We are closing out our 20 months of work here (four school semesters) in Jingzhou, Hubei at the end of this week, and it has been extremely emotional for all concerned! We have made lifelong friends with both students and teachers…and we will miss them very much. They have been so kind and outspoken with their comments and actions in the past days, since we learned we would be moving to Beijing and leaving the work here.
Most of our discussion sessions have included more people and even some visitors who “want to say goodbye.” Since we have known for several weeks that we were moving, we have enjoyed the extra time and it has been great for closure for all concerned. Many of the senior students are also coming by or sending nice comments…we are hoping they can come visit in Beijing.
We got Christmas Eve and Christmas off from all classes, so we had a long break to close out our last weekend here…and Monday and Tuesday to finish most of our packing (7 trunks, two large pieces of luggage, and two small carryon’s each).
We received multiple text messages wishing us ‘Merry Christmas and happy days always.” It still amazes us that these young people would be thinking of us on this day, when we have time off from classes and they have a normal day…and they do not really celebrate Christmas, even as a family holiday, as we do.
I might mention that most of the pictures in this final report from Jingzhou shows all of us with 4-5 layers of clothes, so we appear to have ‘gained some weight.’ While that may be the case for some, it certainly has to be considered because the past two weeks have turned very-y-y-y cold.
The students organized a ‘send off party’ where we filled a large area on our campus to ‘say goodbye.’ Different groups of students worked on some special presentations that were part of the event…I had worked on a slide presentation with many slides from both 2011 and 2012 to show and we also led the group in Jingle Bells, Joy to the World, and then sang Light the Fire in both English and Chinese. Many tears flowed with big smiles. We both spoke from the heart directly to our dear friends and admitted that “our experience here has changed our life in so many good ways. We will cherish your friendship for the rest of our life!”
The Foreign Affairs Office had its annual Christmas event, with delicious food and a chance to be with the other American English teachers from the East and South campuses; we have not had much time with them so this was very special.
On the way home from the FAO event, I lost my 40+ year old MTSU college ring, which hasn’t been off my finger for more than a few hours (when playing competitive tennis) in all that time. My finger is smaller due to the cold weather, and apparently it fell off in the cab when I was taking off my gloves to find yuan for payment. We had a friend call the cab company and they were going to put out an announcement….will wait and see IF it is recovered. There was only two foreigners who were at that hotel at that time and who were delivered to our South gate….it hurts to think about it…a good reminder not to put my affections in material things…
TJ has done her usual great job ‘working the puzzle’ of packing for our move…she loves the process of slowly ‘eliminating’ those things we will not use until it is down to the bare minimum at the last day. We’re also working to eat the things in the kitchen without buying anything else, not wanting to waste anything but also wanting to have something healthy daily. I ran out of cereal six days earlier than planned but ate a peanut butter and strawberry jelly sandwich for breakfast….not the first time and likely not the last…healthy and filling. 🙂 We’re leaving a few ‘goodies’ for those who will follow us, knowing that the electricity will be off from the moment we leave until the end of February…that makes for a giant refrigerator/freezer for anything in the house. 🙂 Having some peanut butter/jelly and pinto beans, etc. for those first days would have been nice for us, I know.
We went to our initial movie at a Chinese theatre, with three teacher friends, and I highly recommend The Life of Pi to those who are interested and have holiday time. It is a 3D so it made the animal scenes very realistic and exciting.
I have again enjoyed football from afar again. Finished first in the college football Pick ‘Em contest and still working on NFL Pick ‘Em and College Bowl picks…my buddy, Gary Nix, and son Gregory are making it tough on me, though.
My Dell hard-drive developed issues during the summer. Since it was under warranty until mid-December, I thought I could transfer it to China and get service…well, no such luck. Finally, they did provide free replacement through the mail and a brother here put it in for me. All is well after a few setbacks getting old files, etc., restored. I have come to appreciate Dell brand more and more, though I missed that “in home service” they would have provided had I been in America.
Two weeks prior to leaving, four of our junior students came by to say goodbye…and wanted to talk of faith, God and the Bible for one of the first times…answering one of our daily prayers! They have been special to us since our first month here, but their schedules and interest just were not ready, it seems, for these most important things. Certainly they heard much in class, but not with the details and using the Bible as the guide. We took advantage of the time we had, sowed much seed, and gave them their own copy of the Bible in Chinese…and gave them a DVD of the six Search for Truth videos with Chinese subtitles that we have shared with so many these past three weeks.
I have enjoyed tangerines again….juicy and sweet…reminds me of the boxes of fruit Mom and Dad always provided growing up during this time of year.
