Social Experiment: The Superficiality of the Chinese Culture

http://youtu.be/NRbtNxf7Cu8

This is part 1 of an ongoing social experiment that I have been conducting since coming to China.  Since my arrival in China I have noticed an ongoing obsession with appearance. It is worse than in The Western World. In the west at least we have a variety of standards that defines beautiful. Here in China not so much. 

  

Their ideal of beauty is so far fetched that not even the average Chinese woman can attain it. So it creates a system of woman going through any means to reach something that in unattainable unless you get plastic surgery. To them beauty is pale white smooth alabaster skin, big doe eyes , slim body( to the extreme) heart shaped face, pointy chin and long straight dark hair. I don’t know many women that look like that that aren’t anime characters.   

They also view Westerners as beautiful but you have to have white skin. Anything that is white is beautiful to them. They even consider white dogs to be cuter than brown and black dogs! So if you are white and slim you are a god or goddess.  It is their culture and it will not change. It is probably the hardest thing to have to face in an Asian country. I have to look in the mirror and tell myself that I am beautiful and not a fat ugly monster.

  

  

It isn’t as bad as when I first came to China. With my Afro textured hair, chocolate complexion and full body, I was the antithesis of their ideal of beauty.  The Chinese didn’t know what to make of me. So I was not treated kindly. I was made fun of and laughed at. This really lowered my already low self esteem. So on the outside I was smiling on the inside I was dying.

Then I begin losing weight and I noticed how people changed. People smiled at me more. They approached me more. Then I began changing my hairstyles. When I wore a wig my coworkers told me I was so pretty and all I needed to do was to lose weight because a boy only looks at a good figure. (Cue eye rolls) 

  

After I hated the falseness of wigs I went back to natural hair. I notice that again my collegues distanced themselves. I had one student that was repelled by my natural hair. Oh and I got parents that complained about my hair. I also had a parent say I was too fat to teach her child. I have students call me fat Laoshi. 

  

I decided to get braids. Well this style was different than the Chinese norms. The kids were fascinated by my hair as were my Chinese friends. They thought it was amazing. This is when I had strangers touch my hair.  They thought my hair was cool and fashionable. It was eccentric. I was also losing a lot of weight at the same. So the Chinese people were very nice to me during this phase. 

  

I got another braided style that was curly and I had black and red braids. I loved it. The Chinese didn’t. This is when I was called Hei Gui on many occasions. One of my more verbal students said my hair was ugly. My coworkers just kept glaring at my hair. One had the gall to ask me if I actually like my hair that way.  That  hair was way too much from their  beauty zone. On a side note, Western men loved the big hair and I got some interest from them. So big sexy hair is a turn on for western men. 

  

Next I got a Brazilian Blowout and I will say this. Big humongous difference to how I am treated. This hair looks more like their hair. So I am more accepted. Not viewed as an oddity anymore. I have noticed more Chinese men checking me out. Also my OKCupid ad is getting way more responses by men of all cultures. Once I put up the straight hair pictures my stock level went up. I think the straight hair enhances my features more. I have two OKCupids profiles. One is an older one where I am heavier and with my natural tightly curled hair.  The other is more recent and I am smaller. My old one only gets an occasional response by African men. 

  

My experiment is not fully complete. I have to see how I am treated here once I hit goal weight . My budding  self esteem might have something to do with how I am getting treated as well. When I first came to China, I never took pictures. I hated looking in the mirror so that attitude may have influenced how others saw me. Now I am selfie goddess and like the me looking back at me in the mirror. That attitude maybe attracting people was well.  So this may actually skew the effects of my experiment. 

Even though China is a superficial society it did give me a swift kick up the arse and was the fuel that I needed to make a well needed change in myself.

http://youtu.be/WiMihRqjbcE

Please click on my YouTube videos, they pertain to the post. 

