Sunday, September 24, 2017

Classroom Switch Ups, Five Dragon Springs and Furong Street

David's first day of teaching went well and then we get to Tuesday when we both head to classes.  We were supposed to be teaching in classrooms next door to each other, but when we get up there, one of the other foreign English teachers informs me that she is in the classroom that I am supposed to be in.  I don't know what to do, so she says she will run down to the next floor and see if there is a classroom that I can use.  She pops up in a few minutes and says that a classroom one floor down is supposed to be mine. (We suspect that she knew all along about the classroom change, but tried to play innocent.)  That made us have to change our plan a little bit because we were going to put our classrooms together for a few minutes and sing, "Country Roads" for them.  I was scrambling a little bit to find things to fill in that time that the song didn't take up.  I was supposed to have a class of 36 students, but it turned out to be only 23. It makes a BIG difference in what you can do with a smaller class compared to a larger class.  The rest of my classes this week have been 31 to 47 students.  David's classes range from 29 to 44 students.

I thought I might let you know what our typical day is like.
      6:00 a.m. Alarm goes off.  Read scriptures. Shower. WeChat with Alisa or some other of our children.  Breakfast. Gather what we need for the day.
      7:30 a.m. Leave the apartment to walk 10 minutes to our classroom building that is across campus.  Leaving that early makes it so we can usually catch the elevator before it gets jam packed with students.  We teach on either the 5th or 6th floor, depending on the day of the week.
     8:00 a.m.  Start teaching our first class.  There is a break from 8:50 to 9:00 and then the class ends at 9:50.  There will be a 20 minute break between classes.
     10:10 a.m.  Second class starts.  There is supposed to be a break at 11:00 to 11:10, but if the students agree, we can skip it and get out of class at 11:50.  This extra 10 minutes can be important for the students because it will put them ahead of all the others in line at the school canteen.  The lines get really long in a short time.
     Noon - We sometimes go to the canteen for lunch.  For every 4 hours that we teach, we are given a free meal at the teacher canteen which sometimes runs out of food if you aren't fast enough getting there.  We also go home sometimes for a sandwich and some yogurt.
     Most of the time after we finish lunch is divided into things like entering grades, shopping, lesson planning or meeting with students.  We sometimes enlist the help of some students to do things like banking or phone bill paying,etc.  When we were here before, we did all our apartment cleaning ourselves, but we are going to hire a service to do it this time.  It costs about 50 Yuan ($8-10 US) for someone to come clean the floors.  We have to do our own dishes and toilet, but it's nice to have the sweeping and mopping done by someone else.
    Dinner time will either be here or at the canteen or if someone wants to take us somewhere to eat. Evening activities will include either more school work, taking a walk or visiting with  some of our Chinese friends or more video chats with the kids.

Saturday, we took Kayce (SDNU teacher) along with us as we went to Five Dragon Springs and to Furong Street.  It was another very hot day in Jinan.  We went through the Five Dragon Springs and then we were hot, sweaty, tired and hungry, so we found a nearby Pizza Hut.  I really like the Pizza Huts in China.  They have great pizza, great steaks and salads and refreshing fruit drinks.  AND THE AC WAS TURNED UP FULL BLAST!!  It felt so good to sit there and get cooled down.  The staff seemed to appreciate us coming to their restaurant also.  It is a little more expensive than most Chinese Cuisine, but it was so worth it.

This is the dragon motif at the entrance of Five Dragon Springs.  Can you pick out the five dragons?
People are feeding the fish from the overhanging balcony.  This pond if filled with hundreds of fish and some are very huge because they are so well fed.
Some of the pretty koi in one of the ponds.
David at the Five Dragons monument.  The story about this spring is that there was a great drought and famine in the country.  The five dragons came and made these springs for the people so they could have the water. 
Furong Street is an old traditional Chinese street the way it would have been 100 years ago.  They had some cute shops and TONS of places to eat unusual foods.  It was so fun to walk through.  Anyone that knew how to say, "Hello" or "Hi" did.  You really stick out as different here in China when your hair is not black and your skin a lighter color.  The people who live in this area live in the dwellings and they are still traditional in their homes.

This was a cute entrance to a mall area before we got to Furong Street.  We didn't go in, but it was so pretty with all the parasols and the cute statues.

Some of the foods that were available on Furong Street.  Yummy!!  If you notice toward the tip left of the picture, it looks like rocks.  It's not. It is something that they cover in mud and bake it.  I don't know what it is.  There is Korean man here that meets with us on Sundays for Church and he plans to go with us sometime and we'll see if he can tell us what is in some of these foods.  

