May 30, 2011

That time of the month.

Today I cried on the treadmill.

I cried because I was so happy that I was running my fastest 5k ever. (28 minutes flat).
I cried because summer is coming and many of my friends are leaving.
I cried because tickets to Europe are so expensive and I feel guilty that my parents give me so much financially.
I cried because there are so many orphans in the world.
I cried because I have to do my laundry by hand in my sink.
I cried because the North Koreans were drunkenly singing last night so I got little sleep.
I cried because I hate living in Ch.ina.
I cried because I love living in Chin.a.
I cried because I am getting a free PhD and have no debt and that's such a gift.
I cried because I was hungry.
I cried because I didn't lose any weight last week.
I cried because I'm lonely.
I cried because I'm 24 and single and my eggs are drying up.
I cried because my ex-boyfriend cheated on me then married the bitch but continues to call me.
I cried because my sister graduated from college and doesn't have a job.
I cried because they won't let me change my major.
I cried because I have to go to Shanghai to pay for my standardized test because they don't have an online payment option.
I cried because I feel lucky to have my life.
I cried because I'm so proud of myself for learning Chin.ese.
I cried because there are so many people who I still can't talk to about important things in Chin.ese.
I cried because I feel sympathy for my Chin.ese friends and their censorship.
I cried because I want a cat.
I cried because my mom's birthday was yesterday and that made me miss her so much.
I cried because I'm spending so many years so far away from my family.
I cried because I want pizza. And broccoli casserole. And cereal with milk.


I cried because I needed to.


It was cathartic. And I finished my 5K strong, empowered, self-aware, and with the knowledge that everyone leads a unique life - and this is mine. There are things I feel I am lacking (a cat, washing machine, relationship, language skills) but there is so much more that I have been blessed with (a scholarship, meaningful friendships, home, orphan work, cheap massages).


I scheduled another counseling session with the treadmill tomorrow. I have a feeling I'll be needing it.




walk slow. xoxo.



May 29, 2011

Reunited.

An old friend has been in town visiting for the past week.

Having her here has reminded me how grateful I am for the people who are in my life now in Ch.ina and those I have met along the way. Here's some snapshots of our time together that included foot massages, margaritas, hair washes, shopping, noodle lunches, and Starbucks afternoons. It's been wonderful.



at the foot massage place: Shen Kan (old friend), Cammie, me and Bu Wei (foot massage place owner):


Good people.






walk slow. xoxo.

May 28, 2011

Lessons from the Giving Tree.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein is one of my favorite books. I just love it.


So much so that I have a copy here in Chi.na that I have read to every class I have ever taught and every student I have ever tutored.


I thought today would be a good day to have Wang, my new 17 year old student read the book so we could chat about it. I thought he would like it because he is a "feeler." He is a music student at a special school for musically inclined kids in town, and he's a free thinker (his mom is my co-worker for the orphans and is the most revo.lut.iona.ry person I have ever/will ever meet).


About half way through our hour-long class I handed him the book and he started reading.


He read slowly and meticulously - pronouncing every world right except "crowns" and "gathered."


Until we reached the page where the little boy asks the tree for money and gathers all the tree's apples to sell in the city.


And he stopped reading. And began to shake a bit.


I looked over at him (we have class seated on my little 2-seater couch in my dorm) and wondered if he was embarrassed because his reading was poor, or if he couldn't read a word, or if he was sick. I got worried as the seconds passed...until I realized - he was on the verge of tears.


I put my arm around him, "are you ok?"


He began to sob. "I love this story," he managed to whisper out between blubbery gasps and tears.


And I let him cry. For a long time.


After a cup of water and several tissues, I asked him if he wanted to continue the story. I told him we could just sit if he wanted to, we didn't even need to talk. But he wanted to continue, so we did. He read and shook and let some tiny tears fall as he finished reading the story of the boy and the tree. A story about unconditional love.


He finished the book, looked over to me and said, "This is my mother." And he cried some more.


It was such.a.precious.moment.


