Monday, December 15, 2014

Farewell, China

Dear China,

It's been a good semester. More so than I could imagine. I love the fact that I arrived here in the summer's heat and am leaving with a jacket on. It means that I've spent a pretty big chunk of time here. Five months.

In that time I've traveled to places I've never heard of, and mispronounced all of their names. I've seen landscapes spilling over with jungle terrain, green mountains shooting out of the ground. I've been to big cities, with picturesque skylines, full of both new and old architecture. I have hiked along a cliff's edge, thousands of feet up, inhaling and exhaling the cold morning air. I've visited the Emperors' Forbidden city, Tiananmen Square, night markets, and walked on a wall that's just really Great. I've also bummed around on an island, swimming in the sea by day and eating street food by night. 

But this is not all. I've also ridden on bus 003. And sung at the top of my lungs at KTV. I've shopped around ghetto malls, and visited parks, and explored a couple pagodas. I've gone out to dinner with Chinese friends, and to Starbucks with my friends. I've been to markets where the real world is prevalent...chicken heads are being chopped off in front of you, and there's stands and stands of fruit to buy, and fish that are probably illegal are being sold to the left. I've also spent my time holding weekly meetings, evaluating classes, doing reports, talking with coordinators, and trying to fulfill my responsibilities the best I can. We would be at the school everyday from 7:40am-1:30pm. I've talked a bunch about our exciting trips and things we've seen, but I want people to know that a lot of work went on everyday at the school and for the kids. This trip hasn't been one big vacation! The girls worked hard to do lesson plans, to send in progress reports and students of the month, and to become good teachers. Halloween was a huge feat for us teaching dances, practicing dances, decorating, and setting up a haunted house. We've also had a couple "open days", where the parents are invited in to watch classes. 

I've gotten to know a culture that I never understood before. I had no idea what to expect coming to here. And it's hard to describe exactly what I've come to understand. Big things make up a country like the laws, and architecture, and traditions. But I find that small things that you see on the street play a huge factor in getting to know a culture. Your culture, China, will always have a little piece of my heart. I'm so grateful for the opportunity for me to come here, it has made me grow in more ways that one. I've learned so much!

Wo Ai Ni, Zhong Guo.
Love, Maegan

Here are some pictures from the semester. Some from our vacations, and some of just classic China. :)

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Munchkins

The day finally came when I realized that I had completely slacked off in taking pictures of the kids and, as my mom has pointed out to me before, sharing them on here! These pictures are from the past two days, which actually were our last days at the school. Hope you enjoy seeing these Chinese munchkins, the kids we came for, the ones we taught everyday from 9-12.

  Tara and Judy, Senior class

Shalee teaching PreK class

  Benson and Sam from PreK

 Jayden, Junior class

 Andre, Junior class

 Jack, Junior class 

 Lizzy, Junior class

 Coco and Candy, Intermediate class

Clara and I

 I feel the love, Allie.

 Taylor and I (plus a photo-bombing Shalee.) 
Taylor has been accepted to be a HT with ILP, and wants to go to Russia!

 Serena and I, one of my favorite coordinators and our Chinese teacher.

Thursday was just like any other day at school, but (our last day) was a different story. We didn't have classes, we had a farewell party and played with the kids. The girls (but not me) were emotional leaving their kids, and it was especially hard for them (but not me) when the kids started crying! It was also hard for them (but not me) saying goodbye to some of our coordinators, and knowing we probably won't ever see them again! We do have the chance to go back to visit the school, but I'm tossing the idea around because we'll have to say goodbyes all over again!  Also, someone (who won't be named) is particularly getting depressed that her roommate (who has blonde hair and name starts with A) is leaving early... actually, at 8AM.   She'll miss her. This person also doesn't know what she'll do on the bus to Guangzhou (it's gonna be one heck of a cry fest), because China is awesome and she loves China and she's gonna miss the Pear juice she buys at the Kaiyin market.

Okay, I'll admit it, this person is me. But thus is life, moving on into new chapters. I'm beyond excited to get home. Who knows where life will take me. The ride has been a great one so far, I've seen some pretty darn amazing things. I do know that I'll be heading to Alabama for 18 months, serving the people there on an LDS mission. After that, who knows? But I'd like to thank everyone who has given me support. You guys have followed me through Russia, China, and continue to support me in my endeavors. So thank you!!

I'll do another post soon!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Let's go to the beach!

Sanya! That's where we went last week. It's located in the island of Hainan, which rests itself at the southern point of China and is neighbors with Thailand. Our hostel was nestled at Haitang Bay, which is an area away from the city center. We were able to get a real Chinese feel there, since it is not touristy in the least bit. And by that I mean there are no Western restaurants in sight! For dinner we feasted on street food, which consists of veggies and meat on sticks that get roasted right there in front of you. But being away from the city center also meant having a nearly empty beach to lounge on and play in every day. 