On the tray to the left of the picture you will see the long pig tails on the stick.  The man in the booth had just cut off a roasted tail for someone that wanted one to eat.  I don't know if I'll ever try one though.  The other food there was pick hocks, roasted to perfection and ready for eating, skin and all.

These are squid.  They open them up, fillet them and flatten them, then they bread them and fry them.  I don't think I could get past the tentacles.
There are so many other kinds of food available.  We do plan to go again some other time and make it our first stop for either lunch or dinner! (Except for the squid and the pigs tails.)

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Sept 11-17, 2017 Changes in China from our First Experience

Things that have changed from when we were here the first time here: some for the good, some not.

1.  Hot running water in the kitchen!  YAY!!  This makes me so happy!  Before it was fill a large kettle with water, bring it to a boil, pour over the pile of dishes in the sink. Then boil another kettle of water for the rinse water and pour it in a large metal bowl.

2.  AC in the bedroom!!  No more hot sweaty nights!  Now if only the one in the living room would work....

3.  Cleaner streets and air.  China has made a concerted effort to clean the air.  They incentivize the leaders of the cities to find ways to clean the air and the new mayor of Jinan is really made a big push for that and for cleaning the streets and making the traffic flow better.  For every 100 meters of roadway, they hire a street cleaner person and they are very intent on keeping their section of the street clean.  If a supervisor comes along and there is even one cigarette butt on the ground, they are penalized.  With the air, they gave the major polluting industries one year to relocate their business or just to be shut down.  Some complain that this has been a burden to the people by taking away the jobs that paid a decent wage.  It has also hurt the poor, as they took away all the little street shops that were set up in odd places to bring in a little money.  If they want to sell now, they have to have a building to sell from.

Some things that have not changed...

1.  The smells.  Every so often you come across a smell that is directly from the sewer.  It is a little better than it was though.

2. The Chinese way of doing things.  They still like to drive the odd way that makes me cringe when we go through an intersection.

3.  The friendliness and kindness of the Chinese people here in Jinan.

This week we were taken out to dinner by 3 different people and had visits from some other old friends who stopped in to see us.  We saw Simon and he took us to a fancy restaurant that has a famous fish dish that was super yummy!  Eva treated us to lunch at a "noodle place" and then Lily paid for our supper at the Cafeteria because it was close by and she was on campus for the day.

David standing by one of the many sculptures on the square.  They had several that were all made form materials that they had recycled.
We had a great time Saturday also.  We went with Sue Stubbs and Kayce Fuhriman to Quancheng Square and had supper.  We just decided to go to McDonald's because it was close and we all wished later that we had tried to find something else.  We explored some shops and went to the big fancy mall called Parc 66.  We showed them the grocery store that carries a lot of foreign products that you can't find in any of the stores.

The Park 66 Mall has displays that change every month or so.  You can go climb on it and take pictures. 
Then we walked to the Square where people were doing some line dancing - Chinese style.  Kayce and Sue decided to go home, but we waited around for Eva and her husband to come and join us.  Eva got us dancing with a group that does what she calls, "Military Style" dancing.  It was interesting to do because it was a six count step.  I tried to get pictures, but it was getting dark.  There was quite a crowd gathered around us by the time we were done.  It was quite a workout!

Chinese Line Dancing

Military Style Dancing

It was nice to get together with the other BYU teachers for church today.  David and I spoke about using the Holy Ghost to help make decisions.  We had to leave a little earlier than we wanted to from the group because the mattress topper that we had ordered through a student earlier this week had come.  She had to leave before we got back, so she just left it by our door.  Crystal was so sweet to do that for us.  Here's hoping for better nights' sleep.  David starts teaching tomorrow, I start on Tuesday.

 This tower was not finished when we were here four years ago.  Now this is what it does.

Quancheng Square Water Show.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Sept 6-10, 2017. Back to China. Week 1

Getting to China itself is an ordeal.  I have been asking myself these last few days, "Why did I want to do this again?"  I don't remember being this tired four years ago when we arrived.

We arrived in Jinan at 12:15 a.m. on September 8.  We had left our home in Lehi, UT at 7:30 a.m. on September 6.  It took three plane rides and and two three hour layovers.  We were pretty tired by the time we arrived in Shanghai and then had to wait for our flight to Jinan.

After arriving in Jinan, we were picked up by John, a Chinese teacher in the English Department, and they drove us to our apartment.  We got all the luggage hauled up our third floor apartment, opened the door and turned on the lights... except no lights.  John had to run to the Foreign Students building and get someone there to give him some cards so that we could get electricity.  The gave us two temporary cards.  We will have to wait a few days to get our own cards for the electricity sometime this coming week.  After we made the bed, we finally were able to crawl into it about 2:30 a.m.