I saw a little light bulb go off in his head and he flipped back to the page about the boy collecting apples, the page where his emotions were triggered. "This is me," he said pointing to the part abou the boy asking for money. He then went on to slowly re-tell the story to me, bit by bit explaining that it is only in the end of our lives that we realize what someone has given us, and then it's too late. To him, the cutting down of the tree to make a boat symbolized the death of the tree (even though in the book it doesn't die) and he took from that that only after a person dies does a young person really know what that person has given to them - because young people are immature and greedy and unaware what sacrifices their parents make for them.


It was the deepest rendition of the story I have ever been told.


We sat together for awhile past his class time. He didn't want to go outside looking like he had been crying because his dad was picking him up today and he's, "a man."


I told him it's ok to cry. It's powerful to cry. And to be honest with his emotions. He didn't know the world "honest" so we looked it up in my dictionary and he shook his head yes.


I had a strange moment of, there's a 17 year old Chi.nese boy sobbing on my couch. I felt my role as teacher blend with counselor and friend in those moments. He just needed a safe space, he didn't need anyone to talk. He was just living in the moment of love for his family. And it was beautiful.


After about 10 minutes of silence, he got up to leave. I gave him the book. It's his story. If a person is that moved by a lesson in love, they deserve to re-live it and share it with others, especially his mom.


I'm not sure how much english Wang learned in our hour together today, but I know we both learned something. He learned to allow himself to cry. And I got a first-hand glimpse of raw emotion - a rarity in this culture.


And we were both moved.






walk slow. xoxo.

May 27, 2011

got crabs?

You know things are getting weird when you end up with crab flavored Pringles in your shopping cart.




On purpose.









walk slow. xoxo.

May 26, 2011

little fishes. big sea.

Tomorrow there are some interviews at my work for doctors wishing to go to America for an international exchange program.


I was plucked from my happy place of neutralness and must sit on the panel of interviewers along with the hospital president, the chairperson for international relations, and a doctor from the international hospital in town.


So, in this week's English class I'm teaching them how to interview. There are so many differences between how Chin.ese people interview and how Americans interview. The aim is usually different, what the interviewer thinks is important is different, the types of questions are different, and the way the interviewee responds is also different.


Culture is a funny thing.


So in today's class we brainstormed a bunch of possible interview questions and I had them talk away - interviewing each other for over an hour. (I call this "endurance speaking practice").


One of the possible interview questions was, "what are you strengths and weaknesses?"


As the monkies were chit-chatting away, my favorite dentist pal called me over to ask, "how do I describe my strengths?"


me: "Well, you just tell things that you are good at. Are you patient with parents in the ward? Are you good at doing different things at once? Are you good at managing your time? Can you get along well with others?"


him: "I have no strengths."


me: "Everyone has strengths. It's impossible you don't have any strengths. What are things you think are you good at at work."


him: "...."


me: "I know you are a hard worker. Your work ethic can be a strength. I know you are a good father, that can be a strength."


him: "But if I say that it is not rude?"


me: *light bulb goes off* "So, if you are interviewing in Ch.ina and you are asked this question, what do you say?"


him: "You should say you have no strengths, then maybe some some other things. When I was interviewing for my job in 2004, I was asked this question and I said I have no strengths. I got the job."


me: "Don't do that in tomorrow's interview. Being humble does not mean downgrading yourself. You can be humble and say things you are good at. Everyone is good at something. We do not need to push our selves down. We should be happy with the talents we have and thankful for them in our lives."


him: "This is just Chine.se culture."


me: "That doesn't mean you have to do it. State your strengths, ready, go..."


him: "Well, actually, I am really good at incisions...."






I have never met a confident, satisfied, content Chin.ese person. And little encounters like this reinforce my understand as to why this is the case. I live in a culture that pushes its people down, not encourages them.


I asked them what are some interview questions they have been asked in the past and there were some standard ones and some whacked out ones. Most had to do with religious or political ideas. (So, if they fall outside of the "proper mindset" they are not chosen).


Sometimes I feel like I am a little fish swimming against a tidepool of whacked out negative ideas. And I have to shine a light on all the little fishes swimming past me in the stream of crazyness so they can see that there is another way.


