We are STARS!! If only in our own heads..........

Trip Start Jun 30, 2008
Trip End Dec 31, 2009

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Flag of China  , Guangdong,
Tuesday, April 21, 2009

China has been a place of opportunities for us.  Here we get a chance to do so many things that we don't at home.  Teaching English has been a great experience.  It was a bit of a baptism by fire to begin with but I had to learn quickly.  At first I felt a bit weighed down by lesson planning but soon realized how to make it a more manageable workload and pick-up some game ideas from Sabrina (who is becoming an expert in this area with our home English classes).  

Teaching Chinese children allows us a window into their lives.  They are taught to study hard from a very young age and have very little free time.  Any recreational time they do have they love to sleep or play computer games.  They absolutely love to play games in my class as they don't get to in their regular Chinese school due to large class sizes of 50 - 70 students.  This is a lesson for all of us who complain about 30 kids in a class.  Despite the big numbers they learn a lot more than we do in Canadian public school.  I teach 12 classes total on Saturday and Sunday, my students range from 4 - 13 years old.  I am learning to love and appreciate them more with each passing week.  Is teaching my calling?  I have yet to answer this question.

Another opportunity we had this week was for Raymond and Sabrina to be cast and act in a TV series Under Southern Coastal Provinces (to be released July 2010) being filmed in a nearby city.  Raymond played the role of a British colonial officer and Sabrina played a nurse in a series set in Singapore about 100 years ago.  Sabrina was especially excited as this was her first experience to be pampered like a star and have people dress her, do her hair and address any of her needs.  It will definably be difficult returning home where people won't stop us wherever we are and ask for photos and autographs.

I have received a lot of help and moral support from Raymond and the staff at my school.  In China everyone takes a two hour lunch from 12:00 - 2:00 and it is common to find people asleep at their desk, in their store or wherever they work.  I have been staying at work and getting to know the ladies I work with.  They are an especially kind group and we learn a lot about each other's cultures during our lunch rest.  I have enjoyed getting to try many new Chinese dishes during this time.  I am sure my parents would be shocked to watch me stuff down fish, tofu, vegetables (eggplant is very common) and many other interesting foods.
The kids have adapted well to our new home in China.  They have never once complained of the limited space in the apartment but considering some of the very small hotel rooms we have inhabited this is pretty spacious.

Sabrina and Sophia have been attending a few classes at the middle school where Raymond works.  Currently they have two full days there making pottery.  They have also gone to gym and music classes.  Sophia is a little less enthusiastic than Sabrina but I think it is a reaction to all the attention they get.  The Chinese do tend to treat foreigners as if they are movie stars.  For our quiet Sophia this takes a bit of getting used to.  James is pretty happy; he is a player and as long as he gets plenty of time to play Lego, he is content.  Monique is generally jovial but she has her moments.  The other night at dinner she said, "I want to put myself in a box and send myself home". Despite comments like these she is doing well spending most of her time playing with her brother and riding around the garden on a borrowed scooter(the same scooter that almost broke her nose).

Our ability to speak Chinese is coming along slooooowwwwly.  I can say just enough to have a conversation in the elevator.  I think we are now known as the foreigners who live on the 19th floor or that is what I surmise from my elevator conversations.  It only took about six weeks for me to be able to pronounce the name of the apartment complex where we are living.  My dear Chinese friend Lisa would drill me on this every time we were together because she was afraid we would have trouble getting home.  We really want to step up our Chinese because language is the window to a culture, so we are trying to find more time in which to learn.  Our days are pretty full with homeschooling, work; lesson planning, laundry, grocery shopping and sight seeing.

-  We really didn't understand humidity until this week when it went so high that it was like someone came into our apartment with a firehouse and hosed the place down.  Our tile floors were slicker than an ice rink.  We had to turn our air-conditioner on to act as a dehumidifier because our table tops and computers were getting very moist.

-  Most roads and highways have video cameras with speed detector devices that calculate your speed and if you exceed the limit you get a notice in the mail to go to the local traffic police station and pay your fine.   When you pass thru a toll booth you hardly have to slow down because the technology is so good it scans your car and photographs your license plates. 

-  Did you know that there is a city in China that has as many people as Canada?  It is called Chongqing and has a registered population of 31,442,300 (2005).
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looking on

My friend Confucius sais, how happy we are, to meet friends from afar.
Even in our such a small city there have 1,500,000 people here!

Ivan Mao

maaske on

Re: Well written
Hi Auntie and Uncle!

We sure miss your smiling face and early morning tea with Vinod. I'm glad you are getting a break from your busy life.

Love from all of us here in China........

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