First Day Teaching in China

My first group of students in China ever

My first group of students in China¬† ūüôā

Today was my first day at school! I woke up with butterflies in my stomach. I have taught for ten years and everyday on the first day of school, I get butterflies in my stomach. To me the  first day of  school is  a brand  new start. It is  springtime in China and in spring things  start anew. When things  are new then anything is  possible.  I just love the  fresh smell of chalk in the  morning !!!!

I like¬† to be¬† optimistic¬† about any situation, even when I was in my darkest days not¬† so long¬† ago. I remember¬† what¬† my dear friend Jo said¬† about China, ” There is¬† a our¬† way and the Chinese Way.Dorothy you aren’t in Kansas anymore.”¬† The Chinese way may not make much sense¬† to us, but I am a go with the¬† flow type of girl. I was not¬† told exactly which building , I would be teaching my class.I was just given a number 3102¬† I walked over¬† towards the school buildings yesterday and noticed that there were no numbers.¬† Ok this¬† is¬† definitely a case of The Chinese Way.

This  morning, I was asking everyone that I saw how  to get to the  building. I wrote the number down. Through a series of  five people I finally found where I was going  basically in China the count the number of building. the 3 stands for Building  3 and the 102 is the room number. Makes sense!!!! From that logical point. I still wish there were numbers on it  for the  silly foreigners.

I arrived about 15 minutes early for the class, the students were already there. They were all girls. I walked in and  said Ni hao and  stood by the podium. As soon as they saw me  there were a lot of oooooohhhs and aaaaahhhhhs then they  applauded. I felt like a rock star. There are  not a lot of black people in China, so seeing one is a big hoopla and  an honor. I  think that I may have  been the  first black person that many of my students have  seen in real life. Part of  my reason of going  to China was for cultural exchange. I hope that my students will leave my class with a more open view of my cultural as  well as a better grasp of English.

Then one boy walked into the class he was blushing. All the girls giggled. I had over 50 girls in the room. I was wondered if there were any more boys. The one boy said in English that there were more boys coming. Class was beginning  so I shut the  doors. I introduced myself and  wrote my name on the board with a minuscule piece of  chalk. The i heard a slight knock, wait to my wandering eyes do appear but 8 late boys!  I guess the boys travel in pack in China. I reintroduced myself  to the latecomers.

I noticed that the  students had their textbooks  but, I  did not receive mine so I decided  to make the first  class  more of an icebreaker class. I found this awesome  ESL activity called Snowball Fight.  Here is the link to the lesson.  http://languageavenue.com/teaching-ideas/first-day-of-class-esl-games-activities/snowball-fight.  My students really liked the activity and it got them out of there seats  and relaxed. I have  to tweak the  lesson a bit for my other classes. I have many different levels of proficiency in this first class. I definitely will be doing more partner work and group the students according to their  language needs.

After that we  did a vocabulary game  using the alphabet  that the Canadian teacher  suggested. With this game you  write a  word that starts with the letter A ex. apple.  Then using the last latter of the word students say a word that start with that letter  for example :egg then girl then love. The  students enjoyed the  lesson. I saw how extensive their vocabulary can be. This will help me in other lessons.

The last 10 minutes I let them ask me  questions. They were  a bit shy about asking me question. The  first  question they asked was  about my marriageable status. A few asked for my mobile and qq numbers. Those kids!! lol. One asked if  I will miss my family. Or  If I liked China. Or to tell about my life in New york. I told them that I am from New York because I know it was a more recognizable name. Maybe I will create a Powerpoint on NYC for them and tie it into a lesson.

After class some¬† girls asked if they could take pictures with me. I agreed. One think a black person in China has¬† to get use to is 1)Getting stared at 2)Getting pictures taken 3)Getting touched( hair and skin) If you can’t¬† handle that then stay in the USA, they don’t mean much by it. The Chinese are extremely curious about foreigners. Jo told me all of this before I came to china so I had time¬† to prepare myself. I am sure my image is all over QQ as we speak maybe even on youku(Chinese version of youtube). I spied with my eyes some students taking pics during the lesson. Such is¬† life in China and it is the¬† first day.

