October Adventures - A mishmash of stories.

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November 3rd 2007
Published: November 3rd 2007
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These pigeons were quite the hit down on the waterfront. All kinds of children were being made to stand still so that the pigeons will fly up and land on them. I love the poise on this young man. He had obviously done this before.
I want to get back into the habit of documenting each week's adventures. I have a hodge podge of mini-adventures from the month of October to share with you and then next week we should be back on track! So I apologize if this blog is all over the map.


We did celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving at "The Parrot" a Western Restaurant. Its buffet style, but they actually put full turkeys on each table, so you get to carve it up, fight over the drumstick and such. It was hardly just Canadians. Our own table had two Aussies and one American besides the rest of us Canadians. The restaurant lets us all take the leftovers home, so I have a turkey in my freezer that I need to turn into soup pretty soon.

Chinese Wedding # 2

We attended another Chinese Wedding this month. This time it was the school purchaser - Izzy who got married. She was actually married over the October Holiday in her husband's hometown. This was really just a lunch to celebrate the marriage. She had a gorgeous red gown and looked fantastic. Again the spread was unbelievable. The
Izzy, Hillary and MyselfIzzy, Hillary and MyselfIzzy, Hillary and Myself

Here I am with the beautiful bride, and Hillary (a TA from school).
food never stopped coming. I actually find it kind of funny when at the end of this ridiculously generous spread of food they bring out a big bowl of white rice. Of course, they don't expect you to eat it, it would indicate they had not been able to sufficiently satisfy you with the other dishes.


The next weekend we had an excursion to JiXian. Its a small town in the mountains on the other side of Tianjin. The purpose of the trip was for us to meet our sponsor students. Many teachers at the school sponsor a student who cannot afford their tuition. Tuition costs 600 rmb a year. Our young fellow's father has developed cancer and his mom is unable to earn enough for school so that is where we can help out. Looks like he is a smart one too! He gave a speech to the 42 sponsored students, their parents and sponsors. I have no idea what he said, but I heard "haizi" a few times, which I know means children. You also bring a backpack of "stuff" for your student. I went shopping with another teacher who has been doing
Almost as tall as CraigAlmost as tall as CraigAlmost as tall as Craig

The young fellow we sponsor is nearly as tall as Craig and just starting Grade 7! We tried to convince him he could put the stuff down for a photo, but it wasn't going happen.
this for a few years. We filled our bags with school supplies, gloves, tuques, socks, bathroom stuff and of course CANDY! We also added a few clothes. I was a bit worried about this as I had no idea what size to get. "Don't worry!" I was told, "he is a poor Chinese boy in grade 6, he will be swimming in whatever you buy." Well, he was actually in grade 7, and for the record, he was as big as most of our grade nine students! When I met his mom we managed to communicate that he can down his share of food. I figure they can sell or give away the clothes, I'm quite sure they don't fit. His mom wanted us to come to their home for lunch, and we would have been happy to oblige if we had come via our own transportation. We had to get back onto the group bus.

Shine Home

I've started taking grade ten students to Shine Home. I take each of 2 classes, once a month, but offset such that the home gets their attention every two weeks. Shine Home is a group home run by
Shine Home gets a Field TripShine Home gets a Field TripShine Home gets a Field Trip

We put the everyone on our school bus and took them to the fish and worm market! Here is one of my students with a little girl from Shine Home.
Mr.Wang for children with physical and mental disabilities. There are also some young children who are there like a daycare. They stay the whole week (overnight) and their parents get them on the weekend. Mr.Wang has a really big heart, and will try to figure out how to help any children who need it. Right now, my kids are just providing something exciting to look forward to. We do crafts, colouring, and take them outside to play (something easier to do when you have 1 to 2 supervision). Hopefully, we will have accomplished a project to improve the space itself by the end of year. Its a nice switch up in my week, to go out of the building with kids to do volunteer work.

Next week I start taking Grade 9 students to the Cardiovascular Hospital. Through the Teda Volunteer Association, orphans and poor children are able to get surgery here. We go over to keep them company. So starting next week, I will be out every week doing volunteer work. While there is a lot of work involved, and a few timetabling hiccups that cause a bit of stress, it definitely feels right.

ACAMIS Volleyball

Ahhhhh...the beach.Ahhhhh...the beach.Ahhhhh...the beach.

These 10 square metres of sand are probably in much demand in the summer.

Last weekend was a big deal for the school. We host the ACAMIS Volleyball Tournament. We host 5 other schools for the weekend, both boys and girls teams. I am on the events committee, so partly responsible. I designed a colour program (learned how to use Microsoft Publisher), rounded up volunteer score keepers and greeters and helped out wherever needed. Friday night we ran a Mini-Olympics for the teams. Yes...everything in China this year centres on the Olympics...but can you blame us? We split the kids up onto new teams and ran them through tug of war, amoeba races etc. Somehow I ended up "MC"ing the thing, so thankfully I had some old Improv Tricks up my sleeve to fill in the gaps. The kids seemed to like it anyway. I was exhausted Saturday, but no break for the weary. It was the Family Fun Fair. Each homeroom had to run a stall for family fun. My homeroom (8 of 12 busy playing in the tournament) chose a rather complicated stall. We ran a Costume Photo Booth. One of the interesting differences between public and private schools is the fact that we occasionally all have to work
The Tanggu WaterfrontThe Tanggu WaterfrontThe Tanggu Waterfront

I really like the strawberry statues. The seeds are actually little lightbulbs for added fun at night.
on the weekend. It was a good energy though, just a lot of extra work in an already busy weekend. Our kids did well in the tournament. Both teams made it to the semi-finals. The girls finished 4th, but it was close. Boys finished 2nd in a nail biting game where 2 of our 3 spikers went down with twisted ankles.