My Brazilian Keratin Hair Treatment 

***PLEASE NOTE, I CAN NO LONGER WHOLEHEARTEDLY SUPPORT STUDIO EBONY DUE TO PERSONAL REASONS. MY STYLIST INDIA IS WORKING INDEPENDENTLY AND CAN BE REACHED USING WEIXIN. YOU ARE MORE THAN WELCOMED TO FORM YOUR OWN OPINION AND GO TO STUDIO EBONY. I AM IN NO WAY SLAMMING HER BUSINESS. THIS POST IS HIGHLIGHTING INDIA’S WORK. THANK YOU****
The hardest part about living in China as a black woman or a woman with curly hair is what do we do with our hair. Many of the Chinese salons have no clue what to do with Afro textured hair or curly hair. Caucasian friend’s also complain that they can’t get a decent hair color or cut at many Chinese salons. So expats are at a huge disadvantage.  Many of the smaller cities like Hangzhou and Nanchang don’t have expat salons. So where is a Laowai to go???  To the Mecca Shanghai if you live in south China. Other big cities like Beijing, Hong Kong , Shenzhen and Guangzhou also have expats salons.  So my advice if you are a foreigner looking to move to China move in at lease 1-2 hours fast train ride away from a mega Chinese city.

When I lived in Nanchang, I was about 3-4 hours away from Shanghai. So I did my best and tried to care for my hair the best that I could. I am a natural meaning that I do not put chemicals in my hair. I have been a natural for 5 years. It has been a challenge. It especially is a challenge in China. Due to the water and lack of quality products my hair wasn’t looking too pretty.  Also many people mistaked me for a man. So, I wigged it but I never really felt authentic. I was always paranoid that someone would snatch my wig off my hair. Finally I just got braids. I think braids suit me but I noticed some hair loss also I felt fake too. My friend Yllen and Lele already received the keratin treatments and raved about it.

I missed having straight hair. I haven’t had staight hair for 6-7 years. I mostly wore braids in my hair for 2 years prior to embracing my natural Afro textured hair. My hair hates relaxers. My hair would always break off and would look dry and brittle. It never grew past chin length.

Honestly some naturals have beautiful curl patterns and have moisturized locks. That isn’t true for me. My hair was dry and frizzy.  I tried all the methods too. To no avail. The amount of time and the type of products were not available in China or were but very expensive. So after I saw the wonderful results of Lele, I decided that I had to get it done.

I made the trek from Hangzhou Dong to Shanghai Hongqiao station. It was about a 45 minute trip. Then I I took the 10 line to South Shaanxi exit. I had to follow the signs for 1 line go outside and then enter the 1 station to find exit 4. I know very confusing!! Shout out to my girl Yllen that stayed on the phone with my lost arse even though she was busy at work. I have zero sense of direction. I need a Gps chip to be installed in my brain!!

So I finally found Studio Ebony, it is in an apartment complex. If you want to go there email me and I will have Yllen give you directions. I was 15 minute late for my appointment.  I met India , who is also an American expat like me. In fact she is a fellow New Yorker. A Brooklyn girl! It was so nice to hear her slight New York accent. I don’t meet many New York expats.

India in an awesome stylist. She is very knowledgeable in her trade and extremely professional. In fact during every phase of The Brazilian Keratin Treatment (BKT) she explained each part of the process. This was a first with me. Even in the USA, I never had a stylist do that. India has about 20 years experience. She worked in a salon in Manhattan.

 

Phase One

India examined my hair and damage level. I have not really have taken care of my hair since coming to China.  I kinda ignored Bathsheba( my hair) and hid her.  Due to the thickness of my hair I had to pay more because it would take more time and product. This I am use to that , I take after The McDowells we have thick heads of hair!

India washed my hair with sulfate free shampoo. Then she blew it out with a hairdryer and a brush. I am amazed when I see stylist do that. It was longer than I thought!