My students were 20 and 21 years old. so I have really made a jump with the age group I am teaching. I use  to teach 5 year old kids in the US. I have  to say I think I have found my teaching niche. I enjoyed teaching a college level class!!! They get my sense of humor and they were better behaved. So class 1 in China was a success. I am so grateful that I am again in the classroom where I belong.

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Nanchang Now

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My new school  Photo Credit http://www.aeohome.com

I had a formal request¬† to update my blog, Brigette this is¬† for you I am sorry I was a bit sad¬† about leaving Chang Min in Shanghai.¬† It was a week of¬† heaven and¬† he¬† won’t be¬† able to see me¬† again for at least 3 months, so we are regulated back a long distance romance. At least¬† we¬† are in the¬† same¬† country now. Still I wish¬† he were¬† sitting right beside me¬† as¬† I am typing this blog. We¬† are speaking through QQ as I am typing¬† this¬† blog. QQ is China’s version of Facebook. I have¬† about 3¬† friends on QQ so far. I am video chatting with Chang Min now¬† and just watched him prepare dinner. It was just like being there with him. He even fake fed me what¬† he¬† was¬† cooking. I know¬† we are silly, that is what love does to you.¬† There is¬† a part of¬† me that is scared that this¬† dream¬† will end.¬† Whenever, I get too happy about a new relationship, the¬† guy bores of me and¬† dumps¬† me. So I am happy but very guarded at the¬† same time.¬† Also¬† distance of¬† close¬† to 500 miles is¬† taxing although we¬† chat often on QQ then on WeChat once I get a mobile in China.

The  flight into Nanchang was less than two  hours but it was two hour full of  turbulence. This time it was free of any crying babies. My ride was not  at the  airport  yet. I ran into a fellow English teacher  that I knew from a local online group of expats. His  name  is  Brian and  he  works  at Nanchang University He  let  me  use  his  phone  to call the university. One of my biggest fears is beinlg stranded in a foreign country with no cell phone.  I faced  my fears  because I have  no cell and I am in a foreign country! My ride was in the  airport as I was calling him. LO he  tried to get Brian to teach at our university it was too funny.

When I was in the car I was told the news, the foreign teachers’ housing was¬† getting renovated. They were preparing rooms¬† for us at the hotel on campus, however the rooms were¬† not ready¬† so I was being put up in a hotel in¬† downtown Nanchang¬† for¬† a night. I really¬† did¬† want to settle¬† into my new apartment, but a hotel room sounded sweet.

Before, I was settled into the¬† hotel, I was taken out to lunch to sample the local food. I wish I had a cell, I would have taken pictures of the magnificent feast. I think my words will fail to capture the delectable food that I ate that day. It was like¬† heavenly succulent met that was sliding down my throat. The first dish was a purple root vegetable (maybe it was taro) wrapped in bacon with a sweet sauce over it¬† .You know bacon makes anything better. I always thought that even when I was a vegetarian. The there was a shrimp and vegetable dish that was quite good.¬† Lastly was a semi spicy( spicy to me) beef dish. I have¬† to say¬† at¬† first, I did that like it(due to the¬† spicy factor) but it¬† grew on me. I also drank this yummy bean juice that is¬† said to be¬† good¬† for a woman’s appearance¬† and overall health.

I was then taken to the hotel call the Xiafeng Holiday Hotel. Oh it was so lovely. The bed was big and the room was HEATED!!!! My American friends, in Southern China there is no heat. So on chilly nights it is best to cuddle on a  comfy  quilt with your beloved. There was  a western style bathroom. I fell asleep. Let  me  add I wish my Chang Min was with me!!! He  would have loved the room.

