Friday, December 12, 2008

Working Video!

I just discovered that the video Jeremiah took at Wenzhou Wonderland is working now! It's at the end of the Wenzhou Wonderland blog post.

The Thanksgiving Presentation

After much hand wringing and hair pulling and last-minute changes, the Thanksgiving Presentation took place on Friday, the Day After Thanksgiving.

Three weeks before Thanksgiving, it was determined that the School would put on a Thanksgiving Presentation for marketing purposes, that it would consist (approximately) of a series of song-and-dance routines featuring the students, and that the English Teachers would plan, prepare for, and present it. After a few preliminary planning sessions during that first week, we decided that the Presentation would consist of a few festive songs and a Thanksgiving Play. We didn't know how many students would participate, how many people would attend, or really any of the logistical details.

In the last half of the first week, we put a play together, re-writing a thanksgiving school play we found online, and chose several songs of varying difficulties ("10 Little Indians," "Skip to my Lou," "Over the River and Through the Woods," and "Shenandoah"), and started asking our students who would be willing and able to participate in either the play or the singing.

We held our first rehearsal two weeks before the play, and got an estimate of how many students we would be able to work with. It didn't look good. The number of students that were able to participate was about 30% less than the number we needed. Fortunately, we still had a week left before casting was closed, so we took advantage of it.

During the second week before the Presentation, we honed the script, asked more students to participate, and practiced the singing with each of the classes. We scheduled two more rehearsals for the Play, to take place Saturday and Sunday afternoon before the (Friday) Presentation. Then things started to get hectic.

About this time, I became the de-facto casting manager. My assignment was to oversee and coordinate the rehearsals. assign roles to each participating student, to make sure each role was cast, and figure out a way for each actor to rehearse their role at least twice before the Presentation. This would have been simpler if we had had enough preparation time to hold a few full rehearsals, but as things were, that just wasn't possible.

We found out a week before the Presentation that teachers were also supposed to have a spot during the Presentation, that it would be a specific song (popularized during the SARS epidemic), that it would have hand motions, and that it would be in Chinese and (poorly translated) English. The reason for this, they told us, was because the Parents would expect it. This lead to a rather stressful afternoon and the we ended up singing "Shenandoah" instead of the SARS song.

Friday afternoon we found out that our plan for the rehearsals had been changed by the Marketing Department, and now was supposed to include rehearsing the songs as well as the play. Saturday afternoon, as the students were arriving for rehearsal, we found out that the students were told to only come to one of the rehearsals- if they were going to sing, on Saturday; if they were going to be in the play, on Sunday.

We ended up rehearsing everything on both days, and planning two more rehearsals for the final 5 days- one on Wednesday afternoon, one on Friday afternoon. Some of the students came on Wednesday, some of them came on Friday, and most of them showed up Friday night for the Presentation.

We had, I think, 5 partial rehearsals for the Play, with the final one being held in a hallway outside the auditorium as the students were preparing to go on-stage. The songs all worked out well, and aparently everyone was very happy with the result.

We learned a lot about what not to do the next time- which, as it turns out, is a Christmas Presentation. In two weeks.

This one'll be a bit smaller in scope- the School's not renting an auditorium for it, there won't be a full buffet, there won't be a TV crew, and the tickets will be much lower cost, and the Marketing department is responsible for planning it!

We're cautiously optimistic.

View from our New Apartment

Shannon and I went out on a date this morning. On our way out, I took this picture from the walk outside our front door.


It was chilly and foggy- perfect weather for Coffee and Pastry!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Squanto

In the days leading up the Thanksgiving Play, we noticed that every student participating in the play had an aversion to being cast as "Squanto." We wrote this off as being induced by role assignment, in the same way that none of the students wanted to be cast as "Pilgrim Mother," until one of the Chinese Teachers knocked over a bit of the language barrier. Apparently, "Squanto" sounds like the chinese "si kuan tou," which means "Dead Bald Person."

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Language Barrier

"A Polar bear is a Cartesian bear after a coordinate transform."

Some of my jokes aren't translating very well.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Busy, Stressed, Tired, Doing Well

After posting the last entry, I've discovered that it's tone could be construed in a much more negative manner than I intended.

