The End of Part 1

“A journey is best measured in friends rather than miles” Tim Cahill

Today marks the conclusion of my first chapter of student teaching in China. Tomorrow I will be leaving this school with my 3 suitcases on to a high speed train heading to Beijing.

In class today I just played games with my students. I did not want to start a lesson that I would not be able to end, so we played games to create more team building skills. After the students and I all had our fun and games it was time to say goodbye!

In class 2, it was really hard not to cry when about half the students’ heads are buried into their sleeves on top of the desk. Every time I was able to gather my emotions, I would look at this one boy and he just kept crying. Then my tears would start falling again and it was just so hard to leave the class. But I was able to take a picture with each of the students so that was very important to me.

In class 1, so many of the students were documenting everything I said or it. It was chaos. As I tried to give directions on how to play a game, students would take out their phone and cameras and take pictures!!! When it was time for me to leave one boy started to cry and I have to say…again…I shed a couple tears in that class as well! It was hard not to when he would not even look up at me. But then some students stayed and they wanted to give me their QQ numbers (a sort of instant messenger here in China). Then after lunch, before their next period started they wanted me to write my name on everything!!! They brought up books they were reading, their textbooks, their notebooks and pieces of paper. They wanted me to write my name big and small and then one student asked for my “autograph” and then students swamped me at the front of the class to get my signature. It was completely crazy, but it was so rewarding to see how much  have been able to do in these students’ education.

When I first started teaching these students, I was not able to keep their attention and keep them interested. They looked at me like “Why can’t this Chinese looking person speak any Chinese?”  But soon they were excited to work with me. There were times where I was struggling to manage the class, but the struggle was well worth it. We had our days, but I could never appreciate the most of the days, if I didn’t have the challenging days. I was told that the students think I’m a good teacher and that I have ignited an interest in English now. To see this is amazing! I am not the best teacher in the world (especially with so little experience), but with much hard work and interest in my students’ needs and likes, I feel like I was able to be just the teacher they needed to spark an interest. I will definitely miss my students a lot. They have taught me so much and I hope that I have been able to teach them a little bit of something useful!

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. ” William Arthur Ward

Over all, the first time I entered the school grounds I was nervous and unsure. Currently, I almost wish I could stay and do more here with the students and the teachers. At first 2.5 months seemed like a long time to be separated from my family. But now 2.5 months seemed to fly by and now I’m leaving my adoptive family here behind. I mean the teachers really took care of us and made sure everything was comfortable for us. They taught us how to use the transit system here and every time we phoned them about anything, they helped us without hesitation. I will definitely miss all of the teachers here who have helped us. I won’t mention any names, in fear that I will forget someone, but there is not doubt that all the teachers here are kind, caring and always willing to help. The teachers here help create a nurturing environment for all.

In regards to myself, I feel that I have grown personally and professionally. For myself, I have learned to be patient with everything, especially surprise calls asking that I show up somewhere immediately. I am not the center of anything anywhere and I need to be flexible and just go with what I am given. This has reminded me  to be humble in all I do ad appreciate the fact that I am blessed to even be given this opportunity. I have learned to navigate around Jiading with confidence and though I am not Chinese (even though I have been told I look like I am Chinese until I speak English), I am sure if I picked up a couple Chinese phrases and words, I could blend right in!!

Professionally, I have learned to manage a classroom. I have learned that I cannot be the “nice teacher” all the time and that sometimes students respect a more strict but fair teacher rather than a “nice” one. I have learned to change my lesson plans daily to accommodate my students needs. I have learned to use a textbook as a support in my class and not as the only means of knowledge. I have learned that my objectives do not have to be exactly the ones shown in the textbook, especially if I know my students need something more. I have grown so much from my experiences here in China and although it was a challenge at first, I feel blessed to have been given this opportunity to be here and to challenge myself personally and professionally.

P.S. I had to get QQ after seeing my students getting emotional and wanting to stay in contact with me….so yes…now I have joined QQ!!


“”Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” Dr. Seuss

Approaching the Finish Line with FUN!!

“People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.” Dale Carnegie

Today I had the pleasure in accompanying Ivy’s 3rd grade International Class to the Suzhou Amusement Park. Granted the whole school went on this trip, except for my 5th graders because they had already gone on an outing previously. Although I did not know any of the students beforehand, they were all a great bunch of kids and I had fun with them.

