Saturday, October 9, 2010

Back Home Again in Indiana . . .

Greetings All:
This will probably be our last posting. Andy and I have returned to Evansville and he has seen two doctors to date. They have placed him on a month-long regimen of steroid treatment to gain control of the problem. Once they have it under control, they can then determine the proper course of action.
We are living in the lap of luxury in a downtown loft condo while we wait for Andy to get to the point where we can go more than an hour without a bathroom. Once we get there, we'll run down to Nashville and start looking for new housing.
Stay in touch via Facebook. We'll post pictures there!!
China was a wonderful, unique experience. We are ready to go back!!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Friday 10/2

It is with regret that we report we are returning to the US. Somehow, Chinese authorities found a copy of the photo with me, the panda, and the the marshmallow sauce. Customs is escorting us to the airport on Monday.

Actually, I am having an ulcerative colitis flare up. I had hoped that it would resolve itself. I have lost weight the last two months, am experiencing fatigue, and can't stay out of the bathroom. As a side note, the worst combo of ailments to have in China are gastro problems in combination with bad knees. That's visual humor folks.

Anyway, Joan and I leave for Beijing on Sunday, for LA on Monday, and for Evansville on Tuesday. We have Dr. appointments set up for me on Wednesday. Hopefully, there will be a simple solution.

Andy

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday, 26 September





As you may know, today was my birthday. Someone told my students and they asked Andy to bring the camera and me to the classroom at 8.30--not before!
When I arrived, they had gotten me this beautiful--and delicious--cake. The icing is fluffy and delicious; the white cake is filled with fresh fruit between the two layers. Wonderful!
It came complete with lotus greeting. You light the center and it lights the candles which cause the petals to open. It then plays "happy birthday" for an incredibly long time considering
the size of the battery!
To make matters even better, the staff had also gotten me a birthday cake! It was the same inside but with chocolate sprinkles on the outside--mmmm, good!
So even though we had to teach on a Sunday, it was a great day and a wonderful birthday.
Hope you teachers out there have students as great as mine!!
More later . . .

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Thursday morning in Dalian






We had the morning free so we went for a walk after breakfast. After walking about 5 miles (easily!) at the zoo , we were glad the world's largest square wasn't far from the HJ (Howard Johnson) Hotel. It is incredible. Surrounded on 3 sides by modern buildings and on the 4th by the Bay. Swimmers were out in force as were children playing. The entire square is surrounded by sculptures depicting the different Olympic events. It's part amusement park, part beach, part green space and all business!
All in all, it was a great holiday.

Dalian and the arial tram





While at the zoo, you could travel from one park to the other--over the mountains! They provided a wonderful view of the city and coast. The final shot is 'going down'!

Wednesday and the Dalian Forest Zoo




When they described it as Forest, they weren't kidding. The zoo is nestled between two mountains in a forested area with several streams running through it. Many of the animals were roaming free while others were confined to large areas.
These few pictures can't begin to give you a true picture. It was incredible!

Zoo - Thursday #1






Here are some signs we saw!!
Obviously, the Chinese don't believe everything they read!

Autumn Holiday 22-24 September





Tuesday
The Chinese celebrate Autumn Holiday, this year on the 22nd. Our school (and many businesses) expand the holiday so people will have more time to travel home. Like most Chinese holidays, family is the first consideration. Many of my students were sad because they could not travel home to family--not something we expect from their counterparts in the U.S.! This holiday especially is known as the reunion holiday.
On Wednesday, we flew to Dalian. It is a 40 minute flight across the Bohai Bay north. Dalian is a younger city and was occupied/settled by the Russians, Japanese and Germans at different times. There is a Brazilian contingent as well (also in Yantai) because of the petroleum industry. It is technically larger than Yantai.
We have attached some pictures to give you an idea of the area. Dalian is a coastal city; we were warned that it is very polluted! We splurged and stayed at a Howard Johnson's! Yes, that was a splurge. We had a TUB, king sized bed and soft(er) mattress. Here it is a 5 star hotel--comparable to a Ritz in the states! It also cost us about twice as much as the 3 starred hotels we stayed in during our travels in August ($89US/night!). BUT they did have American food (croissants, sandwiches, french fries, lamb chops, toast, salad); these are not what we normally get! Tuesday afternoon we went to a buffet and were actually charged an 'extra food' fee since Andy went back so many times!--Why doesn't that surprise anyone???
The pictures show two of the teachers at the Dalian branch of WECL as well as buildings in the Russian district.
More to follow.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Greetings from Yantai!





Monday was Fun Day at WECL-Yantai. Starting at 1.30, the 5 different classes competed in 'dress up' (pull on items, run to base and back, undress and then the next person does the same), water balloon toss, 3 legged race, tie the wet noodles together and a ball toss. We had a ball! The Chinese love games and they don't have to be sophisticated. We have 16-43 year olds playing. Watermelon followed and the winning team got a cake yesterday. My class only had 7 people participating but we overcame the opposition--we won! I'll send pictures of the cake later. It was a fruit cake; translation: it was a white cake with fresh fruit inside and decorated with fresh fruit on top. The icing was delicious!!
After a week of sunshine, it started raining on Sunday and we feared Fun Day might be cancelled but the weather cooperated and a good time was had by all. The rain also brought cooler weather--yesterday (Tuesday) the umbrellas were out in force as the wind was gusting and it rained off and on--the temps dropped into the low 60's--it was wonderful! The temps are the same today but supposed to get back to the 70's by late afternoon today or tomorrow. Still nice.
Our class schedule gets a little squirrelly about now. We conducted classes Sunday, Monday and Tuesday; have today (Wednesday), Thursday and Friday off; hold classes Sat-Sun-Mon-Tues-Wed-Thurs and then have 1 Oct-7 Oct off for National Holiday. When we return, we'll have classes on Fri and Sat and then return to the M-F schedule. If it Autumn Holiday tomorrow; it celebrates the illicit love affair between a fairy and a mortal (they get together once a year). Moon cakes (round like the moon) are plentiful; it is a time of reunions. Families are VERY important in China and spending time with them.
We are headed to Dalian over the 3 day break. WECL has another school there and we have met the teachers. They have a zoo--complete with pandas! Pictures to follow.
Berkeley sent us a care package which arrived safely after 16 days--20 lbs of CHOCOLATE!! The dark chocolate Hershey kisses are my favorites! We'll use most of the bars as gifts for our Chinese friends. You can get chocolate here but it's not as rich and good as Ghiradelli's or Hershey's!!
Hopefully the pictures will give you some idea of the fun we had Monday.
Until next time . . . .

