Friday, May 25, 2012


So, there's a drought happening in Yunnan province* that's been going on for a while, and it's getting relatively serious in my region. A lot of the time now, you'll turn on a tap and nothing will come out. In nearby areas that are harder hit, bottled water is being used for everything. In my town, huge water barrels are being sold to all the business so that they won't run out of water during the day. I'm not really that affected on a day to day basis--worst case scenario for me is not getting to do laundry, or shower. But for people who depend on water for agriculture, and watering livestock, I know that this drought is really scary.

In other news, I was cleaning up after my class, and one of my kids came up and told me that I'm now a much better teacher than I was at the beginning of the year (when I was awful) and wondered about what made me get better. It made me all warm and happy inside. I just wish I'd been able to start off the year how I am now--the students would be in such a better place, and I think that I lost some students first semester because they got poor grades, didn't understand, and just got disheartened. It's sad to think that if I had done a better job, kids that are now not paying attention, or have given up on my class might be paying attention and be excited about (or at least slightly interested in) English. On the other hand, it does get me excited about next year, and the rest of this year for that matter.

*There are 22 provinces in China, as well as a lot more people, so each province is a good deal bigger than most states. Yunnan province has a population of roughly 46 million, so it's a big place, and a drought here affects a ton of people. In February, the Kunming (capital) government said that over 3 million people don't have enough drinking water. 3 million people. That's more than the population of some US states.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Still Chugging Along

It's Sunday night here, and I'm about finished up preparing for classes this week. Things have definitely gotten a lot easier since the first couple weeks when I was just starting out and had no idea what I was doing,, which is pretty sweet.

Today, I went to get a haircut, and it was really cool. During the first semester, I'd gone to this same lady to get a hair cut, and had no idea what she was saying. I managed to figure out that she was going to cut my hair, and it was going to be short, and, as that was what I was aiming for, I was fine with it. Today, when I went back, I actually was able to understand what she was saying, and got to have a nice conversation with her. I guess I've slowly gotten more accustomed to the accent here, so I'm better able to pick out words. It's not something that I've been able to notice on a day to day basis, but to be able to go from not being able to communicate at all, to having a conversation feels pretty sweet.

Not related to language, but this lady hasn't really encountered that many beards before, and decided that the beard hair and the head hair shouldn't meet up, so she was nice enough to fix that for me.

No sideburns for me. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Exciting Things!

1. I got a new fly swatter! The old one was getting really floppy, and was designed with the letters "A,B,C,D" across the face of it. Sadly, only the "D" now remains, so many flies were escaping through the gaping hole. I splurged on a nicer swatter--it's really whippy, and a little heavier, and it makes me really happy.

2. I saw Avengers! It was great! We took a bus to Lijiang to see it, and it was totally worth it. It was dubbed in Chinese, so we didn't understand any part of the plot, but that didn't matter. According to my Mom, we just ended up missing out on a lot of dull speechifying....and I can deal with that.

3. My students did decently on the midterm. Average was high, and plenty of students got good scores. They're still not where I want them to be, but it's nice to not be stressing about grades any more.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Recently I've gotten really into basketball. Like, really into basketball. I'm definitely one of those people that gets intensely into one thing for short period of time, and right now it's basketball. There's a group of teachers that plays every day after dinner, so whenever I don't have class I go out and mess around with them. They all have been playing for a lot longer than the two or so seasons I did in elementary school, but I've got a couple of inches on everyone so it works out nicely. I like hearing the complaint: "He's too tall!" Hopefully by the end of these two years I'll actually have some skills to go along with my height.

I think it's kind of funny that the two sports that I never really participated in growing up--football and basketball--are the ones that I'm most involved in. I'm also not looking forward to going back to the states and realizing that I'm actually not any good at basketball. That'll be sad.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


So, this past Friday I got to speak to the entire school after the English part of the speech contest concluded. I'd spent some time preparing a speech in English about my experience in Heqing, but about thirty seconds before I gave my speech, I was told that the main thing that I should talk about was the speech contest, and that I should probably use as much Chinese as possible. So, I got up to the podium, and just started making stuff up. According to other people, it didn't sound too terrible, so there's that.

The next couple days are going to spent proctoring midterms, and grading way too many English finals. I think my students aren't going to do as well as I'd like, but there's nothing to be gained by worrying about it.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Two Things

First off, young ones cover your eyes. One of our vocab words this semester has been 'pen pal.' Pen, when pronounced with the wrong tones (something I'll do occasionally) is a slang word for lady-parts. "Today class, we'll be writing an introduction for our *&*($ pal! So, take out your notebooks...."  It's awkward.

Also, I'm giving a speech (in English) in front of the entire school today. I'm going to go write it now. I figure as long as I don't repeat the same word for five minutes, I should be decently alright.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

More on Football!

I wrote something up on football at my school a while ago, and it looks like it's up over at TFC's blog. Take a look!