Sunday, October 18, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Cleaning and getting stuff organized in my apartment. Max Magee pulled a trailer and helped get my larger stuff down. He is also responsible for me having the cutest small vacuum ever. (sorry these pictures are slightly out of focus . . . I think my camera was on some odd setting)
Mom helped me do lots of cleaning and organizing, especially in the bathroom and kitchen.
Max taking a break. He had just finished installing knobs on my kitchen cabinets helping avoid future broken fingernails, for which I am very thankful.
Since my furniture was red, it clashed with the already red wall (not to mention there were spots on the wall in a different shade of red from someone trying to cover up holes or something). Dad was skeptical of the brown, but I like it and think it goes nicely with my Chinese/Asian hodgepodge decor.
My apartment is a work in progress as far as decorating is concerned. In a few weeks when I've finished painting and gotten some more pictures on the walls, I'll try to take some "after" photos to post. The apartment is small but good enough for me and the location is nice. I'm about a 10 - 15 minute walk from almost anything on campus. Since parking on campus is not an option, being within walking distance is a big plus for where I live. Check back with me after a series of rainy days or after the first Indiana blizzard to see if my opinion on this has changed.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
My Grandma and all eleven of her grandchildren. This is the first photo we've all taken together since we were all together for a piano recital I did back in 1999! The guys got a little hidden back behind all of us girls. Guess we should have put the guys in the front!
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Fun to get to stay in the "House of Awesome" and get some quality porch time in (love the rocking, collapsible lawn chair and the hammock!)
Corn hole (which might mistakenly be called Beanbag toss by us newbies) was a new experience for me. Seems to be a popular Southern lawn game. Brad and I took on Katie and Justin. I was no good. Katie get the much improved award and won the game for her and Justin at the end with two bags in the hole and one on the board.
We were there for Brad's birthday but the celebration was low key since Brad had to spend almost the whole day studying for his finals for his summer school classes. But we did go get some amazing Greek food which we took to the park and enjoyed the swings. We then returned to the House of Awesome for grasshopper pie, lots of glasses of milk, and some good porch time.
Getting ice cream at The Pied Piper--a fun independently run ice cream shop in Nashville. I got Trailer Trash 2.0 which was chocolate ice cream with about every kind of candy in it you can imagine--M&Ms, Snickers, Crunch, Oreos, and much more. Other great flavor to choose from included Some Like It Hot (had Cinnamon and Cheyenne pepper in it!), Dough-Re-Me, Melon Dramatic, and Banana Fanna Fo Pudding. Fun place!
Other fun activities included helping Beth organize her classroom library, visiting the Parent Teacher Store (where Amy works) and lunch at Chick-fil-a, Tacos in a bag, watching The Brad open gifts (if you know Brad, you know what I mean :), 6:00 a.m. Zumba class at the YMCA, a ride on Beth's Vespa, and pool time at Beth's parents house.
Friday, August 7, 2009
The Rices talking about China and giving a presentation at C.M.B.C.
While standing up in front of everyone, Grace and Esther found the air-conditioning vent to be quite entertaining. Everyone else found them quite entertaining and adorable in their Chinese outfits :)
Group shot - Rice family, Kim, Katie, Kristy, and Dad and Mom
Having dessert and coffee at our house afterward while recounting stories of Mr. and Mrs. Tomato Head. Brian even had family from Terra Haute, IN who came to visit and hear their presentation.
Dad reading Dr. Seuss to Esther and Grace. Practicing for when he's a grandpa (which will be in March by the way, my sister and brother-in-law are expecting a baby!).