All my seven classes have been on the fifth floor this semester, and I noticed during the last week that I still had that burning sensation in my legs as I reached the top floor. I would have thought I’d grown used to it by now…well…
There is regular snow now in Beijing, so we are gearing up for a different climate. I naturally assumed the city would have snow-clearing trucks, etc. but saw this notation in China Daily this week: “In Beijing, at least three highways were closed on Thursday night due to heavy snowfalls and ice. Authorities mobilized more than 363,000 people across the municipality to clear snow from roads, Beijing Municipal Commission of City Administration and Environment said.” You read correctly: they send people out in the middle of the night to clear the snow!
We had our first ‘snow dust’ in Jingzhou Dec. 26, and the coldest temps (high of 36, low of 32)…it was really cold in the classrooms our last three mornings here! I was sharing some of our university experiences a few weeks back, and told how Terry and I met just prior to our junior year of school at MTSU…and married just prior to our senior year (very not-normal for Chinese culture). I mentioned that “I majored in Terry my junior year” when they asked how it affected our school work…and later several mentioned in their final speeches that “those were the sweetest words they have ever heard.”
Greetings from Terry: Sophia Chen and her husband Xie had us into their home for a home cooked meal. It was not only delicious but fun to see where they live near the West campus. They live in his mother’s spacious three story house that is part of a quadruplex. We got to meet her mother-in-law and see her baby, Grace. Xiao Guan (our waibon) had a baby girl (see photo on other page). I was able to visit her in the hospital and take her the baby quilt I had made for her.
I took Jasmine to lunch the other day; just me and her so we could really visit. She is one of the girls that taught us Putonghua our first summer here. We talked for an hour and a half solid about many important things. The next day she took me to a shop and helped me order a Chinese traditional blouse to be made to my measurements.
Sonic and Cat are a couple of seniors from the West campus that we met them at McDonald’s one time. They are boy friend/girl friend but will not allow themselves to be engaged until after college although they speak of some day being married. They came over and expressed their faith in the One who is over all. They also asked many questions about life, love and how to sustain a good marriage. We were happy to give them each a good book. Later that night they text us to say they had both read from the book as soon as they had arrived to their rooms.
We had nine come for the Sunday AM meeting. Gary and I both wiped a few tears away during the singing as we looked around at the faces of the dear brothers and sisters we have grown to love. We can tell by their questions and answers they are growing and maturing. We are sooo blessed to be here. It has been a while since I have written anything. My mind is busy but my words don’t come as often as I would like sometimes. One of our students called then came by. He said he had been reading our favorite book on line and now would like a copy of his own. We were thrilled to help him out. Keven passed his Tou Fu test to study abroad. Thanksgiving! Celebration!
We have suggested MTSU because they have a link to Universities in Beijing and already have hundreds of Chinese students, many of whom attend meetings at North Blvd. Please help us make requests for this. He is also looking into a Communication study in Hong Kong. The other day a student gave us four egg custard tarts that were delicious. So when I discovered it was Keven’s birthday right in the middle of a very busy week I bought 4 fresh egg tarts and took them into him after his morning class just as the students had left and wished him Happy Birthday. It was a fun little surprise.I have packed trunks #1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 now (written with 21/2 weeks to go). I love working puzzles.
One of my sweet, quiet freshman girls on the West campus texted me Saturday night saying she was so sad and nobody to talk to. A room full of roommates but nobody to really care or listen. We have all been in that situation at one time or another. We text back and forth for a while.(Texting is easier than calling because they can read and write English better than they can speak it and also I have difficulty understanding them on the cell phone.) I invited her to come over right then but since it was evening she could not. Sunday afternoon she came for a good visit and she said the encouragement and advice that was given from our favorite book helped a lot.( After all it is the greatest love letter ever written.)
The silk blouse I had made turned out to be lightly quilted, more like a jacket. (Tee Hee, you never quite know in China if you don’t speak the language.) But it is beautiful! It was too tight at first but after she altered it, all was fine. I had my second and last children’s English corner with the three little girls. They were so cute. I think Gary shared the video of us doing head, shoulders, knees and toes. After our Friday discussion one of the young men told Gary he was so glad he has been able to come and meet new friends. We noticed that he came and left with one of the young ladies of the group. This is another of the good benefits. They get to know others who have similar interests and life styles.
