Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Almost through another week!

First off, this is a family friendly blog, so I don't get to talk about things like using the restroom nearly as much as I would like to. I've been meaning to write a blog entry discussing nothing but that, but I didn't want to put it up here. Anyways, my friend who is also in Heqing with me just wrote an entry with her take on the whole situation ( so check that out. I've got my own stories to tell as well, but will have to wait for another time (and probably a different blog).

I'm more than halfway done with my second week of teaching! And nobody has stabbed anyone else yet! And I haven't had a nervous breakdown! In short, things are good. One of my favorite things about this school is that some of the male students have definitely gone through puberty, but (probably due to general malnutrition) are really short, so you get this kids that look like they're in 5th grade talking in these epic deep voices. It's just so incongruous.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Scheduling anything in China can be a mess. Yesterday I was getting ready to go teach class and my supervisor walks up and tells me that I (and all the other foreign fellows) need to catch a bus in the next hour to go to Dali (which is about 2.5, 3 hrs away) where we'll be spending the night and take care of visa stuff in the morning. It was kinda a surprise but it ended up being a nice trip because we got to swing by the Dali walmart to buy all those wonderful things that walmart has (3 jars of peanut butter and a folding camping chair).

In general, schedules in China are subject to change at the last minute, and aren't really general knowledge. Last year, at my school, fellows were told on a Friday that there wouldn't be any classes for the next week because there was going to be a vacation. This was the first time the teachers had heard of this week long vacation. In general, you hear about vacations about two days before they actually happen, which makes scheduling trips, and having people visit....interesting.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Two Days of Classes Done!

So, I've only had two days of classes, and I'm pretty sure my students already got me sick. I'm not really surprised; coming into close contact with sixty little kids is probably not the best way to stay healthy. Hopefully I'll be feeling better by the time that Monday rolls around.

Anyways, I've been at my placement for a few days now, and I've already had some fun food: duck head (which is just kind of hard to eat, definitely prefer duck neck), and chicken feet (which I liked much more than the last time I had it, tasted kind of like barbecue), as well as other random things that I ate without knowing what they were.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I'm moved in!

I'm finally moved in to the teacher dorms at my school. It feels so good to not be lugging around my stuff, and to actually have everything organized.

Apart from that, the dorms I'm in now are awesome. I've got a little study area, a bed (that is at least 6 inches too short if not more) and a room with a faucet where I can do laundry. I'm in the same room where Collin, one of the first batch of fellows and now in charge of organizing the Yunnan region for TFC, was living, and he left a bunch of stuff behind that I can use (various pieces of furniture, a small laundry machine!, a space heater and an electric blanket (it gets horribly cold here in the winter), and powerstrips and buckets). It's a great little place. It also even has internet! And it's all mine--I don't have to share it with anybody, and that feels surprisingly good.

I'm teaching class in two days, so I've got to run around preparing for that, and buying all those little things that I need, so I'm definitely going to be busy for the next few days, but I'm excited about it.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


heqing is awesome and gorgeous! sadly mt hotel doesnt have internet so l can only use my kndle. i will be .eeting my pyincipal omorrow so lm pretty excited. we ill ne doing evemts all day that will culminate in a dinner where the principal will try to make me drink too much baijiu (a chinese spirt that tastes like rubbing alcohol).

lm excited to be here and even more excited to find out more about when l start teaching and other vital info like that

Friday, August 19, 2011

Great New Diet!

Apparently, eating nothing but Chinese food ends up being a fantastic diet. I've lost 10 to 15 pounds since I've been here (not really sure exactly because of lack of scales) and it just happened by accident. Guys just can't get the same amount of protein and fat here that we do in the states that allows us to bulk up, so the weight just goes away. My pants are all falling off, and I might have to punch another hole in my belt pretty soon.

Sadly, girls have the opposite problem. Most of the girls who came here last year with TFC ended up gaining a good amount of weight over the year. We've all got our theories for why this happens, but it definitely does. I'm just glad I'm on the good side of this weight change thing.

I've been in Dali for the past couple of days, and I've been eating almost all Western food (Dali has a lot of tourist stuff) and I can definitely feel the difference. My wallet also is feeling the difference--I've been paying about 5 times as much per meal, and it's tasty but it's not even that good. I want to get to my placement and start eating delicious Chinese food again.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Placement Day!!!

I got placed!! I'll be in heqing county at heqingerzhong, a middle school. Here's a link to all the information that wikipedia has on heqing:   It's pretty informative. It's an awesome placement, I really like the people that I'll be with (Jarlene, Tim, and Laura are the American fellows, and I really like the Chinese fellows as well) and Teach for China has been established at the school I'll be at for 3 years so we've got a good relationship with the principal and the locals.

The location is fantastic also. It's pretty near Dali. People say that Yunnan is the New Mexico of China, and if it's the New Mexico of China, Dali is like Santa Fe. It's this hippie mecca that has great restaurants and is near some really great climbing, and has a cool expat community.

We also got moved to different dorms yesterday, and they're awesome. We actually have bathrooms in the dorms, which is incredible. We also have power outlets and tables so it feels like we're living a life of luxury. We moved in yesterday, and pretty much everybody was on the 5th and 6th floors so I got horribly sweaty carrying peoples' luggage up for about an hour. The two flaws in these dorms is the absurd number of cockroaches that are sharing the dorm with us, and the construction that is perpetually happening in and around our rooms at 6 in the morning. I'll be leaving pretty soon for my placement though, so I'm hoping the place I go to next will be even nicer.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Test Day!!