Sunday, July 26, 2009
"Lining up in China, I soon discovered, was played as a contact sport. Men and women, young and old, cigarettes dangling from their lips, used their elbows and shoulders to muscle their way to the cabs. With knobby elbows in my ribs, strange hands on my arms, and my back feeling the amassing weight of the hundreds who had not yet slinked ahead of me, I began to ponder the idea of personal space, and after being shimmied aside by a grandmother who could not have been more than three and a half feet tall, concluded that no, such a concept is evidently alien to the Chinese. And so I, too, began to dig in against the line hoppers, flinging my shoulders to contest the passage of three businessmen behind me. A shoulder here, a foot there, soon I was moving like a heaving linebacker. Some fifty people had managed to bypass me in the scrum, but now that I knew that lining up and getting bruised were intertwined, I was determined not to let this troika of businessmen pass me by. If I hadn't begun to regard the queue as a forum for physical sport, it is quite likely that I would still be there today, for lining up in China is not for the meek. " --Lost on Planet China, by J. Maarten Troost
It might be hard to comprehend if you've never experienced it, but this really is exactly what you have to do. Katie and I would work as a team--one of us would "box out" while the other pushed up to the front (I remember doing that especially at train stations) all the while shouting warnings to each other: "Watch out for Grandma over there! Hey, they're trying to send their kid up to the front since he's smaller! Don't let that guy behind you stick his money on the counter and order first!"
The other day I was eating at Chick-fil-a with dad and mom and was amazed to see dozens of people waiting to be served but no one pushing. A line like "Oh, were you here first? You go ahead." would never be heard in China. Before the Olympics, there were "Practice standing in line" days on the 11th of every month. I've come to learn that I can accept and forgive a lot in the name of culture, but standing in lines (and not hacking and spitting) is something that I think should be a common courtesy no matter where you're from.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
"Oh Disney World is so much better than here so I rode lots of rides there."
Said with all the logic of a 13-year-old mind. We stood in line a few more minutes as Liz watched the swirling, octopus-like ride trying to decide if it would make her "puke" which I sincerely hoped she wouldn't do since I would be sitting next to her. Then she looked at me and asked--
"Have you ever been on Mt. Everest?"
I found this a rather random, surprising question coming from a 13-year-old.
"Yeah, actually, I have."
"Did you like it?"
"Yeah, it was an amazing experience."
A few more minutes of line standing pass.
"Well, I didn't want to ride it, but my friends, like, pushed me on it and then when I got off I thought it was totally awesome."
Ah, there's a ride at Disney called "Mt. Everest." Silly me. Adulthood and six years of living out of the country have put me slightly out of touch with the Disney scene.
"Oh, I didn't know Disney had a ride called Mt. Everest. I thought you were asking me about the actual Mt. Everest in Tibet. I've been there." (You know, most people think that's pretty cool)
To which I got a slightly confused, quizzical look from Liz, a little like the way a puppy tilts its head and listens to you but doesn't quite know what you're saying.
Later in the day, while waiting in line to ride "The Beast," the song that was playing on the P.A. system was "Oh I think it's gonna be a long, long time." The projected wait was over an hour. How fitting.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Thanks to my Uncle Tim and Aunt Colleen, I have a 1998 Honda Civic to drive! For being 10+ years old, it's in amazingly good shape. No exterior problems, spotless interior, barely over 100,000 miles. It's reliable and gets great gas mileage and seems perfect for me right now--especially since I got the 0 down/0 monthly payments plan (the car was given as a donation through our church with the provision that I could drive it). God has already provided so much for me since being home!
The freedom that comes with having a car was one thing that I really missed when I was in China. You can't realize how much independence a car gives you until you have to live for an extended time without one. You become dependent on public transportation--taxis, buses, trains, etc.--which is ok, but involves more time, more planning, and a lot less flexibility in whatever you're doing. Another thing about having a car is that you can carry anything. When shopping or traveling in China, I always had to remember that I had to be able to carry whatever I packed/bought. That really changes what you put in a suitcase or shopping bags. When I went on my road trip to Detroit and through Ohio a week ago, I was so happy to be able to throw in whatever I wanted for the trip. 5 pairs of shoes because I can't decide which ones I want?--Sure! Throw them all in! Can I take home the extra ironing board my aunt had for my new apartment?? No problem!--put it in the back seat!
