Published: December 15th 2007December 15th 2007
Taizhou Teachers College 5th Annual Arts and Culture Festival, 2007
These weeks before the holidays, Taizhou Teachers College presents its 5th annual "Arts and Culture Festival" with presentations of Chinese drama, music, art, and other competitions. Two of my students pose in their costumes, before they offer their talent to the student body. (More photos of the evening's dramas and music are attached toward the end of the Blog.)
IN ANOTHER 10 DAYS I WILL CELEBRATE MY 2nd CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS IN CHINA, AND IT IS A MOMENT TO REFLECT ON THE BLESSINGS OF MY LIFE. MY 18 MONTHS IN CHINA HAVE BEEN EVERY BIT THE ADVENTURE I HAD HOPED FOR, AND HAVE BROUGHT ME MORE JOY THAN I COULD HAVE ASKED FOR. TO MY WONDERFUL FAMILY, TO MY OLD FRIENDS AT HOME AND IN FOREIGN LANDS, TO MY NEW AND SPECIAL FRIENDS IN CHINA, TO MY CURRENT STUDENTS AND COLLEGUES AT TAIZHOU TEACHERS COLLEGE, AND TO MY FORMER STUDENTS AND FRIENDS AT CORAL GABLES SR. HIGH SCHOOL, I SEND YOU WARM AND THANKFUL WISHES FOR THIS HOLIDAY SEASON IN GRATITUDE FOR YOUR SUPPORT AND YOUR CARE. I HOPE YOU WILL SPEND YOUR TIME THIS CHRISTMAS SURROUNDED BY THE LOVE, WARMTH, AND STRENGTH OF YOUR FAMILIES AND FRIENDS, AND THAT YOU TOO WILL SHARE WITH THEM THE EMOTIONS OF THIS SEASON. TO EVERYONE: I WISH YOU A MOST HAPPY CHRISTMAS AND PRAY, THAT YOU WILL CONTINUE TO ENJOY LIFE'S BLESSINGS IN THE NEW YEAR OF 2008. MY THOUGHTS AND LOVE ARE WITH YOU ALWAYS, AND I LOOK FORWARD TO THE DAY WHEN I CAN SEE YOU AGAIN.
One of the five Olympic Friendlies
Posing with one of the maskots of the Beijing 2008 Olympics which are on display at one of the new local department stores. (The maskot is the one in red of course.)
entry of 2007 in my TravelBlog may just be a little overwhelming with text and photos, 4 pages of them, and some 80 pictures. It's difficult to narrow the selection, when so much is happening around me all the time. Please enjoy them at your leisure and share any comments or questions you may have with me. Enlarging them will offer you much greater details of my daily life here at Taizhou Teachers College, in Taizhou, China:
The cold and frigid days as well as the frosty weekends have been very busy, but they continue to be exciting for me here at Taizhou Teachers College, and time continues to remain elusive and fleeting. The weather is turning decidedly winter, the sky displays a brighter and crisper blue, overwhelming the more "gray" and humid summer air.
Darker clothing of winter among the Chinese replace the lighter colors of the warmer months, and winter jackets are now an absolute necessity. The nights are darker, longer and freezing.
The classrooms are not heated, and long-johns, heavy sweaters, and winter-coats help both students and teachers brave the hours of instructions, as they huddle close, seeking each others body-heat
Prepared for the Christmas Holidays
The Golden Eagle shopping mall in Taizhou, open for the past year, lures the more affluent Chinese shoppers to its floors, with names and brands from around the world.
as you will note in the photos of my visits to some teaching competitions.
It is the time of the season, when I dearly miss the comfortable warm weather of South Florida, Miami, Miami Beach, and the blooming, green garden of R & R's home in Central Florida.
Despite the cold days, commerce continues thriving in all the streets and shops and malls of Taizhou, where the quality and quantity of available goods for the ever-more affluent Chinese consumers have no bounds in this quickly developing city. If you have the money, "it is 'all' available."
Fully stocked store-shelves display the wares for the approaching Christmas holiday, which is now enthusiastically embraced by the population of China, though more for its commercial reasons. The merchants here are exploiting the holiday enthusiasm of the children, whose parents are ready to please the demanding wishes of their one child, their "little emperor or little empress".
