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Teaching in China: “It is like living in a movie. What will tomorrow bring? I’m sure it will not be boring.”

24 Feb

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Pictures of our apartment’s interior and our neighborhood

Astute comments from Terry, my ‘better half”

Greetings from China.  My first report was written last week and then we found out it did not go through so I will try again (Google noticed unusual traffic from my account and sent a security check). The trip over was long but not as difficult as I had expected; no restless legs or sore backs.  The traffic was not bad at first and then when we came close to our city it really got congested with cars, buses, scooter, bicycles and pedestrians all mingled together, some going the wrong way.

I just relaxed since I was not in charge or responsible for everybody’s health. It was quite a hoot. It is amazing how it all works out. They don’t go fast and they don’t get angry they just flow around each other. Yes, they use their horn constantly but it is not out of anger or frustration. Mostly it is just a signal to let others know of their presence and intentions.

When the men moved our containers from the hotel to the apartment they secured two containers at a time in a large strong cloth knotted at the top. Then they slid a round 5” wooden pole under the knot, lifted the pole onto their shoulders with the containers in between them and carried it down the 3 flights of stairs at the hotel and up the 4 flights of stairs to our apartment. Those were really strong men and I really appreciate their work and told them so.

When they pulled out into the street with their cart full of our things they went left right into the oncoming traffic. Cars, scooters, bikes were coming right towards us (we were walking behind them and got right up on the sidewalk immediately) they slowly kept right on going and all the traffic just flowed around them as they all honked.

By His grace my unstable ankle is doing fine. It seems everything we go to is on the 2nd, 3rd or 4th floor. I’m taking it one step at a time and doing fine.

We are both soooo thankful to find many delicious dishes to eat when we eat out. We have a written list that we take with us now.

I have really enjoyed the students in my classes. They have arrived on time, curious and with their paper and pens. There is only one couple who remind me of the movie “To Sir, With Love”. They sit on the last row and are not very interested. He has part of his hair died bright red. They will be my challenge. I “yarp” for them daily, that they will learn their worth and potential and let me “come along side”.

One of the girl students gave me a gift of “good food”. I took it home to try because in China you wait till later to open a gift you receive from someone. It was a package of dried squid. I tried a piece. It was salty and fishy tasting and had the texture kind of like a thin beef jerky.

We were told in training to train ourselves to think “fascinating” instead of “frustrating”. Well, today was very “fascinating”.  Because of contradicting instructions I missed the teacher’s bus that would take me to the other campus for my classes. So I took a taxi. I arrived in plenty of time to get my things in order and put my information on the board.  Class time–not a single student was present.

I called my contact. He called me back and apologized. The University had changed my schedule without telling me or my contact. So—I caught a city bus and went back to the Central campus. First times are always the hardest. It will get easier. During the whole thing I did not ever get scared or nervous. I never felt unsafe or in danger; just going along for the adventure. It is like living in a movie. What will tomorrow bring? I’m sure it will not be boring.

We are so thankful for skype. It is great to see our loved ones. You are all dear to us. Take care, stay faithful and keep “yarping”.

Love, Terry

Our students are so energetic and delightful!

Terry and I have both had freshman classes on the West campus (about 10 minutes away by bus from us) and most of them are female. We have found them energetic to learn and so delightful! Of course, some present normal challenges, but they are adjusting to us as we adjust to them.

Terry was apprehensive about taking a bus to the West campus, but within two minutes met two nice young students and another English teacher who will also be riding on Mondays. Her smile was matched only by mine as I kissed her goodbye.

We have met several who are Family and enjoyed times where Good News is shared, which is the highlight of our week.

We have felt like we’re back in South Florida several times. Not for the warm weather, by no means, but because there are so many cars honking their horns. China bought more cars last year than the USA and many of them are here….and the good folks know how to drive…they just do not know about staying in certain areas of the street and bicycles and small motorcycles and walkers are everywhere.

Everyone wants to meet the foreign English teachers. Many say hello as they walk past us – that is the only English some are comfortable using right now. Lots of smiles and stares, which takes getting used to….I find comfort remembering that Terry is ‘watched’ on many fronts when we are on separate campuses two of our three teaching days. Something that is popular here are ‘English corner,’ where the students gather around English teachers and ask all kinds of questions….an opportunity to use their English and also find about many American things. The Good News comes up often in these events and leads to small group discussions, so we are gladly a part of it. 🙂

Three officials from the foreign affairs office met with Terry and me and took us to dinner. We have now eaten from the Chinese ‘hot pot.’ Go to this site to read more about it, if you are interested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hot_pot.

