and we drew for the last bit of class.  The classes always start off good then by the time the last class comes they are just out of control, and it didn’t help that I had a humongous headache. There’s only so much a focused mind can handle at that age.  When class was finished, Nita took me to our favorite restaurant and bought dinner for both of us to go, and then we went home and ate. I was so tired that I headed to bed, and Nita stayed awake since she had to leave at 2am to go to the train station to go to Beijing and go back to America.

Sunday I woke up late again, around 10, and I was home alone, so I made some French toast and then cleaned a little. Around 11:50am Nita texted me to let me know that she got to the airport safely and that she was not late, we talked for a little and then I talked to my sister again. Soon 2 pm came around and I headed to the center. So for my first class I teach this reading class where we read books and then I check for comprehension to make sure they fully understand the books/words in the book. Usually I only have one independent study student, Henry, but today we got a new student, another little boy. They aren’t really little, since they are both eight years old, but they are little to me. After class I apparently had off so I sat and listened to some music. After an hour I got to teach art again but I did it differently than the first day. We first just drew and I played some music and when I stopped the music we switched papers and then when the music started again they drew on the picture that was in front of them. We did that for a while, I then showed them some videos of people drawing. Then we made these really cute fish drawings where you fold the paper and have a normal looking fish and when you pull the paper to its full size the fish has sharp teeth, it was really cute. After that I had them draw whatever they wanted for the last 8 minutes of class. When class was over I was done for the day so I went home and worked on some personal business, watched some movies and then talked to my family. I was up till 2am because I wanted to talk to my bestie (best friends keep life going) back in America, the minute that conversation was over, I passed out.  On to another week, with more great adventures and cultural exposures!!!

 

 

So much to do, so little time 繁忙繁忙

Since I went to bed at 2am I woke up at 11am on Monday. Luckily, Monday was our day off and it was moving day for Nita and I; we were going to be moving in with Caitlyn. As soon as I woke up, I packed up all my belongings, picked up trash, took a shower and then chilled waiting for Caitlyn to give us the go ahead for us to move our stuff over to the new apartment. While we waited we grabbed some lunch, and decided to go to our favorite noodle place because it was only eight yuan for a bowl. Score. It was really funny because even before we got through the door the guy looked at us and put up two fingers, we nodded and gave him the proper amount of money and then we got our noodles, we didn’t have to even use words, it was pretty fantastic. After lunch, we headed back to our apartment and watch “I-Frankenstein”, and also “BFG”, which was a super cute movie. We then got the go ahead to come over, it took two trips to get all of our stuff over, once at Caitlyn’s, we unpacked and made ourselves at home. We then went back to our old apartment and grabbed all the blankets and pillows. I couldn’t stop laughing when we carried everything over to the new place because here were these two white girls carrying huge white blanket bundles, one had pillows in it and the other bundle was just a pile of blankets. All of which accounted for 9 pillows and 9 blankets, it was quite the sight.  After we dropped those off we made our way to SMS, which it is the local grocery store, and got some food for the week. We took our grocery bags home and went out to go eat dinner. We decided to go to this local dumpling restaurant that’s really good. When we got there, they handed us a paper that had the entire menu on it with the English translation. People here are absolutely the nicest; I know that is one of the things I will miss when I return home in a few weeks. After dinner we returned home and retired to bed.

Tuesday Caitlyn and I had to be up and out of bed, ready, and out the door by 7:30am because we were going to teach 10th grade at new location. The drive was an hour long to the school. Yao, who is the organizer and master of schedules, drove with us to the school, and I literally slept for the entire drive. On Tuesday I taught three classes. Each class has about 50-60 students, so I have a lot of students that I see, teach and hopefully leave a lasting impression. Class was about introductions, so I shared a power point about myself and then had the kids answer questions about themselves, and then we used our English and played games. It actually is a little weird because some of them were eighteen…. as in 18 years old. The classes range from 16 to 18 years old, the funny part about teaching this class was when they asked about my age, they all freaked out because I’m not that much older. Side note- another common question I get asked (kid you not, I frequently get asked) was if I had a boyfriend; they are all a little obsessed with the dating realm here, haha. So each class is 40 minutes, we start at 8:40am and go to 12 (noon). For lunch, Yao took us out at this restaurant across from the school, which was pretty good. When we got back, we had to have a meeting with Daniel about the week to come because he and his wife were leaving to Tahiti (visa restrictions and they have to leave every few months). After that we went to Spar, a Chinese Wal-Mart on steroids, and got some “cook-able” foods and living items… like bedding (you can never have too much bedding). This place was massive and it had two stories. The best part of the entire store was the escalator; it was flat so that you could take your cart upstairs with you… so awesome. We took a taxi and went home and chilled the rest of the night.

Wednesday was a little like Tuesday, except we had to wake up, get dressed and be out by 6:30am, and instead of 3 classes we had 4. The classes were exactly like Tuesday; we did an introduction lesson, where I introduced myself and then had them do an activity to emphasize English learning. Oh, and I forgot to mention it before but when I talked about how small my high school was they were shocked, and even more shocked when I showed them a picture of my Mandarin teacher (the amazing Mrs. Treptow) and I said that I have been learning Chinese for four years. They would look at me like I wasn’t real, and then a student would ask me to say something in Chinese, and I would say how I can speak it but how it’s difficult to understand and they would all clap, lol. It’s such an amusing reaction.  Once classes were finished, Yao told us to meet him by the exit of the school so we could all head out for lunch. When the bell rang we were still standing by the gate to the school and it was funny to see the students all come out and freak out to see us standing there. They all gathered around us wanting to talk to us, luckily Yao found us through the crowd of kids and off we went to lunch. For lunch Yao took us to the same place as the previous day and we both tried some different foods that we hadn’t had before. This day ran very similar to Tuesday, and when we finally got home, I had to take a small nap because I was beyond exhausted.

I had to wake up again a bit later because I was going to go to another school, this time a middle school to teach a public speaking elective class. On the way there all the Chinese workers were freaking out and being all stressed with regard to the school assignment, making Nita and myself stressed…. a little. They were making this class seem like it was going to be the end of the world if things didn’t go as they wanted or planned. After teaching both classes which were 40 minutes each, I grew to love the kids because the kids there are absolutely amazing in every way. They want to be there and want to learn, which makes it a lot easier to teach and have them engaged. So class was about introducing one’s self, so I shared my power point about myself  and then had the kids introduce themselves,  I then had them take a test so I could gauge their English skills. They were all so amazing; I can’t explain how excited I am to teach them again. After that teaching assignment, it was late so we got dropped off at home. I was really tired so I went to bed.

