Monday, May 4, 2009

A long overdue update

For those who still have thisaddress, yes I'm still alive and enjoying myself. The latter of those two points might be why I haven't updated this since November as I sort of let it fall off my to do list.

While working with small children is very rewarding and makes me feel very much alive, it does have a tendency to leave you feeling a bit tired at the end of the day, and not too much in the mood for finding a way to put onto paper (or in this case, umpteen minuscule bits of data) how that feels or why you enjoy it.

I'm not going to try to completely recapture my experience from November to now, rather to touch on some of the highlights (especially those of which I have pictures.

These pictures are all of the students at my morning School, Golden Apple American International Kindergarten. On this occasion we had taken the children up to the Panda Research base which I wrote about last year during. This was my second trip to the base, though I didn't have the luxury of staying to enjoy it myself this time around, instead I needed to keep any eye on the children while we followed a schedule. I've found that places like this are never fun on a scheudle but that when you have 26 3-4 year olds in tow you don't really have much of a choice.

We've done other outings with the children, many of which I neglected to bring a camera for. We planted trees, went to a bird enclosure, and even took a walk down to a local fast food restaurant to practice speaking english with the children (because KFC is from america and its the fun factor more than the learning factor which is most important at this age. Its more about learning to make school fun that learning the books.

For most of these events the teachers and children spent as much time enjoying the place they had gone as they didt taking cute or silly pictures of eachother, and at nearly every place they had a picnic of some sort. If they didn't eat at the place we went to it was because their parents had come to pick them up early.

So along with this most recent adventure there are also some older things to update.

The school had their own Christmas pagent (well, on for either school) which went pretty well. There were some rather strange things about it because Christmas mostly exists as something they saw on a movie once. Even many of the christian Chinese people I've met over here aren't too clear on the customs and such of Christmas time.

Since their major winter holdiday in the Lunar New Year, there was a good deal of confusion about Christmas and New Years, and what Santa Counted down for.

I spent the week between those two confused holidays with a friend from the states and his family out here. He's from Nanning which is just a few hours outside of Guilin, so while I was down visiting him we took a boat down the river. Though we didn't get to see the normal emerald hills, the misty mountians made for its own ethereal beauty which was still very delightful in its own right. While on the river we had deep fried river crabs, pulled off the rocks on the shores and delivered to our boat by passing fishermen. If they had only been bigger it would have been simply amazing.

That trip to Guilin was the last actual traveling I've done since coming to Chengdu and in all honesty I'm starting to get a little stir crazy, but that should clear up a bit durring the summer when I finally take some of my saved up vacation time.

The actual Christmas event was rather fun, and very cute, though for that one pictures speak better for themselves.

And lastly in this update I'm putting up something which I think just about everyone already knows about. Back around November I met an amazing young woman who I am still good friends with. Until she graduates from the Conservatory of Music here in Chengdu I won't get to find out if she likes me anywhere near as much as I like her, but for now its been very fun. Her name is 陈术雨(Chen, Shu Yü). The characters mean Chen (old surname), Shu (tree), and Yü (rain). For an English name she currently uses Rain though she might pick a different one later on when she learns to speal more of the language.

In the Picture she is wearing a black jacket and standing with one of her good friends. This picture was taken back in early December, and she has since changed her hair color a little. I do plan on getting an updated picture, preferably with just us two, for later on, but first I need to find out if she is as interested as I am in a more personal relationship. If not, she's a great friend. If so, I'll be a very happy young man.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Tiny Tots Tricks and Talk: Treat Talking Tots to Tricky Treats.

For this years Halloween celebration we gathered the teachers, students, parrents, and anyone else who saw up going by, in Chengdu's "National Defense Park." The park itself was something of a trip, old airplanes and missles lying about, but the real site was all the kiddies in costumes. Us foreign teachers had really bland, lame costumes while many of the Chinese English teachers,
the children, and parents got just as into the holiday as people back home do.

Costumes ranged in everything from Superman and Tigger to Harry Potter and Juliet. The teachers had a Wizard of Oz theme, though it seems doubtful that they'd seen the movie from the cowardly Tin-man and ruthless lion to the left.

For our celebration we had a short stage performance, really more of a speech and talent show. In which our hosts brought children from all the classes at the Golden Apple American International English School up to parade their costumes for the parents. We foreign teachers were dressed in various degrees of monster outfits and some of the little cherubs, like this little bumble bee, were rather cross with us for being scary.

All of these cute kids are from our "baby class" or Sun Class at the Kindergarten. They're roughly two years old.