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Monday, 20 September

Hello all!
We are watching an interesting weather pattern emerge here: one week of rainy, cloudy weather followed by one week of sunshine. So far, we've had about 3 weeks of this pattern and the forecast for the week calls for rainy, cloudy weather again! The rains cool off the warmer temps (high humidity intensives both extremes) and we even saw some heavy sweatshirts make their appearance.
We have a weird time of the semester arriving. Sunday (yes, Sunday) we taught classes. Wed-Thurs-Fri of this week we are off for Autumn Holiday but we teach the 25th and 26th (Sat-Sun) to make them up. Then from 1-7 October we are off for National Holiday but have to make up one more missed day on Sat, 9 Oct. After that it is business as usual--Monday to Friday. Figuring which class schedule on which weekend day has been interesting.
This past Saturday Angela (from my class) collected us in her red BMW and transported us downtown to go shopping a HUGE market. One room was about 300' by 150'--it was filled with bolts of fabric! Table had been set up and different vendors had their own products. Around 2 sides on outer walls were small booths (about 8 feet wide and 10 feet deep) which were where the 'manufacturers' awaited you. Many were one person operations and others had a person taking measurements and taking them to their shops. Incredible operation. From that floor you can go up to 4 other floors where you could purchase ready-made clothing. All in all is was a wild experience and the prices are incredibly reasonable.
Yesterday we had classes with -- surprise, surprise-- low attendance. I only had 3 missing but one class only had 3 students for the first 2 hours (more had shown up by lunch time). We are supposed to have 'fun day' today (weather permitting). The Chinese enjoy what many Americans would consider 'childish'--we will be playing water balloon toss, 3 legged races, etc. (Remember we have students 16-40!) One of their favorite classroom activities is musical chairs (we adapt it to teach verb tense, etc). I taught my class Bingo and they kept wanting to play more! Several of us are hoping we get rained out and have to reschedule later. If that's the case, it would cancel our Thursday afternoon schedules (3 of us have our heaviest schedules on Thursday--guess who are hoping for a rain out today!).
Had a nice visit from Ping last night. She brought us date bread--yummmmm. Finally saw Nan. He got an ear infection at the beginning of school and went home for a while. He is even thinner than ever but looks great! Last Friday Chang called us about a concert on campus. We walked over and WOW--the football stadium was filled with students. A stage complete with fireworks, entertainers, lights, and all kinds of special effects was going strong. Singers, dancers--the whole works!
Time for school! More later.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Blog Saturday am 9/18












(Pictured above left to right: Joan, Domenico and Angela---- Sherry and Lisa ---- Gorge and Domenico -----Apple, Vivian (17 y/o) and Sherry from CSP 2----and Tony)

Sometimes Joan and I forget that we came over to China to teach as well as site see and eat Chinese food! Here comes a quick run down on how our school is structured.

We have 5 groups of students. The most basic are in a class called QP1. From there they move on next semester to QP2, then CSP1, CSP2 ( Joan's group), and finally GES. GES is a year long grouping. I am right where I belong with the basic QP1 !

Students spend 2 hours each morning in a class called Interchanges. It covers a variety of communication areas. They listen, read, read out loud, spell, write, grammaticize ( I'm trying to be parallel), and count. During the rest of the day they attend specific courses such as pronunciation, listening, reading, oral English, academic writing, business English, cultures, history, geography, and grammar. Cultures, history, and geography are taught primarily as a means of providing communications topics. They don't memorize the names of the 50 states and their capitals, they talk about them!

I have 12 bright young scholars in my QP1 class. It is interesting that some attend a private, expensive, language school because they cannot gain admittance to a public high school or have failed to get into a college. The parent faced sending the child to trade school or coming up with a better alternative. To save face ( VERY important here!) the parents send their child to us in order to be able to say, "My child is in college learning English". A clue to the individual student's mental acumen is his age. If he/she is 16 or 17, there is a very good chance that he flunked out after grade 9 and could not get into a high school!

Enough said. Now my class.

James- age 17, wants to be an international playboy, could be a good student but would prefers to be the class clown
Andrea- age 38, mother of a 12 year old, a good student, wants to learn English so that she can assist her daughter in learning, very bright
Keenly-age 32, married, a college grad who wants to start an email business, a good student
Wicky (We are working on Vicky)- age 21, good student, always prepared, wants to enter the business world
Wendy- age 23, tired of working as a sales clerk, wants to become an international business women, will probably return to being a sales clerk with a smattering of broken English
Sara- age 21, the class shy one, spends most of her day blushing and hiding her face, has already grown tired of me saying "louder, please"
Tim- age 17, nuf' said, has the hots for Carol
Catherine- age 20, our strongest beginner, reads like a champ, dresses like million bucks, wants to enter business and will probably succeed
Ellen- age 21, didn't like college, wants to be a well-rounded individual and travel, my hardest worker
Roy- age 17, a cute kid, tries hard with a smile on his face, unfortunately, my second slowest student
Tom- age 17, a box of rocks can outwit him, those Chinese finger traps could keep him puzzled for half a day ( more detail to follow)
Carol-age 18, our cell phone queen, cute as a button, looking for a husband, would be a blonde in the States
Ta-da! My class!

Now about Tom. Tom is Korean and evidently could not get into a high school in Korea. When he couldn't follow the simplest instruction ( open your book) in English we were all puzzled. We brought in one of our Chinese staff members to speak to him. He still couldn't understand but at least we found out he was Korean. We brought in one of our advanced students, who is Korean, to translate. He had a difficult time following instructions in his native language. After some investigation, we found out he was enrolled by his Uncle ( Chinese) because his parents were too disgraced to have him in a trade school in Korea. His parents are paying a fortune to house, transport, and educate the boy at our university. The fact that he doesn't speak Chinese is not a problem. We have Korean, Brazilian, and Vietnamese students. They aren't allowed to speak their native language anyway. The problem is an incredibly low IQ. Having watched Clint Eastwood's movie, "Heartbreak Ridge", I know to "adapt and improvise." I ask the simplest of questions, try to be positive, and try to keep the other students from laughing and poking fun. Tom doesn't help. Since the only contact he gets is laughter, he, like all of us, finds pleasure in contact, and enjoys the laughter.