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Thursday I was woken up at 5 am by Caitlyn because she was super sick, couldn’t talk, overheating and constantly coughing. Since she was so sick, I went and subbed for her at the college, and if I’m going to be real, I’m not a fan of teaching college students, they just don’t listen and you can totally tell that they don’t want to be there…it was so much fun (total sarcasm). After a grueling time trying to teach both classes, I had to hail a taxi to get back to the center by myself, luckily Alex was there and he gave me his taxi and spoke to the driver for me. Whew. I had the address on a slip of paper of where I needed to go, so I just showed it to him and off we went. On the way, the driver called his friend to tell him he had a pretty white girl in his taxi, it suddenly became awkwardly silent, he tried talking to me but in Chinese but I told him I couldn’t understand what he was saying. We literally just sat for like two minutes in silence…unbelievably awkward and so to break the silence I ended up formulating a question about music in Chinese so that he would turn on the radio. I guess he wasn’t expecting that to come out of my mouth because his eyes suddenly became big and he began to talk so quickly, and I’m guessing it was something along the line of, I thought you didn’t understand but you just spoke Chinese. In Chinese I explained that I could speak a little but I could not understand fully when others speak to me. Finally he dropped me off at the center where I was able to work on some stuff and sent off some important emails to my mom and then headed home and chilled the rest of night.

Friday we came into the center at 9:30am and sat around (literally) doing what we wanted, giving me time to work on my senior project, catch up on seminary and read. We did however plan for what was to come Saturday and Sunday, which was an afternoon of English camp kind of a deal for kids to better their English skills. Fortunately I didn’t have to plan much because I was already doing an AE class (an extracurricular class like dance, art, and/or music) so my time wasn’t spent on having to work on prep materials …bonus! So ya, Alex came in to help Caitlyn with teaching the A1 class (beginners English) or at least to practice teaching the lesson. After lunch Alex had Caitlyn do a practice lesson with our Chinese coworkers, and then we all headed to an elementary school to teach “public speaking”. When we arrived they had an opening ceremony where they talked a lot and had us come up and share a little bit about ourselves. They then gave us gifts and we were assigned to our classes. I was assigned to third graders. As they took the kids to class they had us stay back to take pictures with the head master, and important people. After that, we only had 15 minutes to teach, so I just shared a little about myself and then took pictures with the kids, they are very crazy, but so fun. After class we headed out, but there was a little confusion as to where everyone was so that took some extra time, we ended up finding everyone and started heading out. Mr. Jin decided to put his jacket on me as we walked outside of the school, it was a little weird but I acted like it was nothing. Our way home was what I call an adventure in and of itself. So Mr. Jin took Nita, Caitlyn, and I home, and he LOVES American music, even though he cannot understand it. His favorite song to listen to is ‘Casablanca’, he made sure we paid attention to the song and were quiet; he shushed us to make sure we were listening. We also listened to ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight’ form Lion King, and Sia, and just random 80’s songs. We finished off the night listening to ‘Unchained Melody’ from the movie “Ghost” and as we listen to this song Mr. Jin decided to turn around in the middle of the road and drive the wrong way, there is a video to show this, the arrows are clearly marked going the other direction. Just to let you all know I’m laughing quite hysterically as I write this, definitely something I will remember for a long time. We did make it home safely so no worries, thank goodness. We ended up staying up all night just talking went to bed around 11, 12 ish….late.

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Saturday Nita and I had the opportunity to go to an English competition and judge a group of 18 kindergartners. They were soooooooo CUTE. It was hard judging them because you knew how hard they were trying and you didn’t want to give them a bad score. There was this one girl, and she was wearing full on makeup, she had bright pink eye shadow and bright lip gloss, and ended up doing surprisingly well.  We did have two kids who ran off stage and started crying because they forgot what to say/ do. I ended up going to them and I gave them a candy, and I did try to cheer them up but they were so distraught, I don’t think it mattered. After the competition we came home and took a break and then headed to the center to do our afternoon English camp. So for this weekend I taught dance, I taught them the “Whip Nae Nae”, “Macarena”, “Cha Cha Slide”, “Chicken Dance”, “Cupid Shuffle”, and “Cotton Eye Joe”. They were all really good and had a ton of fun. I only had to teach three dance classes, so it wasn’t too bad and I really enjoyed myself. After the kids went home we started to head home as well, however Nita wanted to stop and get food. She said she would pay 20 yuan worth of food if we went with her. How could I refuse? Free Food. After dinner we wandered around going into some small shops, I was tired and so the girls handed me all the bags and I went home to drop them off and put the ice cream in the freezer, while they went to our dumpling place and ordered food. The food was of course delicious! Once we were all at home, we wanted to veg-out and began to watch “The Secret of Kells”, but then my mom called so I talked to her for forever and went to bed.

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Sunday I was finally able to sleep in and work on things I needed to catch up on. I got up and called my mother and talked for a while and she was at a school dance (Basis Mesa Spring Formal) helping my dad DJ. So I got to see the young’uns at my school all dressed up in their formal attire, super cool. After that I took a shower and headed over to Daniel’s to do laundry; however, their water was not working so I had to take my clothes out of the washer, which already had soap on them and head home to wash them. After rinsing all the soap off of my clothes and hanging them up to dry (remember, no dryers here), I graded some of the tests I had given to the students Wednesday night and then headed to the center to teach dance again for the afternoon English camp. It went well, I assist with another class where I help a boy named Henry learn how to read and comprehend what he reads, and then I have to run and teach another dance class. So ya, not much but it was fun and busy. After class we went home and made some grilled cheese, spaghetti, and hot chocolate, and had time to finish “The Secret of Kells”, and then headed to bed. I was actually excited to sleep because Monday was my day off!

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It’s a Beijing kind of thing

Monday we had to be at the center of Star Outlook at 7:30am because we were taking a two and a half hour drive to Shuo Chou City, where we would be teaching and visiting some locals. When we arrived at the school,, we got paired up and put with a class. Nita and I got the opportunity to teach kindergartners, and they literally were the cutest. When we first walked into the classroom we had two kids start bawling their eyes out, while the rest of them just looked at us confusingly. We tried to communicate but the only English they knew were some numbers and their ABC’s.  We didn’t know what to do at first so we had them sit in a circle and we sang some church girl’s camp songs, and to be exact it was “little shark”, “milk”, and “Mormon Boy”.  After an hour of singing it was lunch time, the kids got picked up by their parents, and Nita and I were taken to this ladies house, which was a one room home. She had a little boy that was two years old. Fun fact, the kids here don’t have diapers, they just have a big slit from the back side to the front side that’s just wide open so they can go anywhere and by saying “go anywhere” I mean using the bathroom anywhere. We had some apple slices and water with them. We were then taken to what I believe was the kitchen for the community, and we had a very nice lunch.