I had no means  to get on the internet  so I watched television then read  and  fell asleep. I went to bed  at 4pm and  woke  up at 1m read  some more and  went back to sleep. The hotel had a free breakfast and I wanted to get there on time. This was  not a western breakfast. They  did have fried eggs  shaped like hearts. Oh and watermelon. We blacks love us some watermelon!!! So I got lots of that. I had soy milk, sausage these steamed muffins and stir fried tofu.

I was picked  up later and had  to go and  get registered  with the local police station. then I went to the Foreign Affairs office  and  met some of the staff. I met the male Canadian teacher. At my school, we have  5 Foreign  Language teachers myself an older American guy, a younger American guy and  his Chinese wife(I have  not formally met them they will be my neighbors)  who is  also a teacher, the older Canadian guy and  his new Chinese wife and the Filipino guy who I never met. Yes I am the only female foreign language teacher  at my school. I wish there was another one. The guys  are nice enough though. I like the Canadian guy and his wife the best though.

For¬† the¬† next two week, I will be in this hotel room on campus. I saw the layout of the apartment, it is a nice¬† size with two balconies. However it¬† looks like¬† it will take longer than two weeks to prepare, they gutted each apartment and they are reinstalling new¬† fixtures. To me it may take¬† a month. I don’t¬† know the¬† Chinese way, I am basing it on The New Jersey Contractors way. hehehe

Since my campus is far a,way from downtown Nanchang I will eat most of my meals in the student cafeteria. I have¬† to¬† say the food quality is quite high. I have¬† to walk¬† to get my food. Once I get my apartment, I plan on¬† cooking more. I¬† do have¬† to say that I have¬† noticed that my¬† complexion has¬† cleared¬† since¬† moving to china and my face¬† has thinned out. There are walking paths allover the campus¬† so I am going to walk everyday and¬† eat healthier. The good thing about being¬† so far away from the the¬† city is that I will not be tempted to eat all that yummy street snacks. No delivery service either ūüôā

Tomorrow  we will go into the  city to do some shopping at Walmart and I am getting a phone to take some pictures of my day out. I will also discuss my schedule in my next blog. I will end this with a blurry view from outside my window.

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The Chang Min Chronicles

Wow,I finally am here!!! I am in China and this is my first post about China while I am in China! How cool is that? I arrived on February 14th and my boyfriend was there to meet me. It was so exciting to finally meet him. . I am falling more and more in love with him each passing day. He is such a kind and sweet man. He loves me dearly and does such sweet little things. I have indeed found my other half ūüôā These next few blog post will be about my week in Shanghai before I start to teach in Nanchang. It will also read like a love story and I hope to be a beacon of hope to women and men who feel loneliness creeping it. My story says one must never stop. Both Chang Min and I met each other later in life. We both thought we were destined to be alone. Good found a way for our two souls to unite.

Lovers united at last!

Lovers united at last!

When I saw him at the airport as I said my finally found a home. Chang Min said he lived near the airport. Hmm we took about three different trains. Oh did I mention that the killer luggage attacked again? First victim was m y dear sweet niece, then it was my amazing boyfriend.The incident was also on an escalator. Luckily Chang Min was ok.¬† I think I have¬† a great makings a a horror movie “Attack of the Killer Luggage” Taking two big bags¬† of luggage on Shanghai’s metro system is probably not the¬† best idea. My dear sweet boyfriend would not let me carry one bag. What a gentleman! Ladies, I really lucked up on having Chang Min as mine.

The Shanghai Metro system is like the New York City subways times twelve and on Ecstasy. It was intense the best visualization that I can make is thinks of a sardines in a can. I have  never seen such a packed train and this was not during rush hour. I got to lean against my honey so that was a good part. Oh and the killer luggage went loose when we transferred to a less crowded train.

Finally we arrived at his flat. It s so funny that I arrived on Valentine’s Day. Chang Min is¬† my first and forever Valentine. We spent a great evening getting to know one another even more. As I write these words I am falling more and more in love with this man in each passing day. I am keeping this blog PG folks.¬† So that is¬† all I will say on that front.