This little devil (sometimes I mean that) is Shaun (of the dead), one of my Bosses' sons and one of the little "angels" I work with Monday through friday. Our class is called Moon class and covers the 3 year olds. In the other pictures, the three cute little girls are Lena, on the left, Rosie, in the back, and Maya, on the right. Lena is the quiet well behaved one, Rosie is the quiet misbehaved one, and Maya is the loud one who behaves as she sees fit because she's also the most clever of the three. The problem with the smart kids is that you can't rely on them to behave well, they get bored too easily. The little Strong Bad styled wrestler is Alex, he's another of the really clever students. On this particular day he had decided that I was Buzz Lightyear. His logic was simple: I like Buzz Lightyear and I like Scott therefore Scott is aloud to be Buzz Lightyear. Alex refered to his own costume as "Super Baby" and repeatedly did the Superman "up up and away" pose as he said so, unfortunatly he was careful not to do it with cameras around.

The Last set of Moon Class photos, for now, is William and Hugh. William (Tigger) is one of the bright problem students who teachers can never figure out if they like or not. He's always eager to give the answer in class, always able to demonstrate an activity for kids that don't get it, but simply can't handle not being the center of attention. The pouty Jack-O-Lantern is Hugh (who usually says his name is Huge if asked). Hugh is a new student who is picking up English very quickly (when I started he could understand anything, now he's reliably one of the better participants in class). He has the same behavior pattern that William does, but the excuse that he doesn't always understand when the teacher tells him what he is suppose to be doing.

Following the other three classes's costume pageants, the performance given was really moe of a speach. The "Lords of Oz;" being Dorthy, The good witch, the Lion, The scarecrow, and the Tin-Man; talked about presenting free gifts and candy to the children... at which point the monsters (foreign teachers in capes) entered to put the candy in boxes and tell the children that they had to go work (play) for their candy.

Can you imagine the audacity we had in that? Telling them to go burn off energy so they can have sugar... its like we want the kids to grow up thin or something.

To work for their candy, the children had to visit various game stations and play a game there, one station for each "Lord of OZ" and then come back and tell us monster teachers the "magic words" to open the boxes in which we had sealed their candy.

Some locations were spooky, some were up-beat, some completely ignored the Oz theme to go for something a little more reachable and fun for everyone.

Apart from student getting scared of the fake spiders and being late for nap time, everyone had a good time all around. When they had finished they came back and recited the magic words (with help in the form of visual aids), and got their treasured candy.

There were some photo opportunities worth sharing though, including me being asked to pull a trick on one of my co-teachers by "saving her from the lion" who managed to stay out of the photo all together. Pictures with the lion (myself in one and my Chinese English teacher Michelle in the other. And lastly the Principal team (Shaun's daddy and his college).

Sunday, October 19, 2008

...and we're back.

I'm sure I made a promise of one sort or another not to let my online log of my life lapse, as I am also sure I equally promised to add more pictures...

My excuse is two part, firstly that I've been very busy and secondly that I just got my internet access back after moving in September (which doesn't excuse a lack of post for August.

August in Luoyang carried that hard task of saying farewell to my students and coworkers many of whom I will in all likely hood never see again. I know that I was a positive force in their lives during the time I was there, so that made things both easier and harder.

It was easier because they all wished me the best and hard because they were all somewhat glum about me leaving, several of my students (at all levels) cried a little when I told them I was going to be going which is a sort of unhappy compliment.

Then September came around and I got on a plane from ZhengZhou, the capital of Henan province, and flew to Chengdu in Sichuan province where I now am living quite happily. And no, sorry Mom, thats a co-woker and not a girlfriend. She happened to complain that I was too tall and so I remidied the situation for her.

As you can see though, Chengdu is treating me pretty well. As I have probably mentioned before, Chengdu is known as a party city in china. The food is absolutely amazing, the scenery is breathtaking, the historic locations are rather fun, and the women (as you can see) are beautiful.

Not as beautiful as the children though.

This is my morning class, complete with the trouble maker Shaun (the one who does not look Chinese, well entirely Chinese). My morning class is a group of 22-26 (depending on who actually show's up) 3 year olds of various English levels. My afternoon school is where I teach many classes for short periods of time to ages 2-5 but don't get to know the children in the close and person way that I get to know them at the morning school.

Just this last week my afternoon school took all of its teachers on a short trip to a hot spring near Chengdu and then to a famous bridge in that nearby city where we all stopped to take pictures.

The bridge was done in old style architecture which I find beautiful and fascinating on many levels, but mostly I just had a good time running around with my coworkers and taking pictures.

In the group photo with 5 young ladies, the girl in the open gray shirt is Sophie, my co-teacher. In the blue is one of our dance teachers (whose name I don't know yet), in the black is Wendy, our piano teacher, and the other two I regretfully have forgotten who they are.

On a personal note, yesterday afternoon I had a wonderful date with a young lady I met this last week. While I use the word date, we never really called it as such, we just said we were hanging out as friends, but I have reasons to suspect (hope) that there is a potential for more. I don't yet have pictures of her or of many of the other wonderful places in Chengdu yet since I haven't been in the habit of taking a camera with me everywhere I go.