Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What to knit next?

For the upcoming winter, I need sweaters. Why? Because during home leave I want to take home all my good clothes which means my good jackets. This means I need to start knitting layers.

Tomorrow I am going to go yarn shopping. Even though the USA has great yarn stores with an amazing selection of yarn that I cannot find in China, I must make a vow not to buy yarn. It is too expensive in America. Here in China, for $4.50, I can buy about 600 grams worth of wool which can be made into several items a long sleeve sweater, a T-sweater, and socks. There is even cheaper acrylic yarn for about $2.60 per 600 grams.

I need to get a big project on the needles so when I am back in the states, I won't be tempted to buy yarn.

Here are three projects I am thinking of doing: Avast or Plain and Simple Pullover or a Sag Snood. I guess I will be buying a lot of gray. I like knitting simple designs, nothing fancy, especially no lace. Do I get bored? Nah... I just like keeping my hands busy without too much thinking.

Recently, I have finished a green T-sweater, a pair of socks, a hat, and a scarf. I've run out of yarn.

Collision

This is what happens when a wide six lane road is blocked by a metal fence and reduced down to one bike lane that is just wide enough to fit two cars. When accidents occur in China, rarely are vehicles moved off the road. Instead they sit blocking traffic until the police arrive. I have not really seen too many accidents, just a lot of motorcycles lying on their sides in front of larger vehicles. I have somewhat gotten used to cars, motorcycles, and bicycles all on the wrong side of the road moving the wrong way. It is chaotic dodging vehicles and people coming from every direction.

When trying to get on an exercise schedule, it is frustrating when unforeseen things try to prevent you from exercising. Yesterday it was a flat tire. Today it is rain. I think I am going to bike anyways. Hopefully the rain isn't heavy or continuous.

Today is my last day of teaching and final exam dates have finally been posted. My class' listening final is the 6th of July.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Boys Playing

I woke up to a flat tire and wasn't sure if it was because the valve was loose or because of a puncture. I tightened the valve, blew up the tire and will wait to see what happens tomorrow. I instead went on a run in the rain and made my black toenail bleed.

My new project is going to translate a menu at a near by restaurant. I will go down the menu one by one, eat a different dish, and create an English menu. You may be wondering, why haven't you done it earlier like when you first arrived? Because, my spoken Chinese food vocabulary hadn't gotten old yet: eggs and tomatoes, pork and peppers, noodles, fungus and pork, green vegetables, tofu, and eggplant. As I enter my third year in China, I've been eating the same things over and over again. I want something new.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Want a pet?

How much is that ducky in the basket?
4 RMB ($0.60)

I thought the ducks were being sold as food.
Buy a baby duck.
Watch it grow.
Then eat it.

My students said,
"No. They are being sold to little children."

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Women's Conference



This semester there were two clubs: Women's Club advised by my sitemate and English Club for Knitters advised by me. The Women's Club was for sophomore and junior students. The English Club for Knitters was for freshmen. Because of the difference between language levels, we decided to have two different clubs so that the freshmen wouldn't get run over by the more confident older students.

Tonight we held an end of the semester women's conference that combined the two clubs. Using only English, the women got together and exchanged ideas, participating in an ice breaker, telling each other what they did this semester, interviewing each other, explaining homemade posters about women, and telling each other their high and low of the week. It was a great success. The freshmen after spending a semester knitting while using English became a lot more confident. Instead of shying away from strangers they were able to express themselves using English. The older students were like big sisters taking care of their little sisters, encouraging them to be confident. It was a win win situation.

Three Men on Bicycles

As I was sitting outside eating an egg and tofu sandwich watching the playground, I saw three guys on road bikes riding round and round in circles like they were practicing for an indoor bicycle race. The men were wearing bike helmets. BIKE HELMETS! It was an astonishing sight. I have seen maybe two Chinese people wearing bicycle helmets and they were unique because they had fancy bikes, fancy outfits, and gloves. The majority of people in China do not wear motorcycle helmets nor bicycle helmets. While wearing my Peace Corps issued helmet, people's heads turn to watch me bike by, and they snicker. I was very surprised to see helmets on the playground. When I looked more closely, I saw that they were wearing the helmets backwards from how I would wear them.

Goodbye Sitemate

So it is very close to the end of the twenty seven month commitment to PC and my sitemate will be going home. She was the ying to my yang, and we made a pretty good team. She was the funny one while I was the serious one. She was the creative one and the one who would say, "Chillax," whenever I would spin into my pessimistic worry anxiety circles. She was the creative ideas behind secondary projects, the one who would push to start them while I was the organizer, the finisher, and logistics person. Now she is going home.

Lucky her.

Last night while out with Chinese strangers, friends of a Canadian we were all saying goodbye to, I realized I miss America, the non-censored me, the me who can talk about whatever she wants, date whoever she wants, be around people who are open to non-traditional ideas. One more year and then I will head back to the states to be me again.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Bicycle

This weekend is full of end of the year parties. Yesterday we gave away prizes for the reading competition. The first place winner read 1890 pages this semester. She won a clock. Then we had a watermelon eating going away party for my sitemate, almost ruined by the rain. Afterward, we went out for BBQ with some foreign middle school teachers who are leaving tomorrow.

Today we are having a Tree House worker party. The students will go on a photo scavenger hunt and then eat cake.

This morning, I woke up to voices outside my window saying "Mei you dian." (No electricity.)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Walking to School

On my bike ride yesterday, I turned around after only thirty minutes because of construction. On the bike that I have, riding in dirt and dust is not fun. Before heading home, I took a detour and explored the new six lane roads that have recently appeared around new campus. Unfortunately I ran into more dirt roads and had to walk my bike back into the city. The above picture probably in a months time will become one of those new roads.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Construction using Brick

Because I can't read Chinese characters, it is hard for me to know what the fifty dishes are on the menu. I basically eat maybe the same ten dishes over and over again because they are the ones I know the names of. Sometimes I will learn a new dish if someone in the room is eating something delicious looking. Then I will use the pointing method of communication and have the waiters write the name down in my book.

Yesterday, a table was eating a green salad with pickled little florescent green peppers. We don't really like the pickled flavor of the peppers and so I tried to use my language skills to ask for the salad without peppers. The boss and waiters looked at us strange. "What if we add these bigger different peppers?"

Not wanting to risk a dish that was too spicy to enjoy, we said, "No thank you." We felt proud that people understood our Chinese and that we were getting a plate of salad without peppers.