Anyone having extra peroxide, please send it to Carol. Anyone wanting to establish a future business contact in China, let me know. I will get you Andrea's or Catherine's email address.( I'm serious. There is potential here.)

And now, Joan's students.

My homeroom class (2nd semester intermediate level) is delightful. I think I have the best of the school! Below is a brief description of each. Hopefully we have pictures to accompany these write ups!
1. Tony is in his early 20s and plans on starting his own business. I have no doubt he will be successful. He is very articulate and enterprising. Andy borrows him when he needs to tell his students something they wouldn't understand in English (most of what he has to tell--not teach--them!). He is well liked by all ages and is very personable and outgoing. He also studies diligently but unlike America, his peers appreciate that quality rather than ridicule it. He also has expensive tastes (the other students describe him as: luxury liking). He's a joy to work with.
2. Cindy is rarely present. She is the weakest student (and not just because she isn't there); she loves to draw but has little interest in learning English.
3. Susan is in her early 20's, too. She has an excellent grasp of English and speaks well. Unfortunately she, too, is missing classes these days--she is taking drivers education. [Must be a wealthy family if they can afford both.]
4. Apple is a lovely young woman in her mid-20s who is struggling to get the pronunciations correct. [Some of our sounds are soooo very different from the Chinese. Vs are particularly troublesome and the 'cur' trips them up,too.] For 5 years she worked at an engineering firm but she wants a better job (maybe back in the same industry). We haven't figured out exactly what she was doing at the firm; when we do, I'll share!
5. Vivian is a 17 year old, fresh out of high school. She is my youngest in this class and easily embarrassed. Red framed glasses almost bigger than her small face, she is also the smallest student in the class. She is very bright and eager; she wants to be a psychologist (didn't know China knew what one was!). Like most Chinese, she studied English in school. She has the advantage over her classmates in that she just finished her studies and evidently had some good teachers. Her grammar is better than most, she hasn't had time to forget what she learned, and she has practiced her English recently.
6. Sherry--I'm bring her home! She is a beautiful 28 year old who is as lovely on the inside as on the out. She has a wonderful sense of humor--which I can't wait for her to be able to express in English. She doesn't even realize out funny she can be. She laughs at herself and makes everyone around her smile. She is a real delight in class. She also wants to learn and works hard to master the skills. We are having fun day Monday (3 legged races, water balloon tosses, etc) and she is our cheerleader (each class has to have a cheer). If you know any single young men looking for a delightful wife, I recommend her!
{We won't win the contest; Andy is teaching his class "We will, we will 'beat' you" complete with clapping and foot stomping!--we may not understand the words, but no one will miss the intent!}
7. Lisa--35 and owns her own business. She imports/makes yarns and weaves sweaters. I am not sure how many employees she has but she does have an assistant (who speaks English). Since I haven't seen her in the same outfit since school started (and all are bright, colorful and well designed), she isn't doing too badly. She is taking at least 1/2 of every day to attend classes but paying the entire tuition. She also has her own car (a big deal here--BMWs, Chevys, Fords, Audis, Mercedes, etc compete with the inexpensive Korean and Chinese made vehicles). So far I have seen her in 6 different pairs of glasses--a girl has to have her accessories match! She is impatient to learn and thinks she should know it already!
8. Alex--Alex(22-23) is very deceptive. When I first met him I wasn't sure he belonged in the class. As time passes and he opens up more, he is quite articulate and sounds words out well. We are working on his writing--Andy helps a lot on that skill. He is very dogged in his approach unless he gets distracted by Gorge (no, I didn't misspell that!). Alex has lots to offer; he just needs more confidence.
9. Gorge--19 and probably not a high school graduate. Gorge's father is a successful supplier of fish (not sure if he exports or not but he does fillet and flash freeze them so suspect they are leaving China). Gorge wants to be a businessman and I'm sure that is why his father wants him to learn English. Gorge isn't dumb--just lazy. Once we figure out what his carrot is, he'll do fine. In the interim, we have to keep him focused on not slipping into Chinese, sleeping or cracking jokes.
10. Demonico--yep, you read that correctly. Domenico spent about a month in Italy and loves pasta--hence his name. He is very well liked and our class monitor. Per his request, he will only be the monitor for September and then we'll change. Monitors have a tough job. Every morning our rooms get cleaned--yep, dusted, mopped, desks and chairs wiped down with a damp rag and the board thoroughly cleaned (the board also gets erased between classes). It is the monitors job to see that the chores get done. A schedule is made and everyone pitches in (I saw Gorge mopping yesterday!). The monitor also gets the job of making any announcements that the school wants made (in Chinese is necessary since not all students understand all the words in English). Monitors also get stuck with any other jobs the office wants done! Domenico is hard working; he is going with us today on our shopping excursion (more below).
11. Angela--another one I'll bring home--or sponsor to come to America. Angela is a 40 year old (looks 30 at MOST) mother of a 12 year old girl (born in LA) and 2 year old boy. Her husband is a furniture carver. She has someone to look after her daughter and a 'baby caretaker' to care for the son. She has traveled more than most of her classmates but doesn't flaunt her experiences. She very much wants to immigrate so her children can get an American education. I would suspect her husband could make much more money in the US, too. Anyone know if Karges is still around in Evansville?!?! Angela has some bad habits with her English and breaking them is tougher--as we get older, you know . . . At 10am Angela is picking up Andy, Domenico and me at the school to take us downtown to a large market. There she has 3 seamstresses she uses for her clothes (she is low key but stylish) so most of her things are custom made. (The dress she had on yesterday was adorable and she told me her sister wants to become a seamstress and had made it for her!) The market is also home to many shops of various commodities--like bootleg Western movies!! (Guess where Andy and Domenico are headed first!)
So those are my students. It is a delightful and entertaining group.
Hopefully we'll have some great of Fun Day for our next blog. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday we will spend in Dalian (a new city across the bay). WECL has another school there and one of the teachers is from FGCU. Another of the teachers was supposed to be here this semester so we got to meet him before he got transferred (Cliff is a real sweetie); the head over there, Sharon, is from Canada and we spoke with her before committing to come. Sharon is about 70 and has been in China about 10 years off and on. She tells it exactly like it is--love it; her language is colorful and she looks deceptively mild and sweet!
More later. Cheers from China.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wednesday Sept 15th, 2010