After lunch we headed to the school that Katy and Megan were at and had a small meeting of how the classes went basically an evaluation of our teaching. Then we were taken back to the kindergarten class and taught the kids “duck duck goose” and “musical chairs” and then…class was over. We were taken to some of the villagers houses. The first house we went to was very small and they had three kids and they were trying to get their kids to college but didn’t have the money to do so. The second house we went to belonged to this older lady who had two kids, a boy and a girl that were twins who had lost their father a few years back. They were struggling to get by and they had an aunt that was working in the city and sending money to them to live. The last house we went to was with this boy named George, he’s a 16 year old living in an 8 year old body. His family didn’t have money to buy the hormones needed because it cost too much money. He was very sweet and very humble; he literally has the biggest heart.  His teacher was telling us some stories about him and how he has always been picked on because he looks like a little kid. His teacher was also telling us how George has become his friend and while he was telling us he started to cry and he couldn’t even get his words out, and everyone else was very moved and had tears in their eyes. After talking with George, we started our trek home. Once we arrived in town, we ate dinner and headed home.

 

Tuesday I woke up really early (6am) because I was going to go teach at a middle school but I got a text saying that school was cancelled because of the weather. I decided to take a look outside, and to my surprise…. it was snowing!!! I was so stoked that it was actually snowing that I couldn’t go back to sleep. So I stayed up watching the snow fall and then around 9am everyone headed to the center, the Star Outlook building (it’s more like our headquarters for the program), and we did some small jobs to help out the center. We organized the books, stamped them, and put them away in the library. We also did a worksheet about our trip on Monday and prepared a speech to create examples for kids that participate in English competitions. Overall, we did a lot of thinking and sitting. For lunch we went to our favorite noodle place, I got tomato and egg noodles, they remind me of spaghetti. We then went back to the apartment and watched “Monsters Inc.”.  Around 2pm we headed back to work to record our speeches. After work we watched some movies, like “La La Land” and “Taken”, and I received news that school would also be canceled the following day again, so all I had to do was be at the center at 9am on Wednesday.

 

 

Wednesday was a lot like Tuesday, we really didn’t do anything, and I colored and drew a little, but hardly did anything; didn’t feel completely productive.  For lunch we ate at this one restaurant that we normally go to, and then we headed home. Arianna and I decided to go to the roof of our building, which is 30 stories high and built a snowman with the snow up there. The snow was sticking perfectly together, we also decided to throw snowballs off the roof …don’t worry we were being safe and made sure no humans were around to be hit. After all the snowball fun, we went back to work and sat around again. After work we went home to fix ourselves, meaning hair makeup and clothing, and then we headed back to Food Street to eat and had a small party with some of the coworkers at KTV, it was really fun but I had a huge headache the whole time. On our way home I was told that Caitlyn and I were to go to the college the next day to teach, so we needed to be at the South Gate of the complex at 7am. When I got home, I took a shower and headed straight to bed knowing full well Thursday would be a big day.

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So teaching college kids was OK. We teach out of this English 101 book and we have like an hour and a half of time to fill. It’s always funny to walk into a class of Chinese students because when a white American walks through the door they always gasp and whisper to each other and try to take pictures of us, and it was exceptionally a little crazy because it was three American blond girls walking into their class, the expressions were priceless. There are two classes for one teacher. Alex is from Oxford England and has an extremely strong English accent, teaches one set of classes and we came to the conclusion that Alex would teach one set and Caitlyn would teach the other, and I would be the sub if anything happened to either of them. After teaching Megan took us out for pizza, and it totally hit the spot. Oh, and a funny thing about pizza here, they eat it with a glove, like a plastic glove so that your hand doesn’t get greasy.  It’s a smart idea, just a little different from what I’m used to seeing. When we arrived back to the apartments Megan said I didn’t have to come back to work, so I went home to sleep. I slept a little but I ended up going back to the center to do gifts. In china it is a custom to give gifts, so we received a shirt, a bracelet, and a good luck charm. We then gave a gift to some people. After that I headed back to my apartment to grab my dirty laundry and go over to Megan’s to use her washing machine. After that Arianna, who had come for the key to our apartment, and I went back. I hung my clothes (they don’t have drying machines, you have to hang them up to dry) and then we sat down to watch “Austinland”.  When the movie ended we packed a bag for Beijing in the morning. Megan, Katy and Arianna packed everything because on Monday they are heading back to America and so the next few days were going to be spent in and around Beijing before they leave. Nita, Caitlyn and I only packed a little because we will be heading back to Taiyuan Sunday night after dropping them off for the airport.

Friday we work up, headed to the car and James took us to the train station. He wanted to make sure we got everything we needed, so he came in and helped us get our tickets, the train system can be overwhelming. We kinda got special treatment because this girl (ticket agent) lead us through the train station to our terminal, and then we got to go on first…literally cutting  off like a hundred people in line. I felt really bad, but no one seemed to mind. It was a two almost three hour ride to Beijing on the fast train. I slept most of the way and colored a little. Once we got off the train we made our way to the subway. Katy took me, since I can speak a little Chinese, and we went to go buy a re-loadable subway card.  It took a while because everyone we spoke to didn’t speak English and they didn’t understand English, eventually they called a guy over and he helped us get to the right place and we got to cut everyone in line and get the tickets…again.  We got on the subway and started the trek to our hostel…yes, hostel. We ended up getting some help to find out where to go, on our way we stopped at a restaurant to grab some food and then Katy left it up to me to help find the hostel location since I had been there two years ago and would have a better idea of how to get there. I got to the right road, after I accidentally passed it but we went back and found it. Whew.  The funniest part is that I’m staying in the same room I stayed in two years ago, it was like déjà vu. So we dropped off our stuff and headed to the Pearl Market. HongQiao or Pearl Market is situated close to the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. It’s a huge building about a block long with three floors of items to sell like pearls and jewelry, clothing electronics, watches, art, porcelain, toys, etc… I love the Pearl Market, because there is no tax and you can bargain or haggle with everyone for everything.  For example, I got Beats wireless headphones (not a knock-off, the real deal), the lady wanted me to pay 800 yuan (Chinese currency), but then she said she’d give us a discount and we would only have to pay 675 yuan. With some haggling or bargaining back and forth, I was able to get her down to 300 yuan, which is a little less the $40 American money, we were able to test them out and make sure the quality was perfect. Here’s another example, so Kylie Jenner has this lipstick that is really expensive in America, we were able to get it down to 20 yuan, which is like $3. Also pearls there are super cheap; I got some pearl earring and literally paid $2.60 for each set. I bought a lot more stuff and the haggling over pricing was so much fun… but I won’t bore you with that. So the Pearl Market closed at 7pm, so we gathered what we got and headed back to our hostel. It’s so weird being in Beijing because there are so many other people from different countries here, so when we see a foreigner we all kind of freak out (like the Chinese do when they see us) because in Taiyuan we are usually the only ones that are foreign. It’s nice not being the only one who is different from the rest. So it was really fun see other people. We walked around the streets for a little bit, somehow the time flew by and it ended up being around 10 pm so we went back to our hostel and went to bed because we definitely needed to sleep and rest for our next adventures.

