31 January 2008


Currently reading: The Rocky Mountain News Jan. 31, 2008

Currently listening to: Final Straw by Snow Patrol

So, here I am, back in America. Craziness! I am enjoying the little joys of life--cereal with bananas and blueberries, reading the morning paper, eating at Noodles, SNOW, familiar things! Today will hold even more--the dentist, a bath in a normal-sized tub, driving for the first time in a while, probably seeing U2 3D (which I had totally psyched myself out for not being able to see) and eating yummy ice cream. The circumstances for being here aren't great (my grandma had a heart attack and is close to dying). Everything happened so quickly, but I'm excited to be back. The busyness of Tuesday (lessons planning for the rest of the week, packing, and tying up loose ends) has now been replaced with waiting for the inevitable.

It snowed a few inches while we were at dinner last night and in honor of the "snow" in my Chinese city, here are pictures from our sledding adventure last weekend. Setting: the water park. It is really cold, but too dry to snow. Solution: With snow makers, create a sledding hill in the water park. Invite: Chinese kids who have never gone sledding before, camels, goats and have fun!

Yes, you too could be pulled by a goat on a sled.

On the right is the snow maker--notice the line of snow--the cement has none and then magically the grass has some.

It is quite the hill--with enough weight and the right tube, we were quite speedy.

The TV tower and the lake that was icing over. But, oh wait, notice that ladder going into the water--that's for the polar bear club.

Holly and I all bundled up and ready to go sledding.

Dan and the boys enjoying the "snow."

More to come...


19 January 2008

Funny Traveling Pictures

Currently listening to: In Rainbows by Radiohead

Currently reading: My students' journals :) (Good news: I finally finished Passport and Colossians Remixed. My initial goal was to finish them both over break, but that didn't happen. Two weeks later isn't so bad.)

Well, we are in the thick of winter. In my Colorado childhood, winter meant snow and lots of it. In China, winter in our northern city just means bitter cold and gray skies. We are counting down (14 days!) until Spring Festival (AKA Chinese New Year) when we leave for a week to go to green and slightly warmer Hong Kong.

I got two pieces of good news this week and they both have a common theme: travel with middle school students.

1. I was assigned to the 7th grade Spring Trip. At our school, all middle and high school students take a class trip in May. The older the class, the longer and farther away the travel. The 7th grade trip goes to Shandong province (south of here on the coast--Qingdao is the famous city in that region.) I had been hoping to be assigned to this trip because I wanted to spend time with a class before they moved into high school. The other leaders are great which makes me even more excited!

2. 18 middle school students applied for our summer trip Inner Mongolia. Our school also organizes 3 trips in the summer that are Purpose and service-driven. This June we will be sending students to Vietnam, Outer Mongolia (the country of Mongolia), and Inner Mongolia (an autonomous Chinese province--the capital is Hohhot). I am the middle school coordinator on the trip and I will be interviewing/chatting with all the middle school applicants next week.

So that's the short and sweet update of things from this side of the world. Below are the less serious (read: fun and funny) pictures from my winter vacation trip to Guilin.

This was actually found in my city a few days before I left. What a difference a preposition makes!

Molly and Nicole pretending to be the Village People at the hardware store.

The tourism bureau designates locations throughout the country and gives a star-rating, similar to how hotels are 4 or 5-stars. Guilin is so beautiful that it is an example spot!

At the beautiful park that we went to there were random decorations throughout. The teletubbies have invaded China!

While these principles all make sense, I'm curious--how one can improve their consciousness?

This sign was over a rock cliff that led into the Seven Star cave. It would have been quite the feat to stride over this without dying.

What happens when an 'r' and a 'n' get put too close together? 'No Burning' becomes 'No Buming.'

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Two bears that are supposed to resemble Pooh accompanied Piglet, Eeyore, and Tiger.

I ran across this gem in a shop: I know who Oprah and Gwen Stefani are, but who is Edward? Prince Edward maybe? I'm not sure.

I'm not sure what a scalp nurse is, but under that English, it has the characters for France. So maybe scalp nurses are French.