They shrugged their shoulders, probably thought, "Crazy foreigners," and brought out a HUGE plate of pepperless cilantro salad. Oh... the salad was cilantro? From the distance it looked like a different Chinese salad.

Ever eat a whole plate of raw cilantro?
We did.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tailor Made Dress

So what is the verdict? Does this dress look Chinese, African, American, or a little bit of both? I feel like it is more American Chinese than African even though in Africa I would get the same style of a dress except a bit longer. The print though just isn't Guinea or Burkina. In America would it look out of place? Have I lost my American sense of fashion? I feel like the pattern is a bit too busy for America.

Also, I feel a bit naked. I don't like showing my legs. In Africa, women also did not like showing their legs. In China at least in my city, women don't like showing their shoulders, but showing legs is fine.

Chinese American in China

During my first two days in China, I was lost and voiceless, but I was expected to understand, to talk, to order food like every other Chinese looking person living in China. The pressure drove me further into a hole of hiding. After only one Chinese lesson of reciting a pinyin chart for two hours, I was expected to go out into the streets of Chengdu and order lunch. LUNCH! Food was a simple need to fill my body with nutrients that would rejuvenate and re-energize. It was a simple basic necessity of life, but scavenging for food to fill my rumbling tummy was a task full of my own fear.

Instead of being an independent American, I took the easy way out and followed the foreigners. I fed off the hospitality and patience that their white faces of being outsiders gave them. Instead of being yelled at,instead of being hurried, instead of facing impatient frustrated waiters during the rush hour of lunch trying to feed a billion people, the foreigners were given smiles of sympathy and lots of sign language to indicate cost. Et voila, we were fed. The obvious foreigners and the hospitality of the Chinese people fed me. I didn't have to open my mouth to face the wrath of expectations, expectations that I would be able to understand and fluently speak Chinese just because I looked Chinese. I was an independent American turned into a non-obvious foreigner.

Looking like a Chinese person, I become invisible. I do not have to bear the burden of being stared at every minute of the day or bear the frustrations of being yelled at by complete strangers or obnoxious school children. HALLO! Bye bye! OH KAY! I am instead surrounded by the silence of looking like everyone else. In such a profound silence, I feel peace yet within the quiet, a deep sense of loneliness overwhelms me. I do not belong to this Chinese culture of high heels, flashy feminine fashion, ankle high nylons worn with sandals, of mothers and children, of conformity, traditional values, and harmony. I am an outsider. I walk in a bubble of invisibility and am astonished by the old people in the park doing Tai Chi with swords, old men walking their birds, and fathers holding their daughters over the roots of city trees to pee. In silence, I walk. I observe. I judge. I write about not belonging.

Not only am I alone because I am just another face among the billion, but I am also alone as the Chinese face among a group of foreign faces. I feel the comfort of the familiarity of western culture, the ease of communication, the cultural references, and being among like-minded people, but because of the color of my skin I become a curiosity.

Chinese strangers wonder, “Who is that Chinese person speaking such good English among the foreign guests? Is she their translator?”

Foreign strangers wonder, “Who is that Chinese girl sitting in the group of foreigners? Does she speak English? Maybe we should start speaking Chinese to her first. Maybe we should ignore her because we can't speak Chinese. Maybe we should compliment her on how good her English is.”

It's lonely and often frustrating always correcting everyone's assumptions, always shrugging in confusion because I don't understand, always telling people I don't speak a lot of Chinese, and always being Chinese when I am Chinese American. Instead of asking and finding out who I am, everyone's first assumption is Chinese girl. Why wouldn't it be? I look Chinese. It's isolating being Chinese but not being Chinese.

In America, the instances that I do not feel alone but feel like I belong, are the points in time when my skin color is totally ignored, ignored because we are just good friends enjoying a moment together. However, as a visitor abroad, a visitor in China where everyone looks like me, being able to ignore my black hair and dark skin is near impossible. To have moments in public where my skin is ignored is rare. Maybe everyone else in China is ignoring me, but I cannot ignore my skin, the skin that labels me as Chinese when I can't speak a lot of Chinese. Plus often in those public moments, when my friends are ignoring my skin color, all the strangers around us suddenly start noticing and start to stare.

In Africa, I was correctly assumed to be a visitor, not African. I didn't have to constantly correct people. In China, I am a great unknown with automatic false assumptions being shot at me from every direction. It is strange not belonging anywhere. I'm always in a land of wrong expectations, expectations to speak Chinese, expectations not to speak English, expectations to be Chinese, expectations not to be American. I am in a land of always correcting people. I've given up and just let whatever people think, think it! I am tired, so if you want me to be Chinese, then so be it. I have learned how to be the Chinese person you want me to be and have stopped correcting. I just nod and smile. Yep. Wow, my English is really good. Yep. Sorry you can't understand my Chinese. I must be from a different province. Yep. I'm not really from America. I'm one hundred percent Chinese.

You may be wondering, why does it even matter? Once people get to know you, false assumptions are thrown out the window replaced with fact. Ah, she is Chinese American born in Taiwan adopted by white foreign Americans. Yeah! Why does it matter? In the Tree House English Resource and Community Center I am a teacher, a friend, an advisor, a person to speak English with and a resource to learn about American culture. My skin color doesn't matter anymore. No longer am I incorrectly misnamed but am correctly factually labeled. I become a human being.

In the Tree House, it is true that I feel the most accepted and respected, feel like I belong to a community and don't feel like an outsider. It is a safe haven from false assumptions where the students have made my time in China less lonely. I am no longer an outsider and am more accepted without expectations, but I can't live in the Tree House forever. I have to leave, face the country of false assumptions, and face the invisible silent bubble, but I always know that I can materialize into an actual human being whenever I visit the Tree House. It is a comforting thought to visit a place where I am no longer lonely but actually feel like I belong.

from The Tree House Book by Women Writers

Morning Work

This morning I woke up and did not want to go on a bike ride, but when I opened my inbox, I decided a bike ride would be healthy.

I have never really considered myself an angry personality. I've always been the stereotypical quiet, submissive, voiceless stoic Asian girl who never speaks her mind, rarely with a controversial opinion. Instead when asked for an opinion, I answer with a question. Strong emotions rarely shown, rarely felt, sometimes locked away.