That same night three other girls met each other for the first time and really hit it off. One of them text later that night saying thanks for the opportunity. She really likes her new friends. Kelly and Hugo had us over to their new home (apartment) for a home cooked meal. Eris and Keven also came. Actually Eris did a lot of the cooking with the help of Kelly and Hugo. It was delicious and so much fun to be with them. Their two story apartment is spacious and modern. So happy for them.
December 2 we had 15 come to the Sunday morning meeting, including two brand new people. It is such a joy. I cut the fingertips out of my oldest pair of gloves and hemmed them to wear while teaching so I can manage the chalk and computer and still not freeze. Last week I got so cold in my 4 PM class even with my coat and scarf on. I taught them head, shoulders, knees and toes at the break just to get our blood circulating. They thought it was funny but enjoyed it.
One of our classes gave us each a very nice, soft scarf. Mine is red and large enough to be worn as a shawl or doubled and draped around my neck. Gary’s is black and gray. Another class gave us a Class Book Album. Each student took a page to write a message. Many added photos of themselves.
The workers are laying new pipe and redoing some landscaping one lane over from our apartment. It is now 9:30PM and I just heard a big empty a load of gravel for tomorrows task. They are hard workers. They start work around 7:30 each morning.
Keven suggested a movie he thought we would enjoy; The Story of Pi directed by the famous Tiwanese man Lee Ayn. It is in the theater near our campus so Hugo, Kelly, Eris, Gary and I went to see it together. It is really 3D and really well done. I highly recommend it.
We had 10 people come to our last Friday night discussion. We talked about communicating with our Father. It was a meaningful discussion and time of fellowship. Arrow brought a snack for us all; dried purple sweet potato logs. They were very crunchy and good. I recently read Why Babies Cry by Graham Kennedy. I’m getting ready for that new grandbaby we are expecting in May. (smile)
Sunday morning 13 people came for the 10:00 meeting. Alex brought a visitor with him. Afterwards Maggie, her husband and our teacher friend, Howard took us out to dinner at a nice restaurant in Shashi. It was a pleasant time with friends, good food and nice warm surroundings.
When I mentioned I needed to buy a new coat Howard volunteered to take us to a nice department store that was across the street and help us shop for one. I found what I wanted and Howard bargained with the sales lady and got 20% off the price. I was sure to get one with plenty of room for the extra layers of clothes that are required.
I got to give away the last pair of gloves to an elderly woman (older than me, tee hee) whom I have seen walking on campus. When it is cold she holds a towel over her hands. We have said, “Ni hao”, hello to each other several times. She has a sweet smile. I am glad I got to see her when I had the gloves with me. Today it was so very cold in the classroom and going to and from; low 40s, overcast and windy. — Love to all. Terry
China News: Orphans and disabled children in Light Love Family, a Beijing-based NGO, will enjoy a special meal cooked for them by top chefs on Thursday.
Wang Yue, who is organizing the event on behalf of Shinho Enterprise, said they are receiving the special treat because Thursday is a special day when people do good things for each other. That is how Wang interprets Thanksgiving, which despite being one of the most celebrated holidays in North America, remains little known by the majority of Chinese.
Around 10 chefs from established restaurants, such as Quanjude, which specializes in roast ducks, and the Beijing Hotel, will cook traditional Chinese dishes for more than 100 teachers and students in Light Love Family, which helps homeless children.
Shi Qinghua, head of the NGO, said the best thing about the feast is “giving family warmth to the children”.
Thanksgiving, celebrated on the second Monday of October in Canada and on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States, has not been embraced in China in the way other Western holidays such as Valentine’s Day or Christmas have been.
Many shopping malls found Thanksgiving a challenge to turn into a shopping festival and launch large-scale promotions. Beijing-based luxury shopping mall Jinbao Place was going to celebrate Thanksgiving with a charity event, but it was canceled at the last minute.
Angela Zhao, marketing and communication supervisor of the shopping mall, said Jinbao will arrange its marketing activities based on the requirements of different labels within the shopping mall.
“These labels, however, do not recognize Thanksgiving Day, because this holiday is not recognized among our customers. This holiday cannot attract them to come and spend,” Zhao said.
Thanksgiving Day falls between the Chinese national holiday Golden Week, and Christmas and the Spring Festival, undermining its marketing potential to become a shopping festival, Zhao said. “It’s stuck between the big shopping festivals for most Chinese,” Zhao said, adding that it is the main reason Chinese consumers usually ignore Thanksgiving.
However, the values represented by Thanksgiving are shared with some Chinese. Recognized by an increasing number of educated Chinese, the holiday has been translated in China by some international enterprises or individuals as a day of giving back. “It is the best time to share the value of ‘giving back’ and ‘gratefulness’ to society,” said Wang, citing the charity cooking event she has been organizing.