The next day Chang Min made me breakfast of tofu, rice porridge and veggies. He also went out to get some yummy street food. He bought pan fried dumplings  with pork and vinegar inside. He also got a crepe like breakfast sandwich with scallion and eggs  and maybe red bean paste in it. Oh my gosh I love Shenjianbao (dumplings) and Jiang Bing(crepe sandwich) ! All of the food was so good but there is something so enduring about eating breakfast prepared by the man that you love and a man who loves you. My guy  cooks, cleans and sews yup top that ladies!

We then went sightseeing in Shanghai .in the downtown district. We went to a park by the water and took a stroll. It was packed with people. We then walked to East Landing Road. Shanghai has many western chain stores like¬† Coldstones, Starbucks, KFC,¬† Forever 21, Apple and even a Dairy Queen! However I am more interested in the¬† true Shanghai, . My ankle was protesting me all the walking so we took a sightseeing bus.¬† I was truly a n amazing experience to see Shanghai from an elevated position. I could see the vibrancy and the hustle and bustle of the crowds. I saw another black person too! He was a tall African man that walked like a king. I saw a second black male later that day but he ignored me and pretended that I didn’t exist. Whatever dude!

Oh ok my ADHD got away with me there. Ok so we got off the bus and went to a Buddhist temple. I am a Christian and my Chang Min is a devout Buddhist. I am the type of Christian who loves and appreciates other religions. I am not out to convert everyone to my religion. So I respect Min’s religion as he respects mine.¬† I have to say that watching the Buddhist pray to their city gods was quite a beautiful experience. There was lots of smoke and incense. We prayed together for a prosperous relationship and for safe journeys.

Praying at a Buddhist temple

Praying at a Buddhist temple

We then went to get dinner. It was a buffet, Ok anyone that truly knows me knows that buffets and Amber don’t usually mix. Every time I go to a buffet, I get food poisoning. Even when I was a vegetarian and went to a Vegetarian buffet. I decided to give it a try. The food looked good, I stuck with basics like chicken wings and udon. Then I got braver and got more diverse food like this fried eel and pumpkin cakes. I also drank 3 glasses of yogurt milk. Then I saw the spicy chicken on a stick. Meat on a stick fascinates me. So I had one spicy chicken on a stick.

Then I had to use the bathroom. Well guess what? It was an infamous squat toilet! I was actually excited. I have heard tales from expats about the squat toilets. After using a squat toilet, I have to say it was not so bad, Actually it is very hygienic. This toilet had toilet paper in it too and a door on the stall. So maybe this was a pampered potty experience. It was not degrading as some westerners claim.

After dinner we took the flat back to his flat. We were both exhausted. We slept for hours. Then I awoke and I felt sick. Chang Min said his stomach was bothering him. Oh guess what. I had food poisoning and it was my second day in China! Go me. I will never have meat on a stick again. Jo said that and the yogurt milk got me sick. The bummer part is that we were suppose to travel to Hangzhou on Saturday to meet up with Jo and I was so exhausted from being sick that we had to cancel. I so wanted to write a blog on meeting Jo finally. I won’t be able to see her until the summer now. We wanted to pay tribute to Jo because she set us up. Darn that meat on a stick!!!!!!

I’m Leaving on The Jet Plane !!!

My last meal in the USA was Bourbon Chicken at the airport in JFK with my niece Caity. Look Caity you are famous now! I woke up on February 13th and Christie picked me from Boonton at 9:15 I had to take transit into the city to take the train. I had 2 large suitcases and a laptop bag. I am beyond clumsy , so yep this will be an interesting read.

It was nice spending time with Christie chatting about her hometown, it put me at ease because I was so nervous! I was traveling outside of the USA for the my first time. I struggling getting the bags on the train platform. That darn luggage kept rolling away from me. The train came but I just made it to the station and of course was so nervous that I could not find my wallet. The train was waiting and that battle ax train conductor was yelling at me and then informed me that the extra luggage would bring my fare up to $12.75. I was so embarrassed that I just told her to go! I hate causing a scene. I had to wait another hour for the next train.