 I

Phase Two

Then she put the keratin in my hair. Keratin is an amino acid and is not a chemical like a relaxer. So it is an all natural  protein. I sat with the keratin in my hair for a bit. She  rinsed my hair and blew it out.  I noticed that my hair texture was looser but Afro textured India explained that high heat is required to seal in the keratin and make the hair straight. Omg I was so overwhelmed when I saw how long and straight my hair was! I had to hold  back the tears. I kept repeating “Is this my hair? Is this my hair?” The length and the straightness was never acheived like that with a relaxer. I felt my scalp!!!! I was able to run my fingers through my hair. to a black girl this is such any amazing experience. Oh and the length. I have never seen it.

India explained that due to hair damage and split ends she would have to cut. She told me that she was planning to do an elongated bob. She only took and inch and a half off.  I was so scared my hair would be very short. I had so much shrinkage that I had no clue to my hair’s true length.

Phase Three

 

After the cut India applied another part of the Keratin treatment that would add shine and strengthen my hair. It smelled really good. India told the keratin product  line  she used was called Sweet Hair. I sat with the product on my hair then it was rinsed. My curl pattern was even looser it was maybe a 3b/c.  That front was even straighter. It was so easy and quick for her to blowout my hair. Then she did the final flatiron. Wow the shine and it felt so soft. I could barely recognize myself. It was the first time since coming to China that I felt beautiful. the Chinese men that saw me reaffirmed that. I got hey baby looks and not what is that looks. The best the was the wind blew my hair and it went back into place.  At home I was in front of the mirror and did the “white girl” hair flip and singing “I Feel Pretty” from Westside Story.

  

  

Upkeep

Everytime I wash my hair I have to use sulfate free shampoo and conditioner. I also have to blowout on high heat and use a flatiron. Since Oreo ate the cord to the flatiron that I bought from the U.S. I bought one from Studio Ebony it is from Japan and it was the same one India used on me. For naturals using high heat was a big no no but with the keratin process it is essential to unlock the straightening agent. Also with a keratin the more you get it the straighter it becomes. So I am a convert and love my hair,

  

If you are in the vicinity of Shanghai I strongly recommend coming Studio Ebony. So if you live in Zheijiang, Jiansu , Jiangxi, or Anhui province it is well worth the trip on the fast train. Ask for India she is the best. She specializes in all hair types.

http://www.studio-ebony.com

Here is India’s weixin

The British are Coming

This blog is all about my closest group of friends in Hangzhou, who I lovingly call The Brits. I can’t begin to explain how loving and funny they all are. They opened up their ranks and accepted this lone American in their fold. There is also a Canadian in our group but he doesn’t come out as often.

IMG_1080
Each of the Brits have their own distinct and lovely personality. I just love their deprecating, dry and sarcastic sense of humor. I find it refreshing. I always have a blast when I hang out with the Brits. So without further ado let me introduce you to the Brits.

IMG_0652-0
This is Mr. Debonair himself, Sir Ashton, our leader. Ash has a heart of gold and is a good friend, though I worry about his liver. He loves a pint or 20. He is a likable bloke and always organizes us together. He is our king. He drinks so many Long Island Ice Teas that I fear that he may morph into Joey Buttafuco one day( Google that name if you don’t get my joke) Ash is a friend that I met though another friend and he is the one that introduced me to The Brits. He also is a matchmaker and he is trying to find love for me. What a sweetie. Just don’t get him angry.

IMG_1089-0
Next up we have Sam, the most cynical and funniest in the group. Sam is the music critic and he gave me a thumbs up on my music in my phone. He is a Smiths fan, which I absolutely love. He smokes Marlboro Ice Blast and drinks Tiger beer. He hates music by Michael Jackson, it is like nails on the chalkboard for him. Oh well nobody is perfect.

IMG_1118
This is Big Ben, and my opinion the most mature of the bunch. Ben dresses like the classic English gentleman. He is the classy one and is very well spoken. He actually isn’t a Brit, he is a Welshman. Ben found true love in China. He and his girlfriend are so sweet they give me a toothache.

IMG_1257

IMG_1279
Next is Baby Joe, a fresh faced young lad. I like Joe he is very adorable. He has game, I have to say. Within one week of moving to Hangzhou he found a beautiful girlfriend named Laura. They are so utterly adorable together. Joe can be a bit naive and is the butt of every single joke. He is a Liverpoolean and rumored to be the illegitimate grandson of one of The Beatles. If you believe that you are more gullible than Joe.

