Anhui Adventures: Never Can Say Goodbye

My students

My students wrote this  for me

I am so sad  today. The last  day of  instruction was yesterday. I am feeling a great  sense of loss. I have  made a connection with these students in such a  short time. I am sadden that it is  all about to end. time flew  by  so  quick.

I will always  cherish my time  in Anhui and  hope that  i may be  able  to return to this  friendly province. To me  it  feels like  home. The  students have  all connected  with me.  I feel like I am part of a cohesive family. I do not want to lose this feeling. I feel  blessed that I was allowed the  opportunity  to work  with such an amazing staff and the  best bunch of  students that I have ever encountered.

My  memory book

My memory book

Will is  comforting Anna

Will is comforting Anna

I made the  last day pretty mellow and  relaxed. I was sad and  wanted  to have a relaxing moment with my students. We played  dodgeball, watched  movies  and made memory books. the students had to write  down their fondest memory of  summer camp.

This  was  very emotional  for the  children because  just as  i have  fallen in love  with then, they have  fallen in love  with me. It was cray me a river there was not a dry eye  in the classroom. Even Matt was teary eyed. John lasted the longest and  Jonathan  decided  he  could not  deal with us  and  went off to  his dad.

As I held unto my students trying to  console them, I really knew that I would  love the  opportunity to be  able to teach in Jixi, not sure if  it is a possibility but it is  something that I will pray on. If God wants me  here then there  will be  a way. All I know is that it does not  feel right that I am leaving Jixi.

The students were

The students were weeping

I soon broke  down in tears  and  my students  began to  comfort me. It was  quite  an emotional scene.  No one  wanted  it  to end. The camp faced  many hardships but we persevered. Together  we  are stronger. I really  do want to keep in touch with everyone. My heart is aching right now  as  I write this. I know that I have  a new adventure waiting in Xiamen but Xuancheng is  where my heart is.

Zoe is in tears

Zoe is in tears

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Anhui Adventures: Teaching Sports

The rules of Football according  to Amber

The rules of Football according to Amber

Anyone that knows  me  will already be chuckling at the  title. If  you  don’t  know  me, I will just say this, I am a disaster are when it  comes  to playing sports. I am a klutz and  i am uncoordinated. I was the  kid  who would  sneak to the  back of the line  so I would  not have to play wiffleball. I was the kid  who  purposefully forgot  to wear sneakers on gym day. In fact I wore a pretty dress on gym day.

I surrounded myself  with girl girlies, well except Regina and it is  good to have a polar opposite  as  a friend. So Amber  and  sports are not a  mix. I barely watch sports. I know  my  sports teams  and  know that sexy Derek Jeter plays  for the Yankees and that The Giants  are a New York Team. Oh and the Red Soxs sucks. that is  about it.Since  I have  15 boys  in my  class at summer camp, i decided that I wanted to introduce them to American sports. The Chinese  already have  a love  and obsession with basketball, so they already knew about the NBA.

We love the NBA and Kobe Bryant!

We love the NBA and Kobe Bryant!

I decided to  explain to them about American  Football. I know  nothing  about football. So I drew a diagram. I only know that the two teams try to get the  ball to their  goal post and  they get tackled  and there  are  full backs  and  quarterbacks and there is something called the line  of  scrimmage. I was explaining the rules, I then showed them a  video excerpt of  The Ny Giants  playing a game. A few students were  interested. Maybe American football has  a chance  in China.

Then I introduced  Baseball to them. I showed them a  a video clip of  the Yankees playing a game. I explained that baseball was big in  Japan. I of course  did  not have a bat  but I had a  soft ball and  an umbrella. I threw  pitches  and  let  them  hit the  ball. We went outside and  played  a baseball game.

The could  not  quite  understand the concept of  four bases, so we  only had  one  base. The kids  were having a ball! They were  so excited. they  all wrote  about our wonderful baseball game in their  diaries.  they  thanked  me  for teaching them about  baseball. they were  just  so adorable. 

I also taught them dodgeball. I can’t even explain the  rules of  dodgeball, I told them just  don’t hit  above  chest  level. I also  showed them a  video of  a dodgeball game. They  had  a good time but they requested that we  play baseball again. they said they liked  baseball more than dodgeball.

