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!!!!

Invasion of the Sweetheart Students

My sweet students. I think I lost weight  since I have been here!

My sweet students. I think I lost weight since I have been here!

I am still in the  process of all my classes doing their oral presentations.  I have started on three classes. For  all students  that receive A’s on their  presentations, I have  invited them for  a yummy  western meal prepared by yours truly. I have  7 classes, so I will be in the kitchen very often. Luckily the Fushen campus isn’t that interested, they  would  have  to travel too far. So I decided to offer this  more  towards the  students in the Wanli  campus.

Half way through I noticed that I was getting A’s  so I decided to invite  the  first batch of students. Today I have 7 of  my sweet  nursing students, On Tuesday I will have 7 more and on Thursday, I will have 5. Oh and  My nursing students all mostly girl classes. I have  like 7 boys in on of the classes and  4 boys in the  other  Wanli  class that I teach.

Squeezing around my table  for four.

Squeezing around my table for four.

I decided  to make  sausage and peppers  for  all the A students. It is  easy and  cheap, however  now I have  to eat the  same  dinner three days in a  row. DUH!!!!! The next  round  of cooking will be  after Laborer’s Day holiday. This  is  becoming my staple dish.

So I  forgot to get the  sausage, luckily my  dear friend Jason was going to Auchan and picked me up  some sausage. Oh and  beer the secret ingredient. I arrange to have the  girls  come  over  at 6:30 oh and of  course I wasn’t  ready.

In China  your  dinner  guest come promptly! So i was  very behind  schedule. The girls  came  bearing gifts! That was  so sweet of them. I was overwhelmed. I am  so not use  to it. The each  did  a little  bow  as they handed  me their gifts.

They came bearing gifts. Teaching in Jersey I  never received  any gifts!

They came bearing gifts. Teaching in Jersey I never received any gifts!

My dinner  guest  had  to wait  30 minutes  before eating. Next time  I am going  to start cooking earlier. They  started  to take  pictures  of me  cooking the  food. They were  amazed  and kept  saying wow. It was really cute.

I finally began setting the  table. I  didn’t have  enough forks so  some  people had  to use chopsticks. I also  did not  have  enough plates so some  people  had  to use bowls. I had  6  plates but 7 guests. We  all squeezed  around the  table. I had  to borrow, 2 additional chairs from my neighbor.

It is  so  nice  just  to have  people over, back  home in the USA my home was not considered the  party place. No one ever  came  to visit me. I always  visited other people’s  homes. I don’t  know  why, I think I am an awesome hostess, well now  in China, I guess  I am making up  for  loss hostess time.

The  girls  really loved the  food  and  it was just  enough to feed  all  8 of  us! Afterwards  they  did the  dishes for  me!! I love  it. When you invite Chinese  students  over they will clean for  you. We sat  around  and talked, it was the perfect opportunity  for the  girls  to practice  their  oral English. I think of  every moment as a teachable moment. Exif_JPEG_420

I  found out that two of  my students live in Xi’an and Hangzhou, the  two places that I am visiting this  summer. Now  I have  tour guides. I also found  out one  of  my students is  going to study  abroad  in Australia next year, what a lucky ducky!

We listened  to music  as well, I really liked  all off them especially Vivian, she  loved KTV as well. so  now, I have  a KTV buddy! Yipppeeeee!!!!! The  girls are  coming  back over this Friday to teach  me  how  to make dumplings and  other  Chinese  food. I am so  happy that I decided  to reach out  to my students  and  make friends. I had  so much  fun.

After  the  girls left, I opened their  presents. One  girl girl Vivian  wrote  me the sweetest  letter  and I was in tears. It is  amazing  how  people  will open up and want to become  your  friends, if  you just allow them in. It is  hard for me  because I have  been  hurt  by people before, like a close friend. I am very  trusting, but I decided  to open  myself up more:)

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Worm, Chicken,Tiger, Stick and Drunken Dinner Party

Doesn't it look purty?

Doesn’t it look purty?

I had my  first  dinner party in  China and  it was a rousing  success, How pray tell  do I know  it  was successful? Ok  get  readers get  ready  for  a bit of  a spoiler. The  way of  knowing that you have  a successful dinner party : 1) Empty plates 2) Three empty wine bottles 3) Playing Chinese drinking games 4) Singing karaoke to Journey and Frank Sinatra 5) No one  had  food poisoning Those  are all wins  in my book.

Jason and Cowboy

Jason and Cowboy

The party  started on 7pm and on the  menu was sausage, onions and peppers  served over linguini.  Anyone  that knows  me  knows that I am not a natural cook. I need  a recipe to follow. I found this  amazing recipe online http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/sausage_peppers_and_onions/  I substituted the Marsala wine  for  beer. I cannot  find Italian sausage  in China  so I used whatever  sausage that they had here. It taste  sorta like kielbasa. Beer  makes everything  better, so it  really didn’t matter much. I like  to slice  my sausage into bite  sized pieces  though so my end  result looks nothing like  the  picture.