IMG_1137-0

The Chicks. The Brits have their Chicks. Their chicks are Chinese. They are Brits by association. We can call them The Chits.

IMG_1510
This is DanLi, girlfriend of Ben. She is uber nice and a chocoholic. No piece
of chocolate is safe around her. She is also a piano teacher. I think she is absolutely beautiful both inside and out. Ben is one lucky boy.

IMG_1511
This is Laura , Joe’s girlfriend. If Maryann( from Gilligan’s Island) and Dorothy( from the Wizard of Oz) had a love child then it would be Laura. Laura is just a sweetie. She is very kind and helpful. I always have such a pleasant conversation with her. She is such a cute and petite lady. Her English is very good. She is an English teacher.

IMG_1084-0
Helley is no one’s chick! She is single and strong minded. Her drink of choice is ginger ale. We have not fully corrupted her yet. I know many foreign men would love to have a girl like her. Her English is very good. She and I are the single ladies of the group. I would love to set her up but she is content with her life the way it is.

IMG_1091
The Canadian, is the only other non Brit. He is actually a nice guy and a good friend He is fun to be around and makes me laugh. He is a mountain man and loves the outdoors. Johnathan likes to take exploration trips around Hangzhou on his days off. He use to play in a band in Canada.

The are my motley crew of friends. I love them to bits. So cheerio mates.

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.

Party Like a Rockstar

This post is dedicated to then Drunken Irish Man,  Bromance and Pyromaniac Chinese Boys

Chinese Beer, not as  strong as American Beer  but they pack a punch.

Chinese Beer, not as strong as American Beer but they pack a punch.

I got invited to my first party in China today. My neighbor Jason had  a BBQ on the  roof. Now in China  something we have  all yet to discover hamburger patties in  supermarkets in China.  So what  do is one have in China at a BBQ? Meat on a stick!!!!!! Or maybe it is meat like  substance, all I know is that it is  on a stick. You  just  put bbq sauce on it and  it is  all good. Jason has a grill.

This is what  happens  when arrive late. The  food is  disappearing.

This is what happens when arrive late. The food is disappearing.

I was  a bit late coming, I had a class to teach in Fushen( I do have  a job in China after all) So everyone  was there  and beer  was everywhere.  There was  food  on the  grill so I got to eat but I had a beer cracked open  for me. The music was pumping even my other neighbor was there the  Chinese teacher.

Jason invited his  gang of  miscreant hooligans! I  don’t  know  how  he  does it  but he  has a a following of  admirers. There were the Zambian couple there  as  well. It was  just great to sit and  chat with people and  relax. Plus  watching the bromance between Jason and the Irish Guy was  hilarious, They are  BFF’s! They were  so sweet that it was giving me  a toothache.

International Bromance

International Bromance

Jason and Diamuld (why  did I even attempt to spell it) should just give  up teaching and  become a comedy team and tour over China. Then become famous and have  women throw  themselves  at them. Ok this  is  what  happens  when I decide to write  a blog a bit  tipsy.

We were  blasting the  music  all the  Chinese students were  looking up at the roof. The students in the  dorm across  from  us some were looking and  laughing, Others closed their blinds. No one  can party like us Foreigners!!!! With two Americans, Filipino and a drunken Irishmen, two Zambians  and  our Chinese friends  we were  an International Rainbow of  Fun(just need to find  some Latinos)

Oh and Grumpy Old Man was  quite humorous  and  charming. He made me chuckle  as well. It has  been a long time since I have  had this much fun. I love my friends  back home, but once you got married  and had kids you guys  got a bit dull. I was spending way too much quality time  with  my dog. It was  nice  being with fun people.