Once while riding down to Portland, a friend asked, "Is there nothing that will make you angry? What if I smoked a cigarette in this car and threw the burning butt out the window which potentially could start a forest fire. Wouldn't that make you angry?" I searched inside and didn't feel any anger towards that scenario.

As I have grown older, had my thoughts challenged, had conflicts with people with different viewpoints, conflicts with people who think they know what is best for me, conflicts with people who tell me what to do and how to do it, I have grown angry. Instead of being the good girl who never creates conflict, I have had to learn to open my mouth and express myself.

The bike ride was good, anger dissipated through sweat and burning muscles; however, I think I will remain silent on this one. Why open a can of worms? There is no point. If I was trying to maintain a friendship or a relationship, then I would say something, but... in this instance there is no point.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tailor Made Skirt

Here is the wrap skirt I had made. I am quite happy with it. The new tailor didn't make a skirt that was too small. Plus the butterflies were right side up instead of upside down. The labor cost 30 RMB ($4.41) and then the fabric bought in Li Jiang, Yunnan Province was 60 RMB ($9). I was able to get a sleeveless shirt and a skirt made out of the cloth. I got a phone call from the tailor and will pick up the shirt and a sundress tomorrow.

The water came back on and I was able to do laundry and mop the floors. My house is always happier when the floors look clean.

I went to a bakery looking for shaved ice, covered with beans but opted for a custard cup instead. The bakery had air conditioning. I spent a couple pages writing about guilt and debt.

Tonight in the Tree House we played Taboo then ate at the Muslim cafeteria. A guy who works for the government sat with us and wanted to be our friends. Whenever I eat in the cafeteria, no one talks to me, but because my site mate joined me, we got a lot of attention.

Wheat

After a two hour bike ride, coming home to a nice cool shower and a glass of cool water is a wonderful way to end a sweaty dusty ride; however, today the water has been turned off. While on the bike ride, I got motivated to do laundry, mop the floors, wash the dishes, cook more peanut butter soup, and do a little more packing. But... the lack of water is a humongous demotivating hurdle.

So instead, I will finish knitting my sweater T-shirt, then go out to buy some bottled water, and maybe go to the ice cream parlor to write a bit.

Getting a landscape without lines of modern society is sometimes quite difficult.

Monday, June 21, 2010

What did you worry about?

While in the USA, waiting for my departure to West Africa to arrive, the questions running through my head were as follows:

1. Have I packed the right stuff?
2. How will the next two years change me?
3. Will I be up for the challenges?

While in Africa, waiting for my departure to China to arrive, the questions running through my head were as follows:

1. Will I like living with a fridge, a microwave, a computer, a washing machine?
2. Will the university be disappointed if they get me, a Chinese American rather than a blond American?

While here in China, waiting for my departure back to the states for a one month home leave to arrive, the questions running through my head are as follows:

1. Will I be able to ride a bike everywhere and not drive anywhere?
2. Will I be able to restrain myself from buying a bunch of graphic novels and other specialty novels?
3. Will I spend all of my PC readjustment money on breakfast, steaks, ice cream, ham and cheese, sushi, Indian food, and coffee shops?

If there are any future PC volunteers waiting for their departure to China reading my blog, what are the questions running through your head?

or

If there are any PCVs reading my blog, what kind of questions ran through your head before departure?

Rich City

There are some rich people who live in my city.

The top choice for today's menu is lesson planning, my last lesson plan of the year. Today we will watch another episode of The Cosby Show, "Goodbye Fish."

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Today's Tidbits

My final has been submitted and maybe it will happen in a couple weeks. I am doing my review this week just in case since no one has told us when finals will be.

The weather is getting warm and I just realized that I could use the fridge to chill water. How funny... I have spent two years in China and it is only now that I came up with that idea. I think it is because I never really thought my part of China was hot. It is nothing compared to Africa. Slowly my body has been adapting here and now I am taking two showers a day. Funny that since it is not hot, not at all. I guess I take two showers a day because my feet stink. The dust here is bad. I guess I could just bucket wash my feet.

I participated in senior group pictures today and realized that I am still angry with them for not coming to my class.

The creative writing zine is finished. Only thing left to do is to have a book reading while eating hot pot.

I was going to go see Avatar tonight, but it took too long to photocopy the zine. There was a long line. Many students were making photocopies of their final exams. I wonder how they got copies of them.

My bike ride today was excellent. I left at 7 am and the sun was high in the sky. I biked a paved road for about twelve kilos and then hit a dirt road.

I am reading Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin, and it is making me homesick.

Last thing I realized today is I am judgmental almost on the verge of prejudiced, maybe more biased than actually prejudiced. I hate that I am and am angry that I am. So why not stop? Good question.... I have to think and write about it some more.

Oh one more thing... Is it just China or is it everywhere? Big super big bug eyed big sunglasses are the fashion these days?

Blue Skies

Often in China people talk about the quality of the air and Peace Corps even gives air filters to some volunteers depending on which city they are assigned to. Instead of living in a valley where the air sits and settles, I live on top of a long and wide plateau where the wind constantly blows fresh air over the city.

Even though there are blue sunny skies up above, for some reason I am in a gray blue mood. I think I really really really need to go for a bike ride. I am going on one today.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Playing after dark

Last night, after the Tree House and after sharing plates of pork with peppers and celery with tofu, I sat under the pear tree under my flat's window and talked to my neighbors for a bit. They asked, "Aren't you going to the English meeting?" Well that is what I thought they had said and replied, "No one invited me." Then I realized they had said, "Are you going to the music meeting?" I still can't hear the difference between English (ying yu) and music (ying yue).

So off I went to our performance hall and listened to a music teacher give a singing concert.

Walking home, the garden was full of people, the dorms and homes a bit too hot for comfort. These girls were baking a cake, freshly picked leaves decorated with red flowers.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Old Meets New

Not everyone has a motorized vehicle.

Volunteers often have unhappy stories and complaints about their service. So I've been wondering, have I just been extremely lucky over the past four years, getting great sites, great living arrangements, having great people to work with, great schools and secondary projects. Or is it my personality that just takes whatever it is given and makes the best of it?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thank You Previous Volunteers

After being at this university for two years, I have realized how important the Tree House English Resource and Community Center is. The previous volunteers who started it and kept it going over the past years need to be commended. I strongly urge all volunteers to try to start their own English resource center legacy that could lead to great things for the future.

