November 25, 2006

this life... not my own. is so much different than i ever thought it would be. is blessed. is so adventureous. can be taken in a moment. exists for Him. will have disappointment. will have incredible triumphs. is for the nations. is a dot on the string of eternity. is full of amazing friends and family. is just, plain amazing.

November 24, 2006

more than turkey day

Right now I'm laying on the couch in my livingroom. (which is more like outdoor wooden furniture with the thin tie on cushions) I'm listening to an amazing R&B artist- John Legend. Rachel is on the phone calling our teammates for spices because she's making stuffing for our Fellowship's Thanksgiving tomorrow. Our apartment smells like toast (for the stuffing), and the pumpkin spice candle I have lit. The weather has changed really quickly. A week ago I wore a short sleeves in the classroom and today I wore my winter coat all day, indoor and outdoor. The classrooms have no heating, so I 'm learning to never stand still. Right now, I should be working on my lesson plan for next week, but updating this blog sounded more fun.

Yesterday, we hosted a Thanksgiving feast at our apartment for about 20 of our US friends. There was football on TV (a recorded 2005 Texas A&M vs. Sooners game), live football on the school soccer field, a turkey (one of two in the city!), card games, and definitely a family atmosphere. Everyone in attendance were fellow English teachers that I've known since Day 1 in Los Angeles, except for a great family from another city that joined in. This family had two children, and they were given so much love and attention by the group of 24 year olds. The parents were such a blessing to be around, and added a breath of fresh air to our group.

I taught my students all about the Thanksgiving holiday and the lesson went very well. Until Wednesday afternoon, when I was in the classroom and was just getting started. I took roll and was moving a chair off the platform that I teach from. As I slid the chair off the platform, I straightened out from my bent position and came up on the sharp point of a rod-iron television case. I thought, "Ah, it's just going to be a painful bump". But I touched my head and my fingers were bloody. My students gasped, I made a face, and we all didn't move for about a minute. I tried to downplay the pain, but the blood wouldn't stop and I knew I needed to do something. I walked into the hallway and called Dan, the leader of my campus. I explained that I had hit the top of my head and was bleeding and he ran over to my teaching building. Needless to say the school cancelled that class. I learned a couple of things from that incident. Apparently, fruit is given to the hurting in China for their health. I had a steady stream of students stopping by for a couple hours dropping off apples, bananas, and oranges. There's no way Rachel and I will be able to make a dent in this fruit. Secondly, I learned that my students and the school officials are not afraid to touch blood. Little napkins covered in my blood were touched without hesitation. At one point I was sitting in the school office, with a wad of napkins on my head and about 8 teachers crowded around looking at me. It was awkward. All day today students would say something to the effect of, "Hello Miss Allison. How was your holiday? And what about your head?" News about the foreign teacher spreads quickly here.

My mom's surgery went well. She's was recovering at home after she snuck out of the hospital during a false hospital alarm. I'm pretty sure that right now she's in Hawaii, on beach, with her arm in a sling. Seriously.

My relationships with students are great! I'm having opportunities to study together, opening up before my eyes. Today I spent about 5 minutes in awe about how He works. Truly a moment of, "I'm not worthy!"

November 1, 2006

Reader's Digest version

Updating this blog has been consistently on my to-do list for weeks. After avoiding it for so long, I find that there is way too much to even begin to update well. In the words of my mother, I'll give the Reader's Digest version.

Teaching has really picked up. I laugh in my classes so much. The creativity is starting to come out and my students are forming opinions, no matter how small they are. As an example, I teach 3 idioms per class session. The other day one of the idioms was 'music to my ears'. I described that it's not literally music, instead it is used to summarize something you like to hear. I gave examples such as 'the voice of an old friend' or 'the sound of the ocean' or 'good news from your family'. I scanned the room and saw Maria. She was smiling. This either means she is interested, or just received a funny text message. I said, "Maria, give us an example of 'music to your ears'." She replied, "When the school bell buzzes loud (signaling the end of class), it's music to MY ears." So good, great usage. She gets it! The class was awkward and then laughed when I laughed. Note: The buzzing is consistent for a solid 20 seconds and only heard in certain classrooms. Either way it can be frustrating. One time I kept my students 10 minutes over because I never heard the bell. Not one informed me of my mistake, they just sat there respectively.

Chinese lessons are twice a week and I'm starting to recognize words and phrases in everyday conversation. That has helped me feel so much more comfortable here! I've spent the last three months in an ignorant haze. I am not claiming 'understanding' just recognition.

The team is great. We celebrated Halloween by watching 'The Incredibles' and some teammates carved Chinese squash. I'm helping to coordinate a Thanksgiving dinner for our 17 American friends in Nanchang. Dan, our leader, has recorded an old football game, we're going to play cards and do some transplanted family traditions. No turkeys in China, so we'll substitute chicken. There will be a lot of substitutions. But I really look forward to our Thankful time. We have so much to be Thankful for.

On a different note, there's a bread lady that we all know and appreciate. She makes a flat bread, that many other vendors make.. but Wang's is the best. Our interactions are so funny. I say, "Ni hao Wang." She says, "Oh! Ni hao Allisong". We both grin. I (or someone on the team) hands her a kuai (12 cents US) and she gives us bread. She cuts the bread morning to night and everyday of the week. When it rains she has a blue umbrella overhead. A couple weeks ago I asked her to see her hand which is always gripping a large silver knife. She opened her palm to reveal the most obvious calus I've ever seen. How many years, 7 days a week, has she cut this flat bread with her right hand? Our team would agree that Wang is the jolliest street vendor near our campus. A close second is the street vendor that sells little electronics. When he sees me coming he turns on a little radio and I stop to do the infamous 'San Diego snap dance' for about 4 seconds, smile at him, and keep walking. We've never talked, but he cracks up when I (the foreigner) dance. Dan witnessed the exchange last night and could not stop laughing. I love things like that. Consistent, hilarious, and unspoken.

When Rachel and I first moved into our apartment we kept our toothbrushes in a colander on our kitchen counter. Twice a day, we'd walk into the kitchen and get our toothbrushes and take them into the adjoining bathroom, brush our teeth, and then walk them back into the kitchen and put them in a baby blue colander. Our bathroom doesn't have counters or shelves, just a free standing sink, shower head, and a toilet. Weeks later, we cracked up at our situation. Consistent, hilarious, and completley unspoken.

On Saturday night Mikayla and I held a party for our Coffee Talk students, inviting about 35 of them. We partied hard, played Uno, ate Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches, looked at photo albums, talked, and danced to a couple Michael Jackson songs. No SD snap dance that night.

I've picked up painting more since being here and I'm having students over to paint this Saturday. I got canvas' today, which in China are pieces of wood, not cloth. Relaxing and expressive, all the same. I was telling a friend tonight that I miss sailing.. or the option of it. I think I miss the freedom of it most, ah freedom...!

Confession: oranges here taste great and I probably eat 4-5 a day. It's easier to eat two oranges for lunch, than go get rice or noodles outside of campus. I have a sore throat and I'm blaming it on the sheer volume of acid going down my throat from my new orange addiction. I just can't stop...

I have about 18 more random things to write about, but I'm exhausted. I miss feeling anonymous. My teammate Adam calls us 'rockstars'. I never want to be a celebrity. I miss my family. Thanks for the card Mom, you crack me up.