Meanwhile poor Caity was waiting in New York Penn Station and in freakout mode. I had no way to get in touch with her because I have no cell phone service. The next train conductor was so much kinder. He didn’t charge me extra like battle ax intended. Luckily the train from New Jersey to Penn Station was not crowded. I took up a three seater with my luggage. When I got to Penn Station a random stranger helped me with my bag then let me call my niece who was worried sick over me! We thanked the random stranger then began to roll the baggage towards the E train. The E train will take us down to The Air Tran that goes to JFK International Airport in New York City.

The luggage was rolling all over the train and almost hit some people. There were some grumbles but Caity expert luggage herder got things under control.We then got off the E and headed towards the Air Tran. I never took the Air Tran before but all I had to say was WOW!!!! The station was so big and modern and the train was spacious. My only complaint was that they did not make an announcement to the terminal stops. My flight left out of terminal 1 so we lucked out.

When we got to JFK we had to get on many escalators. Caity got on ahead of me and my hands were very slippery. The baggage slipped and and I screamed for her to watch out. It almost knocked her down. Luckily she was safe. . I think Caity was getting annoyed at me at this point. At the same time she was amazed because she has never been to the airport before. We stood in line so I could check into my flight. My luggage was so under the weight limit. I packed very light

My flight would begin boarding at 2:30. It was close to 2:00 pm. I wanted to spend time with Caity. I am not sure when I will be back in the USA..
It was hard to hold back the tears. I was going to really miss Caity. I tried being jovial. At 2:15 we parted, I told her what a beautiful young woman that she has grown into. I tried fighting back the tears. She rushed away , I know she didn’t want me to see her cry. Tears welled in mt eyes. My heart though was leading me to China.

Oh and then I had to go through airport security! Since 911 occurred security is very tight at NYC airports. I had to take off my shoes and coats empty my laptop bag. The have a body scan. I had to get my passport and Visa checked. The experience was overwhelming.

Finally I rushed to my flight. The were 15 minutes from halting boarding. I found my seat and noticed that there were about five babies on my flight. Chinese babies are so cute. However 5 baby crying symphony is not music to ones ears. There was one baby who cried the entire 15 hour flight!!! The others were off and on criers.

My fat butt barely fit into the seat. I really need to lose weight. The plane was made Asian style. I’m 5’5 and my knees touched the seat in front. Luckily, I had no one next to me so I could stretch out I will take back my first impression of China Eastern. It was an enjoyable experience. I cannot complain about seat size because I am fat. Squeezing in int the seat is because cakes, cookies and ice cream go to my ass and belly.

They go feed us on the plane. The stewardesses gave us hot towels. I have never flown internationally before. The food was palatable. It helped me start my sensible eating plan. I spent the 15 hours drinking water or orange juice. Sleeping and reading. I stood up once in awhile. I did get use to the hymn of the crying baby. Everyone else was annoyed by that baby.

When they made the announcement that we were two hours from Shanghai my heart soared. I was two hours from my Min. As the plane drew closer images of my love flashed in my mind. I wanted to be near him. Finally we landed! Finally I was in the same country as my love.

I next had to go through customs. I filled out an custom card while on the plane. It wasn’t too daunting. They just asked me my reason for coming to China and where I was going to teach. Finally I free from them and was cleared deemable to enter China. I went to retrieve my luggage. My luggage was one of the last to arrive. I got a luggage cart and began to walk towards the exit. My eyes immediately saw Chang ?Min’s kind face. His eyes were so warm and his smile so shy and hesitant. The man that has stolen my heart online was now my reality. So thus begins our life as a couple.

Goodbye America, enjoy this video.

I Told My Dad The Night Before I am Leaving

Many of  you have  asked when I was going  to tell my dad. I have procrastinated. In true Amber style,  I have  waited until the  end.  I waited until the  day before I am suppose  to leave  to tell my dad!

