What are you doing on your summer break? Working to learn more of the difficult Mandarin language, reading two Chinese classics, both over 1,400 pages in length

23 Jun

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Father’s Day; China scenes/educational books, class party; Wuhan rain

What are you doing on your summer break?

What are you going to do this summer, during your break from teaching oral English to 260+ college students each per semester? A good question we have been asked many times in recent days.

Terry and I have hired two of my students, who will spend two 90-minute sessions weekly with us, to learn Mandarin, the English word for Chinese. We will be using a highly recommended book Chinese Made Easier by Martin Symonds and Tian Haohao. We ordered book 1, 2, and 3 in anticipation of several months/years of work ahead. It’s published by a university in China, has clear instructions, pronunciation exercises, and regular conversation practice…we’ll even try to learn the Chinese characters, little by little.

I also downloaded a Word edition of A Dream of Red Mansions, a Chinese classic in excess of 1,500 pages. With the simple conversion program provided free through Amazon, I have it on my kindle for daily enjoyment, though we’ve been warned that there are “many characters to follow and it is very tedious.” (I like the challenge).

Terry is working on another classic, Journey to the West by Wu-Cheng en….also on her kindle and over 1,400 pages and 100 chapters in length.

We have thoroughly enjoyed these last days, when our students have their final via a 3-6 minute speech, allowing us to test their English skills and ability to put thoughts together, intonation, and pronunciation. They work really hard, and we’re rewarding them with good grades. 🙂

We were told a few weeks back when our classes ended, and found out two days before the final week that we’d been told the wrong date. It means our freshman classes had one week, instead of two, to complete those speeches.

Since Terry and I have some classes with 50+ students, it means coming early and staying late to accomplish it. One of my classes came 85 minutes early! I entered the classroom  at 2:47 p.m. for a normal 4:05 start…and they had big smiles on their faces and were ready to go to work.

One of my class monitors invited me to a breakfast (local restaurant before 8 a.m. start) of Chinese dumplings. They were delicious, especially dipped in spaghetti sauce the next day for lunch.Our monitors are a big help to us each week, and she wanted to ‘treat me’ since it was our last day…a really nice gesture.

I am remembering advise given to Eric a few years back when he went into youth work: “remember that you will mature by leaps and bounds yearly while the students will always be the same maturity age (since they graduate and move on as seniors).” We’re realizing that, while we will grow older physically, we will have 18-23 year olds around us constantly, which should help keep us young at heart, anyway.

We are beginning a weekly discussion group on “The Good Life” from one of the Wisdom Book for fellow teachers who are in town this summer…should have 5-6 attend and I expect lively dialogue. Really looking forward to it.

We realized just today that we haven’t mentioned a unique grouping of the university students: they assign them to a group of 25-55 with the same major…and they attend every class from their freshman-thru-junior year together. That’s right…they are together for three years. A great way to bond and make great friends, unless you just do not ‘fit’ with the group.

Terry and I realized on Father’s Day weekend that this is the first year without Batsell, due to his death last summer. We talk about both of our dads a lot here, knowing they would ‘fit right in’ to our circumstances. (see photos in their honor)

We attended one of the class parties this weekend and enjoyed seeing their personalities and enjoying ‘good clean fun’ with their friends. They treated the teachers there as special guests. We told them to do exactly what they had planned, especially to speak in Chinese, if they wanted…we didn’t understand some of their words, songs, or skits, but it was great fun! We are looking forward to having these students on the Central campus next semester.

Greetings from Terry: Mom and Dad would really like the food here; the fresh vegetables, nuts, fruits, easy preparation and easy clean up, especially Dad.

That’s the way he had cooked and eaten for the past several years. I was thinking today, not only would he have loved all of the walking and stair climbing he would have loved the English Corner experience.

Mother would fit right in with the Chinese concept of gardening in flower pots on the window sills and using every inch outside for vegetables. She has been doing that for many years and has been very successful at it. I would love to have her with us but with our class load and other details it just isn’t practical.

