Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Guess Who's Bizzack?!?!!

I know what you are thinking...Bizzack isn't really a word. I decided to quote a Jay-z song to welcome myself back to the world of blogging. In my hiatus, so many things happened. I traveled to Yangshuo and I even opened a bank account. I know many of you are thinking that opening a bank account is pretty minuscule detail. However, there are several hilarious anecdotes associated with it. To make things easy I am going to break this blog entry into categories. Enjoy!


"I left my heart in Yangshuo." (Lori VonPingel, 2008) I couldn't have said it better myself.

On October 1, the People's Republic of China celebrates its birthday. This date is known as National Day. It marks a week long celebration for the entire country. Some people travel to their home towns or just use it as a time to relax. For members of my teaching program this marks the first official trip of our China adventure. This year many CTLCers (abbreviated name for members of my teaching program) thought they would have to be confined to borders of China because our visas were still being processed. Fortunately, all of our visas were processed in time to embark upon on various journeys.

Initially, AnaLiese and I wanted to go to Beijing and Shanghai. National Day price increases didn't permit that. Next, we decided to figure out what other CTLCers were doing and get a couple of ideas. National Day destinations ranged from Hong Kong/Macau to the Philippines. With so many options, I was perplexed. However, I heard about a trip James (the head coordinator of my teaching program) was planning to Yangshuo. The trip was inexpensive so I decided to look it up online. I fell in love with everything I read. AnaLiese wanted to travel with Rachel, Lauren, and Taylor I was thinking about going with them. I can't explain the feeling but something was really drawing me to Yangshuo. I decided to go with my gut. Another group of CTCLers were planning to go to Yangshuo as well. It turns out that one the girls wanted to go to Hong Kong instead and that left an open slot for me. It was obviously meant to be. :-)

Lori, Megan, Ranjana and I took an over night sleeper bus to Yangshuo. Please see the picture below:

That's right! It was a bus with bunk-beds. None of us understood the concept of a sleeper bed until we actually saw it. We couldn't stop laughing. Overall, the beds were pretty comfortable. There were two sleeper bus attendants, similar to flight attendants that helped everyone get situated. The bus made several stops to pick up other patrons. Within the second hour of the 12 hour bus ride, the sleeper attendant asked Ranjana to move to another bed. The request was very random and we couldn't understand why she wanted Ranjana to move. Megan decided to move with Ranjana instead of protesting. When they got to their new beds they were dumbfounded. The beds were way shorter. They were obviously children's bed. This wouldn't have been a major problem if Ranjana wasn't 6' tall. Eventually, we all slept for what seemed to be a couple of hours. When we woke this is what we saw:

It was so beautiful. We were surrounded by lush mountains and crisp air. This was just the type of vacation I was looking it for. I can best describe Yangshuo as a college town set to the backdrop of rural unadulterated China. There were rickshaws, and three-wheeled cars and tons of bicycles. We went straight to our Hostel, Yangshuo International Senior Leader Youth Hostel. It reminded me of the Underground/Schatz's at Carnegie Mellon. I was super impressed. There were hand written notes all over the walls about how cool the hostel was and how much fun people had while staying there. There was a pool table as soon as you walked it and a bunch of couches. The staff at the hostel was helpful and they stored our luggage in a spare room until we were able to check in. We hit the ground running and decided to inquire about potential excursions. James' group was going mud caving and we were totally game. We grabbed a delicious Western Style breakfast at a local restaurant called McBlues.
Unfortunately, we missed James’ group because we needed to get appropriate mud caving clothes and officially check in to the hostel. We were still determined to go mud caving. We hooked up with a local travel agent and we scheduled our own mud caving excursion for later that day. While roaming around town, we bumped into Daniel and Mindy and we convinced them to join us for mud caving.
We took a mini-bus to the cave and it was a fun yet bumpy ride. I loved every minute of it. When we got to the cave we noticed that a lot of the other tourists were wearing jeans and other attire not appropriate for mud caving.
Before We Entered the Cave:

*We look like hardcore backpacker/hikers with our tevas!

After We Entered the Cave:

*Our tour guide is the girl in red. She was a local English student.
She was super cute and sweet.
To Be Continued.....I am studying for the GRE. I will write a little everyday to update everyone. I know I am super late and I apologize.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Day 3 - Teacher's Day

These pictures are in a random order. However, I wanted everyone to get a glimpse of China. The first picture was taken in the Huaqiang Bei area. You can buy any cellphone under the sun here. You can even bargain for a good price. Don't worry you can bargain even if you don't speak a lick of Chinese. The seller will pass you a calculator and you will put in your price. Next, the seller will put in his/her price and you go back and forth until you come to an agreement. It is pretty intense. I kind of got a headache after the whole ordeal. But I did end up with a cellphone which leads me to the next picture. Oh...I almost forgot. Someone was blasting techno music. So Liz and I, the lovely lady in the blue shirt, noticed some little kiddies outside dancing. As friendly teachers, we couldn't help it. We had to join in. I have more pictures of this night if you are interested. Send me an email if you want to see more. Now moving on to my cellphone.

