Sunday, October 26, 2008

My Flat

Sit, watch, listen, type
Cold impersonality
Human turned robot

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sleeping in till 8

I am a morning person and feel something is wrong. I am not waking up at 6 am these days.

In Africa I would wake up at the crack of dawn with the sun as it peered through my straw mat walls and mosquito net hung outside. School started at 7 am, so I had to be up. Even on the weekends I was up before 6 am. Sometimes I even had my hand-washed laundry up on the line and a pot of beans cooking on the stove by 7 am.

Here in China though, I am having trouble getting up. There is no sunlight and it is cold. I sleep inside with the morning light shut out by the curtains and anyways the sun doesn't rise very early here. It is only going to get worse. I doubt it will be as bad as Seattle though. And thank goodness the sun does come out everyday.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Tell a Story

If you were to play the game where one person starts a story and then the next person continues the story and so on, where would you begin? Where is the setting? Who is the story about? What conflicts would happen?

Tonight I played this game in the Treehouse, an English resource center, with Chinese freshmen and sophomores. They loved it. They hung onto each other's words, quiet until the next part of the story was told, bursting into laughter with each funny turn, sighing with compassion when things took a turn for the worse.

I started the first story with, there once was an American. I was hoping the story would continue into China with the American coming to visit. Instead the American turned into a fat president who was chased by a fat dog that was owned by a beautiful women ending with the police capturing the dog.

The next storyline was started by a student. A long long time ago, there was a monk in a temple. Whenever he hit the gong a tiger would appear. Then the tiger turned into a beautiful women who fell in love with him; however, it is forbidden for a monk to marry, to drink alcohol or to eat meat. Even with the pressure of his mother who was very angry at him for not marrying the woman, he did not give into temptation. It turns out this woman was a princess from heaven who rewarded him with a job in heaven where he lived happily ever after.

I would have never started a story with a monk or a temple. It is fascinating to me how different our stories are because of the different cultures we grew up in.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Homecoming Week

The college I am teaching at has about 10,000 students with an old campus and a new campus.

I am on the old campus and am happy that I don't have to commute the 30 minute bus ride to the new campus that is isolated on the outskirts of town. The old campus is right in the middle of "downtown" Qingyang. Everything I need and want is in walking distance, even the yarn store and the big outdoor market. Right outside the back gate there are a line of street vendors selling candied fruit on a stick and fried sandwiches filled with potatoes, eggs and whatever else you may choose from a smorgasbord of choices.

This week I haven't had to teach two days because there has been an old campus Sports Meet and Chorus Competition. On the old campus there are five departments: P.E., Chemistry, Physics, Music, and English. Each department recruited a team for the Sports Meet and students competed in Track and Field events hoping to bring glory to their department, competition in the name of friendship. And what do Caitlin and I do? We teach the English students a cheer:

u-g-l-y, you aint got no alibi, you ugly, yeah yeah, you ugly
m-a-m-a, we know how you got that way, your mama, yeah yeah, your mama
d-a-d-d-y, you dont even know that guy, your daddy, yeah, yeah, your daddy
c-u-t-e-, that’s the way you wanna be, like me, yeah, yeah, like me
c-o-u-s-i-n, thats the only place you’ve been, yeah, yeah, your cousin
n-a-s-t-y, thats why go home and cry, you nasty, yeah, yeah, you nasty
b-u-t-t, thats the way you look to me, butt ugly, yeah, yeah, butt ugly

Yep. It's a fun cheer maybe not so appropriate for a Sports Meet in the name of friendship. We rationalized though that most of the students wouldn't understand it anyways even though all students have been learning English since primary school.

Last night I went to the Chorus Competition. The auditorium was filled with students. Attendance was mandatory for Freshmen and Sophomores. Each department had a choir of about 100 students singing two songs from Chairmen Mao's era. In between each department's performance while students left and filled the stage, there were solo performances of singers and electric traditional instruments played to the background of that cheesy New age like electronic music that is created with a keyboard.

This week has been like homecoming week where any student who wants to gets to participate in singing and sports. It isn't just the elite athletes or the best singers who get to participate. No. It is anyone and everyone. Instead of a spirit of individualistic elitism, it is a spirit of community coming together to create well-rounded students. The college provides opportunities for students to study and learn academic subjects as well as opportunities for the spirit.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I live here.

I live on the second floor of teacher flats.

My living room is full of conveniences.

I would rather live in a terrace where this is my view.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A modern flat or something more simple?

I live in an on-campus teacher flat. It is roomy with many modern conveniences; although, these days I sit in my flat feeling cold. The heat won't be turned on till November. I need to buy more layers, a couple pairs of pants to wear under my pants and a couple pairs of shirts and vests to wear under my big sweaters. I really need to buy a jacket that stops the wind. I am busy knitting and crocheting hats, scarves and gloves. My next project will be socks.

I like this modern flat, but honestly I would rather live in the country, in a farming community with a well and no electricity. I would rather live in this home that is carved into the wall. Maybe I can buy one for my retirement.

Culture Shock

I didn't get much of a chance to be in the states after living in Africa for two years. Two weeks stateside isn't long enough to feel the culture shock between West Africa and Alabama.

One of the biggest culture shocks I have had living in China these past few months is men and women talk to each other. In Africa, men gathered in gossip groups with men. Women gathered with women. In China I find it weird seeing men and women having dinner together, find it weird to see young people going out in mixed gender groups. I find it strange to see men taking care of babies, taking little children out for walks, holding children as they pee into the street.

Actually though I don't talk to many men here in China. In Africa, I talked more to men than women because men spoke French while women only spoke local language. Here though I talk mostly with female students. The English department is saturated with females. There is like a 5:30 ratio of men:women in the English classes.

Other than this, there hasn't really been a big culture shock. I do find that I am really disconnected to US culture. It seems like a culture from long long ago.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

I love sports

The skies were blue.
The wind was strong.
I went to the tan track.
Lanes had been carved into the hardened mud.

Groups of students had gathered for PE lessons in Kung Fu, volleyball, Tai Chi, gymnastics, and track and field. I found the English major sophomores who were going to learn Tai Chi. I moved energy along and against the wind. I was soft and slow.

Next week I am going to be the wind.
I will join the Kung Fu students.

Sunday, October 05, 2008


I am Chinese.

The Chinese say, "You look like Chinese."
Foreigners say, "Wow you speak English really well."

I just have to face the music that I am Chinese.