We have been very busy with work--especially with the Thanksgiving Presentation--but there aren't any insurmountable issues. This whole "Teaching English" process is new for everybody, including the school. Consequently, many of the (stressful) issues that have come up will presumably be resolved next time 'round.

The issues leading up to vacating our apartment are still being sorted out- we're moved now, and all things considered, it went very well. We're excited about the new apartment, and I'll post pictures soon.

In short, we've been coping with a few rapidly shifting scenarios. From my perspective, we've all been coping well.

- Jonathan

PS: We had a really good Thanksgiving Day yesterday. Everyone chipped in, and the food was amazing.

:-)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Quick Update - Thanksgiving Play, Bricks Without Straw, Moving Day

We've been incredibly busy the past two weeks. On Friday, the School is putting on a big presentation which will be Thanksgiving themed. In the past two weeks, we've outlined and scheduled the presentation, written a script for a Thanksgiving play, taught several festive songs to our students, and even (this afternoon) begun the casting process.

Putting on a the type of presentation we've been asked to do would normally require quite a bit of juggling, and all in all, I think we've been doing pretty good. In hindsight, it would have been nice to have more than two and a half weeks between initial planning and TV presentation (it'll be filmed), but we have what we have.

During this time we've also had our full complement of teaching duties, kind of like making bricks without straw. An effective implementation of this will be left as an exercise for the reader.

Oh, and we (Shannon and I) found out yesterday that we will soon have to move out of our apartment, and learned today that we will have to be completely out by 6:00pm Friday (Note: This is when the Thanksgiving Presentation is scheduled to start). Apparently, we've been sub-leasing the apartment, and the sub-leasor failed to notify the owner (leassor) of the sub-lease. The lease expired three weeks ago, and the owner doesn't want to rent it to us anymore, so we need to move, and fast.

I think I'm going bald.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bar Results

I was able to get my Bar results, and they were depressing. I didn't pass.

Friday, November 21, 2008

14 Hours

It is 7:00 PM here in Wenzhou, and I'm sitting at my desk working on next week's Thanksgiving Play.

Fourteen hours from now, I'll be sitting in our apartment, and with some 7,500-odd law school graduates, trying to log in the California Bar Association's website to see if I passed July's Bar Exam.

I think it's going to be a long night.

- Jonathan

Friday, November 07, 2008

Future Blog Posts

Due to Scheduling Issues, the following blog posts have been delayed:
Europe City
Bonus Post!!!! Flowers!
Traditional Chinese Dinner
Traditional Jessup Dinner
Blue Mountain Coffee
Breakfast at BreadTalk
Jessica's Birthday
Sincerely, The Management

Europe City


We found Europe City!

After an all-day excursion on foot (and in the rain) a few weeks ago, which completely failed to determine the precise location of Europe City, we set out early last week on a second excursion, armed with fresh information and a slightly improved sense of direction.

The second trip was successful- we found Europe City! It's not so much a neighborhood as it is a Shopping Center with western goods- high-end name brands, "exotic" foods like frozen pizza, butter, spaghetti, and the like, Pizza Hut, McDonalds, and many other semblances of modern civilization wrapped in a circular Romanesque plaza.


It's located about a mile and a half from our apartment, so it takes us about 30-35 minutes to get there. Did I mention they sell cheese and butter? We're kind of excited about that.

Surprisingly, the potentially odd juxtaposition between Greco-Roman architecture and Asian patrons was, well, not so odd. I think we're acclimating.


Flowers!


This isn't on my "Future Post" list, but I don't want to wait until I catch up with everything else to post it.




Shannon and I went out on a Breakfast Date this week (Details in "Breakfast at Breadtalk"), and bought flowers. I'm not sure if they're expensive or cheap by local standards, but we were able to get this bouquet for about $7 USD.



We're very happy with them.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tuesday, October 14th

Today was, I think, a rather typical day. I'm typing this from the Language Center- my work responsibilities here are to prepare lesson plans for the upcoming classes, and they're all prepared. Consequently, work is s-l-o-w right now. It'll speed up tomorrow, when I have more classes to teach.
 
Our working hours are structured so that our 37.5 working hours are spread over six days, with the idea that even though the work-week will be longer, the individual days will be shorter. I'm not sure that it's playing out precisely in that way, but that's the theory.
 
