Sunday, September 25, 2011

Market Life

There is a street market that goes up every night right down the street from the school. Now that we know how cheap the street market food is and how good it is after cafeteria food for every meal, we have become regular customers. I’m sure the venders recognize us by now—we’re the only white people around. It’s always smoky from so many people cooking so I think that’s why these pictures look really hazy. I love walking around and looking at everything. The Chinese venders laugh at me because I’m so interested in the everyday things they’re used to. I took a picture once and some of the men crowded around my camera to see what I had taken a picture of.

People say hello to us as we walk around, and the way they say it makes me laugh. I think it’s the only word in English they know. They say it so funny, like they you’ve already met before and they’re just saying hello again. I always take forever deciding what I want to buy and sometimes the venders (mostly in Shanghai) get impatient and try to get your attention so they say, “Hello. Hello. Hello.” It’s like they’ve lost connection on the phone. It’s so funny.

This is octopus on a stick. I think.

And chicken feet

Chinese Children

This is Harris. He is as tall as I am and his greatest joy is to wack all the other children and to put Tommy in headlocks while I’m trying to count all the kid’s tokens. He loves to yell over me while I’m talking and grab art supplies out of the desk when I’m not looking. But I have a little place in my heart for this little guy. Harris knows that his spot is right next to me and he gets upset if one of the other kids gets there before he does. He’ll grab my arm during the lesson and show me his art project and try to tell me something about it. He’s creative and turns anything we’re making into something that looks like an airplane. He loves to fly it around and make explosive noises, and usually hits someone on accident while he does this. I think he just has ADHD or something and has a hard time staying focused. He drinks up any attention I give him and tries really hard to show me that he’s being good. The little girl in the background of this picture is Sherry. I love her little glasses and she is one of my favorites. She is always quiet and really good. I noticed that she always sits by Harris and then the other day I saw them holding hands at the back of the line. It was hilarious and really sweet. She is the smallest girl in the class and he is by far the biggest student. I love elementary relationships.

This is Stella, Sophie, and Angela. I can never remember which one is Stella and which one is Sophie because they’re inseparable. The other day we made little flower pot flowers and they ran over to me after class so their flowers could “sing” me a song and which was “ We love teacha Ashley, we love teacha Ashley.” It melted my heart a little bit. Angela is the one in the background. She wears pigtails every day. She was one of my favorites from the very first day and the other day I realized why. She reminds me of my baby Erin. She smiles like Erin and pouts like Erin and she looks like her—she’s just the Chinese version.

The one in the middle is Max. He is stubborn and gets crazy by the end of the day. The first day he had these sunglasses on with a tiny leather jacket. He is so funny and usually I make him sit on the other side of me. This last week he hasn’t wanted to participate. He keeps rolling his eyes at me. One day when he rolled his eyes at me, I crossed my eyes at him. He didn’t know how to react. It was really funny to watch. He was kind of shocked and then he laughed. But it hasn't stopped him from still rolling his eyes at me.

This is my favorite picture. This is exactly how they are all the time. I love it.

S'more Night

It was a glorious day when this package showed up with my name on it. My Chinese friend Wenxin sent me a package with lots of American food. Dayna, my roommate and I were so happy that we were jumping around the room. There was some great stuff in there including marshmallows and cookies and chocolate which was just asking for a party. One of the girls wanted to celebrate the year mark of her missionary so we had a s’more night. Since we were lacking a campfire we made them in the microwave in our laundry room.