Later that day when I went back to the  dorm a few of my students decided  to teach me  ping pong. I was abysmal at it and  the kids got  quite a chuckle out of  it. 

I

Anhui Adventures: My Students

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The best  part  about  being in Anhui is  the  students. I have  never  met  such a  group of  kind  and  humble  students.  The  kids  are  so  down to earth. Being in  Anhui  has  changed  me  so much. It  has  given me  direction. The children have  helped  to  cleanse  my  troubled  soul and  have  shown me the  direction that  I want  to  go  with my  life.

I realize  now  that my  place  is  with the kid,s not in a university setting. This  will mean a job  change  after my  contract is  up.  In the  middle  of  a school year  too! Wish  me  luck in that endeavor  and  pray that i will find the right placement

My class is  hysterical, I have  18 students.  Out of  those  students  15  are  boys. You know  how  middle  school boys can be, rambunctious, sneaky, mischievous. They were  quite a  handful but I love  them  so much. They  were eager  to learn and  we  built  up  such a rapport together.

Each student  has a distinct  personality. There was  Matt who is the troublemaker  who had a mega crush on one  of  the teaching assistants. I have  a soft spot  for the bad boys, I just loved Matt he  was a cutie. Then there  was John, he  always got in trouble never  listened and  always ended  up almost  getting hurt because he  never listened. There was Mark the  buck tooth beaver.  Awwww he  is  soo precious his English level was low but he  tried  so hard and  his  smile  warmed  my heart. There was Bill who is  just a  cool kid and  an amazing dancer. His  mom is  the richest woman in town but Bill is  so level headed and  down to earth. He treats everyone equally. He is  so not a  snob.

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Oh  and then there was Anna.  Anna  and  I totally connected. Her mom was my  co teacher  in the class. This  little  girl  is  such a happy, optimistic  and loving child. She is 12 years old an  she  has  stolen my heart. She always  cheerful and kind. Eliza, her  mom is  my new female  friend in China. I am really  going to miss her friendship. I will keep in touch  with them. I was even invited over to their  house  for dinner. I really  wish that i had  the opportunity  to see her  grow into a lovely  young  woman.

I had Mike  and  Ken who loved  to dance. On break time those  two were always  doing Gangnam Style. It was too funny. My boys  did  enjoy  dancing and  singing. They  had  me  laughing for  most  of the  class especially  during  break time.

Oh and there  was  James, James is  also a  student  who  will be  forever engraved upon my heart. He was the  oldest and tallest boy in my  class at age  15. He  had the  calmest and  sweetest  demeanor. His  desire  to learn  English was  high. He sat in the  front and he out of  all my students  made the  most  progress. I love  this  boy so much.

Oh and the twins Mark and Luke(they  choose those  names on their own) is it ironic! They had  a  higher  level  on English than most  of the  students. It was  so  fun communicating with them. I really felt a  connection with them, plus  they are  so funny and friendly who  could  not  love the twins. DSC00317

Oh  and  Jim whose  parents are  both  teachers and  he  had  the highest English  level. Jim is  a smart  kid and has a  sense  of  justice. He  has the  heart of  a rebel but he  does it in such a subtle  and  clever  way.

I also  had  the privilege  of having Jonathan, a foreign  teacher’s  son in my  class.  H aving an expat  child in the  class really  was  a learning experience  for the  Chinese  students. Jonathan  made  some  lifelong  friends  and  he  told  me  he was hesitant  to leave the  school.

Oh and my two lovely girls Lisa  and Zoe. It was great  watching them torture  the  boys during break time. These girls were at  first intimidated  to be  in a  class  surrounded  by  boys, gradually  though they got  more  comfortable. Zoe taught me  how to blow  a double balloon. A balloon inside  a  balloon. It is  so unbelievably cool. And Lisa has the  funniest laugh and  she  is  quite the actress.

We learned  so much together. I taught them high frequency words, greeting, Western Culture and  Chinese Culture, phonics. I Also taught them about American football,  baseball and  dodgeball(In the  next and very  short blog). We have  been practicing for plays  that I wrote that we  will be  performing on the final day  of  camp. They  learned  about Western music. I also  learned  so much from my students  to. They taught  me  so much more than I taught them, They  showed me  my  true purpose and they  opened  my heart  to love. I will always remember  Jixi with a fond  heart.