Shannon had a class this morning at a Guang Chang Primary school, so she had to be out the door at 8:35. We got up a bit earlier this morning, so we were able to have coffee/tea together and have devotions before she left.
 
My plan for the morning was to go grocery shopping and fix lunch- this is not unusual, as Shannon has more mornings working than I do. We haven't quite figured out what groceries to buy in advance yet, so we frequently end up going grocery shopping for one meal at a time. Fortunately, the grocery store is only about a two-minute walk from the entrance of our building.
 
Jessica came up to fix breakfast, so before I went out she and Jeremiah and I were able to have breakfast together. It's really nice that we're all very close to each other- even after we're all in our own apartments, it's easy to see each other.
 
The grocery store is one block immediately to the east of us- it has everything we need on an ongoing basis- with the exception of popcorn, cheese, butter, ice cream, and most spices. When we eat "chinese food," we buy eggs, cup noodles (ramen in a cup), onions, green peppers, garlic, and sometimes ginger and mushrooms. Rice is cheap enough to keep a big bag on hand, as is soy sauce and frying oil. Eggs are cheap protien- about 6 RMB for a dozen. Chicken is inexpensive, about 20 RMB for a kilogram, and beef is a bit high, at 48 RMB per kilo. Most non-prepacked grocery store things (fruits, vegetables, etc.) are priced and sold by the half-kilo, so customers bag up however much they want, then get it weighed, priced, and stickered.
 
I was trying to make sweetish/sourish Chicken Cashew stirfry over rice for lunch, so I needed to buy chicken, red pepper, green pepper, cashews, and lemon juice. To this would be added onion, garlic, ginger, and sugar, which we already had. For the sake of posterity, the chicken was 5.1, the cashews were 10.3, one lemon was 4.2, a jar a pickeled red pepper was 4.2, and the green pepper was approx. 1. Onions, garlic and ginger are all very cheap- probably about 1 for the onion, and .1 for the garlic, and .0-something for the ginger. The topping probably cost about 22 RMB altogether, with maybe 3 RMB for the rice. It served the four of us one serving each, so it would be a good sized meal for three.
 
Shannon got back fromschool at noon, and the four of us had lunch together at 12:45.
 
Jeremiah, Jessica and I started work at 2:00 this afternoon (our normal work time). Shannon's schedule is a bit more fragmented than ours, so she didn't have to be at the language center until 3:00. She didn't miss much today- there was a meeting for the Chinese TA's that Jessica attended, and a meeting for the Foreign Teachers that the rest of us attended.

(Back at home now, Wednesday morning)

Work was slow. I had two 40-minute classes at the Primary School last night, at 6:20 and 7:20, and the lesson consists of assigning English names to each of the students and giving them a Cambridge curriculum book. It takes a lot longer then you'd think, so with 18-23 students per class, we really have to be moving quickly to get to everybody in the time we have.

I took dinner break 15 minutes early, from 4:45 to 5:45, then left for the school at 5:50. The school is about one kilometer from the office, so we usually use a taxi/tricycle to get there, and walk back.

Class went as planned. The students are from 1st grade, class 3. I think I mentioned in an earlier post that the standard class size in China public schools is 45- the classes tonight were for one class, split in two segments for manageability. The split was VERY necessary. The students are young, are apparently used to getting their own way, have a short attention span, and don't understand enough English to stay focused on any particular bit of English instruction. Consequently, they make a lot of noise and don't sit still.

My TA and I got back to the language center at 8:20, and I was on my way home at 8:25.

We had a short evening at home, and went to bed sometime in the vicinity of 10:00.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Chinese Lesson #1

This afternoon we will have our first Chinese Language lesson!
 
We are at the language center, going over our lesson plans for tonight and tomorrow. Since I don't have any classes tonight or tomorrow, I can send in a quick blog post!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Well-Worded pork summary

A well-worded summary of the pork-barrel provisions of H.R. 1424 can be found here, on the OpenCongress blog.

The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008

On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1424, a.k.a. the "Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008," a.k.a. "The Bailout Bill."

