Saturday, October 31, 2009

It Snowed Today!

I didn't quite believe the forecasts from this week, but it did indeed end up snowing starting this morning!

I took the pictures with my phone, so I apologize for the poor quality.  At least you can see how much snow there is!


Friday, October 30, 2009

New Kid in My Class

I got a new student while I was gone on Tuesday.  He has begun in my class with this crazy schedule: Tuesday - substitute, Wednesday - International Day - a crazy day for all, Thursday - sub in the morning while I worked with a consultant, Grade 1 Performance in a huge theater for all the parents in the afternoon, Friday - sub in the morning while I was with consultant again, Monday - Field trip!

He has a severe peanut allergy and on his second day, one of my other kids nearly killed him.

He is also just learning English!  What a way for this little guy to start with us!

On Thursday, I took some time to see which letter names and sounds he knew and to briefly assess how much English he had and just to take some time to talk to the little fella!

We went through the letter names - both capital and lowercase - and he did really well.  We started on the sounds and after several he got to 'j'.  He thought for a moment, said the correct sound and then, "like jam".  I said, "Yes!  Great!  And the next one?"  But he had other plans.  He decided to go back to the beginning to give foods for each letter.  We were kind of pressed for time (performance in the afternoon), so I got him to give me all the sounds first and then go back to give me the foods.  Here is some of the conversation:

Kid: A, like apple
Me: Mm-Hmm
Kid: F, hmmm, have food with f?
Me: Yes
Kid: What is food with f?
Me: How about you think of an animal with F?
Kid: No.  F. /fffff/. Fox meat.  That is the meat of the fox.
Me: Okay.
Kid: P. (Cocking head) Have food with p?
Me: Yes.
Kid: What?
Me: What food do we give to the mealworms?
Kid: (Grinning) Potato.
Me: (Grinning) Yes!
Kid: W.  Have food with w?
Me: Yes.
Kid: What?
Me: Try to think of one.
Kid: You do like potato.  Tell me.
Me: Hmmm.  Xi gua? (Watermelon in Chinese)
Kid: (Grinning again) Watermelon.

We did this for a few more letters.  Sometimes he thought of the food on his own, sometimes I gave a hint in Chinese or another way.

Kid: Z. Have food?
Me: Yes.
Kid: Hmmm.
Me: Can you think of an animal with Z?
Kid: Foods now, animals later.  (His plan was to go through all the letters with foods and then go back and do animals.)
Me: Do you know zucchini?
Kid: Oh. Yes.  What country eat zucchini?
Me: America does.  Does your family eat zucchini?
Kid: Yes.  Sometimes.

Finally, my favorite part of this whole conversation:

Kid: We are very smart.
Me: Who is smart?
Kid: (gesturing to the two of us) We are smart.  (Grin)

I love this kid!


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tianjin: China in China

On September 12th, I took the fast train to Tianjin with other teachers from my school.  It takes longer to get from my apartment to the train station than it takes to get from Beijing to Tianjin.  We got going pretty fast.

When we got to Tianjin, we headed over to the China House.  This place is a building covered with pieces of china.  Plates, rice bowls, vases, broken pieces made into mosaics of cloud-talking turtles - you name it.

My favorite picture from Tianjin:

Some neat doors:

There was one balcony made from interlocking pieces of wood.  No nails.

After visiting this museum-of-sorts, we had lunch and then went shopping on the ancient-but-recently-renovated-Disneyland-esque-version of an ancient shopping street.  They had good prices though.

Outside the fast train on the way home, we saw some of the flying practice for the PRC's anniversary celebration.

More pictures at flickr.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Qingdao: Beer and Beach

Warning:  Contains stories of beer.

On the last weekend in August, I flew down to Qingdao with a new teacher, Fiona.  The Qingdao Beer Festival was finishing up that weekend, so we decided to get out of the polluted Beijing air and have a sunny weekend at the beach.  It rained the first day, but the second day was a beauty!

We met a girl at breakfast who writes for a blog I've been reading since I decided to move to China.  We exchanged numbers and planned to meet up later at the festival.  After breakfast, Fiona and I decided to walk on the beach and eventually figure out where the beer festival was taking place.

