Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving was Grate...ful!

Have I done any good in the world today?
Our class this past week was on Thanksgiving. We taught about the history, the culture, and the foods like turkey which they do not have the chance to enjoy in China. They do not have turkeys for sale here and the Chinese do not like turkey. We taught about Thanksgiving traditions, and family activities. Then we had a kind of special exercise where the students stood one by one and expressed their gratitude for the things they were thankful for in their lives this Thanksgiving. It was really special. Then we assigned them to write with an attitude of gratitude -- a letter to their parents. This turned out to be a grateful day and a good idea. Most of our students, 99.5%, have never written a letter to their parents for any reason...let alone a thanksgiving letter. That fact made this English lesson unique and English writing assignment/experience emotional for everyone, including us.

They turned in all of their English letters to their parents so I was able to read every one of them and they are so special, sincere, and emotional. Thanksgiving celebration and family activities are now something to build on and to begin new family traditions. It is also a newly introduced western holiday which they have all agreed should also be an annual Chinese family tradition.

We had prepared letter forms for them to write to their parents...of course we also had written a note to their parents on the form letter too. We mailed the letters for them a week before Thanksgiving so they would arrive on or about Thanksgiving day.
Here is one of them:
Dear Father and Mother, I'd like to thank you and actually I'm always grateful to you. Thank you for letting me come to this earth. You gave me the chance to experience such a colorful and wonderful world. Thank you for raising me up and always forgiving me. When I was a little child, I knew I was a naughty boy and I often broke things, but you never blamed me for that because you knew I already felt so sorry and was afraid about my mistake. You had a strong belief that I would correct these faulty behaviors one day. Thank you for giving me a happy family. That was a great contribution to my physical, emotional, and psychological development so that I could be a normal individual rather than a uneducated child. Thank you for doing me a favor when I was having difficulty. It's so kind of you to support me all the time and respect my own choices. You act as light towers on the road to my success. I remember one day, mother asked me: "When was your happiest day of your life?" I answered: "I'm getting happier and happier". However, now I suspect maybe the happiest time in my life was being your child. I love you. Yours sincerely, Benjamin
This photo above shows our teacher's note to the student's parents. The feedback has been excellent as they tell of their parents call to answer their letter and to tell them of their love as well. We will do it again for Mother's Day! Thanksgiving time is when English teachers can really know that they are making a difference here in China...when the students learn and excel not only in English, but in learning about western culture and then trying out new and unusual traditions. We know that we have done some good in the far east today.

They translated thier English letter into chinese characters before turning them in.
They are really proud of their letters. Their parents loved the letters!
Kirk and Midge Evans from BYU arrived in Jinan to observe the teaching styles and expertise, and then took us all (Jinan's BYU English teacher group) out to dinner. Hamburgers, salads and brownie desserts were on the menu! Does it seem like we are always eating?Sunday's "Linger Longer" lunch is a weekly tradition in Jinan. We love this time together and the food is western cuisine...and the best meal of the week for most of us.

Luci Jones tripped and fell and bonked her head above her eye. What a cute "Shiner" she got. It has all healed up by now though, so it is no more. She is okay!
Barbequed Pulled Pork Sloppy Jays. Ya gotta love it. Gwen Bardsley says "Hi".
At Zhujiayu, an ancient Chinese village, we found a lot to look at. This was a culture shock and a step back in time. This lady below was spinning yard on an unbelievable spinning wheel. and I thought my spinning wheel at home which I brought back from Finland 43 years ago, was old because it was owned by an vanha iso iso aiti (great grandmother)... but it looks new in comparison to this one. And this one worked pretty well.

This aggressive sales lady is selling chinese fast food, a kind of corn meal pancake with vegetables inside. The food name is unknown at this time... I will try to find out.
Corn hung to dry... Good fortune, Good Luck sign. It is corn drying season again.
A long weave....This one is really long.
Student show and tell. This engineering post graduate student brought his engineering project which is made with no nails, glue, or staples. It is make to snap or clip together. That was the assignment from his professor.
Show and tell "Happy Time" knick knack box. She did a good job of telling where she got it, who gave it to her, what it is used for and all about it. She loves it and it is the most meaningful and memorable gift she has ever received. I like it too.
At the new Home Furnishing Center we visited today, I caught Dana was out front, just horsing around.