Right in the morning, everyone was marched on to a bus. It was a sight to see! There were so many buses waiting for the students. I can’t even imagine how many buses there were but there were at least 7 (if not more, because we were on bus 7). The ride to Suzhou wasn’t too long maybe about an hour to an hour and a half. As we were traveling, we it was rainy, but when we arrived the rain stopped (thank goodness).

The first ride the students, some teachers and I went on first was the Bumper Cars!!! It was interesting to see the first group sit in the cars, not going anywhere. You had to tell them to spin the wheel to move around. You could see the excitement in their faces though. The second ride we went on was where you could spin yourselves and the ride would go up, down and tilt. Many of the students enjoyed this ride as well, but some students were afraid and so they decided to watch instead. One boy felt sick after the ride and he puked! I felt so bad for him, but he felt better afterwards and I don’t think I saw him on any more spinning rides. The third ride we went on was something similar to the “It’s a Small World” at Disneyland. Although the dolls looked a little creepy, the costumes were really neat. The students enjoyed this ride as well. After we moved to a new section they seemed to want to jump out of the boat!! It was very neat! The next ride we went on was a boat that moved backwards and forwards and twisted and turned. At first Ivy and I were hesitant on riding it, but then it started to twist and turn so we decided to go for it! It was better than I thought it would be and the students enjoyed this ride a lot. Again, some students were scared so they decided to watch and take pictures instead.

Then we had lunch. I was amazed at what the students brought for lunch. It was more of a potluck and picnic than a bagged lunch. A couple of the students dug into their backpacks, grabbed a plastic sheet and laid it on the ground. Then a couple of students gathered around and dumped their backpacks!! It was like watching pirates dumping their treasure!!! It was a sight to see (PICTURES COMING SOON). But it was great, because then the students could share their food with each other. At one point I saw 2 boys pull out some fried rice, 1 boy had sushi and many of the students brought junk food and packaged chicken and sausages!! It was amazing!!!

Then after lunch, we went on a train and went around the park! There were more rides and more sights to see! Unfortunately, we didn’t get to go on every ride (not that the 3rd graders would want to ride the roller coasters), but it was very fun! Then we went on the Spinning Teacup ride (a lot of spinning rides). More students decided not to ride this one, probably since they had enough of rides that would make them dizzy!! Afterwards, the students went to watch a short film and I decided to walk around and take more pictures of the place.

Then we all packed up and headed back to Jiading! Although our time there was short, it was fun while it lasted. The students seemed to enjoy themselves as well! When we got on the bus, it was so quiet, you couldn’t even tell that there were students on the bus! Everyone was exhausted and fell asleep! But today was well worth it.

Today was a great way to end our time here at Shanghai Far East School. Although we still have tomorrow to say our goodbyes, packing needs to start now. I’m already more than half-way packed and all I can think about is how hard it is going to be saying goodbye to students and the teachers who have become friends. I am ready to be back in Wisconsin, but I would love to stay here and continue working with my students and the teachers. I have to brace myself for the tears that may fall tomorrow. It’s going to be bittersweet!!

(Pictures coming soon!)

“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” Greg Anderson

Terracotta Warriors

“None of the great discoveries was made by a ‘specialist’ or a ‘researcher’.” Martin H. Fischer

The terracotta warriors. The only things I wanted to see since I stepped foot in China. And I finally had the opportunity to see them this last weekend! It was amazing! I was breathless!! I was in awe of the greatness of these warriors, seeing how much work would have taken to make every soldier unique and how much work it would have taken for the archaeologists to piece some of them back to together and preserve them. Above all, I am amazed at the fact that the work is continuous. There are archaeologists to this day still unearthing warriors and weapons and trying to make sense of it all.  I was so excited to be there, I would have jumped into the pit just to get a closer look at the warriors.