I enjoyed shrimp and some beef, etc., and TJ found enough to eat that we were full at the end and did OK. No one lost face. It is a delicacy and served on top floors of the restaurants, which means more expensive, etc. The University paid for this meal for the 5 of us. We have enjoyed Skype to some of you and glad the internet is working consistently. Will schedule it soon for others.

We were part of an official dinner last night of the head of our International Foreign Affairs office. He was a student at Ohio State for two years, so we had a good time to discuss Columbus, Ohio, and the Buckeyes. He was never easy to talk with since his English was excellent, and had a great sense of human and diplomatic attitude when explaining rules and procedures.

We ate ‘chicken and beef’ that looked like chicken and beef, which pleased both of us, and we even brought some leftovers home. It was on the fourth floor of the most popular and fancy motel in our city.

We also went to Wuhan (3 hours away) for a required physical (they drew blood, took chest x-ray) and we ate at a Subway restaurant for lunch and did some shopping locally for foreign foods (American food).

Things discussed in class our first week…….

We are encouraged to use cultural idioms and proverbs to aid their English development. These are the ones I used for my first class (and, no, I cannot read Chinese characters…I had one of the students read it):

burn the candle at both ends To do more than one ought to; to overextend oneself: “His doctor said that his illness was brought on by STRESS, and recommended that he stop burning the candle at both ends.”

burn the midnight oil To stay awake late at night to work or study: “Gary has been burning the midnight oil lately; I guess she has a big exam coming up.”

Cast pearls before swine 明珠暗投

In Matthew 7:6, Jesus says, “Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you.”

Daily ‘surprises’ we have found…

  • Terry and I did something that surprised even us: we caught a ride back  from a supper gathering with friends on electric motorcycles with Dale and Lisa. About 4 miles….at night….slightly crowded streets…..and we enjoyed it!
  • Cellular telephones are relatively cheap here for basic service ($55) and there are no contracts expected…we pay as we go. America could learn something.
  • We have found peanut butter, jelly, OJ and grape juice, pinto beans, apples and bananas are just as good here as in California, Texas, Arkansas, and Florida. Thanks to those who mailed ‘care packages.’ We have enjoyed the ‘back home’ foods! If you want, send twist ties and plastic bags any time you are mailing items…we have need of them. We discovered the Bamboo Restaurant just 4 blocks from campus and found beef/onions, chicken/mushrooms, carrots, corn/sweet pea dishes that we both particularly liked. My take on it: you know what you are eating!
  • Now that my internet is working, I have received this message while trying to watch NCIS, The Good Wife and Blue Bloods on CBS: “the video you have requested is not available for your geographical region.” What do the networks have against China? Now I know what I will be buying for gifts when I return: full season DVDs. ABC and NBC also block full episodes.
  • I had already found ESPN3 was not available. I can watch reruns of Fox News Sunday and Special Report. It seems even China considered Fox ‘fair and balanced’ and blocks some liberal network sites. These guys are well informed.
  • We were taken to Wuhan (3 hours east) by the university to take a health physical. I told the dean of our department I would try 20 pushups if we could skip the physical…since they had to reschedule our classes because of it. She smiled and did not accept my proposal, which is probably best since I doubt I could do 20 pushups after climbing 4 levels daily to our apartment and 2-3 levels for all classes.
  • I must comment on local toilets, available for all here and apparently normal. We much prefer Western style! (see picture bottom left).
  • Remember I mentioned we lost 13 hours in flight on our trip from LA to Hong Kong. I just realized why I have so many “words to share” since I did not talk, etc., during that lost time. Does that mean I will be quiet when we return in January, 2012? YOU can only hope so.

We believe we are here for a reason: to reach out to the 18-20 year old university students in Jingzhou…to sow seeds of knowledge and understanding wherever possible. We know it will not return to us void. We have the opportunity to reach the future leaders of China, and to be ‘stretched’ ourselves in the process. Gary and Terry Davenport

 
1 Comment

Posted by on February 24, 2011 in Jingzhou

 

One response to “Teaching in China: “It is like living in a movie. What will tomorrow bring? I’m sure it will not be boring.”

  1. chris st james

    February 24, 2011 at 11:38 pm

    Sounds like a another book, Gary

    Like

     

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