The Tree House is a great resource for students:
  • It provides a selection of books that students are interested in at a level that they can understand. Without the resource center, many students would only have either Chinese and English cliff note types of summaries of major classics, inspirational English essays, or the actual classics that are too hard to understand. The Tree House with its variety of books motivates more students to read.
  • It provides a space to practice English.
  • It helps students become leaders.
The Tree House is a great resource for volunteers:
  • When I first arrived at this university, I was a lost soul. The Tree House within the first month provides a community from which a volunteer could learn from.
  • The Tree House instantly provides a secondary project as well as a place where volunteers can go and interact with students outside of the classroom to learn more about their needs and wants.
  • It provides a constant group of workers who volunteer to organize and participate in Tree House activities. When we first introduced students to the idea of creating and managing a project, we were met with a lot of resistance, a lot of sighs of frustration and boredom. We plowed through though because they were the workers and were responsible for showing up to work. It was hard for them to see the end product, but finally big events were held and the workers could feel pride in coming up with an idea and seeing it to the end.
  • The Tree House helped me get to know my site mate better. We might have stayed holed up in our own apartments if it hadn't been for the Tree House.
  • The Tree House is the epicenter for everything we do here. We make AIDS/HIV posters. We talk about gender issues. We learn about Western manners. We organize dancing, game nights, and a nature festival. We hold post graduate mock interviews. We have weekly movies and annual culture parties. We hold reading competitions and create books of our own writing. We start clubs at the request of the students.
Because it is a physical place with students who fill it, the Tree House is a stable, constant, sustainable point that helps volunteers and students every semester create learning outside of the classroom. If I only had a women's club, a knitting club, or a writing club, those clubs would most likely disappear when I leave. The Tree House on the other hand is always there waiting for a new volunteer, for new students to enter and create something through their cooperative desire to learn and teach English.

I just want to thank the string of previous volunteers who left this legacy of a Tree House. It really made my Peace Corps job easier and the benefits that the students have received over the years from the Tree House are too numerous to count.

Dinner Party to Learn Western Manners

Two months ago, Monday night Tree House workers thought it would be fun to learn about Western manners and to learn how to cook a Western dish. They drew a vision map. Part of the vision was accomplished.
Over the past two months, they learned about western manners, planned a menu, picked out music, made lists of things to buy, created a role play to teach five manners, invited students to the Tree House to learn about western manners weeks before the party. Those who came to the Tree House and were able to describe the differences between a Western manner with a Chinese manner received an invitation ticket to the main event a real dinner party.

It was a three course meal:
1. Watermelon, cucumber, tomato salad
2. Ham and spaghetti
3. Cake

Over a period of 2 hours, three groups of ten students visited the Tree House at the designated time on their invitations, watched a role play and then practiced their western manners by eating a meal prepared by my site mate.

The role play consisted of 6 students: one student introduced the role play, four students played two Americans and two Chinese people exchanging ideas about manners, the sixth student had a hammer, would knock the students on the head when they did something wrong and then would reveal a painted sign with the rule for the correct Western manner.

(Which rule is being broken here?)


What were the five rules?
1. Napkin in lap
2. Pass food
3. Don't make noise when eating
4. Cut food into small pieces
5. No elbows on the table


All the students really loved the event. They thought the spaghetti was strange tasting. Some said it was sweet. Others thought the salad was strange mixing fruit with vegetables. They said it was salty. They thought it was inconvenient to have to use the right hand to cut the meat into small pieces then switch hands to use the fork in the right hand to eat with. They learned how to use a fork to spin the spaghetti into a nice little mouthful.

It was interesting to watch the students use forks and knives, to cut food, to pass food, to wonder how to eat noodles with a fork, to use serving utensils rather than their own. As someone who grew up using a fork and knife, I forgot just how different western manners are from Chinese habits.

I was really proud of the Tree House workers. I didn't have to do anything except make small talk with the students. The workers led the event and would tell the students how they could improve their Western manners.

Everyone hopes that next year there will be another dinner party.

New haircut

A few people have requested to see the new haircut.
Old style probably a bit more professional
New hip summer style

Lazy day

Yesterday was an extremely lazy day.

Today back to the grind. We have to shop and cook for 30 people who are joining us in the Tree House for a mock Western dinner party to learn about Western manners. It will be a three course meal: tomato and watermelon salad, spaghetti with a spam steak, and cake for dessert. I hope we can find forks and knives in the supermarket.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Toilet Paper

In China, the toilet paper comes in two sizes. The short size that would fit in a USA standard toilet paper holder and a longer size that is double the length. Why is the paper so long? Which roll should I buy, the short one or the long one?

Also, most of the toilet paper sold in China don't have the inserted cardboard tube. W.C.s in China usually don't provide paper. Well you can buy small packets of tissue at the entrance of public toilets for 7 cents. Also, most public toilets are not free, costing about 7 cents.

Restaurants have plastic dispensers that sit on the table, and you can pull out some toilet paper to use as a napkin.

Compare the streets

Here is a picture of a street in China. How many differences can you count between this street and a street in America?

Yesterday I spent a day out in the city.

First I ate some street zongzi, sticky rice with a date, all wrapped in a banana leaf. The merchant opened up the treat and then covered it with honey.

Next, I visited a tailor to get a skirt made from the fabric I bought in Yunnan. I brought three skirts that the tailor could copy. They spent an hour debating which skirt to make and finally decided to make a wrap skirt with a matching shirt.

Ever since last year I have had my eye on this fabric with a red background and white flowers. I finally decided to get a sundress made. I let the tailor decide which dress to make. I have decided that it is better to just let the tailor create an image in her head rather than try to force my image on her. They might not know how to make the outfit I want. Also I usually end up disappointed when the image in my head isn't communicated to the tailor. Letting the tailor make something she is familiar with will hopefully be a really cool surprise. Or I might just end up looking more Chinese wearing Chinese fashion, but that is okay because I am in China.

Then I spent an hour at the hair salon. I brought pictures of closely shaved heads with long bangs and the stylist said, "That is TOO short!" He was extremely insistent, so I finally agreed with him and said, "Okay it is too short. Cut it a bit longer." I was sad as he started using scissors, but then felt happy when at the end of the haircut he brought out the clippers. I like my new haircut.

I ended the day by visiting the ice cream parlor but instead of getting an ice cream sundae I opted for the shaved ice covered with an assortment of beans and strawberry jam. I wrote letters, read a book, then stopped by the post office before going home.