I have been doing well with homesickness. If I want the humidity of Florida, I go outside. If I crave American food. I go to Pizze Hut or the sushi bar. We don't own a home so I can't miss it!
Then, tonite while Joan and I are monitoring 7-9 duty, one of the students asked if we had pictures of our friends. I had made an iPhoto collage on iDVD with a music background. I said, "Sure. Let me show you."
Never show pictures of your friends with "That's What Friends Are For" playing in the background when you are 12,000 miles away. Man, do I miss my friends. It's little things that you never think about. It's little sayings like, "Whatever" and "Stu" and " Dude". I have no one to tease me about eating on "Republican time". I haven't heard a story about a paralyzed gerbil in two months. I miss NOT getting calls from Kerry. Steve D. -Do you realize that you and I can sit for 30 minutes in each other's company and never say a word and get up feeling like we had a long conversation? That's friendship, people! Jon-What cat ear are you biting tonite? Gene-I have'nt had my ass kicked in Wii bowling in 6 months! And the ex-students who became friends don't call out of the blue. I can't remember the last Hahn snort. I have no gay friends over here to ask if my shoes match my bag. Blois-how's DQ? And don't even mention pets like Sally and Han.
Well, I feel better now. Hope all is well in the States!
Andy

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

TUESDAY, 15 SEPTEMBER

WE ARE STILL WITHOUT INTERNET IN OUR 'APARTMENT' SO WRITING THIS FROM THE OFFICE COMPUTER. THE MACHINE IS SO OLD, MOST OF THE LETTERS ARE WORN OFF THE KEYBOARD AND THE CAPS LOCK KEYS STICKS! APOLOGIES IS THIS IS HARD TO REACH BUT AH, THE JOYS OF CHINA!!
ALL WELL HERE. NOT SURE WHERE WE LEFT OFF SO WILL JUST JUMP IN.
YANTAI IS CONSIDERED A VERY OLD CITY AND IS DEFINITELY A COMBINATION OF OLD AND NEW. DRIVERS EDUCATION ACTUALLY EXISTS BUT I DON'T THINK THEY TEACH THEM ANYTHING EXCEPT WHAT THE GAS PEDAL, BRAKE AND 'D' MEAN. REAR VIEW MIRRORS ARE FOR CHECKING YOUR MAKE-UP AND SIDE MIRRORS ARE ONLY THERE TO LOOK PRETTY. AS MENTIONED EARLIER, THE SIDEWALK IS AN INCONVENIENT PLACE TO DRIVE--BUT THAT DOESN'T STOP THEM. IN YANTAI, RED LIGHTS ARE JUST SUGGESTIONS AND MANY JUST IGNORE THEM. I THOUGHT MEXICO CITY WAS A DANGEROUS PLACE UNTIL COMING TO CHINA!
SATURDAY WE WENT WITH RANDI AND DENNIS (FELLOW TEACHERS) BY BUS TO A TOWN EAST OF YANTAI CALLED WAIHAI. IT IS A NEWER CITY AND VERY CLEAN. THEY ACTUALLY OBEY TRAFFIC LIGHTS AND DRIVE (MOSTLY) IN A LANE. WE GOOFED AROUND SO MUCH BEFORE GETTING ON THE BUS AND THE 1 1/2 HOUR TRIP WAS ACTUALLY 2, THAT WE RAN SHORT OF TIME. WE HAVE DINNER PLANS DOWNTOWN WITH MEI AND SAMSON (SHE IS TRAVELING TO KUTZTOWN IN OCTOBER). THEY HAVE BEEN SO NICE TO US WE WANTED TO TREAT THEM TO DINNER. AFTERWARDS, MEI AND CHANG TOOK ME SHOE SHOPPING AT A DOWNTOWN DEPARTMENT STORE. ON THE 4TH FLOOR OF A VERY LARGE DEPARTMENT STORE ARE ABOUT 40 SHOE SHOPS. EACH IS INDEPENDENTLY OWNED AND CARRIES DIFFERENT BRANDS. THE COMPETITION IS FIERCE AND LAST YEAR'S BOOT STYLES WERE ON SALE! YES, I DID BUY BOOTS FOR WINTER.
WE TOOK THE DAY EASY SUNDAY AND WENT GROCERY SHOPPING, CLEANED HOUSE (AN EVERY-OTHER-DAY EVENT SINCE THE CHINESE DO NOT PAINT THE PLASTER AND IT GETS VERY DUSTY VERY QUICKLY), AND . . . WENT TO PIZZA HUT FOR DINNER. HAS TO HAVE BEEN ONE OF OUR MOST EXPENSIVE MEALS: $8+ FOR A LARGE PIZZA--BY CHINESE STANDARDS THAT IS OUTRAGEOUS. FOR THE SAME PRICE, I COULD HAVE BOUGHT 2 NICE BOTTLES OF CHANGYU WINE. HOWEVER, IT SHUT ANDY UP AND HE HAD 2 SLICES FOR LUNCH YESTERDAY!
CLASSES ARE GOING WELL. THE STUDENTS ACTUALLY APPRECIATE WHAT WE ARE DOING! KNOW ANDY TOLD SOME OF YOU ABOUT THE FLOWERS AND CARDS FOR TEACHER APPRECIATION DAY LAST WEEK. WHAT A TREAT. I THINK I WILL HAVE TO FINALLY THROW THE FLOWERS OUT TODAY!
THE MIGS WERE VERY BUSY YESTERDAY. WE DIDN'T HEAR OF ANY AMERICAN MANEUVERS BUT ABOUT EVERY 20 MINUTES, ANOTHER PLANE WOULD FLY OVER. THEY ARE VERY LOUD AND DISRUPTIVE. OUR CLASSROOMS ARE NOT AIR CONDITIONED SO WINDOWS ARE USUALLY OPEN. WHEN THE JETS ARE FLYING, THE WINDOWS HAVE TO BE CLOSED--THE TEACHERS GET VERY WARM BUT THE CHINESE AREN'T USED TO HAVING A/C SO THEY ARE COMFORTABLE. CHINA HAS PROVEN TO US JUST HOW SPOILED WE WESTERNERS ARE. EVERY MORNING AND AGAIN IN THE AFTERNOON, WE CLIMB 72 STAIR STEPS TO GET TO WORK--NO ELEVATOR. WE CONSIDER IT AN INCONVENIENCE, NOT SO OUR STUDENTS OR THE STAFF. I AM HAPPY TO REPORT, THAT ANDY'S KNEES LAST UNTIL ABOUT THE 3RD FLOOR BEFORE HE HAS TO GIVE THEM A REST AND I CAN NOW MAKE ALL FLIGHTS WITHOUT A STOP FOR AIR--THE YOGA MUST BE PAYING OFF! MOST OF THE CHINESE TRAVEL BY BUS (IF THEY USE TRANSPORTATION OTHER THAN BIKE OR FOOT) WHICH HAS NO A/C AND IS VERY SLOW AND USUALLY CROWDED. IF ANDY OR I GET ON, SOMEONE USUALLY GIVES UP A SEAT FOR US--BECAUSE OF OUR AGE! THIS WHITE HAIR DOES PROVIDE SOME ADVANTAGES!!
NEXT WEEK WE HAVE 3 DAYS OFF FOR AUTUMN DAY (WE GET TO MAKE UP 2 OF THEM ON SATURDAY AND SUNDAY!). WE ARE GOING ACROSS THE BAY TO DALIAN WHERE THERE IS ANOTHER WECL SCHOOL AND A ZOO (PANDAS AT LAST!). ANDY SHOULD HAVE SOME PICTURES BY THEN AND HOPEFULLY OUR OWN INTERNET TO WORK WITH!
THINK THAT ABOUT COVERS IT FROM HERE. WE'LL ADD MORE LATER (PROBABLY THIS WEEKEND!).
HAVE A GREAT WEEK!!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Saturday, September 11

