Monday, June 29, 2009

Dinner with the Chelli Family

Last Friday night, I got to eat dinner with the Chelli family. I had no idea they were even in the States, but Dr. Chelli had been in contact with my dad and despite a slight miscommunication about when we were supposed to meet, we all met up at Olive Garden last Friday. Dr. Chelli heads up Berean Bible College in Bangalore, India. When my friends and I spent a month backpacking around India last year, the entire Chelli family housed and fed us and showed us around (and washed our clothes . . . we were so dirty when we got there!) when we were in Bangalore. It was a nice surprise to get to catch up with the whole family last Friday. The Chellis are doing a great work in India to train pastors and missionaries to go out and plant churches all over the country. I hope I can go back to India and see them there again someday.

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

Graduate Assistant

This past Wednesday, I had an interview at Indiana University for a graduate assistant position in IU's East Asian Studies Center. Despite what I felt like was just an ok performance in my interview, I found out that same night that I got the job! I'll work 20 hours a week in the EASC during the '09-'10 school year and in exchange my tuition will be fully covered and I'll receive a stipend and health insurance. I'll either be helping to coordinate events and activities that the EASC sponsors or else I'll be assisting with data collection and research for the grant that the EASC has to write to receive funding from the Department of Education. I feel like this is a huge answer to prayer since I had no idea how I was going to pay for graduate school. Plus I'll be working in an area that's directly related to what I'm studying and I'll get to meet more people in that field. If you're interested to read about IU's EASC, here's the website.

Next step . . . housing in Bloomington.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Back to the USA

After 20+ hours in the air, 5 airports, and more than 130 pounds of luggage to lug around (I see why they call it "luggage"), I finally made it to Detroit. Amazingly, this trip there were no delays (my last flight actually arrived in Detroit 15 minutes early) and my luggage all arrived intact. I do have to say, Hong Kong and Beijing have much nicer airports than most of our airports here in the States . . . and they're much more helpful and polite there (especially the customs officials!) and there's free wireless internet. LAX was not a fun place to have to transfer at since I had to walk for 15 minutes, pushing my luggage cart by myself across a parking lot to get from International Arrivals to Domestic Departures.

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

Bye to the Kiddos

Wasn't easy to say goodbye to my kiddos at the orphanage. I love those kids and the babies. We got to color and play together one more time on Friday, the day before Katie and I left Mengzi. Maybe someday I'll get to meet some of those kids in America if they get adopted internationally! I told several of my students who also regularly go to the orphanage to play with the kids that I want regular email reports about how the kids are doing. I'm also going to miss the workers. Bao A-yi ("A-yi" means "auntie") and Yang A-yi have been really sweet to Katie and me when we come to the orphanage. Bao A-yi, the lady on the right in the photo, took Katie and me about to lunch afterwards. I really will miss all of them so much.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Xia Ke 下课

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.

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!
Best wishes!

Yours truly: Kevin

(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 . . .)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Top 10 Food List

Hard to believe I leave China in only4 days. As always, there's a million things to do at the very end, not to mention saying goodbye to people and packing everything up. I'm still finishing exams and a mountain of grading, but the end is in sight.

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 . . .

10. Milk!!

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

Mom McG and Kristy

It's always fun to have people come visit from the States, especially when it's family. A few weeks ago, Katie's mom and sister Kristy came for a visit. Katie's mom got to stay about 5 days (after having spent some time in Beijing and Yichang) but then had to get back home because of work. Kristy, who just graduated from college, decided to stay until the end of this month and go back home with Katie. It's been fun having Kristy around to get to hang out with. Having Katie's family here is probably the next best thing to having my own family here. Only a week and I'll be with my mom and sister (and, of course, dad and bro-in-law)!

P.S. Blog is still blocked. Boo. Posts are still infrequent due to having to use a slow, flinicky proxy server (which currently thinks I am in Germany and so all of my blog buttons and menus are in German).

Monday, June 8, 2009

Going Postal

The Post Office can be a frustrating place no matter what country you're in, but China Post can literally make me go postal. If you think the U.S. Post Office is not the most customer-friendly place, try China Post. I swear the workers there hate their lives and take it out on whoever they're "helping." Thankfully there is one nice girl here in Mengzi that Katie made friends with, but still, I always dread having to mail anything. Here's a short recap of my last two attempts to mail things from our Mengzi China Post.

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.
K: Great.
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.