Our time in Hainan revolved around the beach. We got lots of sun, chased crabs, went jet-skiing, dove in the waves, and played in the sand. Our hostel's patio was really nice, we were able to relax in the low-lit area and listen to the waves crash on the shore. But the hostel itself wasn't very nice, probably the worst hostel I've stayed at amenity-wise! Oh well. 

So we stayed at Haitang Bay, a secluded area with lots of crabs and seashells. There's a big rock we swam out to, and I cut myself up a little with all the shells and coral that covered the rock! But it was really fun to jump off of. We also ventured to another bay, called Yalong Bay. This was a public beach that was covered in umbrellas, and they had jet-skis to rent so of course that's the first thing we did! It was 150RMB, and that gave us a ride up and down the bay and Chinese guys who came with each of us to make sure we didn't kill ourselves, and that we came back in a timely manner. It was really fun to go fast, and I think we may have scared those guys just bit. :) At this beach we also took advantage of the big waves, and were diving in them and swimming for a while. It was really fun to swim around with Chinese people, and I think they're amused to see us swim too. But, in that aspect, nothing will beat the other public beach we went to...we were all lounging there when a Chinese Muslim woman came up with a motorcycle clad in pearls and jewelry. The girls started to look at the jewelry, and apparently that's pretty darn fascinating because before we knew it we had drawn a crowd of Chinese people. They just stand there and watch us, maybe pass a few comments between each other. It was quite amusing for me to lay there and watch the scene. Typical China!

Our vacation was really fun, but it was great to get back home and wash all that sand off (sometimes sand can be a pain, don't you agree?) Like usual we jumped right into teaching the next day. We only have seven teaching days left. Also! I forgot to mention that last week we went bike riding around a reservoir. It is a beautiful area with a really nice trail and bikes to rent for only 10RMB, which is less than $2. It's also really close to our school, and I wondered why we never got over there sooner! 

Ta ta for now,

Monday, December 1, 2014

Xian and Beijing

Pronounced, "See-on" and "Bay-jing." Let's get that straight first. I've come to realize that before I was otherwise informed, I pronounced almost entirely all of the Chinese cities wrong. For example, "Shanghai" is really pronounced "Shong-hi." Anyway! Let's get to the post. For our last vacation we went to Xian and Beijing. We traveled to Northern China in November and it was cold, but it definitely was manageable. Such a nice break from tropic Zhongshan.

We flew to Xian first, and spent a day seeing the Terracotta Warriors, and biking on the ancient city wall. I loved going to the warriors. It was amazing! Then we took an 11 hour overnight train ride to Beijing. Our first day in Beijing consisted of going to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. We also went to an antique street market, and a souvenir market. The next day we booked a tour. The first part of the tour took us to a jade factory (jade is really popular here), we had a nice lunch. Then we drove for a bit to the "Badaling" section of the Great Wall of China. We rode up in cable cars and were dropped off right at the wall. It was so cool. I was thinking, "Wow, I'm really here. I've made it to the wall." 

The wall is definitely beautiful to look at it, but don't be deceived. It will kick your butt. It is so steep! But because of that, it is a really fun thing to slide down on the railing. Quite amusing. :-) After the wall, our tour took us to the Ming Tombs. It was a quiet place, and it's crazy how far China's history goes. That night we went to a night market, where I ate fried Scorpion and Starfish. But those weren't the worst things available, trust me. The next day we went to the National Museum of China. It was free to get in, which was a pleasant surprise. They had artifacts dating back 200+ years BC! We spent as much time there as we could, but there was so much to see that we barely made a dent. And that concluded our vacation. We hopped back on a plane and flew home. 

Since then we've gotten back to teaching. Things are going well. Our schedule can be a stress sometimes. There's a lot of classes, and other foreign teachers at our school, that all need to fit and flow, so the schedule changes ever so often. Lately I've been working on organizing our supply cabinets at school, I'm sort of a neat freak sometimes. But that's okay, because when everything is put away in the right spot, it can make lesson planning go smoother for the girls!

We can't believe that our time in China is almost up. I'm coming home in two weeks! For a while I was feeling really sad about leaving China, but now I'm feeling more ready. But that doesn't mean we aren't making the most of the time we have left! Recently, I went to a park called the "Zimaling" park. It is a huge park with lots to do. Us girls messed around, had fun, explored a pagoda, and called it a day. Another time, I hopped onto a bus in the city and enjoyed hot chocolate at Starbucks (very cultural, I know.) A few days ago we were taken out to dinner by our Chinese friend, Allen. We ate traditional vegetarian Chinese food, and toured a Buddhist temple. 

Below are some pictures from our vacation to Xian and Beijing!  
Talk to you soon,