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“They are good and beneficial times, but I will say we sleep really well when night time comes.”'”

19 Mar

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Warmer weather has come to Jingzhou!

I know that should bring no alarm to those back in America, but you’ve had warm weather for quite a long time, it seems. We still have some ‘up and down’ temperature changes but spring-like weather is appearing occasionally. The word the students always use to describe the weather: changeable.

I remember at MTSU many years ago that the warm sunshine meant young female students missing that week of classes and spending a lot of time on top of the dorm buildings beginning their sun-worship, in anticipation of spring break.

Our sophomore students are studying diligently for the TEM4 test, a national big-time exam for English major students. It is a big deal to them, and they put forth a mighty effort to pass, though some are taking it as juniors, since they failed last year.

Because of their dedication, our Saturday Life group has not been able to meet, after getting over 65 different students here during a three-week period, some of them for the first time at a sit-down discussion of Important Things. We planted some seed, and we cannot ever take it personally, because the schedules often change with little or no warning.

We also know that a lot of May will be spent in speech competitions, and we will be asked to judge many of them.

The other side of the coin? We had over 75 of TJ’s students here for a ‘come and visit” hour the weekend we realized the sophs were no longer going to be available. Hoping our contacts now will bear fruit when they come to our campus next fall.

We had a great Friday discussion group with three first-time students. (Two were unable to come, but three new ones). They are so perceptive, with wonderful questions about faith and the difficulty we all face with struggles in the world with The One over all…why does the suffering occur, etc.?

One of our students, who has been part of our groups for many, many weeks, also brought TJ two porcelain dolls, and another student gave  Terry two sleeve protectors, which are part of the Chinese winter wear that protects their coats.

We watched four of our students involved in badminton competition…two advanced to the second round before losing.

One conversation was especially revealing: when asked why she had not yet played, she said “my partner has not yet come..she is in another dormitory.” I was confused by the word ‘partner,’ since it was singles activity. She replied honestly, “I do not want to use the word opponent, so I say she is my partner.”

I hit a few minutes with two of the students, helping them warm-up, and saw my first roller-blades on our campus…the youngster was just learning but doing very well getting his balance and maneuvering across the court.

Have enjoyed listening to March Madness via the radio…since the games are not free on the internet for the initial time. I am leading the Pilgrim League pick ‘em contest and in the top 96 percentile of the nation. Missouri messed my bracket up, since I had them in the final four, but no other major disappointments… Duke losing in the first round was a surprise but not upsetting to many of us, except for my brother, Bo, of course.

I do not expect the Lady Vols to get past Baylor in their bracket, though I know some Waco, Texas relatives are enjoying the games more than ever this year 🙂

With the warmer weather, more and more folks of all ages are outside on the weekends, enjoying their neighbors and taking part in many different kind of activities.

We had some 75+ of TJ’s students in our apartment for about an hour this weekend, and, according to them, the freshmen English major students will stay on the West campus when they become sophomores. That will mean we are not close to them for two (and maybe more) years, and it limits the amount of time we will have with them for Important Things. We will wait and see what happens for the next school year…if they are here, we will want to move to the West campus, though there are many things not so convenient there.

Some of the classes come bearings gifts of fruit or flowers, which we try to share with others so they will not go bad.

I just returned from taking some of the flowers to Dean Catherine, the head of our English department and also our upstairs neighbor. She commented on how “pretty the singing was Sunday morning…I might want to attend one of your meetings.” We had three Family members from the East campus (oral English teachers) so the singing was especially good…people are listening.

I asked her about the ‘rumors’ about the English department moving to the West campus next semester…she said it is something being considered but “no formal discussions are being held right now and no decision has been made.” I shared with her that Terry and I wanted to be where the students were, and she agreed to share that if/when formal discussions commenced.

When we were ready to use Skype the other night, there were 31.5 million users online…wow! I know we would not be here unless we had access to see and hear our children and grandsons!

Greetings from Terry: It has been so cold I have not even considered sweeping our apartment stairs lately. I had just been noticing that they were really dirty the other morning and planned on tackling the job this week. That same afternoon a large group of student volunteers from our campus converged on our building and not only swept all of the stairs but washed them with buckets of water and dusted the hand rails. It looks so very nice. Some of them were our students so I sent a text to them with a sincere “Thank you” and told them I would do my part to help keep them clean.