These Chinese youngsters are quickly learning, that it is becoming a time for the giving of gifts. The Chinese mass media and cunning Chinese merchants of capitalism leave no doubt, that this Western holiday is to be appreciated and imitated, including the Western
Greeted by the staff of the new Pizza Hut in Taizhou.
In their Christmas outfits, the staff of the new Pizza Hut loves to pose for the camera.
customs of conspicuous consumption.
The traditional time for the Chinese Lunar New Year, China's most important holiday, is also quickly approaching just beyond the Christmas holiday. It is celebrated this year in early February 2008. The year of "the Pig" is coming to an end, and the year of "the Rat" is dawning. Calendars and every kind of trinket displaying cute pigs of every size and shape are now being replaced by the playful and crafty representations of the Rat, and these will be offered as symbols for the thrifty, clever, smart, and savvy personality of those born during this coming Chinese calendar year, the year of "the Rat".
******(The Chinese Lunar calendar divides time into sets of twelve years, with each year named after a special animal. This is the story of how twelve lucky animals came to symbolized the twelve years of the Chinese lunar calendar: (Thank you Chambers for sharing this story.)
"One fine day, the Lord Buddha sent an announcement to all the animals. He would name one year of the calendar after each of the first twelve animals who set paw, horn, or whisker in his court. Year after year, people
Porcelain Art available in the streets of Taizhou
Porcelain vases painted by artists in surrounding towns of Jiangsu Province are available in the streets of Taizhou just before the Christmas holidays.
would remember and celebrate these animals. They would cook feasts, they would pound drums, they would dance. However, only the first twelve to arrive would receive this splendid honor.
The race was on and the animals prepared for the journey to Buddha's court. The Rat and the Cat decided to go together. In spite of this friendly plan, the Rat crept away early in the morning. With no one to wake him, the Cat slept and slept. The sun shining in his eyes, he woke to find the Rat had left him behind.
The clever Rat knew the larger animals could travel quickly. So, still full of trickery, he convinced the Ox to carry him. The Rat rode on the Ox through fields and rivers. When they finally neared the court, the Rat jumped from the Ox's head and scampered to the Lord Buddha first.
The Ox arrived next, followed by the Tiger, the Rabbit, the Dragon, the Snake, the Horse, the Sheep, the Monkey, the Rooster, the Dog, and finally, the Boar.
The sleepy Cat came too late and did not receive a year. Some say this is the reason cats have always chased rats.")******
Open Air Porcelain Market in Taizhou
The quality is impressive, the prices can be negotiated, and I wish I could send you all one of these beautiful hand-painted pieces of porcelain art.
My city of Taizhou continues to grow, expand, and build at an amazing rate. Massive constructions spring up over-night within and surrounding the city. Where farm areas touched the skirts of Taizhou only months ago, modern apartment complexes, bulky new dorms and teaching- buildings for the ever growing numbers of schools, colleges, and universities now envelop the city, brutally replacing the open, green farm fields of only a year ago.
I have no idea from where all the concrete is eminating. It almost seems, that it is being pumped from wells in the ground.
With so much farm-land and green-space dissappearing around me I often wonder, where China's meals of tomorrow will come from, until I have the opportunity to travel away from Taizhou city. Here, in eastern Jiangsu Province, I am again surrounded by more expanding fields of rice and wheat and vegetables. Here, the water reservoirs and canals also house the fish farms, which are surrounded in great numbers by the chicken- and duck- and goose-farms.
The farmers here produce much of what greater China consumes in quantities, that are able to sustain a healthy population of 1.4 billion. This is in stark contrast
Each piece would look great in your home.
It is hard to resist this ancient art-form of China.
to the turbulent Chinese history of 50 years ago, when catastrophic hunger and famines were often the norm, and are still remembered by those, who have now become the grand-parents of China.
My adopted city of Taizhou, Jiangsu, PRC, is the home-city of Mr. Hu Jintao, China's current President and respected Head of State. Historically and traditionally, the home-towns of China's leaders remain in the hearts of the Chinese citizens and are frequently visited as shrines.