We had the end of the summer test for the students at our summer institute, and my kids did really well so I'm pretty excited. Even Lock, one of my weakest students, who got a 27% on the test we gave at the start of the program, managed to improve to a 44%, and several of my students improved even more! Hanna (another one of my favorite students) went from a 22/40 on the initial test to a 52/56 on the final, and I had other kids improve similar amounts! Tomorrow we get to have a party, so it should be lots of fun!!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Teachers and Homeless People

After two weeks of teaching, I've noticed three things about myself:

My hands are constantly covered in various colors of markers from making posters.

My clothes are covered in chalk.

And I mumble and make weird sounds. (We're practicing the short vowels in my phonics class (pat, top, met, cut, fit) so I practice making those specific sounds for class because making those sounds by themselves is not natural.

Basically, I walk around covered in various substances, mumbling sounds and grammar patterns under my breathe--teachers are basically homeless people except the content of the mumbling and the quality of the grime.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Normal Weekend

Because this coming week is the last week of school, we only have to plan two real days of lessons, and the rest is reviewing, testing, and a party, so we ended up actually having time on the weekend to go out a little bit.

It was pretty fun. The normal weekend activity is to first get shaokao (chuanr) which is basically just meat/veggies/fish/bread barbecued on a stick with some spicy sauce. It's pretty taste, but it's better and cheaper in Beijing. Anyways, you end up just sitting outside under a small tent on this little stools that make all of the taller fellows (myself included) look ridiculous. It's pretty ghetto, and probably a very good way to get food poisoning, but it's a lot of fun.

After that we normally go to the one club in Lincang. I'm not a huge fan of clubs, but it's a lot of fun because pretty much all of the fellows go, and it's just a funny experience. Most of the foreign fellows (the Americans) end up dancing, and the entire club of Lincang people just end up staring. The YMCA song came on and people were literally video-recording the Americans who were doing this strange dance and singing along to this weird foreign song. Also, as a white guy in this club, if you try to walk anywhere by yourself in the club, you will literally be grabbed by Chinese men who will force you to take beer shots with them. There's no real way to refuse, because they will literally be hanging on to you, and forcing a cup of beer into your hand that you're supposed to cheers them with and then chug. (note: in Lincang, when cheersing, your goal is to get your glass lower than that of the person you are drinking with, so you end up essentially divebombing with your cup to be polite. It's....interesting.

Apart from that, I spend a lot of the time doing "interventionist dancing" to protect the female fellows by aggressively positioning myself to rescue them from unwanted attention. I've gotten quite skilled at extricating people from awkward situations. This whole adventure takes place in the smokiest atmosphere possible because people can smoke inside, so every single guy in the club will have a cig dangling from their lips the entire time (which they will also try to force on you, but are more willing to accept a refusal than with their cups of beer). All in all, it's a very interesting experience.

Finally, we end up heading back to our wooden boards to go to sleep. Good times.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Harry Potter 7!!!

I went to see Harry Potter with pretty much every foreign fellow, some of our management, and several Chinese fellows, and it was great. We filled up the theater, and the entire movies there were occasional cheers, boos, inappropriate suggestions, and cheers of "Longbottom!!!" ringing out. It was a lot of fun, even though the 3d wasn't working for the first 30 minutes or so, so we couldn't actually really see anything; everything was just really fuzzy--we couldn't even read the title of the movie when it showed up.

Three things I love about this movie theater:
1. You can just walk in with food and drink (because they don't sell anything)
2. There wasn't a single preview or warning played before the movie--it just started on time.
3. They sell pirated DVDs within the theater. (and also apparently have a pool hall attached)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

I made it through another week!!

I finished my second week of classes/teaching! And I think everything went well. I felt a lot more confident in the classroom, and the kids are mastering the material which is really rewarding.

My birthday was yesterday, one of this absurd string of 5 birthdays in a row that we've had this week, and it was real nice. I just went out to eat with a few friends and a cheap local place that's pretty quick (people had lesson plans to write) and then swung by the pool hall to relax. Tonight is Tim Worm's birthday (Tim is one of the 7 Georgetown people here) and we're going to go out tonight to see Harry Potter 7 because it just got to Lincang. Tim's mom somehow managed to get a cake delivered to Tim at the school. He got a call, and then this guy showed up on a motorcycle with a cake for him. I was pretty impressed.

This weekend should hopefully be more relaxing than last week because next week will be the last week of this summer program, so we don't have to plan lesson plans during the week, and one day is a test and the last day is just a party, so we've got less to do. I'm really looking forward to relaxing and hanging out with people. It's definitely needed after the past couple of weeks--I need some time to unwind.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Star Bucks

I've started giving out "Star Bucks" in my 8th grade class, and it's been working out great. The kids will be able to redeem the "Star Bucks" for candy/stickers/pencils etc, and my "Star Bucks" all have the Starbucks logo on it which makes me chuckle. Anyways, I have this really hardworking girl in my class, Hannah, who is still a little behind, and is coming in early for extra help. On Tuesday I gave her a "Star Buck" for answering a question most of the way right (because I really wanted to encourage her and give her one). After class, she comes up to my lectern, and in this really sad voice says "Mr. K, I didn't answer the question right," and then hands back the Star Buck. I try to refuse it, saying it was close enough, and she just says, "No, no" then puts the Star Buck on my lectern and walks back to her desk.

It was so cute and awesome. I'm sad she didn't keep it, but it was so nice to see that she really wanted to actually win one, and was honest enough to want to do it the right way.