Before going to Xi’an (where the warriors are), I was able to borrow a book and read a little about the history of these warriors. I learned about the 1st Emperor of China and his accomplishments and I read about his tomb and what is said to be within the unopened tomb. The most fascinating fact I read was that farmers discovered these warriors. FARMERS!!!! Not archaeologists, but farmers!! Not to imply that farmers do not hold important occupations (because they have countries to feed), but the fact that simple, everyday people were able to make this discovery. I was so amazed, I bought a book at the museum and had the farmer sign it!! I mean can you imagine, digging a well for water and you dig up some weapons, bring them to an archaeologist and all of a sudden a whole army of terracotta warriors is unearthed!! How I would love to be one of the farmers that day, seeing where my small discovery would lead.

Our tour guide was so helpful and so full of knowledge, it was great to have her lead us around Xi’an. In addition to the Warriors we also saw the Wild Goose Pagoda (which was also very beautiful) and we stopped by the Muslim Quarter in Xi’an (filled with street foods and souvenirs). Xi’an is a very beautiful and growing city. The traffic is not as heavy as it is here in Shanghai, so it was a nice change of pace.

No matter how many words I use to describe the warriors, I know that only pictures can do it justice. So there will be pictures put up as soon as possible.

“Seeds of great discoveries are constantly floating around us, but they only take root in minds well prepared to receive them.” Joseph Henry

1st Birthday In China

“God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.” Voltaire

I have not spent a birthday without my family before, but this year I have had the opportunity to celebrate it here in Shanghai. Since FaceBook doesn’t work here, I didn’t actually expect to do anything for my birthday. Besides, I had been too busy to even remember that my birthday was coming up. But here at this school, I have felt so welcomed, loved and part of a family here.

I walked into class and was greeted with a loud “HAPPY BIRTHDAY MISS VANG!!” I thanked the classed and started my day teaching class #2 and everything went well. Then as I turned to walk out of the class, the students rushed up to the front and handed me gifts and cards. I was absolutely amazed that they even thought of me. Then I walked to class #1 and as I walked in I was greeted with “HAPPY BIRTHDAY ABIE!!” and it was followed by gifts. I did not expect any of this, because the students and I had a rocky start at the beginning of the semester, so I was under the impression that I was the mean, strict student teacher from the US. But the students definitely made my day.

After dinner, I was invited out to dinner with some of the teachers. I was under the impression that it was a dinner since Kristi and I would be leaving soon!! was….and it was a little more. The teachers got me a cake as well! After dinner, we went to a KTV (where people do karaoke)!!! It was definitely different than seeing people sing at a bar or on a stage! But it was fun and it was great to hear some of the teachers here sing a couple of Chinese songs as well!!! It was a really great night!

Since I’ve always gone home to celebrate my birthday with my family, it was hard not celebrating it with them. But it was great to celebrate it here with teachers who have guided and supported me during my 2, almost 3 months stay here in Shanghai. The teachers here have definitely taken me under their wings and helped in every way that they could. It has been great to be here with such wonderful mentors. I feel so lucky and blessed to have had this opportunity here in Shanghai and looking back to the beginning of this trip, I definitely feel that I have grown a lot personally and professionally!

“Wisdom doesn’t necessarily come with age.  Sometimes age just shows up all by itself. ” Tom Wilson

Suzhou: Venice of the East

“Don’t be a tourist. Plan less. Go slowly. I traveled in the most inefficient way possible and it took me exactly where I wanted to go. “ Andrew Evans

On Friday after school we hopped on a train and went to Suzhou. One of my cooperating teachers said that there is a Chinese saying that states “Heaven above, Suzhou and Hangzhou below”. Meaning that Suzhou and Hangzhou are both “heaven on Earth”. I have had the opportunity to go to both Hangzhou and Suzhou but the day we went to Hangzhou it was cloudy and rainy so we could not enjoy it as much, but from what we could see it really was beautiful.

But this weekend we spent in Suzhou. Suzhou is a place with waterways and gardens. On our first night we wandered around by ourselves and found ourselves at an ancient city wall. It was really beautiful and as we left the lights came on, so we returned to get a picture of the wall with lights. It was really neat! Then a P.E graduate student from Soochow University took us to get dinner. We ended up getting dumplings and they were delicious!