It was one of those days where I was living quietly in my head, only speaking Chinese and feeling a bit isolated from the American me, the English speaking me. I used to get a lot of these types of days in Africa. Even though I am interacting with people, it is still a deep isolating silence like how I would imagine the feeling of living in a padded white room.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Food, Yoga, and KTV

Here is the back gate, meat sandwich guy. I like his fifty cent pork sandwiches that come on a type of flat bread that is cooked in a clay oven right there at his cart, crunchy on the outside and soft inside. He is always friendly asking me lots of questions even though I tend to have a hard time understanding his local pronunciation. His most recent request is to trade some Chinese money for some American money. I told him with a smile and a laugh, "I live in China and don't have an American job, so I don't have any American money."

Yesterday S's women's club did yoga. Usually I don't participate in her club, but yoga sounded fun. I have never been a big fan of yoga but yesterday was great especially since I have grown a lot weaker. Yoga could help me build up strength again. While in Seattle I could bench press my body weight and do more than 35 push ups at one time. Now I am down to maybe 10 doing them poorly. I am really weak and the leg that I had surgery on is wobbly. I miss working out with weights.

Last night, because I have decided to be a yes girl, I went out to KTV (karaoke). Did I have fun? Umm... Sort of? The music is loud. I don't know a lot of the songs. All we do is sit and listen to people sing. Some people will sing along with the original artists, so we can't really hear the people singing. The ones who can sing are fun to listen to as they blast their way in a duet since there are two microphones or the few brave ones might solo it out. S said, "KTV is more fun if you are drinking." The beers at KTV are triple the regular price. Plus I don't drink. I have found that because I don't drink I tend to get left out of fun activities that the people drinking seem to be really enjoying. Should the yes girl attitude also include alcohol? *shrug* Probably not.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Xiang Bao Festival

Yesterday I rode to the outskirts of the city where five rows of red tents were set up and rows and rows of a traditional craft were being displayed and sold. Everyone basically had the same thing, embroidered hanging ornaments. Some were huge like chandeliers. Others were small to be fastened to a cell phone. Every Christmas I get one of the sweet smelling bags shown in the picture. There is one hanging on every light fixture, in every doorway, and on every knob. During the winter Tree House worker party, once the xiang bao had been opened during the white elephant gift game, it was quickly stolen three times. People in this city LOVE xiang bao. I on the other hand unlike in Africa where I had to restrain myself from buying, was able to browse the tents without any temptation to spend money.

The creative writing club book is almost finished. I think the writers really like seeing their writing typed with visual graphics added to their work.

My site mate will be ending her PC service in a month, and I have decided to try to be a Yes girl. Usually if I don't want to do something like sing karaoke or play beer pong, I will say no. But not this month. Yes, yes, yes.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Time to wake up

After living in China for two years, what have I learned about children?
  • Children across the world are more similar than different. It is when we grow up that culture differences in our behavior and ways of thinking start to show themselves more strongly than when we are children.
  • Most of my students have brothers and sisters. So what about China's one child policy? People can pay fines and have more children. Often farmers tend to have more children. If you want to become a leader, have a better job, work in the government, then you better stick to the one child policy otherwise more than one child will work against your application.
  • Checking for the sex of babies before they are born is illegal.
  • Often the government will pay a bonus if you have a girl.
  • If a family has more than one child, the new baby is sometimes sent to live with a childless couple and often are not registered which makes it difficult for them to later attend school.
  • Because of work, many people do not live with their children nor their spouses. Grandparents tend to raise children. It makes it easier for spouses to find jobs since it is not required that they live in the same city.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Red Hard Hat

I have seen more women in China wearing hard hats and doing manual labor than I have seen in America. I think it is cool that women are frequently paving roads and working at construction sites.

Today is an ugh day. Why? Because it is Saturday and I have to teach like it is Monday. Why? Because Monday and Tuesday classes have been moved to Saturday and Sunday so that people can enjoy a three day holiday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday which is Dragon Boat Festival.

Today I also have to attend a three hour 7 pm speech competition on new campus to judge and to ask questions to non-majors. The topic of the speech is Culture Smart Science Intelligent. I already know what the main point of each speech will be. Science and culture can't exist one without the other and the world needs both to live in harmony.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Nature Festival

was a grand success. We danced a circle dance from Israel, a circle dance from Greece, and the cha cha. We hit three pinatas full of candy. We ate watermelon. We played games. We watched a few performances: flute player, singer who sang a song by Avril Lavigne, a hand clap "Miss Mary Mack", and "Going on a Bear Hunt."It took two months to plan, and the students who planned it were extremely proud. I think we were all amazed that an idea started in Chengdu with a Project Design and Management Workshop could lead to students drawing their own idea on flip chart paper and then moving it from theory to reality.

The method that was learned at the the workshop, gave structure to help everyone focus their ideas to create a project. Over the past two years we have tried to get students to plan culture activities, to think up ideas of how to improve the Tree House but often have failed. Following a few of the steps in the workshop book really helped us.The great thing about the Nature Festival project was that it combined Western ideas with Chinese ideas. My site mate and I were pushing the students' creativity to think outside of the typical activities that they do. Instead of just putting on a role play and doing a variety of performances, what else could we do? What else could we learn? How could we use English in a different way than English corner and free talk? It took time for the students to understand what we were trying to do which is why it took 2 months to plan the activity.

One difficulty that my site mate and I have always had in planning culture events for the students is making the party last for more than an hour. Having the students plan the whole event made it also very Chinese with LOTS of activities. We first pushed a Western idea on the students- think of something fun and different that would entice students to come and learn English in a non classroom way, to create a real English environment somehow. Then the students took the Western idea and planned a Chinese event. It was the combination of two cultures.

I think one reason that it was so successful was because we spent a lot of time planning, and didn't push for instant success. Americans usually are very efficient, can think up an idea, plan it and have it ready to go in a week or so. It took longer for our students especially since we were trying to plan something that was outside of their realm of familiarity.

Students are quite used to the idea of last minute planning since schedules in China are a big unknown, and events are often last minute with very little warning. (Just two days ago students learned about a speech competition that they have to prepare for. Write and practice a speech about Culture Smart Science Intelligent in two days.) So when we learned that the nature festival had to be changed from Saturday to Friday, the students were on top of it. Do this. Do that. Get this ready. Last minute planning is their strength, but what made this last minute planning different was that they had already spent two months thinking up different ways to hold the event. We didn't just plan a typical Chinese event, but something new. It was a combination of having two months to become comfortable with a new idea combined with the last minute planning that happens so often because of the scheduling unknowns.

