Monday, October 26, 2009

Another busy and tiring week had passed. Which means I have now been here just over a month. A month ago I couldn’t imagine what my life would be like in China, and today I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I wasn’t here. I am falling more in love with China everyday, the people, the culture, and even the hugeness of the city of Beijing. I have definitely fallen into a routine here, and each day no longer seems foreign. I love how we are right in the city, and so many things are just a short bus or subway ride away. I love that we can walk less than 3 minutes off campus to find two of our favorite Chinese restaurants. I love how one of the most foreign districts in Beijing is just a 20-minute bus ride away, and we are free to go there to find western food or a coffee shop to sit and relax at.

I also love my students. Even though they are all older than me, many in their 30’s and 40’s I find myself referring to them as my kids. They are all super sweet and so many of them are so eager to learn. Yes, they are getting tired from the rigorous program, it makes me tired too J, but they can always make me smile or laugh at the end of the day. Each week they write journals and it is so nice to read them, as they give us more of an insight into their lives and helps us get to know them better. We are able to do really fun activities with them. I am going to try to include some pictures of the day we had them work on body parts. We had a race where they had to label as many body parts as they could in 5 minutes on one of their group members. Needless to say, it was hilarious! We try to make everything as student centered as possible because the Chinese education system is not at all, and this is one way we can slowly change the system since out students are teachers and will hopefully go back and use some of the new methods they learned. This is the last week of the session, so it will continue to be busy…but I know that I will miss them when they are gone. It will be a lot of fun to celebrate with them at the end of the session and see how far they have come!

We have a break after the session ends, which I am very excited for! I really don’t have any big plans, just relaxing and probably going to a few places around Beijing. Hopefully a few of us are going to be able to go to an orphanage an hour or so away to spend a day loving on the kids there!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

week 1....

Sorry it has been so long! My only excuse for that is I have been so busy! Which I guess is not the nest excuse in the world...but don't worry, I am back!

We started the new session, which is my first session last Monday. On Monday we did interviews for the over 400 students so that we could place them in classes by levels. That was a crazy day, but it felt so nice to be doing something, even though the break was a wonderful way to start my trip in China. On Tuesday the students had orientation, and then Tuesday evening we met our classes. I am facilitating the lowest class with one of the other facilitators, Kyle. He also just graduated from college and this is his second session here. Then we had class on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and I have this weekend off! We have 32 students ranging in age from 23 to their 40's and they are all teachers, mostly English teachers for various levels. The whole program is very student and activity centered, and very unlike the Chinese teaching methods they are used to. The main big projects are a speech they give at the end and a practicum they have to practice using the new teaching methods so they will then hopefully go back and use these in their classes. So far I really really enjoy it, even though it can be very challenging! We speak special English students, which is slower and you emphasize the pronunciation, and often times I find myself talking in special English when I am talking the facilitators as well, and it can be quite funny. It is also very busy while we are in session, and we do have breaks throughout the day, but they are usually used to nap or prepare for your next class or club, so it is really nice to have this weekend off. I am at a coffee shop right now just relaxing which is wonderful!

Last night some of the team and I (the ones we sometimes call the 20 somethings) went to Wudalko, which is a district about 20 minutes away by bus that has a lot of foreigners and more American type restaurants to have pizza and just relax for awhile. One of the most exciting things was they had coke...but not just in a was fountain a big glass....WITH ice! Yes, we do get excited about the little kinda have too :)

In other news...I am loving it here! It has already been such an amazing experience and I can tell it will only get better. Yes, there will be times when I don't really believe that...but it really is amazing. I have made some really awesome friends who I really can't imagine living without right now. They are always there for me when I need them for a hug to just to talk to, and they are truly a huge blessing! God has been so good to me...and I am really excited to see what else He has in store for me!

I will try to take pictures of my room (after I clean it and finish decorating) soon so you can all see them!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Wow….it has been such a busy week! We are still on break and most days we are out and about doing something around the city. Lets see if I can even remember what all I have done J Really, it seems like all of the days are running together and I’m not always sure what day it is often.

Monday night I went with a group to the Olympic green. It was such an amazing, surreal experience. Thoughts when through my head that I was watching this on TV last year, never thinking that I would ever go there, but there I was, right in the middle of everything. It was super cool!!! Since we went at night everything was lit up and it was all pretty beautiful. It is definitely a place I would love to go back again to explore some more. One of my other teammates, Jaime, was just as excited to be there, so we had a lot of fun together.

Tuesday was National day, and I really didn’t do much! We did watch fireworks that night, which was fun.

I went to the silk market on Friday I think. It was a pretty crazy experience. It is pretty much about 6 floors of things for sale everywhere. And there is everything you could ever imagine there. From purses and shoes, to clothes, to silk and cashmere, to all the Chinese trinkets and things you can imagine. And you don’t just buy things at the silk market, you bargain for things. I was told to pay between 10-30% of the price you are originally told. I tried a little bit, but mainly watched while others bargain for their purchases. I bought a cashmere scarf for this winter, which is probably one of the softest things I have ever felt in my life!

Saturday I went to the Great Wall. It was quite the adventure getting there, and we didn’t end up at the section we wanted, and paid more than we should have, but all that said, it was pretty amazing. The area we went to was super steep and a really good climb. It was built in a loop, so we figured there must have been a palace or something in the middle that was worth protection. We walked some of the way up the first side, and then to the very top tower on the other side. There were times where is felt like we were just going and going and would never make it, but it was SO worth it once we finally made it to the top. It was such a clear day and completely beautiful with the mountains surrounding us. I knew coming in the Beijing was surrounded my mountains, but for some reason that really didn’t sink in and actually surprised me as I first started to see them. I guess since I am not use to seeing mountains in Indiana they are “new” and exciting to me!

On Sunday we went to church and then a lot of us went out to lunch together. It was a different experience having my food ordered for me and not really knowing what exactly I was eating, but everything I had was good (I didn’t try everything!) It was really refreshing to be able to go to church and be with the group.

Each day I also get to know my teammates, and myself better. This experience has already been so good for me, and I know that this is just the beginning. Each day is a new adventure full with new experiences and lessons. I have training this Thursday and then the session stars next week, so that will bring its own set of changes and challenges with it.

I hope all is well at home, and know my prayers are with you, and well as J.D’s family everyday!