My daughter, Tonia, mentioned the different names some of my students have chosen as their English names. She commented that it must be hard to keep a straight face when I call on “Sheep” or “Kaleidoscope” in class. Since they see it as a temporary label some of them really do choose odd ones. But really the unique ones make it easier for me to remember them so it is a big help, even when it brings a smile to my heart.

This morning we were up early to go to the vegetable market. Then Gary went to represent us as he cheered on our students at the badminton competition on our campus. One of my students on the West Campus had called and said she had many doubts and confusion about life and it seems too heavy. I invited her over to talk and have lunch with us. She was grateful and came for a good visit but had to decline the lunch. I found out her cousin knows where our strength comes from and has shared our favorite book with her. This is a happy discovery for me. We were able to share some passages and even talk to Him. So she left feeling much encouraged and I too felt refreshed.

She desires to become a teacher for a few years, then travel around China getting to know the people and be a leader. She is a young woman of compassion and understanding. I am blessed to be here at this time and get to encourage her.

After lunch we had two different groups of my new students in for visitations. Tomorrow, Sunday, we have two more visitation groups coming in the afternoon…a total of some 80+ students They are good and beneficial times, but I will say we sleep really well when night time comes.

More to come, but in several larger Vitiligro spots, the pigmentation is now definitely coming back on my neck. Thanks for your prayers on my behalf! – Love, Terry

China News — Cost of education can ruin parents. A recent audit at Dickinson State University in the United States will have made uncomfortable reading for parents in China.

Over the last four years, according to the audit, the college in North Dakota had issued diplomas to 400 foreign students despite their failure to complete the required coursework. Roughly 95 percent of these students were Chinese.

It was just one of several controls “waived or intentionally overridden or ignored” by DSU, according to the audit, which has again cast a spotlight on the risks families face in paying out huge sums to have their children educated overseas. Such investments often create what sociologists call “the new urban poor”.

“Parents are surrendering their last resources to wager them on a child’s future by sending them abroad,” said Lao Kaisheng, an education policy researcher at Capital Normal University. “If these children don’t get the decent jobs and the salary that is expected, their parents will naturally be sucked into poverty.”

Ministry of Education data show that more than 330,000 people nationwide went abroad for study in 2011, making China the largest supplier of students to Western schools.

The desire to send offspring to schools overseas has existed for decades, although today it is largely fueled by the belief that it gives youngsters an advantage in the tough domestic employment market.

However, not many Chinese families have enough saved in the bank to cover the tuition fees and accommodation and living expenses involved in overseas study potentially hundreds of thousands of yuan. Instead, many are choosing to take on massive debt at a critical time in their own life. It is a gamble, experts say, and the stakes are high.

A freshman student in Nanjing decided to donate her body to her school for medical research after dying of melanoma, the Nanjing Daily reported.

Li Juan, 21, was a nursing major at Nanjing Medical University. She was diagnosed with melanoma in December after feeling unwell in her throat. Li Juan died on Feb 28.

Li Juan was from a poor family where her mother was unable to work after brain surgery and her father and younger brother had to support the whole family. The university organized a charity donation of more than 38,700 yuan for Li after her illness was diagnosed.

Li requested in her last days for her body to be donated to the school for melanoma research.

“She might hope to continue to live her medical dream by contributing her body,” the paper said, quoting the class director Lu Xi.

Minister of Commerce Chen Deming said  Sunday that China, now the world’s second largest importer, will become the biggest in a few years.

China not only provides the world with high-quality products at low costs, but also buys high-end goods supplied by global brands, Chen said at the China Development Forum 2012.

The growth rate of China’s retail sales stayed between 16 percent and 18 percent over recent years, higher than its GDP growth, indicating the country’s huge purchasing potential, the minister said.

Chen said many Western politicians blamed China for global trade imbalance, but they seldom mentioned that China, with its population only accounting for 19 percent of the world total, is also the world’s second largest importer.

Trade remedy measures adopted by some developed countries are undesirable, because they are neither fair to other economies, nor just to domestic citizens and enterprises, Chen added.

China’s trade surplus narrowed 14.5 percent year-on-year to $155.14 billion in 2011, with imports up 24.9 percent to $1.74 trillion, customs data showed.

The Chinese capital was blanketed by spring snow on Sunday morning, after a day of heavy fog that has grounded hundreds of flights in the country’s north.

Rain began to hit Beijing Saturday evening and later turned into snow. As of 6 am Sunday, snow has accumulated to as deep as eight centimeters in parts of the city.

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2012 in Jingzhou

 

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