I learn so much with these people. I love them. I want them to know their strengths and voice them. I want them to be proud of who they are.


We all should be.






Walk slow. xoxo.


May 25, 2011

every new beginning comes from some beginning's end.

I have to do something really sad this week.

I have to quit my job. Well, more like, I have to tell my boss that in 6 weeks I can no longer be the hospital's english teacher.

This super sucks because I love love love my job. Like, looooove my job. I'm heartbroken over having to leave, but it must be done.

There is going to be a huge doctor/nurse/pharmacist/dentist size hole in my heart come July.

I just love those monkey butts. And the view from my "classroom" is amazing.

You see, I have been officially offered (and accepted) a new job starting this Fall. I will be an Education Field Supervisor/Practicum Instructor/International Education Professor for Concordia University Irvine. (my master's almamatuer).

This job has been in the works for over a year and has already tested me on many levels. I've already gone through training and found out last night at a meeting of 14 Chin.ese business professionals, my Dean, ex-teacher (now - co-worker) that I am now "one of them."

Basically the program has expanded so that the one dude doing all the supervisong of education track students can't do it all anymore, that's where I come in to take over a few sections a semester. So I'll have about 15 students under my wing, teach their online practicum class, and be their supervisor/link at their jobs in Hangzhou.

I was really really excited.

Until I went to work tonight and realized that this wonderful part of my life must end because one person can't do everything. We have to give and take. Our lives must have wiggle room. I have to give up the night job at the hospital.

That's where noodles come in. Warm, gooshy, hearty, Muslim noodles.

Comfort food at its finest. This was my dinner to compensate for my sad heart after work. I was the only customer in the noodle shop and had a captive audience of 3 little muslim kids watching my every bite. I looked up from one bite to see them all staring at me, mouths open. There I was, chopsticks full of noods shoving into my face. Classy. "Herro," I just said, mouth full of noodles.

That story has nothing to do with me being sad about changing jobs, I just love it though. haha. And noods in my belly was oh so yummy.

So...I guess this is all to say that -

Yay I have a new job! A big girl job!

But boo - I have to leave my current job.

And I love noodles.

Professor JG loves noodles.

Professor. hahahahahha. I'll have to get used to that.




walk slow. xoxo.

May 24, 2011

Meet 小力。。。

My last semester oral Chin.ese teacher had her baby last week!

I still remember her pulling me aside after class one day to, "tell me her secret." We got to watch her little belly get bigger and bigger all semester and now the baby is here!


This is 小力 (xiao li - little strength)...


Since sonograms are illegal in Chi.na (because of gender preference and the off-balance of males to females because of aborting girls), she was unaware of the sex of her baby until birth, and it's a precious baby girl! My teacher sent this pic via email to her students and I had to share it with you all.

Aren't those some sweet little chubby baby cheeks?

Babies are little miracles. Congrats to Zhang Laoshi!

Summer 2011.

Since moving to Chi.na in 2008, I've been many amazing places.

Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, Macau, Hong Kong, Taiwan...as well as a bajillion cities within Mainland Chi.na.

And I've only cracked the surface of where I want to go before I leave. My "must-do before leaving" plans include: Japan, Bhutan, Cambodia, Loas, Vietnam, Indonesia, India, Mongolia, and I want to go back to Thailand again. There are only a few places inside Chi.na that I have left to discover: Xi'An, Tibet, Yunnan Province, and Chengdu are the only places I still need to go.

Some flashbacks...

snorkling in the Thai Sea...
Phi Phi Island, Thailand...

Ma Ping village, Chi.na...
Harbin Ice Festival, Chi.na...

DMZ, South Korea...(NK border)...


As much as I love Asia, I am so excited that my summer travel plans do not include pagodas, noodles, chopsticks, or temples...I'm going to...

EUROPE!

Thank, goodness. I need a break from the noise, mess, and clutter of Asia. I'm headed to Spain and Italy with my family, then hoping for a jaunt through France, Germany, and ultimately flying back to Chi.na via London.

The prospect of new stamps on my passport makes me giddy. The prospect of being in a *ahem* civilized country for over 2 weeks makes me shake with joy.