The Zhujiayu tour group of English, Japanese, Russion, Spanish, and German Teachers and Mary, our boss and her staff. This was a free tour by the University and they treated us to a really good Chinese Food lunch while we were there and we also went to the open outdoor market together for about an hour. Group Smile! It was a fun and an educational day. We look forward to the next tour... Winter break is coming on the first of January through the first of March. We will have time to travel. We are making our travel plans, reservations and booking travel arrangements. We are going to Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Nanjing and spend our time there.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Jason & Tanner's China Visit

Jason and Tanner Thelin, from Alpine, Utah, came to visit us in China. They stayed about 10 days and visited Beijing and the sights there including the Great Wall, the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace and the Forbidden City, but the the most fun was at the Beijing Silk Market where the sales girls were determinedly agressive in their sales techniques... One of them actually told Jason that if he did not buy something from her little store, she would kill him. I think it was just to get him thinking... He did buy a lot from her though. Others told him they wanted to marry him and have his baby... He declined all offers. All this aside, Jason was a good shopper and he was pretty firm, even strong and eventuallly learned to walk away to get the best bartered prices. Tanner learned quickly and he and I had a code we used with each other for the ultimate bartering conclusion. It was "W. A." Translated to English it means "Walk Away" now! We really had a good time there.

Qufu was the place to visit as it is the home of Confucious and the location of the burial place for the Confucious family. We enjoyed the city, the food, the tours and the horse drawn carts.

These are the torture stairs where wives, concubines or any disobedient children or their friends would have to kneel for long periods of time or until they had learned their lesson. Tanner would not kneel on this thing. He would not even try.

This photo is not only way old with a loooooong history, but it is an optical illusion painting that has a path which always leads to you no matter where you stand. Pretty awesome because it was really true as we moved around it.

Qufu modes of travel.

We climbed the Quan Fo Shan Mountain to see the BIG GOLDEN BUDDA IDOL.

The three seater bikes were cool.

Tanner climbed to the Budda landing for a miniature photo of him with the BIG GOLDEN BUDDA.

PHOTO OP...discovered by PopPop.

Tanner was instantly famous as everyone wanted their photo taken with him and like a Red Headed Rock Star, he gave his time and energy to that task. This is only one of the groups, then they all wanted individual or small group photos with the All American Boy.

This went on for a long time... and then re-ocurred later too.

This is the Big Sports Park in Jinan where the National Games were held last year. Dana and I attended the diving competition in this Water Cube-like building.

Chinese food dinner with them at the "Golden Hans" Buffet in Jinan. This was kind of a knockoff of a Brazilian Barbeque. This young 21 year old fellow is our Macintosh Computer consultant in Jinan. He learned to speak English by watching western movies. His English name is James Mac

This was cool when Tanner came back with a plate for of yummy vanilla cream from the buffet and after diving in, he exclained: "This is quite what I expected, it is not vanilla cream, I think it is Salad Dressing!"

Dessert Yummies... by Jason.

Our Brazilian Barbeque waiter carving off a slice of a leg of lamb for each of us...

We travelled by Bullet train to Qing Dao where we met the "Yellow Sea" as seen here. We took a boat ride around the bay.

Jay speaking chinese with some students on the boat. They like to talk English to him and he likes to practice Chinese on them. They act as his Chinese teachers.

Again, Tanner clearly enjoyed being a poser with these 3 girls on the Bay Tour we went on...

Jason went first and told them about his business and his new products as you can see my the power point presentation, (so now the trip is tax deductable I think) and then Tanner (16) lectured to my Graduate Students in my Class for about 10 minutes about American culture, his family, his life and his Eagle Scout Project and they just loved it. Both Jason and Tanner were a good teachers and now this foreign university lecture experience could be part of Tanner's growing resume'.

At the West Market in Jinan,shopping in China.

Jason bought a wig for his wife here... He enjoyed shopping too as you can tell.

Dana and I at the Silk Market where we made good friends with our sales ladies. They also think we are "Rock Stars" I think. but silver haired ones.

Below, we stayed in aYouth Hostel in Beijing together for a real Chinese cultural experience. It was really fun. We had four bunk beds in our little room with a half bath.

The Great Wall was fun to visit again, but it was reallly cold and we all had to buy hats. Sadly, I had worn shorts and I caught a lot of stares and comments about that and I bought another winter fur hat.