On our walk we saw rusty metal men:

Melty metal men:

And creepy horses:

Then we found the beer festival and saw beer poses:

And bathrooms:

We drank beer:

We ate crepes in the rain:

And finally met up with the friends:

The plan was to get to one of the beaches where more beer was waiting for us.  The beach we were going to was far away though, so we tried to catch a ride.

Soon, one of the new friends sweet-talked a guy into letting us use his car.  The guy's driver had just dropped him off at the festival and said that his driver could take all eight of us in his car over to the beach (a 40 minute drive at least) - for free!  Woo!

We made it to the beach and drank our first beer with straws out of plastic bags.

You know the game where you hit the top of someone's beer bottle with the bottom of yours so that the beer starts coming out the top of theirs and they have to drink quickly?  Well, there is a game with drinking beer out of plastic bags with straws too.  You stab someone's bag with your straw so the beer is coming out the straw hole.  Oh, beer games.

We also put our feet in the Yellow Sea.

In the evening, we went back to the beer festival.

And had more crepes and beer:

And met Mickey Mouse:

The next day was sunny and gorgeous.  We took the bus to another area of the city and saw lots of brides:

We saw a giant jellyfish:

We had lunch and headed back to our hotel to check out.  We said goodbye to the beer festival and caught a taxi to the airport.  Our flight was delayed so we got to check out the Ear, Nose, and Throat Medicine in the terminal:

More pictures at flickr.


Africa Part X: Ngorongoro Crater - Award for Least Descriptive

Last stop.  I really should have finished this whole series months or at least weeks ago before I got back to school.  This post is going to be of the minimalist variety.

Our last stop on our African adventure was to the Ngorongoro Crater. 

We saw lots of ostriches.

We saw lots of zebras.

We saw lots of wildebeests.

We saw several crested cranes.

And we saw a few Red-Headed Agama Lizards - which are very entertaining when they are trying to mate.

Finally, Amelia and I started thinking about where to go next.

There!  It's done!  There is more to share, but really, I've just got to move on to the next things.  Really.

More pictures at flickr.


Friday, October 2, 2009

Africa IX: Serengeti: Lions, Lions, and Lions - Oh My!

(Still having issues with loading pictures and videos and with formatting in general. Not sure if it is a blogger thing or an issue I am having while I am over here.) I switched back to the old version of Blogger so I can upload videos again!

After our brief stop at the Ngorongoro Crater, we arrived at the Serengeti National Park. The number of lions we saw here blew us away. I think one fellow traveler counted 60 over the three days we were here.

This lioness has a collar because she is being tracked. She was our first up-close lioness. We were very excited. She was right outside my window!

We were able to see a group of about 15 lion cubs sitting on a hill waiting for their moms to return from hunting. We were told that seeing this many cubs is very unusual.

We saw some lionesses hanging out on a rock.

We saw a lioness stalking her prey.... but the prey got away. It jumped up and ran away just as another vehicle arrived. I think the lioness looked right at the vehicle, annoyed at her loss of food.

I have a video of it as well, but it seems that blogger has removed that option. You can go here to see the video of the lioness hunting or just watch it here now that I can upload video again.

You can also see a video of two smaller elephants pushing this big elephant - here.

This lion reminded me of Aslan.

This picture gives you an idea of just how close we really were to the lions. This is a picture of another vehicle in our group.

We saw some Maasai rock paintings. I especially like the bicycle, or maybe it is a skateboard.

Amelia and I played around a bit when we stole our guide's machete.

It was sometimes chilly in the mornings on the Serengeti game drives.

We had some close calls in the vehicles again.

Mom was a good spotter.

After a day of driving and game drives, we were all tired.... even the lionesses.

Each day, when we thought about what we had seen and what we were experiencing, we thought about how lucky we were to be on the trip. We thought each day that it could not possibly get better or more amazing. Each day it did!

More pictures at flickr.


P.S. Can you tell I am running out of steam on my Africa posts? One more. I can do it!