Anhui Adventures: Arriving at School

Xuancheng is surrounded  by  beautiful mountains

Xuancheng is surrounded by beautiful mountains

This  is  part  of  a series  about my  month teaching in Anhui province at  a  summer camp. I have  been  here  since July 3rd, however  due  to internet snafus and  being  busy with lesson planning I only  have  the  time  now to  update my readers on my adventures. I have  so much to update, So my lucky readers prepare a series  of post overloads. 🙂

The company that  hired  me  to work  for  the  summer  arranged a flight for me  from Nanchang to Hangzhou. The flight was only about an hour  and my friend  Liu Jia took me  to the  airport  to say farewell.  We arrived  early, I am so  parnoid  about things  happening like the cab breaking down. So we  sat in the  airport people watching for  two hours.

courtesy  of www.disneygo.com

I got a window seat, iy was  so relaxing to watch the happy little clouds. Don’t  clouds  make you  so happy! Bob Ross likes  happy little fuffy  clouds.  I  felt like  I was in his  paintings.  
The  plane  landedand guess  which ditz could  not unfasten the seatbelts? ME!!! I think I have  blonde roots. I was struggling with it. Finally an older Chinese  knight in  shining armor saved the day. He unfastened  my seatbelt with the greatest of  ease. Yeah , I am a ditz. Next i went  to  claim my  luggage, did I mention that I had  to pay an overage fee?. My friend  told  me that I packed too much. Well, I am going  to be  gone  for two months and I am a girl.

I got off the plane and  look for  my contact person. Everyone  has  signs  with  names  on them. My  contact  did  not. I could  not spot  him so I called him. He told  me  what  he was  wearing. We finally  found  each other, He helped me  with the bags. He was shovcked  at how heavy my bag was. He had  no clue that I bought mama and  baby  bag. Big papa bag was at home all alone. He  told  me  to the car  where I met Jose and  his son Jonathan and their adorable puppy Chino. I  just love their  puppy. I wanted to steal him and  give  him hugs and  kisses.  I still want  to steal him to this  day. He is my rent a puppy!!!  I nicknamed him Chi Chi.

Look at the cutie pie!!!!!

Look at the cutie pie!!!!!

We had  a  four hour  car ride. It was  a great way to get to know the TAs. They are  college students  and  get to help  us  in the  class room. The hour  car drive  really  helped  us  all to  bond. I sat in the  front seat. Oen of the only perks about being a fatty is that I always  get to call frontsies! Due to my size I am really just  too big right now to sit anywhere  else in a car when there  are lots of people.

On the  car ride I found  out that I had  a lot in common with Jose. He is  also  from New York. He is a professional teacher like myself. Oh and  he use  to work at the Newark Board  of  Eduation! My former district neighbor. Oh and  he too  moved  to New Jersey  after living in NY. He  is  funny as  hell too. He is now my new BFF in China.  Jason you have been replaced! Hehehehe

We  did not arrive at the school until 10 pm. They had a banquet  meal waiting for us. Everyone  knows that I have been trying to lose weight, well I  did  partake  in the  feast  and it was  so delish. Hands  down it was one  of the best meals in China. The food was not  spicy, like it is in Nanhang. There was  duck tongue, this beef that was surely water buffalo,  a  fish dish and  an assortment of  veggies. I was hungry   so I dove  right in. I did eat small amounts.

After eating we were shown our rooms. We had  to stay in a hotel te  first night. Oh I wasa lucky girl. I will post next about the hotel room.

Duck Tongue

Duck Tongue

Hunk of  Meat, tasted like water buffalo
Hunk of Meat, tasted like water buffalo

A fish in a sweet  sauce. It was the most succulent fish that I ever tasted.
A fish in a sweet sauce. It was the most succulent fish that I ever tasted.

My Insight on China

It  has  almost been 5 months  since  stepped  off the  plane and began my  new life in China.  I will admit that I was scared. I am  so  glad though that I took the  chance.  China  has  changed  me  in so many ways.  I lost  myself  in America but I am rediscovering myself as I stay longer in China.