We spent two months using English to plan an event. Then the event was a great success. Many students used English. More students are now aware of the Tree House and maybe are a little less afraid of speaking English and interacting with the foreign teachers. The vision we had in Chengdu to improve the visibility and attendance of the Tree House English Community Resource Center so that we could meet the needs and wants of a larger student population was accomplished. The vision the students had to hold a nature festival with dancing and games was successful. Two visions made into reality with one big bang.

Games:
1. English chairs (I learned this game in Guinea during PST.)
  • Everyone sits in chairs in a circle with one person in the middle. (If there are 30 people, then you only have 29 chairs.)
  • The person in the middle says a true statement. For example, I like ice cream.
  • If you like you ice cream, then you have to stand up and find a new chair. The person who doesn't find a new chair, stands in the middle and says a true statement.
Because we were outside, we did not bring out 60 chairs. Instead we used newspaper as chairs and stood on the pieces of paper.

2. Blind obstacle course race (I learned this game in Africa too.)
  • Create an obstacle course using people.
  • One person is blindfolded, and their teammate leads them through the obstacle course using only voice directions.
  • You can have several teams and have a race.
How to improve the event:

The one criticism I have is that I led the activities that had been planned by the students because we were outside and needed a STRONG voice to take charge and use English in a loud teacher way. I think next time we will try our best to have it more student led.

Wait for Money


Today I took a bike ride to new campus to meet with a student from last semester. Here is a dormitory. Each room has four to eight students who sleep on bunk beds. The woman in the picture is waiting to collect plastic bottles that are thrown off the balconies. New campus has a lot of stray dogs. Boyfriends give cute puppies to their girlfriends. Later when the cuteness disappears so do the owners.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

What is hard about being a volunteer?

Peace Corps applicants recently nominated for a program, asked on their blog, "What is the hardest part of being a volunteer?"

For me it has been the stress I create for myself because of my personal reactions towards different practices within the culture. Every volunteer has certain things that frustrate them. They are not the same for everyone.

For me in Africa, I hmm.... didn't have many moments of frustration. Or have I just forgotten?
  1. Catching students who cheat annoyed me.
  2. aggressive sellers in the market and getting cheated by taxi drivers and merchants
In China, I feel like I have had many more moments of frustration:
  1. catching students who cheat and plagiarize (I later realized that teachers here don't usually care and are not out to try to catch cheaters. It has sort of made it easier, but still I react negatively to cheating.)
  2. not being told what I feel is important information (For example, not being told that a course I am teaching will have no final or grade.)
  3. being told I am not allowed to do something like travel
  4. having an erratic schedule that is full of unknowns with instant changes (For example, I often receive phone calls, "Come now." Drop everything and come now. It is important.)
Some people say that the hardest parts about being a volunteer are
  1. too much free time
  2. the slow progress of getting anything accomplished
  3. having to redefine success because it isn't the same as it is in America
Maybe I have been a volunteer too long which is why I've learned how to deal with the above three reasons.

How do I deal with my frustrations? I talk about them, write about them, try my hardest to let them go, and sometimes go on a bike ride or a run. Usually a good night's sleep will wash away my stress.

Where is Mei Guo?

Near the teacher apartments on the university campus, beside the unpaved road are piles of sand. Four boys created an elaborate military complex with flowers, bricks, airplanes, tanks, and soldiers. As I was leaving, I heard the boys making airplane noises and shouting, "Where is America?"

I usually post a picture in the morning, but this morning I was busy re-writing a letter of recommendation for a friend who wants to go to Canada to work, typing students' writings for the creative writing book, and trying to learn how to knit two socks on one needle using a technique called magic loop. Then I had Chinese corner where I learned that on Fridays people in my city go to the little mosque.

Another reason I didn't post a picture was because I knew I was going to new campus to watch a performance that was being put on for a large group of visiting Americans. I figured, it would be a great photo taking opportunity, but as I was riding the bus to new campus watching for pictures, feelings and thoughts overwhelmed me.

"You are not a photographer. You like coloring and drawing. You like the physical touch of putting lines and color on paper. Why is pushing a button on a camera fun? Plus you have no philosophy, purpose, or motivation for taking photos. Of course, trying to capture a moment in time is a nice way to preserve a memory, but why do YOU want to take pictures?"

As I was thinking all these questions, a window covered with hanging laundry red, pink, and maroon towels, washcloths and underwear caught my eye. Color does fascinate me.

While I was watching the Kung Fu performance trying to capture an action shot, I thought, "This is silly. Instead of being in the moment experiencing the Kung Fu, feeling the power, the action, the ground vibrate under you as the students pound the ground, you are trying to catch a still photograph of this moment. What are you doing? Put the camera down and experience the performance."

With all of these doubts, I decided to stop my daily photo blog. I started it about a week ago with the intentions of only doing it a week, but then I got an email that said, "I really like the photos you choose to post and the aspect of your China life you choose to talk about. Very cool."

So...

Like today how I pushed through yet still failed trying to learn how to knit two pairs of socks at one time, I know that if you keep trying, pushing through the doubts of the mind, doing a little every day, something good will be accomplished and learned.

In conclusion, I will keep trying to take photos. I do like how the photographs inspire me to write about something.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Impossible Task Planning Anything

Students have been drawing vision maps, researching and learning about Western manners, making lists, rehearsing a role play to teach the do's and don'ts of a dinner party, building and painting pinatas, practicing Western dances, and a whole bunch of other activities for the past month or so. Now it is time to have the big events: a mock American dinner party with a small amount of food to practice Western manners and a nature festival celebrating the outdoors with games and dance.

No one knows when the Dragon Boat Festival holiday will be. Everyone knows the festival is June 16th, but will we have Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday off or will we have Wednesday, Thursday, Friday off? Plus, when will we make up classes by holding them on the weekend?

Next week is a HUGE unknown.
When teaching stops is a HUGE unknown.
When finals are is a HUGE unknown.

With so many unknowns how does anyone plan anything? You just do it, so the students picked dates, next Monday and this Saturday.

One day before the event, I got a text inviting me to be a judge for the English speech competition on Saturday.

SATURDAY? That is when we are suppose to have our nature festival.

What do the students do?

They re-paint the sign and schedule the nature festival for Friday evening, replacing the movie with pinatas full of candy and watermelons being eaten as fast as possible.