A first time student at our discussion group brought us some dates and almonds. I have really enjoyed the treat.

This week we took Ron and Evelyn McFarland to lunch to say “Thank you” and “Good bye” before they leave for home and new adventures. We will miss them and their many helps and encouragements. Their work will continue reaping for many years.

In many of our student’s final speeches Gary and I have both heard the same acronym; FAMILY:  Father And Mother I Love You. I think it is worth remembering.

I have come to a realization that I am a unique kind of tourist. (Not weird, just unique.) Yes, I love to travel, but no, I do not enjoy or need to visit all the relics of the past or the posh tourist venues.

Instead I love getting down with the real, local people of the present and seeing life from their perspective. But I must admit that this sifting of different cultures does require a certain amount of “selective” vision, hearing and smelling, if you get my drift. (smile) But the faces and hearts you encounter in the process make it all worthwhile. To me that is walking in His footsteps. — Love, Terry.

Just For Today (shared by one of my Speaking Skills students; these students think positively and also ‘keep their head on straight.’  We are very impressed with their values. — Gary)

“Just for today I will be happy. This assumes what Abraham Lincoln said is true: ‘Most folks are about as happy as they make their mind up to be.’ Happiness comes from within; it is not a matter of externals.

Just for today I will try to adjust myself to what is; not try to adjust everything to my own desires. I will take my family, my business, and my luck as they come and fit myself to them.

Just for today I will take care of my body. I will exercise it, care for it, nourish it, not abuse or neglect it, so that it will be a perfect machine for my bidding.

Just for today I will try to strengthen my mind. I will learn something useful. I will not be a mental loafer. I will read something that requires effort, thought, and concentration.

Just for today I will exercise my soul in three ways: I will do someone a good turn and not get found out. I will do at least two chores I don’t want to do, as William James suggests, just for exercise.

Just for today I will be agreeable. I will look as well as I can, speak diplomatically, act courteously, be liberal with praise, criticize not at all, nor find fault with anything, and not try to regulate or improve anyone.

Just for today I will try to live through this day only, not tackle my whole life problem at once. I can do things for twelve hours that would appall me if I had to keep them up for a lifetime.

Just for today I will have a program. I will write down what I expect to do every hour. I may not follow it exactly, but I will have it. It will eliminate two pests: hurrying and indecision.

Just for today I will have a quiet half hour by myself and relax. In this half hour sometimes I will think of God, so as to get a little more perspective into my life.

Just for today I will be unafraid. Particularly, I will be unafraid to be happy; to enjoy what is beautiful; to love; and to believe that those I love, love me.“— by Sybil Partridge

Things to remember when we’re treated unfairly

How do you react when someone treats you unfairly? Let’s say someone double crosses you or cheats you. Maybe someone lies about you and your reputation is damaged. Perhaps your boss chews you out for something you know you didn’t do or singles you out because he doesn’t like what you stand for. What is your typical response?

Do you…retreat into a depression? Withdraw from human interaction? Look for a way to get even? Vow that you’ll never do anything nice for anyone again? Cheat the next guy down the line because you conclude that it’s a dog-eat-dog world?

Become so cynical about the world that you no longer enjoy life? These responses are all too common.

The first thing to remember when you have been treated unfairly is that this life isn’t fair. I suppose some of you might think it is redundant for me to say that, but it never ceases to amaze me that so many get so upset when things don’t come out even.

Whoever said that this life was fair, anyway? I’m not aware of anything that guarantees all things working out.

Yet, it bugs us, doesn’t it? It bugs me! The bad guy sometimes wins. The criminal gets off Scot-free. The ladder climber who steps on everyone in his path gets the penthouse. The politician lies and gets away with it because the economy is good.

I’m not suggesting here that we shouldn’t do whatever we can when we can to make things right. I’m simply saying that sometimes making things even is beyond what we can do. At that point, so that we don’t go insane at the unbalanced nature of it all, we need to remember that it’s not always going to be fair.