We had been told to meet at the West gate of campus to get some things done for our stay at campus, so we were up at the bright and early time of 7 so that we could get some breakfast.  I had hardly slept because the bed was hard and the sheets were scratchy and I was too keyed up to sleep.  We hurried out to the West Gate and waited, and waited, got a second key made for the apartment, and waited.  Finally, we started to walk back toward the building where we knew Eva (our co-teacher, friend, and helper from before would be at.  She was coming toward us because she had been alerted that we were not at the appointed meeting place.  Turns out we were supposed to be at the South Gate!  Our US phones won't work here and they had no way to contact us to find us.  We had asked several times about the instructions for where to meet in the car on the way from the airport and each time is was the West Gate. Somebody boo-booed.  Oh well,  after all that, we finally could get started with the procedures to become employed here.

We were moved from room to room to building to building.  Sitting and waiting, walking to more buildings, standing around, waiting, standing around, waiting, more walking... well, you get the picture.  My legs were starting to cramp because of the flights and lack of sleep and all the walking.  I had to do some stretches while were were waiting.  It helped some, but when I tried to go to sleep that night, I was woken up by very painful leg and foot cramps.  It had me very discouraged and wondering what I was doing here if I couldn't get everything done and was in pain all the time.  My feet are better some, but still not used to ALL the walking we have to do here.

One of the first papers we were handed was a paper about an orientation that would happen on Sunday.  We had been so looking forward to meeting with our other BYU teachers on Sunday for Church and visiting with them.

We had the orientation today and got to meet with the other new foreign teachers that will be at Shandong University this year.  There was Chris from France who will be teaching French and working on his Doctorate (he has been in China for 6 years now, Alvaro from the south part of Spain and teaching... Spanish (this is his second year in China, Mostafa from Iran who hopes to become an assistance professor in Archaeological Studies and Machelle from South Africa who is here in China with her husband who is going to Medical School and they have been in China for one year.  It was interesting getting to know them in the training.  After lunch, we invited Mostafa, Alvaro and Machelle to our apartment to wait for the two hours we had to wait before we went to the Archaeological Museum that is on our campus.  Mostafa and Alvaro didn't stay, but Machelle did and we had a nice get to know you time.

The museum is very interesting.  In about 1945, they discovered an ancient city near Jinan that dates back 7300 years ago.  They also discovered two other cities that dated back 4000 years ago and 3000 years.

I took this photo because of the grinding stones on the lower left side.  It looked very similar to a Navajo matate, the tool they used for grinding corn and wheat. This one would have been used for grinding rice.

I thought the decorations on this pot looked similar to some Hopi pottery that I had seen.

The legs on the pot on the lower right side were used so they can put the pot over the fire.  I also felt like the design on that pot looked like a Navajo or Hopi design.

Some early Chinese pictographs.  Also similar to early Native American pictographs.

This was a drainage system that was uncovered under the civilization that was dated back 4000 years.  It was close to the river and the sea coast.  I just thought it was interesting that they were able to solve drainage problems that well for the city at that time.

The legs on their cooking pots evolved over time from just simple legs to more elaborate legs and they used the bird beak as the leg. They weren't sure why the bird beak but it was interesting to see the evolution.

This is a steamer pot.  You put water in the bulb part on the bottom, the food to be steamed in the top"V" part and set it on the fire.  I thought it was ingenious.  

These are "wessels" (I couldn't help but think of Chekov from Star Trek when she kept saying that) for water.  Handy handle and then a spout for pouring.  You could also put it on the fire for hot water for your tea!

The ancient Chinese culture believed in "Oracle Bones."  They would slaughter an animal (this one was a deer) and then put the bones in the fire.  Depending on how the bone cracked in the fire, they would determine if the course of action they wanted to take was what their ancestor would tell them to do.  We foreign teachers decided that the interpretation was probably more of what the ruler at the time wanted to do and then if it went bad, they could just blame it on the ancestors.
For this particular oracle bone, the ruler wanted to move to a certain place.  This bone said they were to move and then sacrifice four pigs to their ancestors (this was decided by the way the bone cracked into four pieces.

From a grave that was excavated, they found this turquoise bracelet on her wrist.

A guillotine from the culture that was a part of the bronze age.  Don't know how many heads it cut off.  We all just gave a little shudder at the thought.

Bits for a horse and another brass object from a horse carriage.

Bells from the bronze age village.  Along with the stone bells in the picture below, they would make their music.  Because of the age of these things, they won't play them, but it would have been interesting to hear the tones together.

A brass pot that was the prize piece in their museum.  The rings at the side are a part that they can't figure out how they did it.  This appears to have been made all from one piece.  We know that jade and wood and stone can be carved to have the rings like that, but brass?  A big puzzle and very fascinating.

Sunday afternoon in the park on campus brings the old men out to play games.