(The 'rents had issues with their internet service, hence the break in consist blog post...sorry to leave you hanging ;) -Berkeley)


We, like many of you, were infuriated to hear on the news that there are groups, church groups, planning to burn the Koran as a protest/commemerative for 9/11. How can we be claim to be an educated people if we turn to Gestapo tactics? I would agree to burn an extremist who performed violent acts. I would supply gasoline and volunteer to pis on him to put the fire out! But our society cannot allow this horrible example to happen. Please join us in writing to others about this intolerable act.
Now the brighter news.
Yesterday was National Teacher's Day in China. When we arrived at our office, cards from students were awaiting us. We were each presented with a bouquet. Several students also gave us flowers throughout the day. It was awesome. I taught 28 years in the states and never received flowers. I actually felt like going home and working on lesson plans.
Our classes have a variety of student ages. We both have a 2 hour 'core' class. Andy has the first year/first semester students and Joan has the intermediate/2nd semester students (not sure how they managed that but . . .) Andy's beginner level goes from 15 to 38; Joan's intermediate group has ages 17-40. It really helps to have a few older students in the room. They are great at giving a quick, cold glance at misbehavers! Some of our students have come back to school after being in the workforce for several years. Andy has a professional animator, a tool and die maker, an accountant, and several other occupations in my classes. These guys are making a real sacrifice to learn English. If you are intrigued by the way WECL structures classes, let me know. Joan has two married women whose husbands are professionals who frequently interact with English speakers so they want to be able to participate. One wants to immigrate. Her daughter was born in Los Angeles and she and her husband have done extensive traveling. Many of our other students haven't left China; we even have 1 or 2 who haven't been to Beijing.
We are experiencing infuriating online problems. The jack in our room has been diagnosed as faulty. It took us two weeks to get a proper assessment. It will now take another two weeks (probably) to get it fixed. In the meantime we use the computers and link in the office. We can sometime get Joan's netbook to function in the office and then we can Skype. My Apple does not like Chinese online at all! Every time we move it to a new connection, it has to be reconfigured. Since this is the case, sending pictures to the blog is incredibly difficult. Please hang in there. There is some work happening to correct the problem.
Don't know if the blog made it about our Sunday luncheon. We went to the hotel (8 buildings!) where the party members and government officials stay when they come to Yantai. In fact one of the buildings has meeting rooms downstairs and the top floor is for the President when he visits--the rest of the time it is empty! Six buildings function as hotels; each has its own dining room and the rooms all have sitting rooms attached to the bedroom/bath. They only have 25% occupancy!! Mr Sui was our host (thank you, Chang's mother--this woman is connected!). We met a government official (no title given) and 4 other gentlemen. Our group of 10 were the only folks in the entire building and the staff came in specifically to prepare our food and serve us. The rice wine was flowing! We learned from Chang, that 'tossing it back' in one gulp is traditional (you get to drink more that way!)--even with red wine! Needless to say, Joan sipped!! (The wine tasted too good to gulp!) Our luncheon was more formal so after 5 toasts by our host, our co-host proceeded to give 4 more. Then everyone around the table had to make toasts (now you know why they gulp there wine or beer!). Anyway, it was delightful and we didn't need any dinner!!
Last night we ate at the Japanese restaurant. Joan had a hamburger steak, fries, corn and salad--eat your hearts out you midwesterners! It was delicious! We have also found the Chinese version of fried chicken legs at one of the stalls in the cafeteria behind us. It has only the lightest seasoning and little or no breading; scumptious. Oh, and please know that when we say 'cafeteria', we don't mean American style. Cafeteria #8 is behind our building. On each floor (2) there are probably 12-14 vendors with their own kitchens and serving area. The chop sticks are in a holder on each table, bring your own napkins and enjoy. When finished, leave everything and someone will clean up after you.
This evening we are taking our new friend Mae and her boyfriend to dinner. Mae is getting ready to go to Kutztown University in PA as part of a faculty exchange. She is as excited about going to the U.S. as we were about going to China. By chance, one of our WECL teachers is a recent KU grad so Kyle will be going too. Mr Sui (from the Eastern Mountain Hotel described above) has recommended a hotel downtown. Eastern Mountain restaurants are all five star; we are anxious to see where he is sending us tonight!
We have found some major differences between China and the states: China has bigger toilet paper. One tissue here is about three times as long as at home. U.S. companies should consider changing. Also. the Chinese food is much more "Chinesey"! Please note, we saw our first egg roll in the frozen food section of the grocery. They do NOT appear on menus. We have also learned that trying to order chop suey is useless. They have never heard of it. .
Our goal this weekend is to find and buy a slow cooker/crockpot. If this mission is accomplished the first item to be prepared will be a pot roast with potatoes and carrots. By the way. The carrots are REAL carrots, not those mousey little things we have in the states. Also, It is hard to find food that is NOT organically grown here!
The owners of one of the food shops in cafeteria 8 (there are 3 mini-groceries with GREAT fresh fruit) has a new puppy. We don't know what kind but s/he is adorable. Just a ball of fur who thinks he's ferocious when he shakes (very little) the side of the standing sign outside. He will follow you if you don't watch out and loves to roll on your shoes so you'll scratch his belly. Pictures later and maybe someone can identify the breed.
Back to work. Joan is writing short paragraphs for her 2nd semester beginner class. It appears they forgot a lot of what they learned the first semester so a review is in order. It is an oral English class so they are working on vocabulary, pronunciation and inference.
The sun is shining and it is nice--so glad it's a Saturday we can enjoy all day.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday, 3 September