What is crazy is that a boy named Louis had never had a s’more before! I guess going to new countries gives you all kinds of new experiences…

This is Louis, Dylan and Kelli

Thursday, September 15, 2011

21st Birthday in Shanghai

On September 9 I woke up to this beautiful sight on my door. Some of the girls had decorated my door for my birthday. My favorite sign said, “We love you more than the million grains of rice you’ve already eaten.” At this point we’re probably in the trillions when it comes to the amount of rice I’ve eaten. I only teach Mondays through Thursdays so I didn’t have to teach on my birthday. Instead Dayna and I explored all the shops right by our school and found ice cream for 2 yuan each! (Like 33 cents). And then we headed out for the weekend in Shanghai. There was 14 of us who went to Shanghai and we all brought our little carry-on suitcases. When the bus pulled up it looked like no one else would be able to sqeeze on that bus, but all 14 of us squeezed on with our luggage. It was kind of a miracle we all got on and kind of insane how crowded it was. Then a little boy at the front of the bus threw up all over the steps and it got on the pant leg of one of the girls in our group and one of the boys had to stand half-way in it because there was nowhere else to go. Lovely bus ride. Then we were all panicking because the bus dropped us off 10 minutes before our train was supposed to leave. You should have seen us all sprinting toward the train station with our luggage swinging in every direction. But we made it. Barely.

I loved Shanghai. I loved the crowds of people. I loved seeing other white people. I loved the delicious dumplings we found. I loved the beautiful gardens we walked through. I loved watching the bows and the smoke rituals the Chinese people did at the Taoist Temple of the City Gods. I loved the side markets and the Harry Potter marionette we found. I loved the French Concession where all the buildings looked like an old French village and the fact that no voice told me to mind the gap between the subway and the platform…or at least I didn’t understand it if it did. I hope I can go back…I still need a tea set. But with four months of weekends, I’m sure I’ll get the chance again.

Nanjing Road

Yu Gardens

Temple of the City Gods

The Pudong

Birthday Wishes

Thank you everyone who sent me birthday emails. You guys are awesome! I love hearing from you and I really appreciate that you're still thinking about me when I'm half a world away. It's been a busy week so I'm still working on my replies....I miss you all!

Dear Rice

Dear Rice,
Thank you for showing up for every meal. Even breakfast. I was surprised to see you there, but the porridge you come in is white enough that I can pretend that you’re the milk in my cereal, and that the little beans are baby cheerios---maybe-- if I close my eyes and swallow fast. I’ve never put little fried potatoes on you. But everyone cheers when we see those potatoes and not the slippery, brown tofu. We love when the cookie sheets of rice that come out are fried rice—the kind behind the glass at Panda Express. And when we can recognize the vegetables on the table for mixing into you. At least sometimes you’re sticky and slide onto the long sticks I’m supposed to eat you with. And at least you’re predictable, if nothing else on the tray is. I’m glad I’ll see you for the next 3.5 months. That will probably be the last time that I will ever see you again.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Teacha Ashley

Thursday was the first day of school. All of us were a little jittery. We walked around staring at the children wondering if they would turn into demon-children when they were no longer under the gaze of their Chinese teachers. The first hour and half I met those demon children. I had eight to ten kids in each class and somehow I was supposed to keep them from getting out of their chair, hitting each other, or speaking Chinese while I walked around gluing items on every kid’s paper and getting them to speak English. They make it look a lot less chaotic on the videos! I was worn out after an hour and a half and I still had another two hours to go. We had to go pick up the second batch and these were younger kids. They were so cute though. They had these matching plaid skirts and red handkerchiefs. One little boy had these tiny sun glasses on. I took my little group and the little girl at the front of the line said, “Teacha, what is your name?” I told her my name is Teacher Ashley. (They don’t call us Miss or Mr. here, they call us Teacher) Then I hear all these little whispers go down the line “Ashley” “Teacha Ashley” “Ash-e-ly” the whole way back to my classroom. The kids love saying my name. All of my classes scream my name after they hear me say it and laugh. I’m hoping it’s not a Chinese swear word or something. The younger kids were so fun. They freaked out when I tried to eat the crayon. We’re supposed to do things wrong sometimes to get them to tell us how to do it right. In one of the classes, one of the little boys was sick. He came and sat right next to me and throughout the whole lesson he would put his little forehead on my arm. I think he had a fever, and I felt so bad for him. I just wanted to hold him and make him feel better, but I had 9 other kids to entertain. The other kids were so cute too. They would all yell, “Teacha, I’m being good.” One day down. 3 months and 29 days to go.