I’m not recommending defeatism or fatalism. I’m simply trying to be realistic. Don’t set your expectations too high. In this life, no matter how you live or what you do, life isn’t always going to be fair.

The second thing to remember when you have been treated unfairly is that what happens in you is more important than what happens to you. Things are going to happen in this life that we are powerless to change. We usually cannot rearrange someone else’s behavior toward us, nor can we undo the moments in which someone has hurt us. Maybe it can be prevented next time, but once it has happened, it has happened. There is no backing up.

If we keep reliving the unhappy moment and devote endless hours to appealing the verdict of a wrongdoing in our minds, we will be left spent and miserable. Though it is sometimes hard to see, time passed in the courtroom of our mind trying the case over and over is really time wasted. Even though we’re sure the verdict is guilty, there is usually no way to bring about justice in this life without becoming guilty ourselves.

Suppose you hold a glass of water as you walk towards me. I carelessly (or deliberately) bump into you. Whatever you have in the glass will probably spill out.

That is the way our lives are. When we are bumped, whatever is inside comes out. For most of us, an injustice done to us personally is a very jarring bump. Sadly, it is disgraceful sometimes the things that spill out.

What happens in you is far more important than what happens to you.

The third thing to remember when you have been treated unfairly is others are watching to see what you will do. There is more happening when an injustice is done to us than just the unpleasantness of the moment. People want to know if our ‘walk and talk’ agree. Am I a person who wants to do what is best toward others, or one who will do it, no matter what is involved?

The fourth thing to remember when you have been treated unfairly is that you must not bow to bitterness.

All of us need to set some standards for ourselves. We need to draw the line in the sand and say, “Beyond this point I will not go – not for comfort – not for security – not for revenge – not for anything!

A doctor told a man that he had rabies. Upon hearing the diagnosis, he took out a piece of paper and started writing on it. The doctor thought, “Oh, he must be making up his will,” so he asked, “What are you doing, making up your will?” The man said, “No, I’m just writing down every person I’m going to bite.”

Sadly, that is how some folks handle injustice. They are so bitter that they bite everyone else around them. We must never bow to bitterness.

The fifth thing to remember when you have been treated unfairly is that what you do is more important than how you feel. Our behavior is determined by the values we have, and we’re guided by sayings from the most important book of  ill.

It isn’t particularly difficult to figure out what these say we must do. The difficult part is our feelings, isn’t it? Why is it so hard…

  • To get on our knees on behalf of that person whose carelessness or neglect caused us so much pain?
  • To go down to the store and buy a gift and send it to that person whom we know must hate us
  • To say something that blesses them rather than cursing them under our breath?

The answer is simple. Every feeling in our bodies is screaming that it isn’t right!

Ah! We’ve come to an important crossroad in this matter. We’ve come to the place where we learn whether we’re serious about our values or not.

Many of us have yet to learn this very important part of our values. Doing the right thing isn’t always the thing that makes us feel good at the moment. Actions lead, feelings follow.

Good feelings that result from our doing right usually come after the act, not before. If we wait around in the beginning, hoping to get our feelings to go along with our actions, we’ll seldom do what is right.

How about it?  Are you returning good for evil? Are you turning the other cheek when it is appropriate? Are you walking the second mile? Are you praying for that person who has hurt you so?

Are you allowing whatever blessings you have in your life to Chfall on the just and the unjust, or are you selective, based on the records you’ve kept of wrongs done against you? Are you blessing rather than cursing? (The word “bless” in this case means literally, “to speak well of.”)

“But I don’t feel like it!” Welcome to the world of doing what is right. It’s that way for all of us.

 The sixth thing to remember when you have been treated unfairly is that you are still the bigger debtor. My friends, no matter whom might wrong us, we are still the bigger debtor. We always will be. So much has been done for us; we could never catch up, and forget about getting ahead!

A certain tenant farmer had worked hard for many years to improve the production of the land he leased. Then something happened that caused him to become very bitter.