I sent a text asking, "When is the Dragon Boat holiday?"
I got a reply, "Don't know yet. Will let you know as soon as I know."

Living in China keeps you on your toes. Be ready to reschedule and don't get mad if you have already cooked a HUGE pot of spaghetti for a dinner party that has been moved to next week.

Graffiti 2


About 6 months after the first piece of graffiti popped up, this one suddenly appeared.

Last night I couldn't sleep because I was mentally packing my back pack. I want to pack everything that I want to keep and take it to Alabama during this home leave. Then next summer I will give everything else away and will be free of possessions so I can bike to Beijing, Shanghai, or Hong Kong and fly out of that city.

This morning I packed up my winter clothes plus the African and Vietnam ones. They all fit in the sleeping bag bottom part of the big pack. My closet is still full because I have a lot of clothes that are worn out and stretched out. They probably will last one more winter.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Seattle Light Rail

Wow, have I really been away that long that a new form of transportation has been built? Crazy!

Tentative plans for home leave are:
Fly to Alabama July 28th
Fly out of Seattle August 26th back to China

Hope to spend several nights in Seattle.
Can anyone offer up a couch or a floor for 1-2 nights?
I don't mind hopping around couch surfing.

Work

I don't know if China has temp agencies, but there is a place where laborers gather on a corner of the downtown roundabout. I don't know if they are migrant workers or are farmers from the countryside. They all have the old Chinese bicycles, the Flying Pigeon, that were once a symbol of an egalitarian social system and usually have a couple tools like shovels and picks tied to the back rack. On rainy days there there are a lot of workers. On sunny days only a few. It reminds me of the times when I would sit at the temp agency in Alabama full of men in their work clothes and tool belts waiting to be sent out to work. If my language was better, I think it would be extremely fascinating if I could join those workers for a day, taking pictures and doing interviews.

During the lunch hour between noon and 2:30, everyone takes naps, even the guys who are paving the open market with sticky black asphalt.

This morning I've been lesson planning since 7:30 am. I have to teach a freshmen listening class tomorrow and because we have been working so hard listening to news broadcasts, dictations, and book work, I wanted to do a more fun class with either a 30 minute video or an interesting story. Lesson planning out of a book with a CD is so much easier than searching for material all over the Internet.

If the students' computer monitors had worked yesterday, today's planning would have been easier; however, I must plan for two types of lessons, one for if the monitors don't work and one for if the monitors do work. It is double the work.

I have finished a lesson plan using an audio clip from Storynory. Now I have to write a lesson plan using a TV show. I really really hope the monitors work tomorrow because the students deserve a relaxing funny video lesson. News broadcasts can be so boring but important since they will be on next year's national exam.

I also have a backup lesson plan in case the audio doesn't work in the listening lab. Experienced teachers learn to have several back up lessons in their bag in case equipment fails.

Also, people keep telling me, "You think too much; therefore, you will never be happy." Really?

Monday, June 07, 2010

Down with the Old

Usually Sunday evenings are quiet nights making it the perfect time for writing club, but last night the Tree House was packed. People were standing in the book aisles, sitting on desks, sitting on arm rests, squatting. About 16 Americans from the Amity Foundation in Hong Kong came to visit. I was really proud of the freshmen and older students. They swallowed their shyness and fear, went forth and talked.

The city is going through an incredible change. EVERYTHING old is being torn down. New is being put up. In the north of the city, a new HUGE park is being built and some type of tall mountain or sculpture is forming. When I return from my August month home leave, the city will look totally different.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Things Lost while Living Abroad

If anyone had the patience to listen, I could spend days writing about all of the benefits and joys that living abroad has blessed me with.

Today though I want to ask, "What has living abroad taken away from me?"

This is not meant to be a negative pessimistic post. Nor is it meant to be an ungrateful post. It is just a reality check. As much as living abroad is an extremely positive, life changing, evolving as a human being, experience there are also things that you lose while living abroad. These losses though, do not keep me from staying another year making it a total of five years in Peace Corps. The benefits and joys are worth my time abroad.

What has living abroad taken?

Living abroad has taken away

1. opportunities that the USA provides like rugby, art, theater, concerts, festivals, poetry slams, coffee shops.

2. the freedom to be me without hiding parts since some parts aren't accepted in the cultures that I am living in.

3. a sense of closeness with family, friends, lovers, relationships who are still in the states.

4. my ability not to be a a wallflower at parties. I have become more afraid of making small talk with western strangers. I had been practicing to be more extroverted while in the states. These days I have turned into an extreme introvert whenever I am around fellow Americans. Back in the states I was really practicing and working on trying to be more extroverted. Here in China, I can't practice because I am rarely around big groups of Americans.

Living abroad has also taken me away from the life path of starting a career, a family, a mortgage, and a retirement fund. Good thing those things aren't a priority for me.

What has living abroad given and taken from you?

Friendship Built upon Laughter

Yesterday was C's birthday so a bunch of people gathered on New Campus to hang out in the sunshine under the shade trees to play mahjong and poker. Because I had knitting club at 4 pm, I had to leave early, riding my bike with only one brake through the dust of construction back to old campus. I need to get my bike fixed. Yesterday the brake just fell off.

This morning, even with a dull headache which I hope doesn't get worse, I've been working on the book that the writing club is creating.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Graffiti

In all of my travels across China, in the big cities and in the small cities, I have never seen graffiti. Sometimes I've seen people cleaning tags off of windows and walls. It was a complete surprise when this creation showed up on a wall. Even more surprising was how it hasn't been painted over or torn down. It's been up for about half a year now. Recently walking past this wall two new all covering pieces of graffiti work have shown up.

I wonder what Chinese people think about these colorful additions to the main street of downtown.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Identity Crisis

Lately I have been thinking about the following questions:
  1. What is the difference between acting Chinese and being Chinese?
  2. Am I acting or am I culturally Chinese?
I asked my students, "Am I American?"

"Yes you are American."

"Will I ever be able to be Chinese?"

"Yes you can. If you work hard. Learn the language and learn the culture."

"Can C (my site mate is Irish American) ever be Chinese?"

"No."

"But what if she works hard, learns the language, and learns the culture?"

I understand my students' point of view. Because my site mate doesn't look Chinese, she will never be able to BE culturally Chinese; however, just because I look Chinese and have Chinese ancestors, even if my site mate spoke the language better than me or knew the culture better, I would always be culturally Chinese and she would never be.