According to Wikipedia, H.R. 1424 was introduced in March 2008 as the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, prohibiting insurance companies (and private employers) from discriminating against healthy individuals solely on the basis of a genetic predisposition to future ailments. It was selected on September 30 to be the vehicle by which the Senate could introduce it's own version of the failed House Measure intended to accomplish the same objective. [1]

The provisions of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, as summarized by Wikipedia, are as follows:
  • A temporary increase in FDIC deposit insurance limit from $100,000 to $250,000 until December 2009
  • Tax breaks for businesses
  • Tax credits for the use of alternative energy
  • Tax credits for research and development
  • Expansion of the child tax credit
  • Protection from the Alternative Minimum Tax
  • Tax reductions for victims of severe weather (e.g. tornadoes, floods, hurricanes)
  • Extension of unemployment insurance
  • A USD $1,000 tax credit for low income homeowners
  • Tax breaks and credit extensions for the following:
    • "Certain wooden arrows designed for use by children" (Sec 503)
    • Wool research (Sec. 325)
    • Film and television productions (Sec. 502)
    • Litigants in the 1989 Exxon-Valdez oil spill (Sec. 504)
    • Virgin Island and Puerto Rican rum (Section 308)
    • American Samoa (Sec. 309)
    • Mine rescue teams (Sec. 310)
    • Mine safety equipment (Sec. 311)
    • Domestic production activities in Puerto Rico (Sec. 312)
    • Indian tribes (Sec. 314, 315)
    • Railroads (Sec. 316)
    • Auto racing tracks (317)
    • District of Columbia (Sec. 322)
 
Wooden Arrows? Rum Imports? Mine Safety Equipement? Film and television productions? Litigants from an oil spill 19 years ago? Wool Research? What do these have to do with a "Economic De-stabilization" brought about by bad lending practices?

Oh- here it is, from the New York Times "live blog" of the bill's passage:

9:43 a.m. | Earmark criticisms: Representative Steve LaTourette, a Republican from Ohio, chastises lawmakers for "larding up" the bill with earmarks, specifically mocking the wooden arrows subsidy in the bill.

11:20 a.m. | Democratic convert: Representative Bill Pascrell, a Democrat from New Jersey, also says he's changing his vote from a nay to a yea. "I know that the enemy of the good is the perfect," he says. He says the bill has improved since Monday, and that while there is "some junk in this bill," there's junk in almost every bill.

11:50 a.m. | Auto industry: Representative John Dingell, a Democrat from Michigan, asks Barney Frank whether the bill will help the automotive industry in his state. Mr. Frank responds with an enthusiastic yes.

11:53 a.m. | And farmers?: Now other representatives are asking Mr. Frank about the impact of the bailout package on their own constituents' industries. Representative Ed Perlmutter, a Democrat from Colorado, wants to know how the bill will affect farmers.

12:07 p.m. | Twenty traitors: Representative Steven LaTourette, a Republican from Ohio, berated "20 Republicans" for their votes on a recent procedural rule that he says prevented the House from removing pork from the bailout bill. (He also noted that a $192 million subsidy for rum had thankfully ensured politicians "the pirate vote" for November.)

12:27 p.m. | Save Mom: Representative Dan Lungren, a Republican from California, says Congress should pass the bailout bill to save his 91-year-old mother's finances. "She has no pension; she has what my dad left her," he says, and essentially he wants to protect her investments from market volatility.

1:03 p.m. | Praising gravy: While other representatives who have spoken so far have criticized the bits of unrelated legislation added onto this bailout bill, Representative Pelosi is praising some relatively unrelated legislation she's proud of — language affecting energy policy and health insurance for the mentally ill, for example.

Pork. This bill owes its passage not to a specific national crisis, but to the personal pork-barral projects of our Congressmen-- projects which, it appears, wouldn't pass without being attached to a high-profile issue relatively certain to fly through the process.

It's worth noting that H.R. 1424 contained more than one act- in addition to the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, it also contained the Energy Improvement and Extension Act with renewable energy tax breaks and conbon dioxide sequestration credits, credits for new qualified plug-in electric vehicles, transportation fringe benefits for bicycle commuters; the Tax Extenders and Alternative Minimum Tax Relief Act with (among other things) a provision for accellerated depreciation for business property located on Indian Reservations; the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, requiring that insurance payments for mental health and drug addictions treatments not be more restrictive than payments for other health issues; the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Program; the Heartland Disaster Tax Relief Act to provide "temporary tax relief for areas damaged by 2008 midwestern severe storms, tornados, and flooding"; and finally, tax relief for "Losses attributable to Federally-declared disasters."