 

Saturday we met in the front of the hostel at 8:30am and we met Kevin who was going to be our guide to the Great Wall…yes, The Great Wall!! As we were walking over to the car that was to be our transportation, he asked us if we knew why they put a wooden square panels over the tires, of course none of us knew, and he said that the dogs like to pee on the tires so they put that on them so the dogs can’t pee on the tires, he explained it way better and it was really funny. The Great Wall was fantastic, I’m so glad I got the opportunity to go again. The sad part about this trip was at the end of the rebuilt section of the wall, there was this part I went through two years ago that lead to the non-rebuilt section of the original wall and it was bricked up without access for entry, luckily I was able to find a way to the non-rebuilt section anyway. There was this guy, who’s from Milwaukee. He was with his mom and his Chinese friend, had climbed out of this old window in the wall which was a little sketchy, but then they helped me out of the window as well to get to the old non-rebuild part as well, they were super nice. This guys Chinese friend made a comment about my eyes in Chinese so I responded back in Chinese and surprised all three of them, it was pretty funny. The non-rebuilt section was so cool, it was crumbling all over the place, old and probably completely unstable but oh so cool. To get down or off The Great Wall you either take a toboggan down a slide or you hike all the way down, we took the toboggan route. The slide was super fun, except for the part that Arianna kept running into me with her cart multiple times, and I couldn’t go faster because Katy was right in front of me on her toboggan and I definitely didn’t want to run into her which made for an interesting adventure. We headed down and ate a late lunch, bought some items from the local vendors; I bought a Beijing tee-shirt and a sweatshirt. By the time we got back into the city we didn’t have much time to do much so we went back to the Pearl Market and then to Wangfujing street and ate some food. There were some really drunk Australian guys and one of them grabbed a stick of live skewered scorpions and ate them, it was really gross. By the time we started walking back it was 10pm, so when we arrived at our apartment I packed up all my thing up and went to bed.

 

Sunday was our last day in Beijing, our adventures included going to the Bell and Drum Tower, Lama Temple, and The Forbidden City. The drum tower was really neat; we were able to see a performance of them playing the drums. The Lama Temple was so packed with people, literally the most packed I’ve seen a place before, there was hardly any free space to stand or breathe. It was cool because they gave us free incense to burn, and each room the Buddha’s got bigger and bigger. The largest one was this wooden Buddha that was like 3 or 4 stories tall. The Forbidden City was rushed because we got there an hour before it was going to close, I’m glad I was able to return to the city and see it all over again, it brought back a lot of really good memories. After the Forbidden City we had to book-it back to our hostel because Nita, Caitlyn, and I had to catch a train and we only had an hour to grab our stuff, get on the subway, get our train tickets, and get onto the train to head back to Taiyuan. We made it with ten minutes to spare! The entire train ride back to Taiyuan I slept, when we got back to Taiyuan and found James; it was 11pm. We had fun on the way home, making jokes and teasing James as he always makes fun of us. Once home I threw down my stuff and called my mother.  She was at church and so I was actually able to listen to church with my family and say hi to people back home, and by the time I got in bed and fell asleep it was past 2am. Talk about exhausting.

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One Temple, Two Temple, Three Temple, Four…

Monday was the start of our travels, we got up around 8:30ish and got our things ready for the next three days. Around 9:10 we left to eat some breakfast, which consisted of a boiled egg and a meat pancake. We met a new member of our group, Joe, who is only staying till Saturday. Joe is from the US and runs an English program in Guilin China and came to check out how Impact Exchange runs their camp. After talking for a few and getting to know Joe, we all go into this little car-bus and started to make our journey.  Our first stop was the China Coal Mine Museum; they talked a lot about coal, and different types of coal, even where the coal came from in the different parts of China. We first watched this 4D short film about the process of the formation of coal and I think the death of the dinosaurs, to be honest I’m not quite sure because it was all in Chinese. When the video started I that noticed everyone’s chair was moving except mine, so I went to one of the chairs that was moving, but then it stopped, so I moved to another one, but it also stopped, and by the time I wanted to see if another seat would move, the film was over and there were no more chances to move to another seat.

After the short film, we were shown some really cool things around the museum. One of the cool things was this podium thing made of 12 different types of coal. A interesting fact I learned was that there is a really rare type of coal that can’t be burned, but is for hand carving, so we got to see some of the hand carved coal, and we even got to touch a few, it was very smooth and I would have never guessed that it was coal. We walked around a little more, getting some explanations for some of the artifacts that were around. Near the end of the museum, there was a gift shop and I bought some really cool coasters that represented old Chinese art, and the best part was that they were super cheap!

The second part of the museum was going into a coal mine. They had us put on these safety helmets and we went down an elevator. The coal mine took us through a timeline from early times of how coal was taken out of the mine to modern times. In the middle of the tour we took this train ride, and it made many of us feel like we were being taken to an unknown location and no one would ever know where we were, it was really scary. After coming out of the mine, we walked into this room with a hallway leading to another room that had pictures of famous Chinese frescos (a painting done rapidly in watercolor on wet plaster on a wall or ceiling, so that the colors penetrate the plaster and become fixed as it dries). They were really neat, and the whole time I kept thinking of my dad and how much he would have loved to see all of these.

