(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.