Another drizzly day in Yantai but great jeans weather!


Gotta love the Chinese-way. We had money wired to BOC (Bank of China) on August 20 per BOC’s instructions. We were told it would take a week to get posted. Sure enough, on the 27th we got confirmation that the money had arrived with my name and customer number identified but since it didn’t have my account number, we couldn’t get the money. [FYI: joint accounts evidently don’t exist!] So another email was sent to our bank requesting they identify which account. That took yet another week! So today we got confirmation that the money is in my account. I STILL can’t get to it--it’s in U.S. dollars. We have to have our passports to switch money from USD to yuan. We went to the police station on the 26th to get our resident permits and they kept our passports. At 4pm today, we finally got our passports back. We got to the bank by 4.30 but it was too late so I have to go back tomorrow--yes, Saturday the banks are open. The moral of this story is--carry lots of cash!


Otherwise it has been an unremarkable day. We took Chang with us to the bank. In the event the money hadn’t been posted, Chang’s mother was going to go to bat for us. She is a force to be reckoned with! But, fortunately such last ditch efforts were not required. Instead we made arrangements to have dinner with Chang and Ping. Anqi was supposed to join us, too, but got caught at Jusco (shopping center) instead.


Some last minute scheduling changes occurred at school--does this sound familiar?? Andy’s schedule remained the same but I lost 2 oral English classes which were replaced by a 2 hour English writing class for the 2 (yes, 2!) students in the most advanced class. I’m in tears (of joy!) over this event.


We did make another stop at the local grocery knowing that we had money in the bank. Picked up some school supplies as well as peanut butter for Andy and a bottle of wine for me--not sure who’s cost less per ounce!!


I worked with Anqi tonight on prepping for her TOEFL (English as a 2nd language) test and Andy will provide another session tomorrow morning. While he’s busy with Anqi, I’ll be meeting with some parents about 3 middle school students who need an English tutor. That will keep me busy on Saturday mornings for a while!


That’s all the excitement one can handle for a day!! We will post more tomorrow and Sunday we have been invited to a 5 star restaurant here in Yantai (Chang’s mom strikes again!). Full report to follow.

Thursday, 2 September

I started my morning with yoga--now I can’t move! Maybe after tomorrow’s session, I’ll be better! Our neighbor is organizing sessions in the dorm hall--I am sure it would be hilarious to watch--but for now, it’s just painful to do!!


Andy and I got our teaching assignments yesterday and our books today. I have been informed I will not have one of my reading classes but will replace it with an IETL class (only 2 students!!--they are the most advanced). Still 5 class preps but small classes (15 maximum). The text are well arranged and basically tell us what to do when.


After our meeting, 5 old farts (well, one is only 23 but the rest are over 60!) were out playing frisbee much to the delight and amusement of the passing Chinese students. We quit when Andy’s arm refused to throw any more.


Chang called today and invited us to lunch Saturday. A friend of her mother’s had sent us wine already and now she wants to take us to lunch. We are sooooo spoiled.


We found the meat and vegetable market today. From star of anise to Helmann’s mayonnaise, they had it all. Eight kinds of rice, vegetables we couldn’t begin to identify and some meats we probably would have preferred not to know about! The chickens looked very fresh; gizzards and hearts were plentiful. We saw some pork loins I wanted to bring home! We got peaches yesterday; they are delicious!


For those of you have been worried: there are cold sodas on every corner along with ice cream. The Chinese love their ice cream.


Anqi was by today. She is the first to take her English exam for graduate school (10 days from now). She will visit with one of us for an hour each day for the next couple of days to do practice work. Both Ping and Chang have them scheduled for the coming months, too. All of the students are busy studying for the GMAT exams, too.


We went to the upstairs dining room of cafeteria #6 tonight. You order off a menu and are served [rather than cafeteria style downstairs]. The manager was a sweetheart! She found the English translation copy and walked us through the various options. After the meal, I showed her one of the dishes we were curious about and she sat down with us to find the name. We will definitely go back to see her again. We had a broth bowl with green vegetables, green onions, clear noodles, wheat noodles and shrimp (we asked that they leave the chili peppers out!). It was yummy but the vegetable dish was GREAT: sauteed pieces of eggplant and thin sliced potatoes in a brown gravy with green onions and garlic. We added fried rice to our order but were so full by the time it came, we brought it home. It has got to be some of the best flavored rice we’ve had.


All in all a great day in Yantai (weather cooperated, too!).


More tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

September 1, 2010

First, by writing this entry and dating it, I just realized that tomorrow is our anniversary. I am an incredibly lucky man. Also, Joan is an incredibly patient woman.

We had our second teacher’s meeting today and were given our class assignments. We both will teach a class called Interchange which is a basic communications class. I have the entry level kids and Joan has the second year, second semester students. In addition to this lass I will teach writing to second and third year students for a total of 4 preps. Joan also will teach reading to second year, oral English to second year, and world cultures to third year for a total of 5 preps.