Taking a picture of the  cameraman

Taking a picture of the cameraman

Oh and  when you we had  loads  of  fun and debauchery! Dancing, drinking and  sausage!!!! Fire. Thankfully , no drunken Irish men  fell off the off, perhaps  because  we  only had one. Next time maybe there  will be  moire drunk Irish folks. I have to say I love Irish people they are hearty and  honest folks. So Drunken Irishman is  a term of  endearment.

Also there  were dancing Filipino guy! Oh and  dancing Zambians. I wish  that I could dance. I  just am not the  best dancer! I didn’t want to embarrass myself. I am a singer  not a dancer. Give  me  a karaoke mike anytime.

Step away from the ledge!!!

Step away from the ledge!!!

Oh and Chinese  boys can’t take liquor well. They are quiet drunks but do dangerous things like kneel way too close to the railing on the roof, pick out moss from the  rooftops and burn things. they  were  actually roaming the rooftops looking for things  to burn. OMG when they brought the mop over to the grill to burn it I just was didn’t know  what to say, so The Irish man  broke it in half for them. Hmm so damaging property but he  said  at least they didn’t burn the whole mop.

So how  do you think the evening ended  between a drunken Irishmen and fire staring  Chinese boys? Well it involves  a  full moon!!! Good times though. China  is  a blast!!!

Chinese BBQ and a  full moon

Chinese BBQ and a full moon

Peter Pan Syndrome Solved….Sorta

Anyone that knows  me well knows that I am  not the  most  mature person for my age. I have been accused  of being very naive and  immature. I think I was just coddled too much, so there are  many occasions where , I just  don’t  act like an adult couple that with being  lazy, ditzy and  being a procrastinator you have Amber all rolled up in confusing ball of chaos. I think this  is  why I feel  more comfortable  with younger men, we are in the  same emotional field.

If Yan Can Cook , so can Amber. It might be edible though.

If Yan Can Cook , so can Amber. It might be edible though.

I would rather eat cookies  for  breakfast then cook myself  breakfast. I know  very bad, it use takes less effort. Or I use when I was motivated  enough was to go to the  supermarket and  buy Nutrigrain bars. Mostly though, I was a regular  at Dunkin Donuts. They even had my order  ready  for me  when they  saw  my  car pull up. Two pumpkin donuts and a large pumpkin coffee semi sweet, When  that was not in season it was a large vanilla  coffee light and sweet with a raisin bran muffin. I would  scarf this in the car.

Iron Chef Amber. I wonder if I will end  up losing a finger?

Iron Chef Amber. I wonder if I will end up losing a finger?

Lunch, I never  really ate, I had only a 30 minute  lunch so i had  snacks in my desk. By the  time I got home  from my miserable  job , I was starved  and  exhausted. I would devour  chips then call for  take out. I was living like a 20 something straight out of college. The mystical thing called a stove never turned on. When it did, the  smoke detector went off  because I burnt dinner!!!! I was so bad that I use to have  to order  food  for the  dog  so I could reach the delivery minimum.

I vowed that I would  cook for  myself, sometimes. I haven’t been able to do this because I was living in a hotel for  my first month stay in China. Also the food in the cafeteria was very good and  cheap. I am miraculously losing weight. I eat baozi, hard boiled egg, or rice porridge  for breakfast, then  veggies and  some meat or tofu for lunch and dinner. I am snaking on fruit. sometimes .I buy  steamed break. I also have been drinking lots of green tea.

Still though, grown up prepare food  for themselves in a kitchen. I finally decided that I was going to cook. I dragged Jason, my neighbor to town with me. He was bored so he  had  nothing else better to do.  My mission was to get pots and  pans. My goal was to cook dinner tonight. I so went ADHDas I always  do when I shop. I never  make a list, I have  a general idea about what I need. I was ready to buy sneakers because they were men shoes that looked girl, I ended up buying a shoe rack. I am going to make folks  take off their  shoes when they  visit. Then I decided I needed  lotion, deep conditioner, face moisturizer.

Pretty purple shoe rack. I only have two pairs of  shoes!!!

Pretty purple shoe rack. I only have two pairs of shoes!!!