Europe, here I (and my family!) come! Let the trip planning commence...

(Is it me, or is planning a trip pretty much just as awesome as actually going on the trip itself? The possibilities of world travel are thrilling!)

There's so much of the world to see...I can't wait to get out of this corner of the world and experience something totally different than my everyday Asian norm. I need some gelato. And an Italian man.

It's going to be an incredible summer.





walk slow. xoxo.




May 22, 2011

Things I loved/was amused by today...

In an effort to appreciate/find humor in the small things...


my imported ($$$) bag of popcorn said "this side down" in 12 languages...

that Chin.ese people wear English sayings that they have no idea what they mean...


my newly purchased mug and bowl, along with my new breakfast creation: chopped apple, yogurt, and peanut butter and a mug of half-caf coffee, how did I live 6 months with no caffeine?...


this kid playing with boxes on his head outside my dormitory...



my hairdresser who patiently curled my friend's hair for 2 hours today (I'm going to teach him english, feed him a steak, take him to church, then marry him, you heard it here first ;) )...



- It's raining. Raining a lot. This means it's not 100 degrees and that's awesome.

-Remember when the newsstand lady told me I was fat so I can't buy Sprite and instead must buy water? Well today she told me I'm "Not fat anymore, just have a big butt." Well, thanks! I like her, she's funny.

-I emailed the American Embassy in Shanghai today about my school situation. When in doubt, bring in the big guns. :)


Happy Sunday.




walk slow. xoxo.

May 21, 2011

High-Five!

I tutored three kids seperately today, spanning from 1 - 5:30pm. I didn't think it would be so exhausting, you have to be *on* every second of the tutoring.

But I love it. So now my "client list' is: my ex-boss and her 13 year old daughter, Lin, the orphan donation woman's 17 year old son, and my old head-teacher's friend's 7 year old. They all have such different personalities, learning styles, and levels. I really like one-on-one teaching and it is soooooo easy compared to running a classroom. Of course, you have to know what's up, but with a little creative juice, these classes are easy, awesome, and hopefully beneficial.

(of course, I think most well-off Chinese people would pay a foreigner just to sit with their kid and stare at the wall, foreigners are such a commodity).

Here's a little glimpse of Xiao Wu's English sesh today. I think the only thing he really has remembered whole-heartedly is "high-five!" I learned that Chinese people don't generally know how to high-five the hard way my first year here when I was left hanging on many a one-sided high fives.

Watch this precious kid. I'm going to pass out then get my shopping on at the night market with a few friends. Gotta spend today's hard earned dough!

video








walk slow. xoxo.


May 20, 2011

highs and lows and Thai boxing.

Greetings from Crazyville.

How are things in your corner of the world? Here's ok. I've been forcing my "happy face" this week and gritting my teeth with determination to make it through til I hear a final word about the whole school crapapalooza. Still no word yet. Blaaah.

Things have been normal/good/decent on every other front.

Some recent lows: my bike got a flat tire and I had to walk it home about 3 miles with my groceries hanging from the handle bars, it's been 100 degrees and our classrooms are not equipped with cooling devices, I spent 3 hours today hand washing clothes in my sink. I did really poorly on a recent Chin.ese grammar quiz.

Some recent highs: my reading teacher told me my level is very high because I can have a sense of humor in Chin.ese, my yoga teacher gave me another thumbs up in today's class and I was able to do a harder pose I couldn't do the last few times, I've lost 6 pounds in the last 4 weeks, my hair dressers help me with my homework and I understand it a lot better, a donation of 4 air conditioners has been approved for local orphanages, I got a one hour massage today by a blind person. I got really, really exciting secret news today that I can't talk about til later, but I'm so stoked that I'm even smiling at strangers (weird).

I think the good outweighs the bad, huh? Most everytime.

Anywho...what I want to talk to you about today is Thai boxing.

(ha, how's that for a weird sentence?)

You see, my gym has a HUGE banner near the woman's locker room entrance that has fierce looking Asian men about to knock each other out and says in English, "MUAY THAI IS COMING." Some of my friends have been going to some boxing classes at another gym and when they talk about it I have flash backs of memories.