When it was time to renew his lease, the owner told him he was going to sell the farm to his son who was getting married. The tenant made several generous offers to buy it himself, hoping the man’s decision would be reversed, but his pleading got nowhere.

As the day drew near for the farmer to vacate his home, his weeks of angry brooding finally got the best of him. He gathered seeds from some of the most pesky and noxious weeds he could find. Then he spent many hours scattering them on the clean, fertile soil of the farm, along with a lot of trash and rocks he had collected.

To his dismay, the very next morning the owner informed him that plans for his son’s wedding had fallen through, and therefore he would be happy to renew the lease. He couldn’t understand why the farmer exclaimed in agonizing tones, “What a fool I’ve been!”

Try as we might to even up the score when we’re treated unfairly, the result for us will be the same as it was for that tenant farmer. At the end, we’ll exclaim, “What a fool I’ve been!” — Gary

China Daily News: China’s hunger for luxury goods growing—China is continuing its march toward becoming the largest luxury market in the world. The nation is now seen as a second home to many of the world’s top brands, with everything from cars, handbags, watches, clothes and fine wines now sold in China.

Every year this market has grown more crowded, and it is becoming harder for luxury brands to tap into this market. The competition to grab a share of the Chinese wallet is immense now for luxury players. A new survey by KPMG titled, “Luxury experiences in China”, has highlighted the increasing brand recognition among Chinese consumers, at 57 brands this year compared with 45 last year.

Luxury brands are finding it increasingly difficult to find a niche and build market share. Amid rising competition, brands need to be innovative and explore new marketing avenues to stay ahead.

These findings are based on a survey of 1,200 consumers in 24 tier-one and tier-two cities across China, conducted by market research company TNS. Respondents were between 20-45 years of age, earning a minimum of 7,500 yuan (798.6 euros) per month in tier-one cities and 5,500 yuan elsewhere.

The survey also finds that China’s luxury buyers are basing their purchasing decisions on a wider range of factors. Consumers increasingly choose to reward or pamper themselves as opposed to seeking higher social status via their brand purchases. Emotive factors such as “experience” and “self-reward” have now emerged alongside status-seeking and needs-based factors as key drivers. They also continue to place a lot of importance on the heritage of luxury brands.

Inside China — The Chinese mainland and Taiwan will launch a pilot travel program on June 28 that will allow mainlanders to visit Taiwan as individual tourists, a Taiwan affairs official said Sunday.

Wang Yi, director of the State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office, announced the plan during a conference held at the weeklong Straits Forum, which opened in the mainland’s coastal city of Xiamen on Saturday. Wang said the first phase of the program will apply to residents of the cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen, which is located in southeast China’s Fujian Province.

The two sides also agreed to give the green light to Fujian residents who wish to individually travel to Taiwan’s islands of Kinmen, Matsu and Penghu. The mainland and Taiwan have witnessed booming tourism in recent years after the two sides agreed to lift a ban on mainlanders’ traveling to Taiwan in July 2008.

The number of mainland tourists traveling to Taiwan in groups reached 930,000 in 2009 and shot up by 127 percent to hit 1.63 million in 2010, according to statistics from Taiwan tourism authorities.

Industry insiders estimate that the individual travel program will bring in 2 billion yuan ($307 million) in tourism revenues for Taiwan within half a year.

We believe we are here for a reason: to reach out to the 18-23 year old university students in Jingzhou, sowing 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. Your thoughts and support are deeply appreciated!  — Gary and Terry

1 Comment

Posted by on June 23, 2011 in Jingzhou


One response to “What are you doing on your summer break? Working to learn more of the difficult Mandarin language, reading two Chinese classics, both over 1,400 pages in length

  1. Roy & Mary McKinney

    June 24, 2011 at 8:31 am

    We love the pictures from the past of your parents. Great job you’re doing there–we are sure of that, knowing you both. We love you,
    Mary & Roy



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