Then I was looking at  dog leashes  and dog food.  Jason was like, um the pots  and  pans  are this  way. He  was cracking up because I wanted  everything purple or  a pretty color. He  said  shopping with me  was hilarious  because I was all over the place. I did   find the pots  and pans. I also brought a  wok(come on  now I am in China) a cutting board, oh and  a knife set and  a steamer. Maybe  I can make  my own steamed buns and  steamed veggies. I  got cutesy chopsticks too. Oh and  a wooden  spatula.

Jason even helped  me  carry my  stuff. All he   brought was milk and  cheese. Oh and  it was  raining too. However, though I brought all this  nice expensive  cooking gadgets, Check out my fridge. Barren, um  I have  not gotten groceries. Ummm oopsies!!!!!! I do have  a bag of frozen dumplings in the freezer.  Oh and  cucumber. I forgot olive oil to cook with! So I did  do one adult thing today but  my flakiness reigns supreme.

My barren fridge

My barren fridge

All My Children

Exif_JPEG_420

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.

 

 

 

 

Fellowship, Coffee and Dumplings

One thing that I really miss  back home  is my church. To me,  my church was  more than a church it was  my spiritual family. Sunday were my favorite day of the week. When I was an atheist, I hated  Sundays because  it  meant that I had  to  go to work the  next  day.  I use to call it Sorrowful Sundays. Once I accepts Christ into my heart that all changed.

The White Van

The White Van

Leaving  Liquid  Church and  all my friends behind  were  so difficult. Liquid  Church was God’s instrument to save  my soul. I am so  glad that I was lead  to them. I can  still look at sermons online  but there was something lacking. It was fellowship. I am a social person and I love to communally praise and  worship God.  One  thing that I was scared about is losing my way once I moved to China.  China  is  not a Christian country, though there  is an undercurrent of Christian faith developing in China. As  a new  Christain, is  my faith strong enough not  to be  swayed?

I know  that I needed to  find  another church to attend. My campus is a bit a ways  out of  town. Ok there are chickens and vineyards nearby. Yes I am one  step above  Green Acres. The campus  is  modern though.  So going into downtown Nanchang can be  a bit of  a challenge  for  a non Chinese speaking lass. So I have  no  been to church  since I left the states.

A few days  ago, I had a strong inclination to phone Joel another foreign language  teacher  at my school and inquire about a local church. He  just looks like a Christian. My  hunch was  correct he  told me that he  and  some other teachers at various  universities all formed an informal church. that  sounds perfect, right up my alley. The one thing  about Liquid  Church that I loved was how informal it was.

Sunday morning Joel told  me to meet him  and  his wife Lulu at the  small gate  of  our school. Joel and  Lulu will be  my next door  neighbors once my apartment is remodeled. I went to eat  breakfast first, I had  baoza and soymilk again. I love  baoza. On my way I meet a student who wanted  to converse with me in English. He wanted to practice his oral English  with me. He has a n exam in a few months and  he failed it prior. I even gave  him my mobile  number if he wanted  to further communicate  with him. If someone  speaks  to you in English in China it is  a good thing to take notice of.

I then walked to the back gate also known as the  small gate. A friend  of Lulu and Joel were going to meet  us  at the  back gate  with his  car. Lulu and  Joel met me on their  motorbike. Keith was the  name of the guy with the  car and he was originally from Glen Cove, Long Island. What a small world! I watched him maneuver  around the highways of Nanchang and it reminded  me the video  game “Pole Position”  All I have  to say is  driving in China is  not  for the faint of  heart. I would  be  too scared  with motorbikes, pedestrians and bicycles coming out of nowhere and  from all directions. There are no traffic rules in China. It is just The Chinese Way.

Keith drove  us to the university where we all would meet. It was in a coffeehouse! They call it ETC (English Training Center). On that campus they had a building  where Chinese students can come hang out  and speak English. That is  pretty cool. I met Dawn her husband Sean and their adopted  child Thomas. I also met Jessica who was  a young intern and Jonathan who was also from New Jersey(Monmouth County). The group is  small but immediately sensed the fellowship of the group and  felt right at home. Everyone  was  so laid

photo courtesy of www.gizmodo.com

photo courtesy of http://www.gizmodo.com

back and opened.