So Taizhou too is now building and is getting ready to display its pride in their home-town-boy, Mr. Hu, and is luring the more frequent visitor and tourist. Mr. Hu Jintao's name resonates proudly from the lips of every citizen of Taizhou, this buzzling, expanding, and now "medium-sized" Chinese city.
Western influences continue to attract much attention in Taizhou, as KFC is being replaced as a "premier" Western restaurant by a newly opened McDonald. The crowds here are continuous, the prices high and the portions small. (Here one can truly ask the question: "Where's the beef???")
The other most recent Western gastronomical meeting place is an expensive, busy, and frequently visited Pizza Hut. On my first visit I had to
Foreign Language Dept. Christmas Tree
On the 4th floor of our building is the Foreign Language Dept. Again this year the Christmas tree stands to greet students and visitors, and brings the foreign teachers a little closer to home.
wait more than 2 hours in line for a table. In Taizhou it is as close to a home restaurant available for me, where a small pizza goes for 62 Yuan ($9.00) and a large pizza will set you back 94 Yuan ($14.00), a substantial sum for the average Chinese, for whom this would be more than a day's wage.
Modern shopping malls in Taizhou are luring the money from the pockets of the Chinese shoppers, while filling the wallets and bank accounts of the world's designers, who display their products at costs similar to what they would fetch on Western markets. The crowded malls are now preparing for the holiday shoppers and are being smartly decorated in holiday ornaments.
Proudly, Taizhou has also been chosen as part of the official route along which the Olympic torch and flame will travel on its way to the Olympic Games held in Beijing on August 8, 2008. You can be sure, that my students and I will be lining the streets along with a multitude of thousands, in anticipation of this proud moment.
The 2008 Olympics are the ultimate in recognition of the modern China by the world. As
Teacher prepares for a teaching-competion at TTC
Keeping warm in their winter coats, teacher and students prepare their presentations for a panel of judges.
the Olympic flame passes its routes, the world will now also delight in and take note of our little city of "5 million", the city of Taizhou in Jiangsu Province.
I hope you enjoy these recent photos of Taizhou, where the old is quickly replaced by the modern. This city is changing before my eyes, as is every city and community in the province of Jiangsu, PRC, one of the most prosperous areas on the East Coast of China.
This semester, every Monday, I am teaching an additional 8 classes at Nanjing Normal University Taizhou Campus, which has a more elevated reputation than my smaller campus of Taizhou Teachers College, where I teach oral English from Tuesday to Friday. Only students with the highest college entrance examination scores are permitted to enter this more renowned University from Nanjing, considered one of the best.
Teaching at these two distinct campusses, I am able to observe better the difference of Chinese university students and their quality of English. It provides a better perspective about the quality of the English attained by the students as they are admitted to the different levels of universities in
Taizhou Teachers College teaching competition is underway.
TTC teacher gives instructional performance for the judges sitting in the back of the classroom.
The students studying English at Nanjing Normal University, whom I see every Monday from 8 a.m to 5 p.m. for 8 periods will be training as the future teachers for China's "high schools and colleges". (In one of the future journals, I will offer you a photo journey through the new campus of this extension of the Nanjing Normal University at Taizhou.)
Less recognized colleges, like Taizhou Teachers College, are the schools most responsible for the training of the future English teachers for China's "primary and middle schools", where China's youngest might be in greater need of the best teachers.
But admission to the level and type of college and university is determined by the many intense and all-important examinations, whose scores "only" determine the next step into a better or less appreciated institute of higher learning. It is so for each student in China, though there is a rumor, that the importance and the make-up of the examinations may be modified sometime in the "future".
I am pleased to share with you some of the photos of recent activities at Taizhou Teachers College, where we are still in the middle of celebrating our 5th annual
This class will graduate this year and become China
With only two young male students in the English class, the presentation of this teacher to the judges was a lesson on the film: "Twelve Angry Men", a discussion on the American Judicial System, just a little out-dated.
Arts and Drama Festival as all the few foreign teachers make ready to celebrate their one day holiday of no school on the 25th of December, which will fall on a Tuesday. I am very grateful to the college for this gift and for all they have done to make my stay here such a unique experience and one of self-discovery.
There are more photos below