Having said all that about being so glad to have a car, I will also say that Americans are way too dependent on cars. We as Americans will get in cars, seatbelt ourselves in, just to drive two blocks. We'll spend 20 minutes in the car so that we can go to a gym where we proceed to walk 20 minutes on a treadmill. And the sad part is that even when people want to walk or ride a bike, you can't do it in a lot of cities even though the distance isn't that far! There just aren't ways to walk across most streets and intersections. Katie said that last year when she got back from China, she tried to walk somewhere in her town and she kept getting honked at to get off the road. Since I live in a tiny little town, I've decided that I will not take my car to anywhere in town since it's all within walking distance.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
After leaving Kara and John's, I did an Ohio circuit to visit family and friends that I haven't seen much of the past six years. Seems like whenever I was home and free, we couldn't work it out to get together. This time though, everything worked out perfectly. I got to spend a day with Tim and Colleen and Josh (my mom's brother, his wife and their son), a day with Beth and Mark and my three cousins (Beth is my dad's sister), a day with Carma (Carma and I lived in Yichang for two years together and were roommates the first year), and a day at King's Island with Hillery and Matt and their kiddos (Hillery was my roommate my freshman year of college). I finally got to meet Carma's husband Mack. They've been married for over two years so it was about time! And I got to see Hillery's cute kids, Amelia and Micah. I had met Amelia when she was just a few months old, but now she's two and Micah is 6 months so this was my first time to see him. Sadly, I was delinquent and didn't get photos with Tim and Colleen or Carma and Hillery. But I got photos with Beth and her kids! It was a great week on the road.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
The Chinese characters painted on the side of the scroll are/were Psalm 23. Dad thinks that maybe Tucker was just literally following the verse in Jeremiah 15-- "Thy words were found, and I did eat them . . ."
But, like I said, he's too cute!!
And a couple more dog photos . . .
Last week, I woke up in the morning and went out to the kitchen to eat some breakfast. When I went back to my room, this is how I found Lucy on my bed.
Then, Tucker decided to join her. This is why I make sure my door is tightly latched at night, so I don't wake up with two dogs in bed with me :)
Thursday, July 2, 2009
The article is called 7 Habits of Highly Ineffective Expats
Here's a condensed list of the 7 things listed in the article (the article explains more)
1.) Comparisons - "It's not like this back home"
2.) Counting down - "What's the point of learning the language if I'm only here two years."
3.) Getting stuck in a rut - "Let's meet at the usual Starbucks."
4.) Obsessive traveling - "I have three days off, I think I'll head to Thailand."
5.) Increased alcohol consumption - "Beer is cheaper than water."
6.) Decadence - "I bought 300 DVDs since coming to China."
7.) Know it all - "That's so Chinese. I understand China."
From what I've observed this is a pretty good list of common downfalls for foreigners living in China. I will admit, I definitely did the obsessive traveling part; however, I'm not so convinced that one is a bad thing. First, since it's not as economical to try to save yuan and convert them into dollars and since traveling in Asia is affordable, I feel like you should take the chance to see new places. I don't regret any of the trips I took and learned a lot from them. And, sometimes you just really, really need a break from China.
The thing that irritates me the most when dealing with other Westerners in China are the foreigners I meet who make no effort to learn the language. I once heard a American guy say in exasperation to a Chinese friend who was struggling to express something , "I'm American! Speak English!" That same guy would probably get irritated here in the States at immigrants who didn't speak English! I figure, if you live in their country, you should speak (or at least be making a valiant attempt to speak) their language as a sign of cultural respect.
One other note on foreigners in China. After several years in China and after running into lots of other foreigners there, I decided that foreigners in China generally fit one of three categories:
1) People who are there for some kind of higher purpose such as missions or humanitarian efforts or who want to make a difference by either teaching or doing business. These people generally get along with each other despite differing purposes and they tend to make efforts to fit in with the Chinese and learn the language.
2) Travelers and wanderers who aren't quite sure where they're going in their lives and are seeking some kind of romanticized adventure, are running away from something back home, or who have ill-fated ambitions of writing a travelogue, book, or becoming a journalist. These people generally get caught up in cheap alcohol consumption and (if they're male) pick up a Chinese girlfriend who doubles as a translator. They usually don't care about learning the language. They may teach for a time, but are not teachers and schools regret hiring them.
