Monday, April 23, 2007

New class

Today I learned that I'll be starting a new class after the holiday. Yay? No, not yay. It's an adult class that I'll be teaching at a factory somewhere in town two nights each week. It puts me 6 hours over my limit on hours I should teach each week. I'm not sure why I agreed to it, but at least I'll get some extra money to compensate for it. On Wednesday night I get to go meet the class and observe a Chinese guy teach, then after the holiday I'll be going and teaching on my own. I think adult classes are a lot more difficult because the students are there in their free time after working a full day, you can't joke with them the same way you can with college students, and I really have no idea what their English level or background is going into this thing. But it should be an interesting experience, right? We'll see. Part of me is not looking forward to it, and another part is thinking it should be fun.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The sword in the stone

I'm getting a sword! This story doesn't really involve a stone that I can think of at the moment, but I'll try to work one in. So all semester I've been trying to find out if we're going to continue the taiji class from last semester. Angelyn heard rumors of it a week or two ago, but when I asked around no one knew anything about it. Finally, Angelyn ran into one of the taiji teachers last weekend and was told that the class would begin this past week. Finally! I went on Monday at 5, and was pleased to see that the same teacher from last semester is teaching. She's kind of cute, so there's extra incentive to go to class. Anyhoo, we spent the first class reviewing a bit since everyone had forgotten most of what we learned before. They hadn't decided if the class would meet on Wednesday or not, so the teacher took my phone number so she could text me on Tuesday. I got a text late Tuesday night saying that we would be having class, so on Wednesday I show up at the designated time and place. I waited, and waited, then I waited some more. I was the only one who showed up. Apparently the text that I had received at 11:30 the night before was canceled at some point. I just wasn't informed. But, on Friday we actually did have class. At the end of class we were talking about what we'll start learning after May holiday (which is next week, but I'll talk about that later). This week we'll continue reviewing, but after May holiday we get to learn new stuff. Apparently we'll all be measured for our traditional taiji outfit. Sweet! Then we'll receive our traditional taiji sword. Sweeter! So after this semester I should be able to best just about anyone in a sword duel, except that American brother/sister fencing duo from the Olympics. I'm sure they could still take me. After I was told about this, the teacher also tried to tell me that there's something happening in June, but I'm really not sure what she was trying to tell me. My Chinese wasn't working too well that day and I was having trouble translating. I'm hoping she wasn't telling me that we'd be performing in front of the entire school, but I really wouldn't be too surprised if that came up at some point. China has a way of making all my worst fears become a reality. Like corn flavored ice cream. Ugh! So that's why I'm getting a sword.

After this week's classes, we will begin our May holiday here. The actual holiday is May 1. It's China's Labor Day. But due to working ahead in our classes, overabundance of people in China, and lack of beds on trains, we're leaving a little earlier than that. Derek, Angelyn, and I are heading out this Thursday morning and going to Hong Kong. I've been there twice before, but it should still be an awesome experience. We get the entire week off after that, so we'll have plenty of time to chill in my cousin's awesome luxury pad, see the sights, and maybe even catch a ferry over to Macau one day. We'll see what happens. Maybe Jackie Chan will be in town and we'll see him around. I doubt it, but there's always a chance. By the way, Hong Kong Island has a big mountain peak in the middle of it. As we all know, mountains are made of... STONE. So now we've had a sword and some stone. My job here is finished. I think I'll go to bed now. Maybe more tomorrow! If you're lucky.

New Family galore! (Reprise)

I know that I had a post last month with the same name, but I've got the same basic news this time around. This past week I became the proud new owner of a brand new baby nephew, complete with that new nephew smell! Yay! John (Jack) Ryan Neal was born Monday morning to Billy and Stacey. He's the third of an unknown number of children. Check back in 10 years to see if they've stopped yet. The other news of the week is that last week we also received two new sisters to the Family here in Shiyan. The seed is being scattered in all kinds of soil here in Shiyan.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The path to fame

I once heard a proverb that really struck me as highly insightful. And by "heard" I mean "made up". It goes something like "The path to fame is paved with Blogger and ClustrMaps." It may have lost something in translation. I noticed on my ClustrMap (the map with the dots over on the side of my blog) that I've had a nice round 1600 visitors to my blog. At this rate, I'll have the most popular weblog around the year 235623. I did the math in my head, so the exact year may be a little off. It's an exciting prospect, though I imagine that my eventual death may impede the process. Or speed it up. Some people become more famous AFTER they're gone. We'll just have to see. I will say that the 1 millionth person to visit my blog gets a free t-shirt and a gift certificate to Build a Bear. You have to build a panda bear, though.

Now that the silliness is out of the way, I have some good news. Last night we got a new Sister! Things are really taking off across town at Shiyan University the last few weeks. It seems like the students there are being pretty receptive. Exciting times are upon us. We just have to open our eyes to see it.

Tomorrow we'll be getting a visitor in from Hong Kong. Harmony, a girl who taught at the Medical School my first year, is coming up for a visit. She's been teaching at a school in Hong Kong the last two years and is coming up to see old friends. I think I'm the only foreigner she knows here, but there are still some Chinese around who knew her. Derek is leaving tonight to go to Jingzhou for the weekend, so he's bummed that he can't meet her. BUT she'll be here for 5 days or so, and he'll only be gone for three. There's still a chance for love to blossom, Derek. Except that I'm pretty sure Harmony is already taken. But things can change.

Today should be a fun day. It's sunny, slightly cool/chilly, I invited some students to lunch and I'm waiting to hear back from them, I'm going to check out this fancy gym with Jeremy at 4:30, and it's free night at Family Pizza for foreigners. I don't know why we get free pizza, but we do. One night only. I'm not asking questions. We may get ambushed by people who want us to teach them English, but at least there will be a lot of us and we'll be able to stick together and raid the buffet. I know I promised pictures about two weeks ago, but I keep forgetting to get them. They're on Yvonne's camera. I'll try to do that soon. I'm off to study Chinese, so everyone have a great day. And someone call me!