Many  people  ask if I miss America. I do in some  sense but not in others. I miss the  ease  of  being  able  to converse  with people. I miss my dog, my church and  my niece Caity.  I miss Lisa and  her  children as well.  I do sometimes reflect on the  friends  that I left  behind. I knew  though in my heart back home that living in America was not  my destiny. My destiny lies elsewhere. Is  my destiny in China?… not  sure  yet but I am adapting to life in China rather quickly and I don’t feel the feelings  of  unrest here  as  I did  in the  states.

Did  my  life in China turn out exactly as I planned? Hmm not really. Heck I wanted  to step off the plane and find  my  soul mate a get  married  and  have  a baby.  Then  hang out  with Esther and Jo(black women who married Chinese men and  live in China) as  my married BFFs.  It  would  be  great we  could  get manis and  pedis and  sip on mimosas.  Hmm I still have  a couple  of  years though and  maybe I can have a daughter  and arrange  a marriage  between her  and  Esther’s new baby boy.

I was  being unrealistic  in my  time frame, I wanted  it now! I am sure  Mr. Right will come  into my life soon. There is  still tons  of  things  that I have  to improve  upon with myself before I am  fully  ready  to  receive love. That is  what  my  first ill attempted  love  affair in China  taught me. You can’t  force  and orchestrate  love. My  destiny is  still an unwritten book. I will enjoy and  be  ready  for this  adventure  known  as life.

Dragon Boat Festival Party!

The performers in the play

The performers in the play

Happy  Dragon  Boat day everyone! I am  so  sorry that it took  so long for  me  to post. If you want  to place  blame on anyone, blame  my neighbor and my best friend Jason. He  distracted me  and  I  never had time to write  my blog. Shame! Shame!  on  Jason. He never reads my blog anyway! In fact I am in  his  house  writing this blog. Jason’s house is the party house.

Today we  had a Dragon Boat Festival Party at my school. Just a brief synopsis. Dragon Boat Festival is  a celebration of loyalty and  honor. It is  a tribute  to Qu Yuan, a statesman, patriot and  a poet who was exiled from the Chu dynasty. When the Qing  dynasty overthrew the  emperor, Qu Yuan killed  himself in sorrow and  to show  his  honor  and loyalty  to the  old regime.

Zongzi is a type  of  dumplings eaten during the  festival, it is glutinous rice wrapped  in bamboo leaves. There are different types  and flavor. Some  have nuts. I have  to  stay  away  from those. The Zongzi was thrown into the  river  to keep the  fish  from eating Qu Yuan’s body.

Eric, the Emcee, me  and Bambi the Soldier. Bambi was  so helpful during this event.

Eric, the Emcee, me and Bambi the Soldier. Bambi was so helpful during this event.

Initially , the  Foreign Affairs Office  wanted to  host a small party  to introduce the  foreign teachers to the holiday. Somehow this idea morphed  into a big extravaganza organized by Jason and I. We were no longer the  guest of  honor but the facilitators and participants. We had  to  come  up  with the  ideas and enlist students from our classes. This  an extremely  Chinese concept, so we  were reluctant plus they  said that we are really creative. A dose of  ego feeding is the  best form of  coercion.

We came up  with some  great ideas.  We had  a skit,a zongzi wrapping demo, a Zongzi passing contest (like hot potato), singers, dancers and  a zongzi eating  contest. We invited some  students. Oh  and the  school invited the  press! They  wanted  to publicize  this.

This event  could  either sink , swim or  fly. I was  nervous. If it  stunk then  blame it on us! Hehehe. I have to  say though I did  not  want  to do this  willingly, I am so glad  that I did. I really learned  so much  about The Dragon Boat Festival. I had  to research it  because I wrote  the short  skit for the festival! The students  worked  very hard to make this event a success and  I love  them all so much. They practiced despite the fact that they are preparing and  taking finals.

It was  really a great way  for the students on campus  who live far away from home to celebrate  the holiday. I also really feel  so much  closer  to my students  and  Jason’s  students since  we spent  so much  time preparing  for the  Dragon Boat Festival. We practiced, we laughed and  bonded.