3) Oddities who obviously didn't fit in their home country so they moved abroad. Yet, not surprisingly, their oddness followed them and they're still strange in China (or wherever). The upside is that Chinese people regard all foreigners as slightly odd or at least different, so odd is the norm and the Chinese don't really differentiate between degrees of oddness among foreigners. So their oddness might go unnoticed by the Chinese, but other foreigners will still pick up on it. These people usually make a slight attempt to learn the language, but end up butchering it so badly that their efforts are futile. I always wish these people had to wear signs written in Chinese that say, "Not everyone in my country is like me. Please don't make any generalizations based on what you've just witnessed."
So I suppose the point of this post is that if you ever go overseas, be conscientious of not only how the local people perceive you, but also of how your fellow expat friends perceive you too.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Here I am with the Chelli family last Friday.
Katie, Beth, Brad, and I with Dr. Chelli and Sarah in January of 2008 when we visited Bangalore. Sarah let Katie, Beth, and me "shop" in her closet so that we could dress up in Indian outfits and we even found a Indian shirt for Brad.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Next step . . . housing in Bloomington.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
It was so nice to see dad and mom and Kara greet me at the baggage claim in Detroit. We all went out to breakfast together (cinnamon pancakes at Bob's!). Mom and Kara had an amazing Orange-themed "Welcome back to America" basket. It was full of amazingly wonderful things--Coke Zero Vanilla, granola bars, cereal, coffee, gum, post-it notes, chapstick, and enough good smelling shower stuff to make me smell like a walking fruit salad (and by the time I arrived, I really needed all that shower stuff!). It's really nice to be with family again.
I leave tomorrow to go back to mom and dad's. On Wednesday I have an interview at IU for a graduate assistant position. Pray that I can get the job! It would really be an ideal situation for me to be able to work as a G.A.
Hoping to see a lot of you soon! I'll probably have a few more posts about my last couple weeks in China.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
I got this email from one of my students. I really have enjoyed being a teaching while I've been in China. It's so nice to know that the work I have been doing is meaningful and is making a difference. I've gotten a few other sweet notes from students. The notes have meant a lot here at the end of my China teaching career. I'm not a perfect teacher, by any stretch; however, I can leave this school satisfied that I did the best I could to help these students in my classes. It's the right time to go home . . . I know that. But, I'll miss being a teacher.
(the title of this post is what you say in Chinese at the end of class to say that class is dismissed. Class over . . . really over . . .)
Dear Kim：Thank you for your hard work this semester, we have learned a lot of useful knowledge in your classs, you are the most responsible teacher which I have met . You will leave China, I sent to you my best wishes: wish you achieving in study! Good health! Give your family the same blessing! I will miss you! Thank you for you gave me unforgettable memory!
Yours truly: Kevin
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
I'm very excited to see my family and judging from my mom's emails and Facebook notes, she especially is more than ready for me to come home too. My mom is so great . . . she always tells me to email her a list of my top food requests that I want to eat when I come home, so that she can have them ready when I arrive! So, after 10 months in China with limited access to Western foods, here is what sounds especially good to me.
1. Lots of veggies and stuff for salad
2. Fat-free yogurt (that you can eat with a spoon, not drink with a straw . . . which is how they "eat" yogurt here)
3. Cottage cheese
4. Cinnamon Life cereal
5. Coke Zero vanilla
6. Deli turkey/ham for sandwiches
7. Wheat bread
8. Seedless red grapes and good Indiana cantaloupe
9. Monster cookies or brownies
and . . . of course . . .
I also requested a meal with "cook-out" food--meat grilled on the grill (my dad is a great griller!), corn on the cob, Mom's 4th of July beans, fresh fruit, etc. etc. etc.
Food sounds so good right now! I'm sure eventually I'll really miss some of the Chinese food that I like here, but right now I just want homecooked American food . . . oh, and Starbucks coffee!
Monday, June 15, 2009
Monday, June 8, 2009
A few months ago, I had my writing students write letters to my friend Beth's class in Tennesee. I had about 70 sheets of paper in a large brown manilla-type envelope.
