A China Christmas

Nǐhǎo – said something like Knee How. (hello)  Christmas Greetings from China!

Now you know about as much Chinese as I do.  It’s Christmas time and I haven’t shopped at all, sorry kids.  I decorated my apartment with what I found in a box left in an apartment from past teachers.  It’s not much, but glad to have it.

This weekend we have a school party on Friday.  It’s called a New Year’s party and not a Christmas party,  It’s for all the foreign teachers and the foreign exchange students.  Last year it was for the entire English department, Chinese and Foreign teachers, but guess that didn’t turn out well, as this year the Chinese teachers are having their own party and are throwing us to the student party.  It should be fun, and will be nice to hear more English. We were asked to do a talent, so we are planning an a cappella rap of Green Eggs and Ham with another couple .  Wish us luck with that. Saturday we will go to the Church branch party.  If EVERYONE came it would be a party of 23 total. We will have one meeting on Sunday, Christmas day at church.  Bill is one of the narrators for the Christmas program, just after he and I spoke this Sunday and earlier in the fall. (so many opportunities) Right after church we will go to the Branch Presidents apartment for a big brunch and socialize some more.  So this is the busiest social time we have had here!

Last year the teachers didn’t have any days off around Christmas, they taught school on Christmas.  It just happens to be falling on a weekend, so we are lucky in that way.

I’m getting ready to administer my oral final which is a 3 minute debate done in pairs for 15 classes, a total of 470 students.  Lucky me.  Bill isn’t even involved in the final for his students.  I will also enter the grades on a chinese website…  again, Bill doesn’t need to do this.

China has been intriguing.  In so many ways it is a wonder.  How do they have such amazing speed trains and built this system so fast.  Then the regular traffic is like playing chicken, a constant contest of dare that just seems frightening and slightly uncivilized.  They planted an entire forest over a summer near the highway to the school, but the pollution is out of control.  Can they fix it with cars being added at tremendous pace. Today, between the fog and pollution, they had to close the freeways around town.  The air makes you feel like you just kissed a smoker. It’s not pleasant.

In introducing myself to my students I got the most oohs and ahhs over the fact that I have 3 children.  I’ve been introduced as a mother of a large family.  When I said that they were all married… it was applauded.  When they hear that Julene married at 21, they laugh like I just said something scandalous.  And then shyly glance at me to see if I’m joking.  Showing a picture of my redhead son in law, I hear praises about how handsome he is (which he is… of course)   Thomas would be such a rock star over here!  He would not be able to get anywhere fast without people stopping him for photo’s.  They want to be in the picture with you.  I’ve had my photo taken with so many strangers… they will hold your hand or cozy up close – it’s so funny.  This happens more in tourist destinations, where Chinese that don’t live in Expat areas are traveling.  In our city of Tianjin, we are pretty much ignored.

Our winter break is within sight!  On New Year’s Eve Bill and I head to New Zealand to start a cruise that ends in Sydney Australia.  This is the most needed cruise of my life!!!!  After a couple days in Sydney we will go to a required conference for the teachers in Hong Kong. Then we are off to Phuket, Thailand for a week.  Cambodia next stop, and finishing up in Vietnam, with no return ticket purchased.  Like to keep our options open.

We will be back to teaching on Feb. 20th.  Everyone is telling us that the spring is the best here, and that it will come quickly sometime in March.  We look forward to riding our bikes again more, as it’s been freezing lately.  Hope all is well with you.  Safe travels!

With love – Rose and Bill

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