Oh and there was  coffee there. I have  not had  coffee since, I left  America. Coffee  is  a rare  treat. I was extremely excited  about this! Dawn made  me  a cup. It was  so yummy. I felt that for  a brief moment that I was transported  back to the US. There is Starbucks in China but remember I live in the chicken area of town so I don’t get into the city much. Starbuck will be  a rare and expensive  dream  for me. I will just have my weekly cup of  coffee at church.

Basically each week  a different member of the congregation will sign up and  preach a sermon based  on the scriptures. We have worship music music in the beginning and  following and  ending in prayer. We have prayer requests as well.  I signed  up to be the last speaker. I will have  to start  to prepare a sermon. I don’t  like  to speak in public, even though, I am a teacher  and that is  what I  do for a living. God  will guide me to what I want to preach about  when the  time draws nearer, I  have  6 weeks to plan  for it.

After  church we all headed in town for  dumplings. We had  three Chinese people that assisted  us. Lulu helped  me, she is Chinese. Oh Lulu is  pregnant and  is  having a baby! Everyone knows how much I adore babies. I love dumpling. I ordered mushroom and chicken and plain mushroom dumplings.  I also ordered  a green ice tea. It came  to about 15 yuan. That is equivalent to $2.41 in USD. I got 12 dumplings  and  a drink for $2.41. I love China!!!  A woman came by and gave us soy sauce. We had a choice  of  either adding chili peppers, garlic  or vinegar to the soy sauce. I chose garlic. Oh my gosh my dumpling tasted  amazing! Having fresh garlic in the soy sauce really enhanced the flavor. I had  some  of Lulu’s pork dumplings  and they were good too. Exif_JPEG_420

After dumplings we went to Aukman’s with is  a grocery store that has a great foreign food selection. I have  no kitchen yet so I was just observing everything. They have  an extensive  fruit and vegetable section. I liked  it better than  Walmart. Oh and a score I found Grape Mentos there. I have  never seen Grape Mentos, so I bought them. Actually Sean  bought them  for  me. they were only 2 yuan. After Walmart  we parted ways. Lulu, Joel and I took the white vans that dropped us off at campus. I did not know  about the white vans until today. For 3 yuan(48 cents) they drop you off at various college campuses The  white vans  also wait outside  of the college gates. My campus is the first stop going into town, so i’ will always  get a seat.. This  is very convenient, now I won’t feel trapped on campus. There is  a shopping mall a  many small stores in that area of Nanchang and it is easy to get to from my campus! Another score!!!

Today was a very good China day for me. I found a new fellowship of Christ followers, made new friends, had coffee, ate dumplings and experienced the white van. I have  off  for  most of the  week. On Tuesday, I have  my health exam. I have  one  class on Wednesday and another on Friday. Even  weeks  are my easy weeks.  I have  to say I appreciate teaching more here than in the  states.

Grape Mentos

Grape Mentos

 

 

Helpful Harry

I think that I am the ultimate supreme ditz!!! There has  to be blonde roots under  my scalp.  I told my readers before that there is  a Chinese way and our way. When I came  to the  campus, I was  told that  someone  would take  me to set up a bank account so I would get get paid. Well I waited  and  waited, Yesterday someone from my school called  me and asked  fro my bank account number  so they can pay me. I was like I do not have  a bank account no one has  taken me to get it set up. the woman on the  other  end of  the phone was  confused  that I did not have  an account. She  told  me to get one.  Then she  asked  me if I spoke Chinese. I asked her if  knowing  “Ni  hao” counts.1104806-Clipart-Koala-Holding-A-Help-Sign-Royalty-Free-Vector-Illustration

Fast forward to today. I am off today and    relaxing. I get another phone asking about my bank card number. I explained again that no one  has helped  me to set up an account. she  then explained that the Canadian teacher went and did  it on his own. So I informed her that he has been in China  for  six years and I have only been in China  for two weeks. She  said  she  would  send  someone  to help me. The Canadian teacher  told me  later he just showed them his passport and looked  confused and  said  English teacher  and one person did  everything for  him.

