Saturday, September 20, 2014

Spa night, eating baby birds, and Avatar

Can I just say how much I love these girls?

Shiqi Family photos, September 2014
Our group is the! I don't want to brag or anything, but I think we have the best group in Zhongshan. :) 
Teaching is going well. The school keeps having to rearrange the schedule though and I really wish we could just get into a solid routine! Good thing all of the kids are adorable! So what do I do at the school on a regular basis? I make sure things run smoothly and that we are prompt with classes, assess any issues the teachers are having, evaluate the teachers, communicate with our coordinators, and update our group calendar. At home I fill out records, look over lesson plans, send in reports, stay in touch with the ILP directors, hold training workshops, and more! My job here definitely keeps me busy, and it's tough sometimes. But I love it. I love the position I'm in and, despite the heavy load, the responsibilities I carry.

I feel like my time here has already influenced me in many ways. I've learned so much and I can feel myself growing from the different hurdles that this semester has brought. I am grateful for my time here in China, it's been amazing so far. I miss America, and my family, my friends, my regular life there. But I really haven't been homesick. Maybe I've been busy, or maybe I'm having too much fun here, or maybe I know that this is the right place for me to be.

So we have a Chinese friend named Aaron. Actually, we've thought this entire two months that his name is Aaron, and come to find out it's actually Allen (I blame the Chinese accent for this miscommunication;) Anyway. Allen is a middle aged guy that has been driving ILP teachers to school for a few years now. He likes to practice his English, and it's a good exchange for us to get to know a native. He always likes to have the deepest conversations, like how music influences the soul, or how what you set your mind on will eventually happen. It's pretty awesome.

So Allen invited us to have dinner and do karaoke last night, and he said he and his coworker would drive us. Us girls were all expecting to go out to a Chinese restaurant and to a local KTV. Come to find out, Allen, his coworker, and a taxi would all be driving us to a private dinner hall where underneath a giant chandelier we would share different Chinese dishes. We had fried rice, pork, beef, broccoli, lobster, veggies...and everyone got their very own cooked baby bird (head and all.) I took a few bites of the baby bird and even accepted the challenge to eat its brain. Let me repeat. I ate a baby birds brain (only in China....)

After our 5 Star Chinese meal, we headed to Allen's work where they had their own conference room decked out with karaoke. Us girls all rocked out to the American songs and Allen and his coworkers sung some Chinese ones. It was really fun. :) After that, our paid-for taxi drove us home and the night came to an end.

For a while we thought Allen was just an "average Joe" but have found that, after talking to his coworkers and with him offering to take all 12 of us out to eat, he's "pretty up there" in the world. For example, the same day we went to karaoke he explained to us that he had to speak at some big event. So it's really neat knowing Allen. He is the nicest guy and really humble, and he always talks about the deepest things like some wise, old Chinese guy.

In other news, we were able to go to church in Shenzhen last Sunday! All the groups in Zhongshan rented one big bus and off we went. It was a District Conference held at a convention center, and I felt really bad that my eyelids were extremely heavy during the meeting but had a good time nonetheless. Afterward, they took us to where Church is normally held and the Relief Society fed us a straight-up American-style lunch of hotdogs, chips, watermelon, and cookies. It tasted extremely good. :) After that we started on the two hour drive home.

Sacrament hadn't been held at the conference, and we've been deprived of it for two months, so I asked one of the guys in another group if we could gather everyone and have it after getting back into Zhongshan. He agreed. It was really sweet having a group of people meet together in an apartment to sing a few hymns and take time to think of Christ.
So our big vacation is coming up! I recently mentioned that we were going to Beijing and Xian. But our group has decided otherwise. Our vacation dates are during the National Chinese holiday and that basically means everyone and their dog will be out traveling. Transportation of all kind is basically sold out even two or three weeks in advance. So we completely re-routed our trip. Eight girls in our group are going to Yangshuo (yes, I'm going back!) and Zhangjiajie, and the other four are traveling around Western China.
We'll be in Yangshuo for a few days, Guilin (which is very close to Yangshuo and has rice paddies) for one, and then Zhangjiajie for a few days. Zhangjiajie is a beautiful place with amazing mountains. If you have seen the movie "Avatar" then you might recognize that they based some of that landscape off Zhangjiajie.

Oh! I almost forgot to mention. A typhoon (Kalmaegi) hit earlier this week! We only experienced the minor effects of it, but still, I can say I've lived through a typhoon. ;) It came up through Southern Asia and luckily Zhongshan only had a bit of wind and rain. School was canceled on Tuesday and it nice to be able to have an unexpected day off. It really wasn't that stormy outside. Rain would come ever so often, and we did have some wind rip a few trees out of the ground, but that's it. Well around lunch time the weather was behaving itself and we decided to make the 10 minute walk to lunch. About two minutes into our walk all hell broke loose and it started raining the hardest I've ever seen. With some fear in our eyes we laughed about the situation and yelled "Typhoon!!" and trudged on and struggled with the little protection our umbrellas offered. Finally we made it to the school, soaked. It's the truth when I say that we all felt like survivors walking into that cafeteria.
Well that's all the news I have for now. :) Sending my love from Asia -

1 comment:

  1. Dear Maegan: This blog was exceptional as is the experiences you are having. Sounds like you are very busy and having fun at the same time. Love you. Grandma Rogers