K: I'd like to mail this to America
CP: Ok, but you have to use a white envelope not a brown one.
K: Um, that's a litle strange (since I've mailed brown envelopes to America before), but ok. Can you give me a white envelope?
CP: No, sorry we don't have any white envelopes.
K: So, where do I get the right envelope? Can I buy it somewhere? If I go buy it somewhere else, how do I know I'll have the right one?
CP: We don't know where you can buy it.
K: . . .
So if you're going to require a certain color or size for packaging, don't you think you should have the correct packaging available? At this point, we were pretty much having a stand off. I was standing there staring at her, thinking "um, this is YOUR JOB to help me figure this out." So, one of the workers decided she could use white paper and GLUE it over my brown envelope. So while I waited, they proceeded to use gloopy messy glue to turn my brown envelope white. I guess that was acceptable, because Beth got my letters a few weeks later.
Last week, I was back at good old China Post. I decided to send some of my winter clothes and shoes home by slow boat in order to free up space in my luggage. So I loaded up a big plastic bag of stuff and lugged it downtown. The bag I was carrying stuff in is a sturdier plastic/canvas bag that I have. At China Post, they have to box the stuff up for you. If you come with an already packaged box to send, they'll make you open it so they can check the contents. And, anything you do by yourself, would of course be in the wrong packaging.
K: I'd like to put these things in a box and send it surface rate to America.
CP: (goes and gets a box . . . at this time there's some sort of mass mailing going on in the PO and there are people and boxes and envelopes and brochures everywhere . . . it was chaotic to say the least. PO worker struggles to find a box and custom's form in the chaos.)
CP: Ok, put your stuff in here.
CP: Um, this isn't ok. There's some space here at the top of the box
K: So? It's just sweater and shoes. Nothing will break.
CP: But the rule is there can't be any space. Do you have anymore stuff to send?
K: No, this is all I brought. Do you have a smaller box?
CP: No. The next size down is much too small.
K: Can we just stuff some newspaper in there?
CP: No, that's not ok and we don't have any newspaper.
K: . . . (thinking to myself I am not lugging all this stuff all the way back just to have to lug MORE stuff back and how was I to know how much stuff would EXACTLY fit in that size box??)
CP: Do you want to keep that canvas bag you brought the stuff in?
K: Well, yes sort of, it is useful for carrying things. Why?
CP: If we put the stuff back in the bag then in the box it will be ok.
K: But that won't make it take up anymore space in the box?
CP: But it will be more secure.
K: Ok, fine.
So we proceeded to unpack the box, pack the stuff back in my bag (which doesn't close at all so I don't see how it made anything more secure), then put the whole bag in the box. I see absolutely no logic at work here . . .
So there's my China Post rant. Banks and post offices . . . two things I won't miss having to deal with in China and in Chinese.
Monday, May 25, 2009
The Clearwater team helped buy notebooks, pens, soccer balls, and blackboards to give to the students and for the school to use. Here some of the boys on the team are carrying the blackboards up the path to the school.
The students stand outside their school, singing and clapping to welcome us.
Our group could barely fit into their little classroom. Brian gave a little introduction and then we all sang a few songs for the kids and did an impromptu English lesson.
This girl, who I named Lucy since it sounded like her Chinese name, opened up to me a little bit although she was still pretty shy. I would have guessed her to be about 7 or 8 years old, but she told me she was 12. When I asked her how old I was she guess I was 16, so I guess we were both having trouble gauging each other's ages! :)
The girls wore their traditional Miao dresses which are brightly colored with many layers and lots of elaborate beading.
One good thing about kids is that even if you don't speak the same language, throwing and kicking balls are universally fun and doesn't require much communication.
Me with some of the boys
The kids wave goodbye to us as we leave.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
*for any one else who watched the West Wing, do you remember the episode called "Big Block of Cheese Day" where Leo invites all those bizarre interest groups and organizations who never get heard to come to the White House? Always loved that episode, especially when I watched it in China! :)
Saturday, May 16, 2009
(blog is still "harmonized," but proxy server worked well enough to let me upload the photos)