She called  back and told  me  Harry would  come help me and from now on  Harry was assigned to me. Harry is  a students and  he  is very helpful. Harry helped me the  last time when I was roaming around my campus utterly lost. He took me to my class that I was late  for. I was roaming around lost  for an hour! Harry speaks English, so that is  a plus.  I guess they are annoyed at me that I was passed on to poor Harry, I hope  he  gets  paid  for this.

Well all this occurred before noon time. I was told that Harry would  contact me  so I waited and waited.  I then called  another foreign teacher with a Chinese wife to see if  she  could perhaps help me  to set up an account.  his  wife was in class. He told  me  he  would go to the office  and push their  buttons. Actually once I move  into the my apartment he  will be  my next door neighbor. I am at the  hotel so I am very far from the FOA office. He said  we  can double team them to get things  done. I called the coordinator  for  foreign teachers. Her phone  was busy well so I texted  her a message. It was now 3:15.

Within minutes Helpful Harry called, he  told  me that he  was  waiting at the bank for  me. We have  a bank on campus but no one  speaks  English at the  bank so I would  need a Chinese person to go and  explain things for me. So I put on my shoes and go. Apparently I am not walking quick enough because Harry calls me twice! I don’t have wings on my feet. I am not a track star I am a fatty! Then  the person in charge of foreign teachers  called  and explain that Harry is waiting. The walk is about 15 minutes. I am trying my best I tell her that I am on my way. I wish that teleportion was discovered!

Harry meets  me halfway and  explain that the bank was  about to close  and that was  why he called  me. We rush to the bank, I am inwardly cursing being a fatty and  not losing weight before coming to China. The gate  was  about to close but she  let us in. Harry  takes my passport and they speak in Chinese. On a sheet of paper all in Chinese he fills in my passport  and Visa number. I write my name. We  go to the window. They make  a photocopy of  my passport page. All is well, but then they ask me  for $25 yuan. I was in such a  rush I did not bring money. Helpful Harry did not have  any money  either. He  had  to ask a friend  of his  that was on line to lend us 25 yuan. right now I am mortified embarrassed, I smile at her and  say thank you but  she  is looking at me like I am the village idiot. If they told me that I had  to pay to open an account, I would have brought money. I have  25 yuan at home.  Exif_JPEG_420
First Chinese Bank Account!!!!!Success though, I have  my first Chinese bank account, However the card says student. I hope they  gave  me the right card. Harry took a picture of it to text to the office  so they can enter it into payroll. I invited Harry to dinner but he declined because it was too early, It was 4:18. It is sooo cold and windy that I did not want to head out again , so I took a bowl with a lid on it so I can take my food home

I relate this to all not as a  complaint, it is  just  for you to understand the Chinese Way. If  you are an extremely organized thinker  and  stringent to routines then China  is  not the place  for  you. The  Chinese  wait until the last possible moment to do  things  and then  rush everything. Chang Min is  like this as well! Myself, I am a  disorganized thinker so it isn’t that bad. I do get frustrated  with things and am glad  that I have other foreign teachers  and  Harry to help.  This  is  all very new to me. I will definitely help the next next foreign teacher to help ease their transition.

Ok off to enjoy my dinner of tofu and celery with rice and hot peppers9everything is spicy in  this province)  and to talk to Chang Min for  awhile I already called him three times today because I love the  sound  of his  voice and we video chatted with qq. Now  we  are just regular chatting. If he  was here with me in Nanchang the banking would have  been  so much easier. Oh a spoiler for all you Chang Min romance lovers, he is coming to visit in April!!!!! So happy.

Exif_JPEG_420

 

 

First Day Teaching in China

My first group of students in China ever

My first group of students in China  🙂

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.

Previous Older Entries