After the museum we ate lunch and then headed to the Shanglin Temple. The entire temple was original, and the art work was amazing, every room I walked into my jaw dropped and drooled over how amazingly unique they all were, maybe not literally drooling, but it was close. I learned so much about the Buddhas, and there are so many of them. One of the rooms was about a girl that got sick and how a nurse tried to help her and comfort her, but she ended up bleeding out of her eyes and dying, and the weirdest part was that her body is actually in the statue of her lying on the bed…creepy right?  Also I learned that different hand styles that the Buddha’s do mean different things, some of them we learned were welcome, hello, be not afraid, and courage. After the temple we headed to Ping Yao.

Ping Yao is this little ancient city that people still live in. They don’t have cars on the streets because the streets are too small, but they do have a lot of mopeds and golf carts. So we took a super long golf cart to what was to be our hotel, and the hotel was absolutely beautiful, very traditional. After getting situated we ate some dinner and then headed out to the streets to see the shops that lined the side. We only had time to go down one street, but it was still really cool, I bought some bracelets and a jacket, and then just kind of roamed the rest of the stores. After a while we headed back and went to bed, because the next day was going to be awesome.

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Tuesday was a bright and early morning; the hotel gave us an Americanized breakfast: eggs, toast, fruit, jam, and rice with egg bits. After breakfast we headed to the northern wall of the city. We went to the outside of the wall and saw some locals playing jianzi, which is like hacky sack but it’s a weight with feathers on it. We played for a while, it was super fun and the locals where really nice about us playing with them, we kind of attracted a crowd but we had fun so that’s what really matters. After that we went up to the top of the wall and saw the city from above, the view was beautiful but a little foggy so it was hard to see everything. While we were on the wall there was this music that started to play, and we figured out that it was a Chinese opera. We sat and watched for a little while, but so many people started taking pictures of us that made it not as enjoyable.

After that we went to the First Bank of Pingyao, it was actually really interesting, the tour went from what they did in the past to present day. We got a little history about how the bank came to be, but I don’t remember much because a lot was said to us that day…. information overload. After the bank your we went to the jail, and we learned that when a man is being judged for his crimes, the judge would either throw down a red peg or a black peg, the red would mean death and the black would mean punishment. We also visited the jail cells, and for those who were punished had not too shabby rooms but the ones who were given the death penalty had a wooden cage to live in with no lights, it was very creepy. I had a hard time going in and being in that small space, just did not feel good. After that, we went to go and eat some lunch at a local restaurant and then we had free time to look at the other parts of the ancient city and buy some stuff at from little shops that were literally everywhere, like they lined the streets. I was able to get a lot of little trinkets and was also able to see the first armed escort agency in North China, and the Qing Xu Guan temple.

The Qing Xu Guan temple was really cool; it had these two huge sculptures of armed men that were protectors of the temple. The first part of the temple had statues of the zodiacs, and the weirdest part of all was the part that personified hell. The room was very gruesome and it had sculptures of men and women being killed and tortured. The girls I was with were getting tired so we had a final stop at Gu Ming Ju. On our way back there was this one dark hallway and Caitlyn thought we were going to pass it as she was ahead of us, but instead of scaring us she scared this young Chinese couple, they looked at her like she was a psychopath, and Arianna and I couldn’t stop laughing. After that we headed back to the hotel, and had a rest. After an hour we left to go out for dinner; afterwards we did some more shopping, mainly looking at the different shops. There was this one place, I believe it was a club of some kind and it had a lama standing at the entrance in a small gated area. I was super ecstatic so I got some pictures with it. The lama was so cute and fluffy and he was actually really nice. We walked around some more and there was this group of older men who were totally drunk and they came up to us asking to take a picture, and before I could react one guy slung his arm around me and the other around Nita. Luckily we had Joe there because when we tried to get away but the man’s grasp got harder scaring me a bit.The rest of the evening Joe was really protective of us making me feel like I had a person bodyguard…thanks Joe! After walking around it started to get really cold, so Joe and I headed back and I waited for Nita to come back to the hotel. Nita and I were roommates and I didn’t want to go to bed until she got there. 

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Wednesday we said goodbye to Pingyao, and headed to the Qiao family compound, which was really cool. It had about 313 rooms, and it was massive and really pretty. The tour told the life story of the man who created this house. My favorite part of the entire experience was this little show that had this lady be a character for an opera that had changing masks, I felt like a little kid seeing a Disney character in person for the first time. The show also had a very famous calligraphy artist that did some writing right in front of us…so cool.

After the complex we went to the vinegar factory, it was actually really interesting; they use traditional techniques to make their vinegar, and we got to see the different techniques and methods they used. At the end of the tour they gave us small sample of their best vinegar but I couldn’t put myself up to drink it. Once we piled back into the car, we headed home, that night we went to Food Street; I knew exactly what I wanted so Arianna and I stuck together. While we were eating our hawthorn berries, people kept staring at us so we created a game that every time we made eye contact with someone who started staring at us, we had to wink at them. It was actually really funny. We got three different responses from people: one, they would just keep walking and look a little at us, two, those who would continue to look and wink back, or three, those who would be completely discussed and look away and/or shake their heads. The whole time Arianna and I couldn’t stop laughing. Also I’ve been using my Chinese more, and slowly it’s getting easier to understand, and talk to people, I try my best to use it to order food, or ask someone some questions about themselves. I always seem to talk about the same thing with everyone, but at least I’m trying. Once we got home we watched “Selfless” and then headed to bed.

Thursday I slept in really late and I woke up at 10am. Talked to my parents for a little and then we headed out to get some lunch, we had these really good noodles; I got ones that had tomato and egg in it. After lunch we headed to the Shang Xi museum, Joe had to leave and head back to the US for a family emergency, leaving us without our personal bodyguard, LOL. In the museum Nita and I partnered up and started on the fourth floor, which was the top floor, and made our way down. My favorite floor was the fourth because it was about calligraphy, and it was all so pretty. Each floor was interesting and had different artifacts that made it cool, like on this one floor they had an entire room dedicated to Buddhas and different things about the Buddhas; of course, it was all in Chinese so I couldn’t read much of it. I can’t remember what floor we were on but as we were looking at the different statues a little boy came up to us and asked, “Are you in need of tour guide?” Sadly we said no but talked to him for a little, he had only been studying English for a year and he was 10 years old, his English was so good and he had some pretty amazing vocabulary.

After the museum we went to the “cheap mall”, and let’s talk about how overwhelming it was, there was so much everywhere that my mind couldn’t even focus. Out of the hour and a half we spent there I ended up only getting a pair of shoes for 50 yuan which is like $8…so cheap. After the mall we headed home and invited James and Caitlyn over to watch “Snow White and the Huntsman”. James left before the movie ended because it was late, but luckily everyone was ready for bed, so when the movie did end, we headed off to bed.