Most days when I get to the gym, the (gorgeous) gym worker dudes are practicing their boxing skills to teach this new class that I guess is being added to the class roster sometime soon.

Everytime I see the I am reminded of this:


last January (Jan 2010) I was in Thailand with my travelling crew and we saw a Muay Thai fight on Phi Phi Island in a Reggae Bar. It was touristy. And validated the fact that I don't like to watch people hurt each other. But we got to witness this sweet moment of a child standing on the sidelines "helping" her daddy get ready for the match.

She was so concerned. It was such a tender moment around such violence. This is what I am looking for now...in the slight chaos that will be the next few weeks of my life...school choices, work choices, etc...I have to know that there will be tender moments - moments of surprise, small joys, and sweetness between people. I can't lose those moments amongst the storm.




So that's what I think about every time I enter the female locker room. My night in the Thai bar a year ago and sweet little moments.

MUAY THAI IS COMING.


walk slow. xoxo

May 16, 2011

living among fools.

We must make the choices that enable us to fulfill the deepest capacities of our real selves.
-Thomas Merton.

Today was another doozy on the school-front. Tears. Helplessness. Anxiety. Laying in bed staring at the ceiling because I'm too upset to do anything else.

It looks like they are not going to allow me to change my major. I guess it's my fault for even thinking that I had any freedom or rights to my own education. Silly me.

I was told that in a week I will be told if I can change my major but that the prospect looks bleak. I was also told that I am rude for standing up against my old professor.

Asserting yourself in any way in this society constitutes as rudeness.

I have no regrets.

Now I must mull around my choices. I can: A) be proactive and take the nasty emails I have been sent by my old advisor to the Dean of International Affairs, show him my face, make him see that I am not rude, and plead my case, OR B) just sit and wait my verdict.

Also I must think about the future. Worst case (and most plausible) scenerio...they just tell me no - what do I do? A) continue on for 3 years under a nasty man pursuing a PhD in a major that I do not ultimately want, OR B) walk. And to where?

Take the job in California? Return to my old university TESOL teaching job and re-evaluate life? I have a potential big girl job next year that requires me to be in Ch.ina...do I try to get a working visa and just do that? Do I look for online PhD's that can be done from here while I learn Chin.ese and work?

It's amazing that one man's horrible attitude is about to derail all my future plans. All this man has to do is sign my paper to change major and he refuses to do this. It's unbelievable. But totally believable after living here this long.

I don't want to go out like this. I don't believe my time here is done. I'm trying not to think of this as a huge door being slammed in my face.

Only time will tell.





walk slow. xoxo.


May 15, 2011

An Ode to the gym.

I've run 14 5k's in the last 15 days.

I'm stressed.

5k's help.

Cute step aerobics instructors help, too. :)

One of my New Year's resolution's was to attend some kind of class. Now that I have the gym, I have tons of classes at my disposal! And a bunch of friends who I've recruited for the gym to go along with. So far I've been to hip-hop class (amazing), belly dancing class (dumb. Chi.nese women shaking their non-existant butts thinking they are sexy), yoga (amazing), Tibetan yoga (waste of time), Body Vive (walked out of - couldn't keep up with the Chin.ese), and step aerobics (HOT instructor, amazing work-out).

Step aerobics and yoga are the ones that are going to stay in my weekly repetoire. I've finally found my classes! I like having a class to attend, I like that my friend Steph and I go together most of the time, and I like having something interesting to do that isn't the normal teach, study, orphan routine.

I had Michael translate the class schedule list for me which means that I had a schedule that says things like, "shake belly," (belly dancing), "work shape," (Body Pump), "board up step," (step aerobics), "ball sit muscle," (pilates). ha.


I also have been collecting hilarious Chinglish shirts to wear to the gym because it entertains me. This is the latest one from the men's section at the grocery store. It is a take on the lyrics to a popular Korean song.


Basically, the gym makes me happy. It makes me feel far away from the crazyness of outside. And it's air conditioned. Ballin!

