June 2016: Beijing, French Concession fun, and closing student notes

Sometimes I become distant when I know changes are about to happen. I also become super nostalgic and scatterbrained. So I should apologize for the lack of organization of this post ahead of time.

The past couple weeks have brought interesting events in my classroom. Headphones on. During presentations and debates. Rude. Appalling. and most of all Disappointing. And then after further reflection with other classroom behavioral issues with colleagues it occurred to me… they don’t think it’s rude. they don’t realize the effect of their actions. Which causes a frightening picture of the future of politeness, respect, and face-to-face communication and personal interaction. I received written apologies and student responses in their learning journals…it’s comforting to know there are a few students who recognize the impact and fault of their actions.

Shanghai is rainy. I miss desert living these days…or maybe I really just need to buy rain boots…wait I have them. Teal ones. At home. Note to self: bring these back. One of the most discomforting things is sloshing around the city for 12 hours in wet feet. Gross. I hate wet feet.

I have decided it takes great effort to leave the house on rainy days. But if I must leave the house then leaving involves lattes, laughs, and friends, and coffee house chats and melodies. Thank you Seesaw coffee for your city coziness and good wifi.

Need some good rainy evening tunes? Listen to Ed Sheeran and Passenger. Done and done. Light candles and pour wine. Except my candles are burned down and I forgot to pick up wine. Fail. Another note to self: Yankee candles are better than IKEA candles. Bring some back to Shanghai in the fall.

I am really excited that I can finally sleep in on a Saturday. No more Saturday class. Even though I can basically sleep in every other day, there’s something about sleeping in on a Saturday. And it will probably still be raining. The other morning it wasn’t raining and I woke up at 4:30 because it WAS LIGHT OUT??!!! The longer days shine brighter without the rain and it is glorious. Except 4:30 is so early. Maybe I should be productive at that time. Or I could just lounge in bed and watch the sunrise through my window. That’s the more likely outcome.

I have 25 days of Shanghai Round 1. 25 days left to pack. 25 left to gather thoughts and memories and sort through all.the.emotions and events. of the past.ten.months. I mean really just this evening my Uber driver ran a red light, braked super fast, and missed two exits because he was trying to look at me and practice his English and teach me Chinese in the 30 minute car ride home. He also showed me a video of his kid as he tried to enter the on-ramp. Once safely parked at the university he asked to take a selfie with me. #china #storyofmylife

The other day I didn’t know what to do for my lesson. I call it “lazy teacher day” and make up a game or some activity and disregard their requests for thought-provoking conversations. Little do they realize they enjoy these days more than anything. *see learning journal photos* If you are looking for a 90 minute lesson and you.just.can’t.think.of anything…do this: step 1-6= 45 minutes
1. have the students take out a piece of paper, divide/tear into 5 small pieces
2. write 1 word on each piece of paper – ANY WORD (verb, noun, adjective…etc!)/then fold paper
3. collect paper, put into a pile (on a chair in the front of the room)
4. students form a line and QUICKLY pick 5 pieces of paper
5. divide class into groups of 3-4
6. using the 15-20 words (depending on group size) have the students devise a story or skit (needs to be about 10 minutes long)
7. after the 10 minute break, have the students present their skit/story (45 minutes, about 10 minutes per group for a class of 16-20)
8. AUDIENCE INVOLVEMENT FOR LISTENING: after the group presents the audience must guess the 15-20 key words the groups used. I made it into a contest and the group to guess the most words right got bonus points.
Done and done. and the feedback was awesome! I think my students are finally understanding the concept of conversation and how to develop and continue English speaking conversation by asking questions and inquiring details… 🙂
In prior weeks I played Taboo and Alibi. They loved it. They love opportunities to express their creativity.

At the end of May I gave my students a project: find a foreigner, take a video, write a reflection. The most amazing feedback. Their reflections: mission accomplished, horizons broaden, and they THANKED ME?! for the assignment, for presenting the opportunity and giving them a challenge to find someone to speak English to outside the classroom. Have any other teachers been thanked for a project?? I was stunned. And so very proud. Impressed. You name it. All the teacher love in the world for these brilliant students who have been great progress in their English speaking skills over this past year. Just wonderful. And their teacher still can’t count off properly to put them into groups. I really can’t do Math. Today (June 16th) was the last day of full class with my Oral English group. I have had them for a full year. The other classes it was just a semester long course. But these students I’ve had since day 1…which makes saying good-bye that.much.harder. Because I’m that teacher who has to get all sappy and write notes of encouragement in their last Learning Journal. I am my mother’s daughter.

4 years of ESL teaching down. and 5 countries of the most brilliant inspirational students I could ever have the privilege to teach…not to mention the most amazing co-teachers. I am so blessed. Over and over again. South Korea…Chile…Taiwan…Indonesia…China.

12 days til I’m stateside, an agenda of front porch swinging, breathing Nebraska air, culture whiplash, adjusting, family and friends, and just.being.in.a.small.town. Oh and thesis writing…did I mention it?