 

Friday was a day off for us, so we decided to go to the Mengshaw Buddha and the Jinxi temple. The Buddha we went to, I believe is one of the top five biggest Buddhas in China, also an interesting fact about this Buddha is that when they discovered it, it didn’t have a head, so they slowly created what they believed the head would look like. We got to take a golf cart half way up and then we walked the rest of the way up. On the path to the Buddha they had this really strange monk music playing, creating a peaceful atmosphere. The Buddha was massive and it had a whole bunch of decorations around it and this tool fabric stuff that was connecting to the ground and going around the Buddha’s neck. We stayed for a while admiring the view and taking some pictures. We finally made our way down and headed towards the Jinxi Temple.

We had difficulties trying to get to the entrance and with our tickets as well because when we arrived it was 4:30pm and online the website said that it closed at five, but James asked someone and they said that tickets stop selling at five and that your could still walk around on the inside till six. So we got our tickets and headed inside. As we walked around all the sudden we got kicked out of one of the buildings and when we looked at our watches it was only 5pm. We came to the conclusion that the buildings got locked up at 5pm and the six was so you could slowly make your way out of the complex. We ended up walking around and staying till like 6:30,7pm. Even though we couldn’t go inside anywhere, it was really nice just walking around and looking at all the buildings, and there was no one around us, so it was quiet and peaceful. For dinner we were all in the mood for dumplings, jiao zi, so James took us to a restaurant that was known for their dumplings. When we walked inside, I couldn’t help but snicker because everyone became completely silent and stared, and then became really loud again, and we all knew that most of their conversations were about us.  We were seated in this little room right next to a window, where everyone could see us, we had many people stop and take pictures of us or gawk at us. During our dinner we had a few people just pop in their heads to say hi, and then we had this little girl come by, her name was Cherry. She took some picture of us and with us and sang “Three Little Monkeys”, she was supper cute. James fell in love with her and now he really wants a daughter. After dinner we headed back home and passed out, exhausted from our adventures.

Saturday we decided to travel to the Twin Pagodas…they were so amazing to see! It was kind of boring at first because we use the buddy system and no one wanted to go ahead with me. So I was kind of lollygagging around, waiting for them to actually go near the Twin Pagodas. However, they soon were ready to go see them and I was so excited. One thing to note about the Twin Pagodas is there is only one of them that you can go up in and the other you can only look at it from the outside. I can’t tell you how excited I was to see the inside and climb all the way to the top. The inside of the Pagoda was very dark and cold, the only light they had was the light coming in from the very few windows. The steps were very narrow and somewhat varied in height. The view from the top was outstanding, and the only way to see the outside was to lie down on your belly and look through these bars. On the way down we met a man from Australia who was doing some traveling on his own. Going up was supper easy but on the way down, now that was the tricky part, the whole time I was slowly going down with my phone in my mouth for some light. I might have almost slipped a couple of times, but luckily I made it down safely.  After that fun little adventure we ate some lunch and headed back to the “cheap mall”, and this time I wasn’t as overwhelmed. I decided to get two more pair of the shoes but in different colors, and then I got some really awesome socks that I absolutely adore, and I also got some leggings that have fuzzy stuff on the inside and have these straps that go on your heal to keep your leggings from ridding up your legs, and let me tell you…. they are so comfortable. After shopping for what was way too long, we got picked up by James and headed home. Once we were home we decided to watch the second movie to “Maze Runner”, but the whole time it was trying to buffer so instead of a two hour movie it was like a three and a half hour movie.

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Sunday was my “sleep-in” day (I might have slept in until 11ish) but was finally able to get some personal work done and just rest the entire day. I watched four movies and just relaxed all day. Katy and Megan left to go do things so it was only Arianna, Nita, and I in the apartment; it was a really nice day.  I really don’t have much to say but keep in tune for next week’s post because there is a lot to be said about the week to come:D

 

Winter Camp comes to an end

Monday was our “when I grow up/ career exploration” day, we had Daniel and Megan present and talk about their jobs, we then had the kids play career charades.  It was really funny seeing them trying to guess the careers; they kept saying the careers in Chinese and forgetting the English. When we had class we had a whole bunch of students come in to test the camp and to see if their parents like the school. So we had about and extra 8ish kids there, so we did a “Jig Hello” so that we could get every ones names, after that we played a adjective game, where we would put three adjectives on the board and then they would have to guess what it was describing. After that, we did a listening activity were we read a story that I had wrote in a few seconds and then had them answer some questions that related to the story. Lastly, we had a question game where they had to give each other a question (not answering them), and if they don’t have a question created in ten seconds they’re out. That game was actually really fun, and the kids did an awesome job at it. BeBe asked one of the girls, “Are you fat?” everyone that understood the question snickered.

For the afternoon we did science experiments and we did the “cleaning pennies” experiment and then we did the “gas coming from vinegar and baking soda” experiment. We also tried doing the experiment with the boiled egg going into the bottle, but they got a plastic bottle and we had to try and burn news paper and stick it in the bottle, but overall it didn’t really work. For the last activity of the day we had the students create a story about their dream job, and they were all really good, and one of the older boys, David, wrote a story about being a model and the becoming a banker then becoming bankrupt and going back to modeling. It was a very well written story that made a lot of people laugh.

Later that night we went to a Chinese spa, which is basically a huge hot tub with a lot of shooting water things, some of them hurt and some of them were actually really nice. Oh, another China fact, when you go to a pool or anything, there are no changing rooms, so you have to change in the open, luckily I found a bathroom and carefully changed in the stalls.  Since there are no changing rooms, everyone is naked, so we saw a lot that day, and more than I would like to admit. Also in China they wear swim caps when they go swimming so when we didn’t have one, they were all shocked and a little disgusted. Also they don’t use a towel to dry off; they use a sauna to get them dry. Once we came home we were all pretty exhausted so we went to bed, and we all slept safe and sound.

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Tuesday was a nice day, “read-a-thon day”.  We basically didn’t do anything because it was just the kids reading all day, but we did do some fun stuff. In the morning we did the mannequin challenge and even thought it took an hour to get everyone posed and situated, it was super fun. We were able to get it done in like 6 shoots, and in the end it was really cool. When we finished we had Nita read some stories to the kids and then we had the kids read themselves, silently.