So my predictable weekend consisted of studying, tutoring 3 kids (got a new tutoring kid who started this Saturday, a 17 year old boy who plays the cello), the gym, church, and got my nails done for 3$ by an old Chi.nese lady wearing slippers and fake eyelashes. A normal, decent weekend in Chinaville.

5 more weeks of classes...




walk slow. xoxo.

May 14, 2011

travelling pooper.

Excuse me, Sir, where you going with that toilet seat on the bus?





walk slow. xoxo.

I'm Still Here.

Dealing with life.

Many things have gone wrong/crazy/annoyingly this past week but I'm pulling out of the mental valley and I can feel that things are going to be ok. I'm a fighter.

The nagative thoughts towards Chin.ese people are hard to overcome though. The ups and downs of experiences are amazing.

For example - Thursdays I have 6 classes during the day, then go directly to work, then to the gym. I'm away form home from 7:30am - 10:30pm. I was on the bus to the gym, exhausted, caryying my school bags, computer, and gym bag. I looked up and saw one of my old Chi.nese acquaintances from a Book group sitting on the bus. We were so happy to see each other! He recently got married and showed me his pictures and we had a nice, uplifting chat.

I got off the bus at the gym bus stop all happy about the relationships I have here and feeling encouraged by our interaction.

As I was crossing the street, an old man fell into step beside me. Here's the picture: I was wearing heels that make me over 6 feet tall, and carrying tons of bags. He is an average old Chin.ese person, so about 5 feet tall ad wearing dingy, random Chin.ese clothes.

"Be careful," he said to me in English as we crossed the busy street.
"Yes, be careful," I replied.
"Why did you get off at this stop, you live in this hotel?" he asked, motioning to a hotel we were passing.
"No, I'm going to the gym down the street."
"But you are SO fat! You are SOOO fat! HAHA! You aren't going to the gym! You are too fat!" he said, laughing to himself.

Thanks, Chi.na, for constantly bullying me and trying to bring me down. I often think to myself, "God....I'm supposed to love these people? Because I don't want to."

I stopped replying to the man as he continually yelled out, "hello!? hello?!" to me as I crossed the street. For some reason his comments really hit me hard. I'm used to the fat talk. It happens all the time. But having had a positive interaction directly followed by a negative was hard for me to pick myself up from.

I got to the gym, met up with some friends, and had a good cry in the locker room - surrounded by naked Chi.nese girls who use the hair blow dryer to dry their private parts and sit naked on the public chairs. Seriously, this society is disgusting.

I had my cry. Pulled it together. And went for my daily 5k. Burying that man under my feet for the first 15 minutes and then trying to rummage up forgiveness for him and for my own anger the last 15 minutes.

In other news. It's been hovering around 95 degrees lately (with no AC in the classrooms and limited at home), crazy since a month ago I was in long-johns. Lucky for me, the warm weather means I get my great view back...



Lord, help me. There's North Koreans singing in my dorm, random Chin.ese people calling me fat on the street, and a naked, smoking parade outside my window.


I need a vacation.





walk slow. xoxo.

May 10, 2011

this place sucks sometimes: and other academic thoughts.

Well.

The past few days have been bu hao, no bueno, not good.

In order to not blast the character of those employed by my university (does libel even exist in Chi.na?) I am going to keep my details (and aggressive words) to a minimum.

I'm currently in another battle at school (in email)- this one regarding me wanting to change my major and being told no - having someone blatantly stand in my way because of their own personal interests.

There's been a lot of tears. There's been a lot of googling translating things like, "your office is acting unprofessional," and a lot of just wondering what my future holds.

If this person really blocks me changing my major, do I want to still study with them after they have acted so rudely and childish? NO. Do I want to do a PhD in a major I do not feel compelled to study? NO.

So does this person have the power to derail my plans and make me leave, as they seem to be trying to and we HAVE NEVER EVEN MET BEFORE?

That is the million dollar question.

I'm not sure if I have it in me to complete this. I'm not sure if I want 3 more years of battles with fools. I'm not sure if I should just send out my application to that job in California and move on with my life.

I have already been accepted by another professor in the major that I want. I only need this person (my current advisor) to sign a paper letting me go. But he is refusing to sign or even tell me where his office is located.