Sausage, onions  and Peppers

Sausage, onions and Peppers

One thing about me is I am terrible  at synchronizing time. Some  cooks have  everything ready at the  perfect time. The food is  ready the house is  filled  with the aroma of soon to be  eaten dinner. The hostess looks perfect, with impeccable make up, heels, pearls and  wearing an adorable apron. Myself  I am a sweaty mess with a  catastrophe  in the  kitchen! First I started  cooking too early, The guest  were   not due until 7pm, I started cooking  at 5pm. Then It  only  took 45 minuted  including prep for the sausage  and  peppers so I called  and  told  them to come  earlier, I started on my garlic bread.  Oh and  my guest came over. I was  still cooking. I had the  guys  make  the  salad. I started  to set the  table. We had the salad  ready. Oh then I had  a blond moment, I forgot to boil the pasta.

Pwned: Real Men make salad

Pwned: Real Men make salad

The boys  started munching on the  garlic bread that was  so crispy but next time  I am  going to  use  real garlic instead  of  garlic powder. Finally dinner was served. I placed the  biggest helping on Cowboy’s plate(Cowboy is Jason’s student) we  need to fatten up these  Chinese boys! Then once  I  land  a  Chinese  man  he  will have  more meat on his  bones. I gave  Jason a  big serving too, I took a smaller serving size(I need to lose weight) I told them it was  man versus  food  and  not to  punk out. Thus the eating competition began . Jason lost! Cowboy  cleaned  his  plate  first.   Jason took sloppy second.

I only purchased  one  bottle of  wine. Luckily, Jason brought over another bottle.  Cowboy  taught us about traditional toasting in China. He  said  since Jason and I are  his  senior when he  toasted  us  his  glass will always  remain lower. He  also gave  each of  us  individualized toasts wish us health, happiness and vitality. I thought that was  sweet!

worm chicken tiger stick

Where the hell is the worm??? Maybe the Chicken ate it?

Once we cracked opened the second Cowboys face  was flushed. He asked if  we would like to play a Chinese drinking game. I was tipsy, Jason was drunk and  Cowboy was drunk after the  first bottle. I said  sure, why not. The game  was called “Worm, Chicken,  Tiger, Stick”  Cowboy  explained the rules  two  people  would face off and  say either, worm, chicken, tiger or  stick.  Rules of the  game  are sticks beats chicken and  tiger, worm beats  stick but tiger and  and chicken beat worm. I asked  Cowboy  why  we  can’t just  play rock, paper, scissor. He was like well because it is  chicken, tiger, worm and  stick. I  think   saying stick is the  most  effective. My  reasoning is  that sticks can be  used to beat the crap out of tigers  and  chickens. I was  confused  why  worm beat sticks. The rather  drunk Cowboy  told  me that it was because a worm is  real and  a stick is  not. I was drunk  by then so it made perfect  sense  to me.

So we  played  and  of  course Jason was losing at every  round. I told  him to say stick all the time. so we kept on saying worm, LOL. After  we  played, I told  Cowboy that I knew  of  a song that  should  be  his theme  song. It was Bon Jovi’s ” Wanted  Dead  or  Alive.” This  is  when drunken karaoke  began.  I also  created  a new  Bon Jovi fan. Representin’ Jersey in China! Hehehehehe!

Cowboy cleaned  his plate

Cowboy cleaned his plate

We used  youtube  and youku to sing a  variety  of  songs. Jason and  I sang a duet of “Don’t Stop Believing” I sang Joan Jett, “I Hate Myself for Loving You.”  Oh and  we  ended the  night  with me  singing ” New York, New York.”  I am a true  New Yorker  because I knew  the  whole  entire song without lyrics. I rock!!!! So my  first  dinner  party  was  a success. Oh and  Cowboy is  obsessive  compulsive  and  he cleaned up everything. I asked  Jason if I could have him! LOL

The Case of the Visa Violation

When, I decided to write a blog it was to a means  of  catharsis  as well as to provide insight for people who may want to teach in China. I don’t want anyone to make the same  mistakes that I did, the process and the paperwork can be  very tricky. It  would behoove the future teacher in China to know the  complete process and be  prepared to remind  their  sponsoring school concerning deadlines. I didn’t  do that and almost had to pay a huge fine. Read my story  and I have to say God was with me today and I really felt  his presence. If  you are an atheist then this  is not a post you will want to read so stop here 🙂

This  morning Ron( The Canadian) and I had to apply for  our residency permits.  Actually I had  to apply, Ron had and expired Z Visa. Ron had  to get an L Visa then he has to go to Hong Kong and  apply for a Z Visa then come back to get  a residency permit.  His Visa expired 20 days ago and he has to pay 500 yuan for each day. So he  has  to pay 4000 yuan , buy an L Visa and  a two way ticket to Hong Kong. Not very  cheap!!!