After lunch they continued to read and then we had dance class and we taught them the ‘whip and nae nae’. After dance our little kids weren’t reading so Nita grabbed all of them and started reading to them again, I asked if I could help but she said that she didn’t need help, so I just laid on the floor and enjoyed the moment with the students. Not sure it was a good idea because once I laid down, some of the kids, mostly the girls, came and laid down by me. The whole time I was fighting not to fall asleep, and I felt really bad about it.

After all that reading we had the kids write about the book they read or the stories they heard, and that was literally all we did for school that day. For the afternoon we went to a place they consider a “cheep mall” but it was closed so we walked around in the cold, jumping into little shops here and there to get warm. We stopped at this bakery and I got some snacks to eat. After some time flew by, we finally got picked up by James and Mr. Jing, the head guy of Star Outlook, and Mr. Jing took us to a Korean BBQ. A Korean BBQ is basically a pot that is put in the middle of the table one side that had soup that is spicy and the other non-spicy, and then you get dishes of raw meat or vegetables and you put them into the sides and then eat. It so delicious:D After dinner we came home and I really can’t remember I think I just came home and wrote a little but then fell asleep on my computer.

 

Wednesday was all about hobbies, so we had Caitlyn talk about different hobbies and then we had the kids go out on a photo scavenger hunt. I was put in charge of the afternoon activity so when they were doing their scavenger hunts, I was working on a power point presentation. The only sad part was, my computer froze and I hadn’t saved my presentation yet, so during lunch I had to re-do the entire slide. Luckily I was able to call my mom and talk to her and my sister during that time period. When everyone came back from lunch Nita tried teaching them “Let It Go” from Frozen and that really didn’t work well. Then it was my turn and I talked about photography and showed them different types and then we did class pictures and individual pictures. I felt bad because I had barrowed one of the other girl’s camera and I didn’t know everything about the camera so the pictures weren’t that great. After that we had P.E. I spent most of my time trying to make Winnine happy because he was upset that he got his phone taken away, but slowly I got him to cheer up and join his classmates in P.E. I also helped Selina out because Jack said some mean words to her that made her cry, but slowly I got her back in the game. I almost felt like a nurse, making the kids feel better, it was also a little difficult because the other American teachers were just leaving it alone, so I felt like it was just me and the Chinese teacher helpers making the upset kids happy again.

Right when school ended, we went and ate dinner at this little cute restaurant, and then I ended up going home because I wasn’t feeling good and everyone else went to some show and walked around. So when I was by myself I just worked on my blog and talked to my parents for a little. Everyone came home and they said they had so much fun. I was watching some show and Nita and Arianna sat down with me and we watched a couple episodes of Stitched and then headed off to bed.

 

Thursday was a very festive day (wink wink) because we learned all about holidays, and festivities. So when we arrived at the school, we walked into the conference room, the front of the room was set up like an actual conference meeting…. short notice surprise, we were being filmed for a commercial for “Star Outlook”. It was all six of us teachers, and Megan, Daniel, and Alex, he’s from Britain, he’s 24 and he lives here in China and I guess somewhat works for star outlook, I’m not sure. Anyways, they had us look like we were answering questions and we had to look like we were laughing at each others responses. So they had us sit down and they placed Alex next to me (talk about awkward), I didn’t say anything, just nodded my head to say hello.

First questioning was for Katy, and she got asked about her favorite finger, so she said middle finger, hoping that would kick up some laughs but it was so awkwardly quiet, I laughed a little, but it was still very quite. Next was Alex, he got asked the same question, and he said his little finger because it reminds him of tea. Next my name was said and I thought I was going to be asked about my favorite finger but instead I got asked why my hair was the color yellow. I could feel my eyes enlarge as to how to make my response funny, but what came out was… “Genetics” and that folks, that’s just who I am, it was a really dumb answer. Then Megan got asked why she was so tall, so ya, the whole time we were fake laughing, so gangan (Chinese for awkward). So after that, the kids headed upstairs because they were going to record Alex teaching the kids and so the six of us finished our breakfast and then set the room back to normal.

When the kids got back the first activity we did was a holiday game. Megan had the students get on their phones and go to this website; BeBe used my phone which took a long time. They had so much fun with it. After the game, we had the kids get together in groups and create their own holiday, one group had a “Money Day”, were you have to wear clothes of money and if not, you get punched. Restaurants have to have money in their food; also everything is free, haha, if only. After that we had them make these heart holder things and we had the kids make valentines for everyone, and that took us all the way to lunch. After lunch Meagan Whitlock did art, she showed them different art videos and then had them do their own art project. She did this art game where you pass around a paper and you draw on it for only a little bit then pass it to someone else. After that she had them do their own Easter eggs, and then a hand turkey, then they had to create a heart card and write a letter to someone inside the heart. By the time they finished school was almost over so for the last ten minutes we had them pick a song to create a music video, and the verdict was ‘Baby’ by Justin Beiber.

Once school was over we went and ate at our usual Chinese food place, and then we headed to massage!!!!! So at the massage place we were given these pink tops and bottoms and I was in a room with Arianna and Caitlyn. They put on this Chinese movie and it was really weird because it was a mixture of Chinese and English, and really hard to follow. So Arianna and Caitlyn were given their massages before me so I spent the first 30 minutes just watching them get massaged and trying to understand what was happening on in the movie. However, I did practice my Chinese and talked a little with them, we had about a 2 minute conversation but it was pretty good. There was another guy that came in and he was my masseuse, I asked him (in Chinese of course) if he knew any English, and he said “no”. So I asked him his name but I don’t quite remember it, and then I asked how old he was and he answered “24”. The massage felt really nice, but I am definitely ticklish, so I was biting my lip trying not to move to much and to stop me from laughing to loud. The massage was only 50 minutes but it was much needed, so much so that that night was a great night’s sleep.

 

Friday came by so fast, and it was our last day of camp. Our breakfast was late so we started late and then we had the kids go upstairs to their classrooms and we wrote letters for an hour. While we were writing, Daniel came around and grabbed some teachers to record some stuff for the commercial. He had Mary and I go into the recording studio and I was pretending to teach Mary how to play the ukulele. After that we went down stairs and we had the kids practice their dance, ‘Whip Nae Nae’, and their song, ‘Row Your Boat’, and then their skit, ‘The Bus’. Then for the rest of the day they worked on the music video for ‘Baby’ by Justin Beiber (See first video below). When we came back from lunch we finished the video and then we had the parents come at 4pm and the kids put on a small production for their parents. Then we had home stays!!!!!!

