Friday, June 30


"And this is something I remember very well. At first I thought I saw the sun setting in the east; I knew where the east was because the sun was just over the horizon when we got there that morning. Then I realized that what I saw was a full moon rising just as the sun was going down. Each of them was standing on its edge, with the most wonderful light between them. It seemed as if you could touch it, as if there were palpable currents of light passing back and forth, or as if there were great taut skeins of light suspended between them. I wanted my father to see it, but I knew I'd have to startle him out of his prayer, and I wanted to do it in the best way, so I took his hand and kissed it. And then I said 'Look at the moon.' And he did. We just stood there until the sun was down and the moon was up. They seemed to float on the horizon for quite a long time, I suppose because they were both so bright you couldn't get a clear look at them. And that grave, and my father and I, were exactly between them, which seemed amazing to me at the time, since I hadn't given much thought to the nature of the horizon. My father said, 'I would never have thought this place could be beautiful. I'm glad to know that.'"
(from Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson)

This morning, I had breakfast with three teachers from the English conversation office. One guy had two teachers who are leaving, plus me, over. It was nice. We talked about a range of things, from one person's dream job to what's best about going home to American politics. Afterwards, I went for a quick walk up the hill behind our school and back. I like to do that every once in a while just to remember how beautiful this place is. We have beautiful rolling hills that lead up to small mountains in the distance. Corn fields, wildflowers, villages in the valleys. It is a picturesque place in the summer. Everything is varying shades of green on a sunny day, and in the evening, especially when there's the possibility of a rainstorm, the mountains turn into a hazy purple shade with deep blue gray skies behind. Sometimes when I'm eating lunch in the cafeteria, facing the window, on a sunny day, I'm reminded. Or, sometimes when I'm walking from the office to my room and I remember to look around at the landscape, I'm reminded. I'm thankful to live on this hill, in this place that I didn't know would be beautiful, and I'm glad to know that it is.

market day

The last week of school, we had a market day for our beginner english classes. Each class set up booth to sell something and they had to plan it and speak in English to buy and sell. It was a lot of fun. Our beginner students are so cute. Posted by Picasa


I discovered the photo collage feature on Picasa2, which is available for free download. You should check it out. I've been wanting some software that would do this. Yay! Now I can put a bunch of pictures together that might be boring on their own and make them interesting.

So, I volunteered to be the birthday/going away card maker this year. I didn't take pictures of all my cards, but towards the end I did. They're less artsy than wordy. Most people really appreciate them, so it makes it worth it. One guy who doesn't usually say much saw me in the hall the other day and thanked me. He said it makes it worth leaving and coming back just so he can get another card. Posted by Picasa

Monday, June 26


they've been tearing down the apartments at the bottom of the hill for a while now and they're saving parts that they can reuse.

i've been meaning to take pictures of them all semester, and then a few weeks ago, the bus i was on broke down at the bottom of the hill.

perfect opportunity to take some pictures and get some exercise walking up the hill! i'm not sure how or where they'll reuse these guys, but i think there could be some sort of analogy (or perhaps many analogies) here. from the wreckage of a previous life comes many doors of opportunity...or can you think of some better ones?


i got internet in my very own room today! it was a process of going to the general affairs office at our school who sent someone to the phone company to get the phone in my name (which means i have a chinese name now! i have to learn how to write it so that i can sign when i pay my phone bill), calling the phone company to get them to come and set it up for me, and then waiting here two afternoons in a row for them to come. they finally did. two guys came. one spoke korean, so he asked me questions. the other one just busied himself by looking at the pictures on my walls.

in other news, i've been picking up summer volunteers, making sure they have bottled water, toilet paper, and meal tickets, showing them around downtown, getting them settled in their dorms with the students, and generally running around. they started teaching today, so tomorrow i start observing them to give them teaching pointers. that should be interesting.

my goal this summer is to spend some serious time language studying, but that hasn't happened yet. i did get some new chinese books that are supposed to be pretty good, so that's exciting. i have to find new tutors for both languages, because my korean tutor is graduating and my chinese tutor went home for the summer. hopefully i can get that squared away tomorrow.

so, i'm back. i hope i can stay in touch with you guys better now. i looked at my post count today as i logged in to blogger, and i have 108! that means i post more than twice a week, since i've been here a year now. that's not bad, eh?

Friday, June 23

two weeks

I have been meaning to post something on this neglected blog, but things have been quite busy. I am getting internet in my room, though, tomorrow. That should help me be able to post more often and stay in touch better. The summer teams that I am in charge of all got in at millions of different times over the past four days, but they are almost all in, so my responsibilities and my amount of running around will decrease. Now that I think about it, I haven't thought of anything to post, so I'll post again later.

Saturday, June 10


Yesterday we went out to celebrate a friend's birthday. We went to a sam-gyop-sal (Korean style barbecued meat) restaurant. Our party included people from Korea, China, England, New Zealand, Canada, and the US (Texas, Florida, and New York). From there, we went to eat pat-bing-su, a Korean shaved ice and red bean dessert (much better tasting than it sounds). We saw a group of Russian speaking students from our school there and listened to Indian and American music. Some of us wanted to go to the nore-bang (Korean style karaoke) where we joined another Chinese student and an Uzbek student. We sang a mix of songs, including many from the 80's, some Korean, a few country (Amarillo by Morning, Boot Scootin' Boogie), one Spanish (La Bamba) and one Chinese (we begged the Chinese guy to sing us a Chinese song even though he wasn't in the mood to sing.)

We returned to school about half an hour before the first game of the World Cup started (midnight our time). The only TV on campus that is available for students to use is right outside my room. (They can't have TVs in their room even if they could afford them, and besides the electricity in their room is turned off around midnight.) Costa Rica and Germany were playing. We have a German major at our school almost completely staffed by native Germans, so they were there to enjoy the game, as well as quite a few students. So, I was watching this game with Chinese/Korean speakers on my right and Germans on my left. What a great place to live!

With all of these opportunities for language learning around me, I am reminded and humbled by the fact that I have a lot to learn. I took German in high school and college, but can't communicate in it (haven't used it since). I spent almost two years in Korea, but have quite a ways to go with that language. I have been in China almost a year now, but can't get much further than buying fruit or telling a cab driver where my friends and I are from, asking whether he speaks Korean, and saying that yes, I like China. There are many excuses for this, including staying busy teaching English, wanting to improve my students English (and responding to their eagerness) even outside of class, and hanging out with English speakers a lot. But really, with the great opportunities around me to learn Korean and Chinese (plus many others if I could find the time), I plan to get focused this summer on some serious language study.

Tuesday, June 6

job posting

Are you looking for a change in your life? Would you like to travel to China? Can you handle a relatively cool summer and a frigid, but adventurous winter? Can you imagine yourself living in a place where you can get an hour long massage for less than 8 dollars or can eat a nice meal out for around 2 dollars? Would you take an opportunity to work among students who don't know the truth, but are very hungry for it? Could you teach English about 12 hours a week?

I could tell you a lot more if you're interested. We need teachers for next semester. You do have to raise your own salary, but living in China is cheap once you get here. You don't have to pay for housing. Chinese or Korean language tutoring is cheap if you hire students. This is a great place! Write a comment or send me an email for more information.

Friday, June 2

spring pictures

The blossoms are just about gone now, but here are a few pictures from the past few weeks. Now it's pretty much just green, green, green, which is very nice, too!