Oh and  I I was featured  ion the news I’m a  star!!!!! So awesome!!!! Maybe my soul mate  was watching the 6:30 news and will see  me fall in love  with me and come  and find me! Oh if  only life was like a movie!!! My life story would be Nocturnal in Nanchang.

Dumpling Darlings

Dinner prepared by my students

Dinner prepared by my students

On  Friday, my students came  over  to cook me a Chinese meal. They wanted  to thank me for making them a Western meal earlier  in the week.  I wasn’t  feeling well at all all week and  yet I entertained  my students. I went  to the  clinic  and have  been on antibiotics. I worked Thursday  but had  this  Friday off. I was sleeping in and  heard  a banging  on the  door. It was my Chinese tutor Lee. Behind him were a brigade  of my Chinese  students. It was  an Asian  Invasion!! I was groggy and sick but let them in.

Busy bees  making dumplings

Busy bees making dumplings

As the  girls  were bombarding  my  kitchen, Lee began to teach  me  pinyin. It is my deepest  desire  to learn  Chinese. I really  want to  communicate  to the  people living here. Who knows  maybe  I can  attract a Chinese  cutie  if I can at learn to  speak Chinese.  Also I am sick of  pointing at this and  saying that one and  smiling. I am in China so I feel obligated  to learn the  language  out of a mixture  of  respect  and  survival.

When my lesson was over, I invited Lee to  stay but he had to  go back to his  campus. The girls  were  ready  to make dumpling. Dumpling 101 commenced! I was shown the technique, first  you you get the  round  circular  dough, you gather the filling  using chopsticks and  place in on top of the circular  dough. Next you dip your fingers in a bowl of  water  place  water  around the edges and  fold  in  half. Then  you pinch the  dough  using a pleated methods. Sounds  and  look simple  enough. The  girls made it  look easy. My  first  attempt looked  more  like baozi and  less like a dumpling. Yes  it  was  an ugly  dumpling. so the  girls  showed  me  another way to make the  pinches.

It  took me  awhile before I made an acceptable dumpling.  My dumplings were  definitely not  as pretty as my students. Rome  was  not  built  in  a  day  it  will definitely  take  more  time that and day to  learn  who to make   dumplings.  The  hardest  part  was the pinching  part. My  folds  just  aren’t pretty. I can tell when I am  eating the  dumplings  which one I made.

My first  and  fifth dumpling. I am improving

My first and fifth dumpling. I am improving

While there was a crew  of  us making  dumplings  there  were  other girls  making a  variety  of  dishes. there were  about  seven  students in  my kitchen. It was smelling so yummy. I was so  happy. A home  needs  to have  people in it. I haven’t really experienced  a  homey atmosphere since  my  mom  died.  My friend  Lisa opened  her  home  to me  prior  to me  leaving the US and it was  at that moment I realized that I hated  living alone.

It was so nice  chatting  with them as  we  were   folding dumplings, it was  a girl bonding moment. I  don’t  experience  much of that. My childhood  friend  was not a gushy girly girly, so she  had no ides  about female  bonding. When i  got  older  I had  more  gal  pals  and  we  did female bonding rituals. I really  missed that and the dumpling making  really helped  me.

Finally  dinner  was  ready, we had tomato and  egg, cucumber  and  sausage, dumplings  and a dish  of  just sausage. It was very  yummy. Oh  and they  begged me to make  my garlic  bread  again. They  said it was  so delicious  before  that they wanted  to taste it again. The best  part was the fellowship and the  company. Oh I forgot we  left the  door  open and my neighbor  walked in. He wanted to borrow  water to get tea. The water  guy who  delivers  our  water  was MIA, once the Chinese teacher  saw the  girls  he  decided  to stay. I was  feeling very  tired and  my students  are  nursing students  and they  saw my  meds  so they knew that I was a sick teacher. we  talked  for  a  bit and I showed them  my  Facebook and  they talked to  some of  my friends  that were on Facebook on Friday.

All in all  Friday was  a fun night. I can’t wait  until I get  to make  dumplings with them next time.. One  of the  girls even likes  karaoke! Score!!!!

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