April 28, 2007

Nanchang pride

Lately, American media has been acknowledging our little 4 million person Chinese city, and I thought I'd take a moment to boast.

1. Nanchang is featured on msn.com in the "The Week in Pictures" for a pothole that occured last week, downtown on Shunwai Road. I love how the pictures above capture the bicycles, tile sidewalks, and large amounts of spectators.

2. A friend told me that the next season of Survivor would be filmed in Nanchang. I strongly doubted that any American TV show would/could film an entire show here. But according to CBS, they are indeed filming in China. Whether or not it is in Nanchang, we'll have to wait and see. I guarantee that someone I know will print a shirt saying something like "I Survived Nanchang" and worse yet, I'll buy one.

3. And last, and probably most impressive...Newsweek named Nanchang on it's Top 10 Most Dynamic Cities in the World. We got #6! The article notes the world's tallest ferris wheel (which I have yet to ride), the historical significance as the birthplace of Chinese communism, and most importantly the huge investments made by foreign companies, like Ford. In case you're curious, Las Vegas was chosen as #1.

When I asked our boss if he'd heard that his hometown was chosen as the 6th most dynamic in the world, he shook his head and said, "I don't see anything dynamic..."

April 27, 2007

"what's wrong?"

I read the article below on abcnews.com and was at first shocked that 5,000 people would call a kid on YouTube that merely said "I care". But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there are many Americans with a huge lack of community or intimacy. We are made for wanting intimacy, and people find all sorts of means to satisfy that desire. Apparently, they even call spiky haired 20 year olds.

SOUTHBRIDGE, Mass. Apr 22, 2007 (AP)— Ryan Fitzgerald is unemployed, lives with his father and has a little bit of time on his hands.

So, he decided to offer his ear, to anyone who wants to call. After posting a video with his cell phone number on YouTube on Friday, the 20-year-old told The Boston Globe he has received more than 5,000 calls and text messages.

Fitzgerald said he wanted to "be there," for anyone who needed to talk. "I never met you, but I do care," a spiky-haired Fitzgerald said into the camera on his YouTube posting.

He planned to take and return as many calls he could, but on Monday at 5 a.m., his T-Mobile cell phone payment will begin charging him for his generosity when he is no longer eligible for free weekend minutes.

"I haven't quite figured out what I'm going to do about it," he said. "Come Monday, no way I'm going to just hang up on people and say, 'I don't have the minutes.'"

Fitzgerald, who said people consider him "easy to talk to," was inspired by Juan Mann. YouTube video clips of Mann offering "Free Hugs" to strangers became wildly popular on the user-controlled Internet site.

"Some people's own mothers won't take the time to sit down and talk with them and have a conversation," Fitzgerald said. "But some stranger on YouTube will. After six seconds, you're not a stranger anymore, you're a new kid I just met."

What about praying?

April 18, 2007

sacrifice, dogs, and West Coast superiority

Last week in class we talked about crime and punishment. That crimes deserve a punishment... if we commit a crime, we must also accept the punishment. I gave them this scenario, "What if your best friend commited a crime and faced a horrible punishment? What if you could save your friend by giving up something that is very important to you?" We then brainstormed things we would give up to save our friend. The lists they came up with were great! They'd give time, money, status, reputation, love, family, friends, job, dreams, opportunities, and their own life. I defined those as sacrifice- that giving up things that are important to us are 'sacrifices'. That lead straight into the Easter story. It really clicked for them, that He was the sacrifice for the crimes of humanity. It was such a great week of classes!

During our discussion of crime and punishment, I put a list of crimes on the board and had the class judge the punishments that they deserved. I made it more personal for the class and ascribed the crimes to actual students in the class. So for outspoken Sarah, I said she "stole a mobile phone from a store". Sarah shook her head and said, "But I'm an honest girl..." Her judgment, made by Willow, was a fine and 20 hours of community service. I said that William "didn't feed his dog for a month". No one thought it was a big deal, which surprised me. I asked, "Isn't that animal cruelty?" William responded, "No! Dogs are delicious!" That ended the conversation... cultural difference #486.

West Coast:
On Tuesday nights we have our weekly faculty meetings and Team Dinner. This Tuesday Dan was out of town and we made the decision to have an extravagant night by going out to Pizza Hut for dinner. Pizza Hut is high class in China, we drop about $4 each, which is big money here. I'm not kidding, we look forward to cheese at Pizza Hut. I think one day I'll look back at our Pizza Hut joy and get a good laugh, for now it's legit excitement at Western atmosphere, forks, etc. So Tuesday night at dinner we got in a little debate.. West Coast vs. East Coast. I pulled out the old slogan "The West Coast is the best coast." Childish, I know, but I had to state my loyalty. We went back and forth for awhile. Mikayla and I on the West Coast Team. Stephen, Adam and Emily on the East Coast Team. And Rachel stayed neutral- she's from North Dakota. It was friendly banter. When we left the restaurant we split up to go in different taxis and it was just Stephen, Rachel and I. Stephen looked at me, with a pretty serious expression and said, "Alright, on the West Coast you have gangs, but on the East Coast...we have extended family". That sent the 3 of us into laughter, it's more funny if you know Stephen's North Carolina drawl, actually much more funny.

April 13, 2007

rain and jazz music really go together

It's Saturday and I just looked outside to a sea of umbrellas, students scrurrying about on their way to Saturday classes. The rain is really coming down and I'm spending the morning listening to jazz music (got a Getz/Gilberto song off iTunes that is great!) and cleaning my room.
We watched 'Hostage' last night in Dan's apartment and my throat is sore from screaming during the 'air duct scene'. My goodness, Mikayla and I freaked out for a solid 10 minutes. Dan and Adam just laughed at us. I need some tea and honey.

April 11, 2007

4/5 completed

I've been in China for 8 month! Can you believe it?

You know what they say, "Live Free or Die Hard"!

(8 months is tough.. I miss you guys!)

April 7, 2007

mi madre es muy bonita.

At one point I thought I was returning to the United States next year and I got excited about it. I like California, I really do. I like avocados, and sunshine, and speaking Spanish. I signed up for the Spanish-English Dictionary "word of the day" to brush up on my Spanish. Everyday for the last two weeks they've sent me obvious Spanish words like "English=university Spanish=universidad". I just unsubscribed. It was almost an insult to get today to get "English=fluctuate Spanish=fluctuar". I wonder if there's a Chinese-English word of the day out there... that's what I should be studying.

I'm staying in China next year. I got a very exciting job in Beijing! I applied, never thought I'd get it, and I did. Wow...I'm still kind of surprised when I think about it. More about it later...

In other news, my mom "The Debster" came to China last week and I met her in Shanghai. We rode a 410 km/hour speed train, ate fancy Chinese food, explored a pearl market, watched silk spinning, stayed up late and chatted, rode a boat on the Pudong River, and really had a great time together. The trip was a Valentine's Day present from Rod- what a guy! I see some of my mom's quirks in my personality and just have to laugh. She is one of a kind, if you knew her, you'd agree. I hope I look like her when I'm over 50...I mean... eternally 29. (I probably believed she was 29 from the ages of 4-8, and then I realized she had me when she was 30. I've always been good at math). All that to say, seeing her and spending 3 solid days together was a breath of fresh air.

Happy Easter from East Asia! What a great holiday to celebrate. 1 Corin. 15. Stand firm, let nothing move you, always give yourselves fully to the work.