 

 

So Caitlyn and I went home with David, one of the older students. During the car ride David’s Dad was telling us how he was going to send David to a school in America for high school and he started talking about a school in Arizona in Scottsdale, and I was trying to think of what school he was talking about, so I asked if he was talking about BASIS. I have never seen anyone’s eyes light up so much. I explained that I go to BASIS Mesa, which is a branch off of BASIS Scottsdale, and I could tell that he had so many questions but didn’t know how to ask them in English.

We went to David’s mother’s work to pick her up, her office was really nice and she gave us some flower tea, and while we were there the dad called his friend, who speaks really good English and who lived in New Jersey, and handed me the phone to answer questions the dad had about BASIS, and I tried to answer them as best as possible. Once that ended, we headed off to eat, and I was starving. So that night they decided to take us to an American style restaurant, when we got there, people were staring at us was so much (we can be such an attraction) so they decided to go into a closed room. The dad handed us the menu, basically telling us to choose what to eat, we probably had the menu for about ten minutes, the waiter, Chris, was trying to help us, but we are both indecisive people so it was very difficult. We finally came to the consensus of mini baked potatoes and an Italian pizza, and then handed the menu to the parents. When the food started coming out, we realized that the parents ordered a ton of food. We had steak, salad, our potatoes, two different types of pizza, BBQ meat sticks, shrimp balls, fries, meat roll things, hot dogs, and we each got a non-alcoholic drink. There was also this really good bead thing. It was a block of fluffy bread that tasted like ginger bread; with a scope of vanilla ice cream on top….so good!!! While we were eating Chris came in and asked for our WeChat and so we gave it to him. Another thing about China…people will ask you for your contact info via WeChat, but then do nothing with it.  wechat_official_logoWeChat is a free messaging & calling app that allows you to easily connect with family & friends across countries and most everyone uses it here in China. This is how I am able to keep in contact with my parents back home without breaking the bank!

After diner we headed to their house and it was nice…so nice it’s hard to even create the words to explain it, at least I took a video of it so you all can see if for your selves (still doesn’t do it justice but WOW). David ended up giving us some of his favorite yogurt, he called it sour milk at first, and it was a really funny moment (you had to be there). Everyone was pretty tired so they said sleep time, and went to bed. Caitlyn and I stayed up till like 1am talking to family and each other. When we woke up Caitlyn started laughing because I was right in the middle of the bed and really close to her. When she faced time her boyfriend she told him that I was almost basically cuddling with her, hahahaha, I told her that I just gravitate towards warm bodies, we both laughed about it.

When morning came it was 8am, so we went out and had breakfast and then gave the family our gifts, they also gave us a gift (Chinese tradition-gift giving), it was a beautiful calligraphy painting their friend did. After breakfast they set us in front of the TV, and put on Lady Gaga and Beyonce music videos, I ended up walking away because I couldn’t handle the videos (just not my thing). Not soon after, David’s English teacher, Chris, walked in, and the first thing he said was, “What’s up girls, how’s it going?” We were both surprised on how good his English was. When we sat down he asked us some questions about ourselves, he already knew our age and that Caitlyn had a boyfriend, and that she danced because David had told him that she taught dance at the camp. Caitlyn names off a few types of dance that she did, then said that she does a little bit of everything. He asked Jazz, explaining that it was a very sexy dance, and then looked at me and said that if I didn’t do Jazz, that that was probably the reason I didn’t have a boyfriend, I can’t tell you how red my face got. For the next hour David’s dad asked some more questions through Chris about schools in America. Then around 11ish some of David’s extended family came to the house, and we took some pictures and then headed out for lunch. For lunch we had “Hot Pot”, so much food.  Hot Pot is consisting of a simmering metal pot of stock at the center of the dining table, and several meats, leafy vegetables, mushrooms, wontons, egg dumplings, and seafood’s sitting around it. Food is both cooked and served at the table. Meat is thinly sliced and takes about 15 to 30 seconds to cook. The cooked food is usually eaten some kind of dipping sauce.

As lunch was coming to an end the family kept having us try the new things that were coming out, even though we were full we still kept eating, Chris even made a comment on how much we ate. So some of the memorable moments of lunch was one, they brought out a thing of shrimp, alive shrimp on ice, when it first came out David tried to be nice and pull one out to ask if I wanted to eat it, but before I could say anything it fell into my hot pot, and then to make it even more enjoyable a bunch of them came jumping out off the container they were in at me, causing sauce to fly everywhere, and a small squeal to come out of me and also Caitlyn. I gave Caitlyn the shrimp that fell into my pot, not only because I’m not a fan of shrimp but also because I couldn’t face the fact that it was alive and that you would have to watch it suffer and die before you put it in a pot of boiling death. Another memorable moment was when we were done with lunch, David’s mom said her thanks in Chinese, having Chris and David translate for her, and she said that she was really grateful that we stayed with them and that if we ever need anything that we should not hesitate to ask, even if we were looking for a boyfriend, and when she said that last part everyone looked at me, and Chris said that he had a lot of good looking single friends, it felt so awkward for some reason. When lunch was done they dropped Caitlyn and I off at the School and we then walked over to Daniel’s to pick up my key to my apartment. So I was the first one home, and I had the whole place to myself, I watched some movies and TV, but I had to go out and buy a phone cord because mine broke, then Daniel and Megan invited me over to eat dinner with them and watch ‘Arrival’ with them. By the time I came home it was ten so I read for a little then headed off to bed.

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Sunday, I woke up and headed over to Daniel and Megan’s to do laundry and have Church. Church was actually pretty awesome because it was a Skype call with everyone that was in China. There was a lady, Sis. Sugar, that gave a talk on kindness, talking about how kindness was a necessity, that “no act of kindness is ever wasted”. She tied kindness to honeybees, saying that honeybees have a natural instinct, which is like the act of kindness, and that because of this natural instinct honey is made, the sweetness and good that comes from being kind. It was a really good talk, and it was something that I needed to hear. Soon after that my load of laundry finished and Megan came home from her home stay, so I put my wet clothes in my bag and headed back to the apartment with her, but then she quickly left because she had to go, so I was alone…. again. I didn’t have any food so I had to go out and buy some food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I watched some movies, danced around the apartment, cleaned some things, then Katy and Megan came back and showed me the stuff they got, then they left to go do some laundry at Daniel’s. So I started writing and then a couple of hours later Nita and Arianna came home from their home stay. Megan and Katy came back from doing laundry and everyone was tired so they got ready for bed, and went to bed to rest because the days that are to come are going to be an adventure in and of its self.