The conversation went well but he¬† is¬† worried¬† about my safety since I am going¬† to a big bad¬† communist country and it is¬† safe. he was like well you do know they speak Chinese there. UMMM yeah dad, I know, I don’t think he really support¬† me¬† going to China. In all reality, I did¬† him a disservice, I should have told him earlier to give him a chance to absorb things.

I think it was a fear of him not understanding or  supporting me. My dad never  quite understood me yet he knows  me. He  knew during our  conversation that I  did  not pack much. Why well I have  been  a procrastinator  since births. I was  even  born  late. He knows that I can be  impulsive.

I know that he  is  greatly  disappointed  in me, but it is  my life that I have  to  live it to the  fullest. The  biggest part of the  conversation is  that he  does not  want me to be  away  from him and  out of  the country, h e  feels that it  is  unsafe  He   told  me they  lock people up in jail over there.

I tried to explain, the  nature  of  the  job of  an English teacher that I will be  working on a campus, Nothing  could  squash  his  fears. I know that it is  coming  form  a place of  love, I guess it  will take  time  for  him to accept my decision.

Now, I wonder  how  long will it take me  to tell him about Chang Min??? I guess baby steps are best at thing juncture in time. Ok off to  finish packing my  clothes.

The Final Countdown

As I look at the  calendar, my heart  is  skipping a beat! It has been  and  still is tough  road going  to China. I have my passport, my Visa, my plane ticket, a job, a home and my love  who is eagerly awaiting me. That is  all that I care about. the  doors of my life in the USA are slamming hard behind  me.  Many of  my friends are asking  me  how long, I will be  gone.  I have  not even landed in China  and  already people  are asking me  when I will come back. I can only  shrug my shoulders. Honestly guys, my boyfriend lives in China  and  I really love him. Sometimes for love one  has  to make sacrifices. If you guys saw how  cute he is you would totally understand.

Today is February 11th and in two days I will be on a plane heading to China! In three days,Ii will be in the arms of my Chang Min celebrating Valentine’s Day together. In two weeks I will be¬† teaching my first university class! Teaching 19 year olds will be very different from teaching 5 year old kids. I hope¬† my teaching skills¬† aren’t too rusty dusty. I have¬† missed teaching so much. It will be¬† nice getting back in the¬† classroom.

I wish that I knew more Chinese, but Chang Min says  he  will teach me  more  when I come  to China.  He says  many people in China  speaks English  so I will be  fine once I learn  some basic phrases. I however  want to learn and try to master the language. I want to be totally immersed in the culture, kinda like my friend  and fellow blogger Jo Gan. You should really check out her  blog http://www.lifebehindthewall.wordpress.com , she  has  an honest and  humorous take on her life in China.

I am emotionally ready to leave the USA and  start anew.  Not having a job these  past few months  has  not been the  greatest experience. I  did  need that time  to find myself and realize the  changes that I needed to make. I consider this  time  as a vacation from the horrid turn my life took.  I consider  even the  bad  a learning experience.  There are aspects that I will miss my family, friends and  my church.  However there are some known( my Chang Min) and unknown adventures yet to be expected.  I am not under the  illusion that everything will be like dancing the jig with unicorns under a double rainbow once, I am in China.  I  am  sure Chang Min and I will face many challenges.  I definitely know that I will be in store for a huge  culture shock.

My next blog posts will be¬† after , I am in China¬† and¬† about Shanghai and my Chang Min. So the final¬† countdown of¬† my days in the USA shall commence. Thanks¬† for reading everyone ūüôā

Farewell Liquid Church

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Today was the last day of attending my church, Liquid Church. My church is my spiritual family and I have grown so much by being a part of this church. I was before like a drifting leaf being blown about in the breeze. I have dabbled in Wicca and was at one point an atheist. I was quite unhappy and in mass confusion. It was through the help of Liquid Church that I once again became a Christ follower.My church presented Christianity in a modern, innovative yet bible based message. Our worship band rocks. The sense of love of the service teams are amazing.I had the privilege of serving in the children’s ministry. Teaching the little one has made me a better and more loving person. Liquid Church, I love you. God bless you all.

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