Friday, April 1, 2011

Day to Day Stuff

Hey everyone,

I've attached a few pictures to my blog. They're in no particular order but it should give you some idea of what's been going on.


Will Complain for Food

Last week all of the westerners in our class were given a survey testing our English abilities. It was made-up of sentences and we had to rate their word choices. Unfortunately, most of the test was grammatically incorrect. Also, there were several sentences that were stereotypical. For example, "Like all American women, she had blue eyes and long blond hair," or "The main foods in America are bacon, eggs, toast, and orange juice."

We enjoyed making fun of it for the first page. But this thing ended up being thirteen pages long. Single spaced. And after page seven I was just ticked off. So I went through each sentence and corrected it.

At the end of the test I wrote a note to telling them they needed to fix their test. I also briefly mentioned that I would help them if they were interested. Don't do this lightly in China.

If I had complained in America, people would have probably looked at my note, rolled their eyes, ignored it, and gone on. But here, they took it to heart. The next day a man named Shen came to our dorm looking for me and the rest of the Americans. He studies neurolinguistics in southern China and wanted help perfecting his latest experiment.

I was at work so he asked the other Americans to help correct his sentences. It's funny; he didn't even seem annoyed that I called his test poorly constructed. Instead, he was ecstatic when he heard about English speakers who wanted to fix his work. The Americans however, were not quite as thrilled. It turns out that I had missed several corrections (after page nine I must have stopped caring). They spent hours fixing and recreating this Chinese guy's test.

At the end of the day though, when they had made a rough draft, he took us all out to dinner at Pizza Hut. And the next day, when we all finished a final draft, he took us to McDonald's. It was the most American food I've eaten since we've been here. I have missed hambabows (Chinese word for hamburgers. Fun to say, better to eat).

What's more, he has now offered to send me to some province in southern China so he can study me reading these sentences. If all goes well, I will be traveling by train this Thursday night and spend most of the weekend in Xuzhou. It's an expense-free trip, I will have a day for travel and vacation, and they are going to pay me. In America I would call this whole situation rather sketchy. In China though, this kind of thing happens all the time. I'll let you know how it goes.


Just a fancy Cellar

That cave that I was so interested in was just some ancient cellar that was dug out of the mountain. Once I got my body all the way in I found a chiseled wall and a low roof. It only went back about ten feet. No hallways, no underground waterfalls. Just a hole. I brought my rope and head lamp for a hole.

Dodo and a Coffee Shop

I’m still teaching at the preschool a few days a week. Up until now I have only been reading to the kids and making crafts with them. This last weekend though, we had an open house where parents came and watched me give a demo lesson to their kids. If all goes well, I will soon have my own class that I will be in charge of teaching.

The four kids that came Saturday are amazing. All of them are under six years old and have not spoken English before. It’s an exciting experience.

Like many of the Chinese, the children all have English names. This makes it easier for me to remember them all. My kids are named Hawk, Winnie, Apple, and Dodo. I have heard the name Apple several times here but Dodo is a new one. I asked his parents again to make sure I had heard them correctly. I hadn’t. Instead, his name is actually Doodoo.

But I will not call one of my students Doodoo. Think of all the trouble he would have if he ever went to America. So I made them switch it to Dodo. It’s better. Not much, but still better. The boy doesn’t know the difference between the two names and responds just well to either of them. Once he starts learning more words I will encourage him to change it to something different. Until then I will have Apple, Winnie, Hawk, and Dodo. A fruit, a bear, and a couple of birds. This is the beginning of my class and I hope to see it grow soon.

Also in the work news, I have been hired by the CEO of a construction company as an English tutor. Their business sells equipment and building materials internationally and exports to the western countries. They are even hiring foreigners. My new boss wants to perfect his English ability and give speeches for his new European and American employees.

My job will be to improve his pronunciation, add to his vocabulary, discuss American culture, and write speeches for him to present to his foreign workers. I feel like the guy in King Speech (good movie. Check it out). And I think, if I understand his secretary correctly, that I was invited to the company get-together at the end of the month. We’re going mountain climbing. I will bring my rope and head lamp.

The best part though is that I will be tutoring my new boss at a coffee shop. The CEO’s assistant took me with him to the cafĂ© and I was able to pick out which table we would study at. I guess this guy is going to rent out that section of the coffee shop for us every week.

That’s all for now. I hope you all are well. Please feel free to email me while I’m here. My address is


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