The driver picked us up from the hotel(yes I am still living in a hotel) at 8:30 am. Ms H( her job is to take care of  the foreign teachers, she  works in the Foreign Affairs Office) met  us there. Now  usually this  is an extremely  quick process. The building we went to was  for Entry and exit of people coming and leaving China. This place  handles  Foreign Experts Certification, Residency Permits and  other things. Ms. H handed  our paperwork in to  one office. Then we both had to get photos taken then we proceeded  back to the original office. This was where  we got yet another photo and Rob was to get his L Visa and i was to get my Residency permit.

photo compliments ofteachinchina.org
This is how a Residency Permit looks. Thank goodness I can get one!!!

photo compliments of
teachinchina.org
This is how a Residency Permit looks. Thank goodness I can get one!!!

Then it hit!!! Houston we have a problem!!! Ms. H was arguing with the Police officer behind the desk and scurry around and trying to talk to other people. Ron glanced  a peek and told me it was a problem  with my Visa. I was getting worried.  I asked Ms. H what the  problem was, I am in freak out mode  right about now. I was scared and thoughts  about being deported started running in my head. Or about spending  more  money like  poor Ron, money  which I do not have readily available. I did a Tsrah prayer  with all my heart to God. God used people as a vehicle to aid  me. Ms. Hwang had  a connection another  police officer who called the supervisor and talked to hi,. I was allowed  to apply for  my Residency Permit.  I am an extremely lucky girl, I have  to remember how much God loves  me and  he is with me.

The day ended with a Chicken, Muslim bread( Chang Min needs to bring me the bread  from Shanghai, this stuffy I had was puny compared to the ones by him)  purchasing a knife loose tea green and chamomile. So boys  and  girls, what  lesson have  you learned today?

Lesson Learned

1) Know and  be aware of  all steps in obtaining your Visa, Health Check and Residency permit

2) Keep a calender of  due dates  and get on top of your school. you are the  one that suffers for little hiccups not them.

3) Keep a calm rational head

4) Come  to China  with enough money so you can deal with bumps along the road

5) Know that once you enter China you have  to get your health check, residency permit within 30 days. Keep reminding your school!

6) Keep record of  everything

7) There are chickens near my university

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Can you spot the chicken?

Shopping area outside the gates of the uni

Shopping area outside the gates of the uni

 

All My Children

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I have  been  teaching in China  for  two weeks, I’m  still alive  Jo!!!! I have  to say, I love my students. I have  so many of them. I have  7 classes. Each  class  has  its  own  distinct personality.  I can’t  wait to teach them and  develop lesson plans  for them. I will be  getting  my teaching materials  next week. Until then, I will be  scouring the internet  for lessons that I can do  for  my classes.

First Class:Cute and shy. I love  this  group. they  are my innocent ones. I only have 9 boys  and over 70 girls

First Class:Cute and shy. I love this group. they are my innocent ones. I only have 9 boys and over 70 girls

I can say that though this  may be  premature, I am so much more happier teaching in China  than in the USA. I have  got  my enthusiasm and love  for  teaching back. My last  job  almost sucked  my enthusiasm out  of  me.  Volunteering in my churches Children’s  Ministry really  salvaged  my  love  of teaching  and  made  me  realize that it was  not me but the  crappy working conditions that I was dealing with.

Second Class: Small and Obedient.  I only have  26 students in this  class. I can  do  so much  more in this  class. We are going to  do more scenarios in this  group.

Second Class: Small and Obedient. I only have 26 students in this class. I can do so much more in this class. We are going to do more scenarios in this group.

My  whole  mindset has  changed, it may not be unicorns and  dragons singing and  dancing together all the  time. However I have  such  a sense  of  peace. I have  found  my  niche. I like  working with college kids  too. This  blog is to introduce my lovely  students. I have  approximately 560 of them. I am  quite the Baby Mama! Enjoy my children.

Third Class: The Talkers This  class is very talkative. This  is  a very good thing. I call them My Chatty Patties.

Third Class: The Talkers This class is very talkative. This is a very good thing. I call them My Chatty Patties.

Fourth Class: The Helpful Class. This  class id  very very helpful.I really enjoyed teaching them. They all remembered my name.

Fourth Class: The Helpful Class. This class id very very helpful.I really enjoyed teaching them. They all remembered my name.

Sixth Class: The Funky Fresh Bunch, These  guys are very so hilarious  silly! I gave  them my QQ. I have  students QQing me already. This  class told me  they want penpals and  they are really into learning about American culture.

Sixth Class: The Funky Fresh Bunch, These guys are very so hilarious silly! I gave them my QQ. I have students QQing me already. This class told me they want pen pals and they are really into learning about American culture.

Fifth Class: Patient Students. I got  lost trying to find the  building. I had  to have  a studetn(Helpful) escort  me to this  class. Thye  waited  so patiently  for  me. I only have 4 boys and the  rest are girls.

Fifth Class: Patient Students. I got lost trying to find the building. I had to have a student(Helpful) escort me to this class. They waited so patiently for me. I only have 4 boys and the rest are girls.       

Class Seven: Where the Boys Are. This  class is boy dominated. the boys are sitting on the sides and in the back. I had two boys who have a good command of English. Th.is class has  my mobile number.

Class Seven: Where the Boys Are. This class is boy dominated. the boys are sitting on the sides and in the back. I had two boys who have a good command of English. Th.is class has my mobile number.