This was found at an outdoor vendor.

Trashcans and construction sites are the best for finding Chinglish.

Please Think about:
  • Our Inner Mongolia team interviews next week. Many great students applied, but also a few applied because their parents made them. We need wisdom to know who we should accept and who we might defer for another year.
  • All summer trip leaders have a weekend of training next Friday night and all day Saturday. Pr@y for the beginning bonds of trust and friendship to grow in all the trip teams as we prepare for an exciting summer.
  • For an extra measure of grace while I balance many things. In April, I will lead our middle school delegation to participate in a Model United Nations conference in Beijing. While I'm very excited, there is a lot of hard work ahead in this semester.

May He be our companion in all we do,


05 January 2008

Serious Traveling Pictures

Currently reading: Passport: An Epic Novel of the Cold War by Bruce Herschensohn

Currently listening to: Pop by U2

The day after Christmas, I boarded a train to southern China. Getting out of our city was interesting because the fog was quite heavy. We got a train to Beijing and made it on the soft-sleeper car for our 22 hour journey to Guangxi province. An overnight delay turned it into a 24 hour journey, but it was uneventful. Once we arrived in Guilin, we freshened up and then headed out to see the city. In the morning rain, we walked over to a beautiful park and took in all the greenness that we could. In the evening, we took a bus to the paradise that is Yangshuo. An all-day bike ride occupied our Saturday. It was eventful--I fell off my bike and did a faceplant into a field (it was muddy!). Sunday was filled with good conversation and food. And Monday we spent traveling back to TJ. It was a great break and really fun to see another part of China. (Lots of) Evidence below--

Guilin Pictures:

The hills that make the Seven Star Park.

Ancient Chinese characters at the entrance to the Seven Star Cave.

Florescent lights colored the cave.

The park had some beautiful waterfalls.

The park had a zoo in the middle and it was at this zoo that I saw my first panda! Yes, that fox-like animal is actually panda--a red panda. Not exactly what you expect when you think panda, but still...

Bai Lan Hua, the flower that gave me my Chinese name.

A pack (herd? group?) of emus--what creepy birds.

Girls dressed in minority clothing.

A lily-covered pond (ah, nature, how I missed you!)

During our rainy walk through the park, we stumbled across a mosque.

Yangshuo Pictures:

The view from our hotel looking to the right.

The view from our hotel looking left.

A village dog protecting some chickens.

The roads were super muddy!

The Li River and the gorgeous mountains in the background.

These little bamboo rafts float down the river.

I love that the mountains are visible in the water in this picture.

An adorable sibling pair walking home from school and an older lady carrying water back to her village.

The bamboo boats docked at the village.

The toddlers all bundled up for the cooler weather.

Dave, Katie, Molly and I on a bridge from the 1200's!

A man herding his ducks to water.

This is probably my favorite picture from the whole trip.

Clothes and sausage hanging out to dry.

More sausage!

A grandmother and her grandson cleaning up at the restaurant where we ate lunch.

Mud, mud, and more mud--we were so muddy after our all-day bike ride.

Molly and I under the Yangshuo city sign.

The river is really low right now. Some locals explained to us that the river will be full again in the summer.

Crossing the Li River in a bamboo boat.

Our favorite winter fruit, you zi, growing on a tree. Pomelo (You zi's English name that I didn't know existed until a few weeks ago) is like a sweet grapefruit and has a huge peel.

The city of Yangshuo from the other side of the river.

The lady hacking the sugar cane into edible pieces with a huge knife.

Attacking our sugar cane!

Well, school is back is session. It was nice to get back to a regular schedule. I exited four of my students into the mainstream, and I gained one new student, so I'm sitting pretty with 5 students in both my 7th grade and 8th grade ESL classes. Only 3 more weeks until we have another break for Chun Jie (Chinese New Year).

It's cold now--the high today is a whopping 30 degrees F (-1 C). And at night it's getting down into the teens. Good times! There was a dusting of snow over Christmas but I missed it because we were already in Guilin. I want snow! It can only be this cold if snow is involved!

Signing off from frosty China,