This Week

Monday was parent teacher interviews. Much the same set-up as in Canada, except most of the students come along with their parents to translate, or parents bring translators with them. Also, we worked 10am to 6pm instead of regular hours (I didn't mind, it was nice to sleep in). I discovered over the course of the day I had contracted my first bout of food poisoning. Have no idea how, but am through it now. So it was a really long week. Friday was the first day I felt back to normal.

Wednesday night was exciting as the heat was turned on. "Heating Season" starts for November (government regulated), and its been quite chilly at night these past few weeks. We have been going to bed in long underwear and hoodies. Well
Government BuildingGovernment BuildingGovernment Building

This is one of the funky buildings we pass on our way to work each day. It houses the library as well as other services.
the heat turned on in the middle of the night and we had to get up, take off a few layers and then go back to sleep.

Wednesday was of course Hallowe'en. Students dressed up and the primary school came around trick or treating in the highschool. We volunteer and teach English at the Cardiovascular Hospital on Wednesday nights, and it was so cute when they offered us the night off! They thought we would want to stay home to celebrate our holiday. We had to explain that though Hallowe'en was big, it really wasn't significant or important. Sometimes explaining our customs can be a little difficult. Why do we celebrate it if it isn't meaningful? Because its fun???

Field Trips are Fun!

One, two...skip a few...and we arrive at today....SATURDAY!!! Today is an absolutely gorgeous day. We decided we needed to have a short field trip. We took a five minute cab ride to Tanggu (the next town over...its only 1 million people) to see...what was on the other side of a ridge....if you can call it that. Walking Street faces this ridges or hill, and we decided to go over and see what
Cardiovascular HospitalCardiovascular HospitalCardiovascular Hospital

We pass the Love&Help statue daily. Its also at the entrance of the Cardiovascular Hospital where we volunteer.
was on the other side.

We found...WATER!!! Tanggu was an old fishing village until, well China exploded. So we found what is either a deep canal, or part of the Hai He river. Its set up to be touristy but is really hilarious. There is a little patch of sandy beach (not on the water, but surrounded by cement), with a statue of a little boy flying a kite. There are all kinds of funky structures, statues etc. The waterfront isn't terrible or amazing, it reminds me of the harbourfront in Saint John, extremely functional with some effort to make it nicer. Anyway, we walked along and enjoyed just watching the crowd. I have included some videos.

We are now in the school to do a bit of work (me on my blog obviously), but walking in, with a clear blue sky, I ended up taking a few more photos. So the pictures of Teda are things I walk by on my way to work each day. I hope you enjoy the bizarre.

Hugs to everyone.

p.s. Heidi! Get your mom to send me her email address through the blog (you can show her how)
Penguin Shrubbery ArtPenguin Shrubbery ArtPenguin Shrubbery Art

These guys actually kind of freak me out a little. I think its their eyes, and the fact that the folliage is a little thin around their necks. They also look very jovial, almost like drinking buddies and I am often reminded ...for better or worse... of the movie Billy Madison...
cause I would love to see pictures of Trick or Canning. I was so thrilled to hear all of you guys managed to pull it off yet again. I was bragging you all up to teachers over here.

Additional photos below
Photos: 11, Displayed: 11


Things that make you go hmmmm......Things that make you go hmmmm......
Things that make you go hmmmm......

This is actually a very common site. Tons of steam (I hope) being issued from sewer grates. Its generally our signal to cross the road and walk on the other side.
Teda InternationalTeda International
Teda International

Here is where we teach each day. Its actually a huge school, this rotunda is just for music and theatre arts.

3rd November 2007

Beth, thanks for these fascinating updates on your live in China. Again, it's sounds like an incredible adventure. Craig, you're a lucky guy to get such an adventurous gal. We hear so much in the western media about food contamination from China that I must ask how do you guard yourselves against it? RF
4th November 2007

Food Contamination?
TeeHee. First, realize that we don't get all the news here, so I'm not sure exactly what you are referring to...though I can imagine. Craig and I avoid street meat (sometimes difficult as it can smell sooooo good), but its also a quick trip to nasty things nobody wants. We just found a grocer in Tanggu that sells "pollution free" produce (their equivalent to organic) so this is an exciting find. I would think that most of your stories would have to do with factory produced ready to eat meals. For the most part, we cook from scratch at home, or eat in restaurants. And the restaurants here do it all from scratch. Gong Bao Ji Ding (Kung Pao Chicken) tastes different at each restaurant because they have their own recipes. Our main concern is avoiding ice and washing fresh vegetables in bottled water. The excitement of eating comes when you are served a big bowl of tasty chicken pieces and you pull a chicken foot out! We've yet to be served a chicken head though you can buy them in packages of eight at the grocer.
8th November 2007

The girl with the bird phobia is shivering at the thought of bird feet and heads!! ah! It freaks me out just a bit - I did see some photos of someone who has been to Ghana and they had a foot (claw!) on their plate for a meal - I think I will be vegetarian that day! Keep the great updates coming - so fun to hear about your school and all of the great things you are doing!! Brandy
16th November 2007

Ice Cubes.
A propos avoiding ice cubes, if you really feel you need them, try taking the advice we were given by CIDA before leaving for Africa: ALWAYS BOIL YOUR ICE CUBES!!!
30th November 2010
Penguin Shrubbery Art

Mr Poppers Penguins
I like these real shrubbery topiaries very much! Nice job! I just made a pair of Penguin Topiary for the new film from 20th Century Fox starring Jim Carey that will be in front of Tavern on the Green in Central Park. http://www.topiaryjoe.com

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