Tomorrow I will be going to the international students' office to see what they have to say, but I am not sure what my approach should be. I didn't go today because I couldn't talk about it without crying. I feel bullied - unfortunately not an unfamiliar feeling in Chi.na.

The longer I stay here, the more incidences I have that tell me that this is not a good place. That a country without religion (any religion) is morally corrupt at its core.

I just don't know how much longer I will have to/can bear the brunt of that corruptness.

Praying for peace and answers today. And for a certain individual to fall off a bridge. Oops, did I type that? Ya...




walk slow. xoxo.



May 8, 2011

My Mom is Awesome.

Once upon a time (aka last June), my Mother came to Chi.na...

You see, this was not just another parental visit. My mom is not a good flier. (to put it lightly). I once thought that we were going to have to ground the plane when she found out (mid-flight) how long our flight to California from Florida was. So, needless to say, a flight to the other side of the world was a really big deal.

But my Momma is brave. And I begged. So she came. I was/am so deeply proud and touched.

While here, she showed her wonderful mom-ness and bought a pink flower hat and wore it around the tourist attractions of Beijing...

really connected with this orphan boy, Thomas, in the hospital and taught him how to say, "bear"...

got hot cups on her feet and fell in love with foot massages...

walked through tea fields...

posed with 800 Chin.ese people for photographs...

ate food she was unfamiliar with, with utensils she was not used to using...

wandered a Buddhist temple learning about a culture/religion that is not her own...

was left alone in a train station in Chi.na to guard the luggage while my sister and I went in search of grub...(this is probably one of my favorite candid pictures of the trip, she was so intense while sitting there alone...hahaha)...

Basically, my mom broke through her fear wall and in doing so, made me realize how much she loves me. Bravery with a purpose is a beautiful thing.


One day, God-willing, I will have children of my own. And maybe (hopefully) those children will lead interesting lives and ask me to do something that is completely out of my comfort zone.

And I will remember what my mother has done for me and I will do it. Because giving the gift of yourself - your time, energy, patience, and gumption - is the best gift. And that is what my mother has given me repeatedly.

Happy Mother's Day to a brave, awesome, loving, determined mother.

Now come back to Chi.na, I miss you.




walk slow. xoxo.

May 7, 2011

sneaky bastards.

aka, Chi.nese people.

I've been gifted a large amount of Hangzhou's famous dragon well green tea over the past week from 3 of my students on seperate occasions.

Uh-oh. This made me nervous...what do they know that I don't and what do they want from me?(how sad is it that I cannot see any gift as just a gift anymore, it is always tied to some manipulation in this culture). I miss the days when I had no idea about the downsides of Chin.ese culture and I thought everyone was being so nice to me by giving me gifts.

Well, I got my answer today when I opened my email and found a request from some high-ups at the hospital asking me to sit on the panel of interviewers who will interview hospital staff to go to America for internships.

Sneaky turd students. They knew before I did.

Sometimes I just want people to stop manipulating me and treat me like a real person. Is it too much to ask to have decent conversations with people that are forthright and honest?

This puts me in a bit of a predicament. Basically, I have to sit on the panel because my boss asked me to, not doing so would cause her and I to "lose face" with the higher-ups. (And I need this hospital's "guanxi" - or "relationship"). But sitting on the panel could potentially cause rifts between me and some of my students because I have many students who are planning to interview, and of course, I can't show favoritism - though I will be expected to. Integrity...what a rare quality around these parts.

I'm not sure what to do. Stuck between a rock and a hard place - unfortunately a familiar feeling as a foreigner in this culture.

Oh well, gonna have a nice cup of tea (or 20) and think it over. I wish I could invite you over for some tea...I have loads. :)





walk slow. xoxo.




May 4, 2011

bouncin' around with the best of 'em.

I did something brave today after Chin.ese class.

I went to step aerobics. By myself.

It was one of those moments where I wish I had a video camera engrained in my forehead because what I was experiencing was so funny it had to be shared.

But alas - you are left to your imaginations to envision ared-faced, sweaty, 5'10", chubby, redhead flailing her arms to Beyonce in a room full of 5' asians.