The headline in the China Daily got my attention: More toilets needed in Guangzhou subway. The article went on to say: “A recent photo of a boy defecating inside a subway car has raised awareness among passengers about the lack of toilets in the subway lines in Guangzhou, Guangdong province.
The picture also attracted negative criticism and attention due the uncivilized conduct portrayed after it was published online early this week. An executive from Guangzhou Metro Corp said that those who defecate or urinate in train cars and metro stations will be fined 50 yuan ($8). He urged passengers to contact staff at the metro stations for help when they need to use the toilets urgently.
The picture has sparked controversy among passengers due to the shortage of toilets along subway lines in the city, which has a population of more than 16 million.
Han Zhipeng, a member of the Guangzhou Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, said that Guangzhou now has more than 100 metro stations, but that only 16 of the stations have toilets. “The need for toilets is huge, and the subway company should build them to help address the problem, and avoid similar cases in the future,” Han said.
“Mobile toilets should also be installed near metro stations,” he added. Meanwhile, Peng Peng, a researcher with the Guangzhou Academy of Social Sciences, said that parents and schools should also teach children to not urinate anywhere.
China has become the biggest Bible publisher in the world after printing its 100 millionth copy, according to the country’s only authorized Bible-printing company. At a ceremony held on Thursday in Nanjing, capital of East China’s Jiangsu province, the 100 millionth copy was unveiled.
Amity Printing Co Ltd Chairman Qiu Zhonghui said the company has printed about 60 million copies of the holy book in China, including editions in nine ethnic-group languages. The company has provided 40 million copies in more than 90 languages to about 70 countries and regions in the world.
Amity Printing is a joint venture between China’s Amity Foundation and the United Bible Societies. The company has been publishing the Bible since 1987. Due to Chinese government policies, Amity Printing benefits from being exempt from various taxes when producing the Bible, Qiu said. There are more than 70 sales outlets nationwide that sell the book. (continued on page two)
Guo Wei, spokeswoman for the State Administration for Religious Affairs, said at the ceremony: “The Chinese government respects and protects religious freedom and will continue to support printing and publishing Bibles in China.” China has become the biggest publisher of Bibles worldwide. China encourages further cooperation between Chinese and overseas churches and Christian circles, Guo said.
Leaders of churches and Christian groups from more than 20 countries and regions — including the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Finland, South Africa, Tanzania, Egypt, Hong Kong and Taiwan — were also invited to the ceremony. They offered congratulatory speeches, gifts and pledges to deepen cooperation in fundraising, Bible printing and philanthropy.
Couple to pay steep fine for breaking family-planning policy — A wealthy couple will have to pay a fine of up to 10 million yuan ($1.61 million) for violating China’s family planning policy.
The couple was found to give birth to octuplets in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, two years ago. The children were noticed in a housing estate in the city’s Panyu district shortly after they were born.
“Apart from the triplets the mother delivered, the couple was found through a thorough investigation to have sought another two surrogate mothers to give birth to twins and another to triplets,” Zhang told media on Friday. The couple refused to discuss how they found the surrogate mothers or discuss them in detail, Zhang said.
According to applicable laws and family planning regulations, the couple will have to pay up to 10 million yuan if they are found to have an annual income of more than 1 million yuan, he added.
Official with 4 wives removed from legislature— A former district legislator from North China’s Shanxi province who has found to have four wives and 10 children has been removed from the legislature, local authorities announced Friday.
Li Junwen, 43, a former deputy to the Xiaodian district People’s Congress of the city of Taiyuan and former head of the village of Xicuan, was arrested last Saturday for allegedly forging his marriage certificate, according to an announcement from the district government.
Fourteen officials who were responsible for helping Li’s illegitimate children obtain residence registration, as well as failed to properly examine his legislative qualifications, were admonished, demoted or fired, the announcement said.
They include the Communist Party of China (CPC) secretary of Xiwenzhuang township, the head of the township police station and several local officials in charge of family planning. China’s marriage law forbids polygamy and its one-child policy allows a second child only under special circumstances.
In May, a couple in eastern China’s Zhejiang province who had a second child were fined 1.3 million yuan ($206,677).
Li married Hu Yongxian in 1989 and had four children with her. Li had six more children with another three women. Li forged a marriage certificate when helping one of the women obtain residence registration, according to an investigation by the Taiyuan municipal government.
Under family planning rules, a child born outside of marriage cannot get residence registration. However, nine of Li’s children had obtained residency certificates, according to the investigation.