Without going in to the legitimacy of the other "Acts of 2008" contained in H.R. 1424, why are they all lumped together? Why wasn't the House able (or willing) to separate them out into separate bills? Why isn't anyone being called on the carpet about the COMPLETE lack of germane-ness of the titles in this bill?

Apparently, sometimes pigs CAN fly.

Is this sort of grouping and lumping of topics into one pass/fail bill unusual and nobody's commenting on it, or am I just seeing it with an unaccustomed perspective?


[1]  The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act was passed as H.R. 493 in April 2008, but H.R. 1424 lived on, as a House Resolution passed to the Senate, I think. The Senate Majority and Minority Leaders chose the (slightly defunct) formal body of H.R. 1424 to propose its own version of the Bailout Bill after the House failed to pass its version on September 29. Article 1, Section 7, of the U.S. Constitution states that "All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other Bills." Because the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act is a revenue-raising measure, the Senate is not able to introduce a bill in order to effectuate it directly. However, they are by the letter-of-the-law able to propose an amendment to an existing bill to carry out the same thing. Some States' legislatures have a requirement that any amendment to a bill be germane to the title of the bill-- The U.S. House has such a rule, but the U.S. Senate does not. Consequently, the resurrection of the defunct Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (H.R. 1424) as the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act was techinically valid.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Trust-Mart

Last night, Lounes took us to Trust-Mart.

We arrived in Wenzhou a few days prior to Mid-Autumn Festival. In honor of the Festival, the Language Center gave each of its employees a bonus- ours was 100-Yuan gift cards to Trust-Mart.

Trust-Mart is, apparently, the name Wal-Mart uses in China. They sell several unfamiliar brands of housewares and groceries alongside the "Great Value" and "LifeStyle" brands. Like many large stores in China, the main store was a few stories high, with floors one and two for housewares, and the third floor for groceries.

Shannon and I took the perspective that the gift cards were like a bonus, and that consequently, we could in good conscience spend them entirely on junk food. Which we did.

:-)

We got Snickers bars, M&M's, Butter-flavored non-sweetened popcorn, Pringles, Coffee, 100% Juice, Dove Chocolate, Wafer Cookies, and a few other things. We're pretty happy about it.

It turnes out that Trust-Mart is within walking distance, just a little over a kilometer away from here. It's good to know where we can buy American junk food- for emergencies.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Wenzhou Wonderland

On Saturday, Mr. Jiang took all the Language Center staff to "Wenzhou Wonderland" for the day.

Saturday marked the first day of the National Day festivities, for which we have an entire week off. To kick things off, the Language Center all went to Wenzhou Wonderland, a popular amusement/theme park in the South Wenzhou region. The general style of the park was clearly inspired by Disney World, and the rides/attractions bore a strong resemblance to rides found at the County Fair.

We left Wenzhou City at 10:00, got to the amusement park at about 11, did a few rides, had lunch at an on-site eatery offering Chicked Sandwhiches and Fries (much like Chick-Fillet. Oddly enough, though, in China everything served on a bun is called "Hamburger"). After lunch, we continued through the park.

There was everything from a Tilt-a-Whirl, Bumber Cars, and inversion rides to Bungee Jumping, a Haunted House, and a shooting gallery. Mr. Jiang rode on almost every ride, while a significant portion of the rest of us took a slightly more cautious approach. You might notice there are a few pictures of Shannon and Jeremiah hanging upside-down while spinning in circles- I'm on the other side of the camera.

I'm not sure whose legs are whose, but one pair belongs to Jeremiah.
Here's Shannon, spinning upside-down while the whole thing rotates:
And a zoomed-out look:

Sherry's Fiance took the camera for me so Shannon and I could ride the roller coaster together:

We're in the first car, the second row (behind Jeremiah):

The Carousel:
The Kiddie-Coaster:
The Tilt-A-Whirl (a.k.a. "The UFO"):

I think Jeremiah, Jessica, and Shannon are seated at the lower-most portion of the circle.