Last weekend (June 9-12th) was Dragon Boat Festival. I went to Beijing. Hired a driver who drove us 2 hours outside of Beijing to Hebei Province to Jinshanling…an uncrowded less touristy part of the GREAT WALL. Talk about a million stairs, sore abs, calves, legs, and well everything the next morning. But the view of the mountains and the fact that we were walking on a World Wonder was pretty flippin’ sweet. The next day we walked around the Summer Palace Gardens, and saw the Forbidden City view at sunset. Tiananmen Square was barricaded off at dusk. It was quite eerie against the vibrant sunset colors. We ate Peking duck (so good) and local food. Epic fail postcard attempt so we wrote over drinks about the ridiculousness. Don’t mind us. I thought it was hysterical as we passed a dozen or more people selling “cool” postcards on the Great Wall. Did we buy? Nope. Thank you Family Mart for supplying us postcards at 11 pm. Thank you wine for making the night even more entertaining.

































On the way home…went to the airport at 4 to share a cab. Flight left on time. Then. about 10a.m the announcer came on in Chinese. It was delayed in translating. (Imagine not knowing what was going on 1000s of feet up). Finally it was relayed to me that because of thunderstorms in SH we would be landing in a completely different city- Hangzhou. Umm….ok? Plane lands. More Chinese. What is going on? No clue, but then people start getting off the plane. I asked super sweet Chinese travelers what was going on and they said we could get off the train to find a shuttle to take us to the High Speed Train station to get to Shanghai. Omg. Thank you rain for making the situation even more dramatic, but I was so deliriously tired that I started laughing to myself at the ticket counter as I asked for my ticket in Chinese. Boarded shuttle. Arrived at train station. Bought ticket. Boarded train at 12:45, arrived in Shanghai Hongqiao station at 1:45. Minutes before the explosion at Pudong happened. (I didn’t find out about this news until I was safely at my apartment.) I was really done with travel that day. Taxi, Plane, Shuttle, Bus, Train, Metro, Motorbike. Done. I ordered pizza and wine and called it a day at 3 pm.

Cheers June. You’ve been wonderful for city exploring, artisan ice-cream, free Rakia samples, rain, occasional blue skies, Beijing trip, and enjoying the last of this term in Shanghai.


June 19, 2016. 9 days til Stateside.

And sometimes I blog after 2 glasses of summertime white wine (with ice because it has to be so cold and a million tears because life is tough. The stress of visa paperwork…only those who have worked abroad would understand the logistics and uncertainties. and how the most random backup (freak out) plans are devised, family happenings, packing, and future adjustments, not to mention updating Statsplus a million times and your data still would cooperate for your data analysis section of your thesis, but why not do a voice recording for a super cool company’s documentary your last day in Shanghai? but that’s not the reason for the tears. I don’t even know the real reason for the million water droplets pouring down my face, but somehow it’s therapy with Usher’s new song, “Crash,” on repeat for the hundredth time. And I don’t care. Because 1. He is sexy. and 2. because I need to get all the tears out that have been building for the past however many days…weeks…or months. It feels better somehow. It’s really at this time that I decide to do yoga in really short shorts for a few poses and then realize that blogging is my best coping mechanism. Life problems just got a whole lot less complicated.
A day of visiting with a good friend from high school, overhearing an entertaining conversation at brunch while eating an avocado salad and mango, passion fruit juice, and the most amazing worship time at church. I know the Holy Spirit moves when I can’t help but dance and clap and cry. God is good. So good. Clinging to Him is the only constant in my life. For dear life. For the struggles and fears and weaknesses and challenges I face are temporary. and He will get me through. Some way somehow. And His way has proved time and time again to be the way I’m following. Because everything has worked out no matter how anxious I get, no matter the amount of stress, doubt, and worry I mentally put myself through. He proves His consistency time and time again. But I cannot put on a face that everything is easy all the time. Because it’s not. Life’s a mess and God smoothes every anxiety out. At the last minute. So why can’t I trust? Why can’t I calmly go through the rocky ocean waves? Because deep down I know my life is in His hands. Truth be told..I’m a planner and a idealist. I must have things go my way. and They don’t. Not in my perfect vision. So I fret. I get let down. And He is there to pick me back up. and Say it will all be ok. It will be ok according to my will. (Even when it’s not MY way). And it’s hard to accept His Grace. Because I don’t deserve it. I’m not worth it, in my head. But to Him, I am worth every drop of suffering. Love.

sometimes life is better upside down.

July 31st. I really don’t have an excuse on why this blog hasn’t been posted, other than the fact that I’ve hit some sort of a writer’s block and being back in the USA is this surreal experience like I’m not quite all there or here or wherever. I spend a lot of time stunnin’ (coined in Korea by some friends to mean “just sitting and soaking up the fresh air, the sea waves, the cool breeze, and not really thinking about anything in particular. But just being.”) 

Don’t worry, I’m in the process of writing a super cool Western New York and Maine itinerary. Because every one should explore the corners of this beautiful country. It means rural area, quiet towns…trust me life slows way down and it’s wonderful. 🙂 I’ll be back to regular blogging soon, stay tuned.

But first… a few photos of a Day in Shanghai with @sammyeats. Exploring the French Concession. Eating at a new cafe, and artisan ice cream at WIYF. Yum! Shaded streets and great photo ops, lots of laughs, and good eats. What a fabulous day in Shanghai!























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