Friday, July 14, 2006

Joe Has Come

My husband Joe arrived in China the day before yesterday. In between the classes I teach, he and I have been pigging out on culture. Here he is at Nanjing Mochou Lake

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


I spent a lot of time working on a curriculum for an English improvement class, we're doing for an area middle school. At the end of the first day, I was pleased. Then Barry got a call from their director. Two of the middle school teachers had observed the class. They had serious reservations about what we were doing.

I was really upset. Not only had these people second-guessed my curriculum, but they had failed to come to me with their concerns and had reported me to my director. Barry shrugged and talked to me about altering some aspects of the curriculum without throwing the whole thing out. As for the way the information was communicated, he said "The Chinese are like this."

When I reported to the middle school next day, I was pains to be as professional with the teachers who had complained. To my utter amazement, they were extremely warm as we talked together about the class and its goals. I was told Barry had GIVEN PERMISSION for the teachers to speak directly to me about adjustments to the curriculum. Chinese protocol demands that when a concern arises with someone outside an organization, an employee notfies a supervisor who speaks to the superior of the outsider. If the outsider's superior says it's OK, then matters may be discussed with him or her directly. The teachers were not being sneaky or high-handed. It was simply a differnce in culture.

Through many dangers

The office staff is protective of me, sometimes to the point of absurdity. When I asked about a place to get a haircut, everyone agreed this was something I could not do alone. Sandy, one of Barry's assistants was assigned to accompany me. (Her picture is below) It was very nice of her, but I'm sure I could have managed with handsigns and a picture of my hairdo.

We walked to the beauty parlor past on-the-street shoe repairs, a fruit seller, an alley and several carts selling food. Not an upscale neighborhood. I wondered what would happen to me.

The young man who cut my hair was very competent and new all about the style I wear. I don't think he'd ever cut a Westerner's hair before, but he did really well-- at least as good as at home. The cost for a shampoo, cut, and comb out: 68 reminbi-- just over $8.00.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The consequences of Pigging Out.

I'm pigging out on this place-- on the culture, the people and increasingly the opportunities to learan about ESL. Inevitably, I overdo. My balance isn't the greatest when I'm tired. My knee gave out and I tripped on a grating. I was not hurt except for a bruise or two. This happens to me now and then, and I'm used to it. The real challenge was to keep the friendly Chinese bystanders from hoisting me to my feet before I was ready, instead of letting me get up gradually.

Above: the street lwhere I fell. Below, a glorious temple I saw today before my class started.

What does tomorrow mean? It is 5:30 pm here, but at home it’s 5:00 in the morning. I leave Weihai tomorrow and make a stop in Beijing. ...