It was awesome.

Because the sound system was loud, I could barely hear the teacher and even when I could hear him, I don't really know step aerobics Chi.nese vocabulary, so I was left with only my eyes to keep me jivin' with the class. There were times when I would be arms in the air, on top of my stepper when the whole class had gone into a lunge..hahaha...but I just kept telling myself that that would prob happen even if I was taking the class in English.

But even when "Jetty" the teacher spoke English into the mic I didn't understand. Who knows that "OTT" means, "over the top" and thus you are supposed to pounce over your stepper to the rhythm? I sure didn't. He kept saying aerobics acronymns into the mic and looking at me like I should know. Ha. Nah dude, I don't do this in America. Class was as much of a brain activity as a body one...I had to be focused so as to know what was going on. haha. Way more so than slow-moving yoga.

What I could understand out of the class was stuff like, "relax your neck," "right foot start," "faster," and "fat people go slower."

Yes..."fat people go slower."

I never slowed down. I decided he wasn't talking to me. It was one of the twenty 90 lb. asians in the room...not me. ;)

I love my gym. I love that I know enough Chi.nese to take group classes. I love that today when people were staring at me on the bus to work, I smiled at them instead of cussing them out.

Thanks, endorphins. I'll step to that. And maybe throw in an overhead clap for good measure. Whether my step classmates are lunging or not.



walk slow. xoxo.



May 3, 2011

ain't no party like a north korean party...

My friendly neighbors the N. Korean's were drunkenly dancing in the dorm courtyard at 4pm on a Monday. Most sat under the trees-picnic style while a few brave souls shook their isolationist booties on the "dance floor."

My favorite is the dude in the white shirt. The guy in yellow taking pictures is one of the leaders. All of them live on my dorm floor.

video


I challenge you to bust out some free-spirited moves today...hey, if the North Koreans are doing it, why not? ;)





walk slow. xoxo.

May 2, 2011

i will fear no evil.

I have a rule of not posting "scary" things because I want to preserve my mother's sanity. But today I will break that rule.

Without going into massive detail, tonight I was the most afraid that I have been in a long time.

Four Pakistani men (in traditional clothing) confronted, stalked, and harrassed my friend and I in plain sight while we shopped at the night market. Because of some assertiveness, watchdogness, and quick feet - my friend and I are fine. We ultimately ran around street corners then hid from them in a bakery away from the windows until the coast was clear. I'm tearing up as I write this. It was an ominous experience of being corralled, taunted, and threatened - seemingly helpless.

I will not be telling any middle eastern men that I am from America for a long time.

I just wasn't thinking. When one man showed up in my face as I perused strands of pearls and demanded to know where I was from, "America," I answered. Then I looked at the expression on his face and thought, "shit."

The backlash from today's top news story is great. Please think of American's abroad, especially those living in an international community. The international travel security advisory out out by Homeland Security is no joke.

As I log into my facebook and see statuses of jubilation, pride, and nationalism...I wish that I had the same freedom to express certain views. Not here. I must maintain humility, discernment, and know that one person does not equal a nation. One person does not embody their entire culture. I have good friends from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran. I have friends from Libya, Oman, and Burma.

These people are good people. I will not allow one circumstance to taint my view of them. And I wil be extra careful of how I represent my country in the days to come. I want to be a peaceful, graceful, humble representation.

But the next time a bearded man in a topi approaches me...I might turn and run the other way.

I am just filled with thankfulness that we are ok. That the situation had an ending. And that I do not live in constant fear like so many people around the world. The heart-beating, body-shaking, adrenaline rush of fear was an unfamiliar feeling - and I guess that I have to be thankful for that.

Another chapter in the Chi.na adventure. In fact, my friend and I high-fived on the bus home. We made it. We showed them. Don't mess with us. I may shake like a leaf and tee-tee in my pants when you scare me...but I won't stay scared forever. Because sooner or later the fear cloud will rise and I'll hear these sweet words whispered to my soul...

"...I will fear no evil for You are with me, Your rod and your staff they comfort me..."



God bless Ame.rica. God bless the world.


walk slow. xoxo.