A special note to those of you who have taught comp. classes:

Our director gave me only 18 hrs. of class instead of 20 like everyone else. He stated that teaching writing required extra grading time and that anyone who disagreed could trade me schedules. I was nearly stunned out of my chair. After 28 years of English, I’ve never had an administrator do this! There is hope!

Our faculty is having a discussion about electronic translators. We are divided on allowing them in the classroom or not. Remember, for all intent, these are foreign language classes. Some feel that the translators become a crutch. Others see them as a useful tool. Because students try to divide and conquer, we feel we need a united front on this issue. Your input is welcomed. Remember to email your response as we cannot see our blog site.

This also gives me a chance to thank our daughter, Berkeley, for updating our blog. We email her the text and pictures and she cuts and pastes them to our site. Thank you, BDA!

We haven’t posted pix for a while as we don’t always carry the camera on campus. I did see a couple of unusual things yesterday. I saw my first Chinese lawnmower. Usually mowing is done by sending six guys out with weed eaters. Yantai U. has a mower. I also heard this godawful noise and turned around to see a Harley. Up to now, we have seen small electric scooters and a few small engine motorcycles. This one was a Hawg!

If you want to Skype with us the best time is during your evening. During the U.S. morning, we are frequently thrown off the internet. There are 7,000 providers in the U.S. There are 3in China. Once this place awakens and gets going, internets fill up. Our skype name is jnalindauer

My two index fingers are now tired. I am a two fingered typist. Hope all is well in the states.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Tuesday, 31 August




Today, you get a 2 part blog. Joan will write the second part about her adventure yesterday at the silk comforter factory. You get my regular drivel first.

Try to imagine yourself 12,000 miles from your home. Now add that very few can communicate with you. When they do, it is often: 1. How are you? 2. I speak English 3. How are you? 4. Do you speak English? Etc. To compensate for this, I am currently listening to Stevie Tyler wail “Walk this Way” If you are ever in this situation, try it! Stevie really helps. Just give us a keeeees!

This morning on my walk I met the manager of the multi-media center at the library. They just got a batch of computer white boards. If you are unfamiliar with them they are a combination of white, dry erase board and computer interactive board like you see on NCIS LA. He wanted to know if I knew how to use one. I guess I have that superior, hi-tech look about me. I explained that when I retired from the classroom I was delighted if the custodian cleaned my blackboard! Anyway, I wrangled an invitation to visit his area for a tour, access to their CD and DVD collection, and computer white board lessons. I also learned that his son was starting high school today and that parents are required to attend the first day with their child. Seems like a good idea to me. At some point during the visit the parent will sign the “You may hit my child” waiver. Often this is edited by the parent to read “You may hit my child OFTEN”, another wonderful idea to me! I am currently making a list of students from the US that I would like to transport back in time and bring to China for hitting. Some of you may feel a funny waive like action around you like in “Bill and Ted’s Most Excellent Adventures”. Be prepared to get hit.

The weather has changed from last week’s rain to sunny skies. The temperature is back up but not scorching or steamy like it was. We can run the A/C in late afternoon and at night and be comfortable. Also, we have met all our fellow teachers. There’s Kyle From-down-de-hall (I think this is a German name), Suzane, Mary, Lorne, and Randi. Joan and I complete the faculty. Lorne will also be the principle. I gave him Jim Sharp’s email address just in case.

I found that I can still pirate music on Limewire. I have Oklahoma! Recorded for my first day of class. I figure, start right in with real American culture. Or I guess I could play Aerosmith. Enough from me.

Hereeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee’s Joan:

I also have a list of kids to add to the ‘hit me’ list—many of the young Chinese males we see running around. Discipline is not strong!

Yesterday afternoon Mei and her 9 year old daughter, Lily took me to a local silk quilt factory. The silk is stretched (harder than it looks!) and added to until the right ‘weight’ is attained. Then a plastic sheet is laid over it which made a slick way to get it into the coverlet. It takes about 1.5 hours start to finish to complete a quilt. We watched them make one and placed our orders. Lois & Marco Polizzi’s daughter, Paige, is getting married in October. Guess what she’s getting for a wedding present!?!?

Dinner was at our favorite “soup’ place in #8 cafeteria. You pick out the vegetables, noodles, meat, etc and pile them on a plate (7 cents US per item!). Tell them what spices (FYI boo la – means not spicey!), add peanut sauce and cook it in broth—yummy! Suzanne from Montreal (60 year old retired language teacher) went with us. With a bottled coke it cost us each less than $1 US for a great dinner.

This morning saw many of our neighbors off to the medical center for their physicals. Later this week they will go to the police station for their resident permits. The director and his wife (Lorne/Mary) and Andy and I are the only part-timers. The rest have committed to a full year.

The freshmen arrived on campus over the weekend. This week they are doing their military training which is focused on proper uniform, stance and saluting. Some physical fitness but mostly in the appearance. Both males and females go thru this for the first week and we see them marching, drilling, etc around campus.

First staff meeting this afternoon. More later . . .




Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday, 29 August



Another early morning. When Andy headed out for a walk at 6am, he ran into our newest arrivals: Mary & Lorne Little from Chatham, England. Lorne is going to be the director this year and Mary will teach. They had finally gotten in at 2am and were in need of toilet paper (no, it doesn’t come with the room!). Before Andy got any further, we were joined by Dennis (you heard about him earlier). We ended up going to Dennis and Randi’s room for an hour long visit. Very nice folks; they will be going with us this afternoon back to the hand art exhibition. We will find the paper cutting lady again and return the favor; she gave us 3 pieces of her work when we were there, we’ll take her one of Andy’s pens. But first we are meeting the 5 former FGCU exchange students and treating them to lunch. We will go to the Jusco mall and eat Korean!

More later. Have a good day (or night!) . . .

(Also including some additional pictures from yesterday!)

Saturday, 28 August



Up early this morning to meet Chang and Xiao (her boyfriend) for a road trip. We caught the #17 bus (1 yuan=15 cents) for downtown where we transferred to the Penglai bus (18 yuan or $2.62). A ride along the south shore of Bohai Bay landed us at the Penglai Aquarium, one of the largest in Asia with the world’s largest acrylic tank (see picture).