This is my Chinese students' point of view. Mine is quite different because I was raised in America where we try not to define culture by the color of our skin but by our actions and way of thinking.

I believe my culture core is American. I was raised in America, taught how to think in America, how to live, how to be and because my parents are white American, I never had a direct connection to Chinese culture. Instead I was a visitor to Chinese culture. Le, C. N. says it perfectly in his essay, "Adopted Asian Americans,"
"In other words, many adoptive parents were open to cultural exploration, but not racial exploration -- 'Asian-ness' was seen almost like a commodified culture, rather than a racial identity."
I feel my culture core is American just like any other American, born and raised in America. My racial identity is Chinese and because I live in America with a diverse population which for the most part accepts the idea that people of different racial identities are American, I can say I am Chinese American. I look Chinese but am culturally American.

I asked several PC volunteers who live in China, "Do you sometimes act Chinese or are you sometimes Chinese?"

They all answered, "We sometimes act Chinese. Plus the parts of the culture that we admire, we try to bring into our own lives."

If white Americans feel that they often are acting Chinese rather than are culturally Chinese, then I too feel like any other American, acting rather than am culturally Chinese.

I asked another white American who has been living abroad for four years and his answer had a new insight. He said, "Sometimes when I speak the language, I am not acting but am a person of that culture." His language skills are much better than mine.

His answer got me thinking. In Africa I did not feel like I was acting as much as I do here in China. Why is that? In Africa I had stronger language skills. I lived in a French African world where I was able to freely communicate, to live, to work and to socialize using French. I taught in French. I socialized in French. I made friends in French. I shopped in French. Every day my world was filled with French, and often when I would socialize with English speakers it would take me a while to jump start my English to feel comfortable talking again in my native language.

Here in China, I use Chinese at Chinese corner. I use it when I go shopping. I use it at banquets and with some of my Chinese friends whose English is not so strong. In China, I mainly live in an English university environment where I spend the majority of my time communicating in English. It is my job to communicate in English. It is my hobby to learn Chinese.

I believe that if my Chinese was better and if I used it more frequently than I use English I probably would sometimes feel that I am culturally Chinese.

Maybe at the end of next year, I will feel that instead of just acting Chinese, I'll feel that I am Chinese.

The next question I have been thinking about is

Why should my Chinese heritage dictate which culture I should embrace and should be like?

As an American, we have the freedom to embrace any culture we want. If we want to learn about African dance, cool. If we want to learn about Japanese manga and anime, cool. If we want to study the great artists of Europe, cool.

The question came up in response to a commenter's advice
" but instead of simply saying that you are not culturally chinese at all, why not embrace the culture? it'd be harder to do if you are in Africa and are obviously visibly different from everybody else. but genetically and phenotypically, your Chinese lineage is undeniable. you have a wondrous opportunity to rediscover yourself and perhaps redefine who you are."
If a European was born and raised in America, should they embrace and learn about their European culture? If they had an interest in their European culture then cool. If they didn't then that is cool too. So why wouldn't the same logic apply to me? If I am interested in learning about Chinese culture then cool. If not so much, then cool.

If a European was born in America but raised in Europe, should they embrace and learn about American culture? If they had an interest then cool. If they didn't then that would be cool too.

I guess the real questions are
  1. How important is it to a person's development to learn about one's culture that is labeled by physical features and genes?
  2. How important is it to learn about the culture whose soil you were born upon but not raised in?
I joined Peace Corps to embrace all cultures that I am living in, the Guinean one, the Burkinabe one, the Chinese one. I joined to walk the walk and talk the talk, to try my best to integrate into the community. I joined to learn about myself. I joined to learn about people, our similarities and our differences. I joined to evolve as a human being. I moved to China to learn more about my ancestors and am going through the process of learning about who am I as a Chinese American.

Having an identity crisis is just part of the process.

Breakfast Run

My early morning run was so so.... My black toenails were bleeding and the nail will soon be falling off. How did I get black toes? I went on a 7 hour hike with the wrong socks about a month ago.

Also, I was running a bit heavy. Last night we had a huge banquet with the English department because we got prize money from the school for participating in the choir competition. Still not clear about our ranking. Out of 21 departments, I have heard we either placed 2nd, 5th, or 7th, or in the second tier of groups. No one knows.

Here is a picture of my cafeteria breakfast snack guy. This morning I got a wedge of onion bread, a sweet potato hash brown cake, and a sesame ball filled with red bean paste. This morning he asked me where I was from and was shocked when I said America. I find that whenever I wear a headband bandanna, people stare, comment on it, or realize that maybe I am not from around here. Yesterday an English teacher said, "You look cool like you are from Brazil."

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Sports Meet


Did you know that in August 2010, my city will be hosting a Gansu Olympic Games? Is that the reason today and tomorrow there will be a sports meet for students at my school? Actually, no that is not the reason. Every year across China, high schools, middle schools, and universities hold sports meets for their students to build character through exercise.

This morning I got up at 5:55 am and went out the door at 7:50 to grab a $0.14 a bread thing with a fried egg on top from the cafeteria. Then I went to the big dusty hard as rock clay playground. Hmm... I guess playground is the Chinese English word that the students use here. It isn't actually a playground where kids go and play, but is a big empty tan field with track markings dug into the ground.

The opening ceremonies had a parade and performances: aerobics routine, Kung Fu and Tai Chi demonstration, Taekwondo demonstration, and drumming.

Action pictures are really hard to capture.

Knowing which bad picture to post is also hard. I wanted to do a series of pictures with shades of red. I have a picture full of red costumes on drummers but it has missing body parts. Just needed to shift the camera a little to the left making it a better picture.

The photo I have decided to post is not a clear picture because I was a bit far and had to use the zoom, but the action is interesting. By the end of the performance one guy was jumping over 7 people. Plus I know the guy in the picture who is flying in the air. I've done Taekwondo with him.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Tree House Arts and Crafts

During Tuesday nights Tree House workers are planning a Nature Festival that will be held outside, games and dancing. They have been building and painting pinatas.

During every Freshmen listening class with a total of about 100 students, I announce all of the Tree House activities. During the Tuesday activity of arts and crafts, no one came except for the workers.

I asked the students, "Why doesn't anyone come? Do they not like painting and doing art? Did they not understand my announcements about Tree House activities?"

The volunteer workers replied, "Art is for serious artists, so students aren't really interested in painting."