The Water Ride! Shannon and Jeremiah coming down the flume:





The weather was very nice- although it was overcast, it was pleasantly cool, not hot or humid.

There was a parade with Clowns on Stilts. Clowns are scary.

There was a tall swirly slide which I neglected to take pictures of. It was probably 25 feet tall. This is me, coming out of the short (15 feet?) swirly side:

The sign coming in to this area was very clear: The Sand is for safety, not for throwing.

It's not a very good picture, but this is Sherry and her Fiance. They're getting married in February in their home-town, about an hour and a half west of Wenzhou. Sherry is the executive assistant at the Language Center, responsible for the Chinese Teaching Assistants and Schedules. She's VERY busy.


The last ride. We're getting ready to go forwards and backwards in a circle, all the way around. It was neat.


Jeremiah took his camera. This picture is correctly oriented for North American audiences.

Jeremiah was able to take a video! I need a pocket-sized camera.


All in all, it was a good day. It was nice to spend some time with the Language Center staff outside of the normal work environment.

Afterwards, Wally took us to the Wenzhou Electronics Mall, where we were able to get D-Link wireless router for about $35 USD. We're pumped.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Wireless Internet

We have a wireless router! We can now all connect to the internet FROM OUR OWN LAPTOPS!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Shared Internet

Our apartment comes with a high-speed internet connection. One high-speed internet connection.

We've all been sharing, at first by passing the cable back and forth, and then by enabling "internet sharing" on Jeremiah's Macbook, but lately we've been back to the cable thing. For reasons unknown, Jeremiah's laptop is no longer ebale to consistently share the wired network connection via the integrated Wi-Fi adapter. This doesn't impact Jeremiah much, but the rest of us are just a bit stranded- frequently.

We're going shopping tomorrow for a wireless router.

Oh- classes are going well. I found out tonight that my teaching assistants both quit. The fact that they were assigned to work with me is, as far as I can tell, coincidental.

We all went out to one of the schools this morning to watch a class. Shannon taught, with Lounes assisting. It was good to see what an English lesson in the public school was supposed to look like. I took some pictures, and will post them when I can get my laptop connected to the internet.

- Jonathan

Friday, September 19, 2008

I have a tentative schedule!

But it's not in front of me right now.

This afternoon, we got our schedules from the Language Center. They're not very well laid out, and it took quite a while to transcribe them into a format that each of us could understand. The result, though, is a relatively good idea of when we'll be working, where we'll be working at, and what sort of lessons we need to prepare for.

I haven't looked at any of the other schedules yet, but I'm teaching three or four classes at the Language Center, four or five classes at one local school, and a few classes at a second local school. I don't start until Sunday, so tomorrow I'm going to observe a few classes.

- Jonathan

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Week in Review

The intensive training period is over, I think, and we're starting on what will be our regular schedule.

The lack of updates for the past few days was caused in part by the sudden onset of a head cold, which has had me in bed for most of the time we're not actually at the school. I think I'm almost over it, as the headache and congestion are giving way to runny nose and a general lack of strength. I've been getting a lot of rest and eating lots of fruit (and chicken soup!)- I should be back to normal soon.

The training was very good- we had some instruction on presentation techniques and classroom management, and did practice presentations. Our training was facilitated by Lounes and Hakan, who also gave voluminous feedback on our practice presentations. We were joined on the first day of training (Tuesday, I think) by Tara, and yesterday by Laura. There are eight English teachers with the Language Center that I'm aware of, and we've now met them all. I intend to post pictures soon, so you'll be able to connect faces to names.

Yesterday when our schedules were worked out, I was assigned to assist Hakan in teaching older students. I'm not sure what all this will entail, but Hakan says it's very straightforward. In addition to assiting Hakan, I'll be teaching a few classes at one of the public schools in here in Wenzhou, and (I think) one regular class at the Language Center.

I think we're starting to adjust to life in China- Jenny returned to Shanghai yesterday morning, so we're as much on our own as we will be for the duration of our stay here. The staff at the Language Center is doing very well in making sure we have everything we need, and there's even a full-time employee as our English-speaking contact person.

And ... it's time to go to work.

- Jonathan

Monday, September 15, 2008

First day of training!