We were a little worried at first. After paying $17.50 pp, we entered a totally artificial rain forest: silk plants, faux rocks, etc. with Japanese koi in a pond. From there it only got better. Several large tanks of mixed fish transitioned into exhibitions of sharks, dolphins, rays, tetras, corals and some of the world’s ugliest fish! We even saw penguins and polar bears. We spent over 2 hours touring the facility; it was well done with faux wood ramps and hand rails, waterfalls and the never ending supply of ‘photo spot’ that added to the ‘rain forest’ motif they had elected.

We found a spot for lunch--seafood, of course, and caught the bus back to Yantai. Since the trip from Yantai to Penglai is about 2.5 hours, the day was fairly well shot by the time we got back. Also after all that walking, our knees were talking to us!

Sleep well . . .

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday, 27 August






Went looking for a wire transfer. Headed for China on the 20th and has arrived. However, even though Bank of China gave us the address and wiring instructions, we can't get the money because only my customer number and name were put on the letter and not the account number. So much for following directions! Another week to wait for the money. Welcome to China!


We went to cafeteria #8 (directly behind our building) for lunch. Anqi had told us we could get decent Korean food. Not sure if that's what we had, but it was good. Fish nuggets, green beans, rice, julienned sweet potatoes--moms everywhere would be proud!


At 2pm Mei (the Yantai accounting professor headed to Kutztown (PA) U in October) collected us for a hand art exhibition. You may have noticed a steel building on the distance of pictures from our window of the library. That building is the football (aka soccer) stadium. Behind it we discovered two more stadium-type structures: one is an indoor swimming facility and the other a shooting range. Going across the street south, you come to Exhibition Hall #3. As you can tell from the picture, it is awesome. Andy wasn't really excited about going to the exhibition but Chang told him he'd enjoy it. Boy, did he! The wood and woodworking were awesome. Andy was drooling. The embroidery work was exquisite; some even used human hair! One man was using clay to make 'pictures' of people; his end work was about 1.5 inches high! The detail was incredible. We met and had our picture made with a local 'champion' paper cutter; she's been doing it since age 6 and is probably 65 now. She kindly gifted us some of her work. We spent 3 hours roaming the hall oohing and ahhing. We will probably go back tomorrow since we don't think it'll be clear enough for Penglai.


We have new neighbors. The couple across the hall is from Redman, WA. She's the teacher (for artist) and he's a retired minister. Very nice and like wine, too! It's their first adventure in China, too.


Went back to #8 for dinner tonight. We definitely found Korean tonight--and an English major, too. We had a ‘bowl’: you pick out what you want in it and they cook it. Greens, mushrooms, ham (delicious), noodles, bean sprouts and cabbage with peanut sauce is wonderful!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Friday, August 27, Yantai, China

It continues to drizzle and rain here. While making things a little more humid, it has made the temp wonderful. For those of you that have forgotten, I got an undergrad degree in napping. Napping in this weather is almost required. I do it 3-4 times a day.

We had an incredible dinner last night with one of last year's exchange students, Angi. She took us to a Korean restaurant at a nearby shopping center. Grilled pork rolled up in lettuce with a hot sauce, deep-fried octopus, and a soup made with rice dumplings were the main course. On the side we had rice fried with egg in a hot sauce and vegetable sushi. ( Am I starting to sound like one of those critics in the paper?) Along with the meal came typical Korean relishes. The kimchee was outstanding. We finally found out what the green stuff that we like so much is. This is difficult to pronounce. It is called C H I N E S E C A B B A G E. Complicated, huh? We also had marinated bean sprouts, seasoned beef (HOT), and peanuts. I think the peanuts were in honor of Jimmy Carter's recent trip to Korea. We ate so much, we could barely waddle home.

We are taking all 5 exchange students to lunch this Sunday. Chang introduced us to this really great restaurant by the seaside. I have loved the food but have to admit, every time we pass Pizza Hut and I see folks eating pizza and spaghetti, I start to get hungry for home cookin'. Marco and I have talked about opening a buffet that serves meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, and mac n' cheese. We are looking for a clever, catchy name. Please forward suggestions.

Joan and I think we have acclimated to life here. Nothing is done at a fast pace. Much like SW Florida, an appointment at 2 PM on Thursday means sometime around the end of the week. Food comes from the kitchen when it is finished, no particular order. Driving continues to amaze. Yesterday, on our way back from the visa registration office, our cab missed another by a few inches. This happened in front of a police car. Our Chinese friends asked if this would have gotten a ticket in the US. Someone would have been ticketed. Here, the police continued their nap. Costs of items also are interesting. Price depends not only on the brand, but where you buy. Go to the Japanese owned mall and buy a brand named item costs about 1/3 more than buying it an individual street front store. Find the same item at a street vendor and pay less than half. I wish Lisa were here to buy a designer purse. She wouldn't have to chase after the vendor like she did in Pisa!

We also read a new term in the English edition of China news- Chimerica. It refers to the new, growing China that is attempting to become a world, economic power. There are many opinions about this in China. Many feel that China must first learn to preserve the new growth. Others want immediate expansion through land and business purchases abroad. It is a very interesting time, economically. ( That comes from the guy who balanced his own checkbook on 2 occasions.)

Do any of you know how to have a multi-person Skype conversation? We can do it but with voice only. We would like to include video. Also, do any of you Mac owners have a shortcut way to sort photos? Presently, I must split photos individually then place them in a new file. We are going to attempt to try to connect Joan's little computer today at the office. Keep your international fingers crossed that it works.

My Mom has become quite an accomplished emailer and Skype-ist. I am very proud of her.

Joan just announced from the bathroom that the shower arrangement is very convenient. She can sit on the throne and shave her legs. Yankee ingenuity. ( Sorry Joan, rebel ingenuity. After almost 16 years of marriage, she still refers to me as a damned Yankee.)

Please know that we have intermittent service from our email provider. If we are cut off during a conversation, know that we said,"Adios" and will try to contact you later.

I have now exhausted my voluminous wit ( and my typing finger is sore.) I close and hope to hear from you soon. Remember to email us directly jnalindauer@gmail.com as we cannot read our blog,nor the comments.

With all the temples and pavilions we've seen (Jade Buddha, Reclining Buddha), we are proposing the next will be the Hairy Buddha in honor of Andy!
We certainly get lots of looks (we are the different ones) but people are very friendly with ni haos and hello good mornings.
To date it has been a delightful experience (with the exception of the incredible heat our 2nd week).