I finally decided on a cellphone. I actually got a phone that has a one year warranty just in case. I paid a little bit more but it was purchased from a certified Nokia dealer. There were tons of really cool phones that were much cheaper but I wasn't familiar with the brands. Kofi and Mike bought the coolest phone ever but it was a Chinese brand. Our program coordinator warned us against some phones that stop working within a couple of weeks so I was pretty weary. This isn't always the case but I wanted to play it safe. I plan on coming back home with a really trendy phone. I will figure out the ins and outs of the whole cellphone thing while I am here. Now, the guys in the picture are the certified Nokia dealers. They gave me a discount and they also gave me the red bag you see me holding in the picture. They were all very nice. I actually took a lot of pictures in that store. It is extremely rare for Chinese people to see Black/darker skinned people roaming around local streets so I was asked to be in so many pictures that night along with my friend Ranjana. It's like being a celebrity. Yet, it feels very strange because you get so many stares. It can also be beneficial. I purchased the same phone from the Nokia kiosk my friends used and I am the only one that got the free gift.
The Contract Signing Ceremony took place 2 days ago before I arrived here in NanShan. I will upload a map and highlight my district so everyone can get an idea of where I am located. During the ceremony, each teacher is introduced by name and district and we are given a beautiful bouquet of flowers by our headmaster and contact teacher. It was actually pretty elaborate. It also made me realize that each school invests a significant amount of time and energy in their foreign teachers.
This is Wallace my Contact Teacher. He's the best! If you are wondering why his name is Wallace...well most Chinese people that study English have a English name. I also have a Chinese name but my teacher said I can change it when I find a name that is more suitable for my personality. Anyway, Wallace is in charge of making my transition to my Chinese school a smooth one. He has gone above and beyond the call of duty. He is great! My next door neighbor AnaLiese (my former roommate from training) is teaching his son in one of her classes. We had no clue his some attended the school.
This is a picture of my school. It has a pretty large campus. I really like it. It also has a brand new state of the art pool. There is construction going on here everyday. Well China is constantly under construction. I was in Zhuhai for about 10 - 13 days and I literally saw a Nike store get built in two days. That is no exaggeration at all!

Today's Updates: I taught my second class of Seniors today. They are all so cute. I completely forgot it was Teacher's Day and in the middle of the lesson a student in the front of the classroom said...1, 2, 3, and everyone said in unison, "Happy Teacher's Day!" It was so exciting and then they started to clap. This was my first time every seeing this class and they made me feel so overwhelmed with joy. I introduced myself to class and we discussed topics they are interested in learning about his year. One student even said his favorite singer is Jay-Z. I am also a huge Jay-Z fan so I was very excited. Some other singers student mentioned were: Britney Spears, Rihanna, One Republic and Leona Lewis. They are totally into pop culture! : )
Wallace took AnaLeise and I to meet the Headmaster today. He is very nice and thoughtful. The school provides us with 3 meals a day during the week. He was very concerned about how we are going to eat during the weekend. We had to explain to him that we plan on eating out and exploring a bit on weekends. He said he very happy to have us here.

Well...that's it for now. I am going to grab a bite to eat and do a little studying...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Day 2 - Shenda Normal Middle School

I taught my first class today. I was nervous for most of the day. However, when I walked into the classroom that faded away. The students here are so nice and the are completely fascinated with their new foreign teachers. I taught a Senior 1 class today which is the equivalent of the 9th grade. The students were overall pretty well behave. I introduced myself to the class then I allowed the class to introduce themselves to me. They all got the opportunity to tell me what they would like to talk about or learn in English class this year. Alot of them wanted to talk about basketball and music. One student even said Usher was his idol. It was pretty funny. Another student said she loved fashion and fashion shows. She is my kind of girl. I learned about a Korean pop band that alot of girls are into here. The name escapes me right now but I want to say it was KQX. That is probably wrong. Anyway, I plan on researching that band. I would like to put them in my lesson about music genres. I told the students I was born in Jamaica and the all were really excited. Then they started to clap. So Jamaica in Chinese is mai jiā. Pretty cool..huh? I couldn't pronounce it correctly and the students helped me out big time. I asked the students if they had any questions for me. They had every question under the sun. They asked if I had a boyfriend and if I could bring him to class. LOL! That was pretty funny. Another question was about the olympics. I told them that I enjoyed the opening ceremony and they began clapping again. It was so cute. One student went on to ask me about Tibet. I told her that is not something we can discuss. I totally think she is trying to get me in trouble. LOL! Just joking. However, I admire her audacity. The quasi-class clown asked my age and my salary. I told the students that I don't plan on discussing my salary but if someone can guess my age; I will bring them a prize during the next class. Overall, the class was pretty fun.
I have so much more to write about but I really should get to bed. Stay tuned for additional info.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Finally Blogging

Hey Everyone!!! I am finally here in China and I can't believe it! It is all pretty exciting and I can't wait to explore this beautiful country. I haven't been able to make too many calls or blog yet because of the shotty dial-up connection at the hotel. I should have some more feel time soon so look out for more blog posts. Please download Skype!!! My Skype name is mdisha65 or you can search for Matthias. I don't have a cellphone number yet but I will post it here when I do. I miss you all!!! One Love, Shedisha/Abby