Today we're starting at the Language Center. We're going to have three full days of training, then (I think) two weeks of working with one of the established teachers before teaching classes by ourselves.

We're also planning on signing our employment contracts today- everything has looked very good so far, but we haven't yet seen our weekly schedule (What day, what time, where) beyond a specified number of hours at the Language Center and a specified number of hours teaching.

The Language Center has been very accommodating- they've even scheduled a mandarin class for us every Friday, to take place during our working hours. I've also heard talk of a calligraphy class...

I'll update tonight after we get back.

Sunset in Wenzhou

Last night the rain cleared up, and we were treated to the foregoing view out our bedroom window.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Mid-Autumn Festival, Jiangxin Island

2008-09-14 Sunday

Today is the Mid Autumn Festival! It is a time of much rejoicing all over China. With the moon reaching its fullest size tonight, people return home to celebrate and spend time with their family and enjoy traditional foods--especially Moon Cake. This is one of the biggest festivals of the year, so most businesses will be closed tomorrow.

We woke up a bit late this morning, and while we planning out our day, we received a call from Mr. Jiang, the director of the Language Center. In honor of Mid Autumn Festival, he wanted to take us out for the afternoon, starting at 11:00 for lunch. The hospitality shown us by Mr. Jiang has really been quite unexpected- Mid Autumn Festival is traditionally a day to spend with family, and he chose to take the opportunity to invest in us. He and his son, Jerry (I think he's about 5 years old), and a friend, Mr. Guo, took us out to the Beefsteak Restaurant for lunch, then took us to Jiangxin Island for the afternoon.

Jiangxin island sits in the river separating the north edge of Wenzhou city from the south edge of Yongjia city. In the middle of the river is an medium sized island, on which sit two ancient towers--one a lighthouse--dating back to 860 and 960 A.D. The island also contains an amusement park with a roller coaster and a ferris wheel, but we focused instead on the old portion. I coudn't find wikipedia page about the island, but was able to locate a short write-up here.

The weather today was rainy- there's a typhoon heading slowly towards us, and it should hit Wenzhou sometime tonight or tomorrow morning. We're expecting heavy rains, maybe strong winds, but it shouldn't affect us too much. Jenny says we should be prepared for temporary power outages- probably the same sort of preparation we would have in Oklahoma during tornado season. We're not expecting to be a really big deal, but it would be good if everything went smoothly. Thanks!

Some pictures:

This is the view out the window of the Restaurant. It's on the second floor of a building situated near the Language Center, the center of Wenzhou, and the downtown shopping district. The black car is a Mazeratti (There really is a lot of money flowing around Wenzhou).


Jessica and Jerry at the restaurant:


Our group at Jiangxin Island. The man in the white shirt standing behind Jessica is Mr. Guo, who works with Mr. Jiang. He accompanied us for the afternoon. In the background is Wenzhou city:

The south-east coast of the Island. Mr. Jiang said that the entire east end of the island (verdant lawn and palm trees included) was artificially built up a few hundred years ago:

The Island is a bit unusual in that it has an interior lake with streams- this end of it, behind the photographer, is connected to the river via a sluice gate:

It's me!

Shannon and Me:
The East Tower. This is one of the oldest lighthouses in the world, and has been selected as significant enough to warrant preservation. It was built around 860 A.D.

The east end of the island contained a lot of colonial architecture. The walks, gardens, buildings, and lampposts looked like they could have come right out of the carribean.

This seems to be a popular flower in China. In addition to spotting it all over the east end of the island, it is prevalent between the divided highway on the road from Shanghai to Wenzhou.

It's a really good color for Shannon!

One of the walkways circling the island:
The was a bonsai garden in the middle of the island, but it was closed. This was taken through a side gate:

The west tower. This was built in 960 A.D.

Mr. Guo:
Jeremiah!
There were signs like this everywhere. Each one was different, but they all had a bit of humor. I'm not sure, but I suspect they are intentionally humorous.
Jessica, Mr. Jiang, and Mr. Guo at a well:
A loghthouse in the channel between Jiangxin Island and Wenzhou:

Tomorrow will probably a very quiet day, with most businesses closed, typhoon rains arriving, and not too much else.

- Jonathan