The next day we went to a temple that had a huge pagoda and we were able to climb the first 2 stories. It was amazing to see how well this pagoda was preserved and the view from it was amazing! Then we walked over to another building which housed the biggest bell I have ever seen! It was gigantic! We were able to climb to the top of the building and see the top of the bell. It was massive! Before we left, we were able to ring the huge bell 3 times. It was way harder than it looked to ring the bell, but eventually I got it to ring. It’s amazing to see something so massive, you have to wonder how it was created in the first place and whether the bell was made first or the building. Either way, I’m very glad I got to see it though!

The next stop was Tiger Hill Garden. It was huge as well! It was probably the biggest garden I have seen yet. There was so much to see and so many pictures to take. Additionally, there were also shows where people performed at different places in the garden.  It took a while to go through Tiger Hill but it was well worth it! The buildings were beautiful.

Our last stop of the day was Shangtong Road. This was a road filled with little shops and street vendors. Here I was able to buy my Chinese yoyos and spinning top toys. There were many silk shops in Suzhou and I saw many beautiful pieces of artwork. I never knew that silk was weaved together and how beautifully and flawless the artwork could look. When looking at the silk artwork, it almost looks like a painting but then you learn that it’s silk. It takes much talent to complete the silk pieces of art.

Then on our last day we visited Soochow University. It is a huge campus and looks amazing! It feels very comfortable and welcoming. When we walked on to campus many of the students were sitting on the grass or playing sports. It was almost like how movies and TV shows portray the university atmosphere. The buildings were a mix of old (not prison looking old) and new (like their law school). Soochow University has a very comfortable atmosphere.

Overall we had a great time in Suzhou. It was great to see some of the history, tour Tiger Hill and visit the University. Our guides were very helpful and hospitable. We couldn’t have visited any place far from our hotel without their help!!


“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. “ Marcus Tullius Cicero 


“Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.” Dr. Seuss

Camp was fun!! Granted it wasn’t camp like cabins or tents, we actually stayed in dormitories. But I had so much fun with my students. When we first got there the girls and boys went up to their dorms and put all their things away. In college we have about 1-3 roommates (usually), but these students had about 8 to a room. And we complain about space, but they get this one L-shaped furniture to sleep on (I don’t think it was like a bed). But the students were so happy and so excited, the feeling was contagious. I would go up to take pictures and all the students would want to show off their rooms and invite me in. They were very sweet! Then we went to an opening ceremony and I did not understand anything, but I believe the camp rules were being shared. Then we had lunch and then a little break. Next came the fun part!!!

We did many fun activities! The first one was more of a rope course and the students went crazy trying to do all of them. But you could tell they were having so much fun. Then they went on a raft in pairs and had to pull themselves half-way and back. I actually got to try this as well with one of the Chinese teachers here and it was challenging but fun! When I got out, one of the students was so excited, he came up to me and was like “Miss Vang, you’re very fast!” Our second activity was walking/running along these floating planks (kind of thing). And that was really fun as well!! Then we moved on to an obstacle course with more water!! We had to walk on chains, walk on tires, walk along a beam and climb a rope fence. Then we would walk on metal steps and go through circles and then swing across. I took part in every obstacle course, except the last one. The last one was swinging across the water. At first, I decided that I would do it, but then as more and more students fell into the water, I chickened out! So I caught great pictures of students making it or falling in!! The great thing was that even if a student fell in, they were happy! It was a great experience for them.

After the fun, all students went to the auditorium for a film. Dinner followed and then there was a pageant show, where students had to make clothes out of recycled items and some fun school competitions. Whether the students won or lost, they all seemed to be having a lot of fun!

Then today, we did some fun things as well! First we fished. Not with fishing reels, but with a bamboo stick, fish string, a sinker and a hook. I don’t fish or care to fish, but this was a different way of fishing that I had never tried before. On top of all that, my bait was rice!!! YES! A grain of rice!!! Needless to say, I did not catch any fish. But then we ventured over to another obstacle course where we had to cross the stream by a bridge made of wood pieces, a bridge made of alternating metal pieces and a bridge made of two pieces of rope! Granted we had ropes to hold on to, but if someone fell, I would not know what to do! But it was entertaining to see all the students embrace this challenge and have fun. Then we went through a maze. The only time I have ever had interaction with a maze is on paper. I followed the students and we got lost so many times. At one point, there was a snake in the tree or something and all the students ran the other way. I don’t think we actually found the exit, because every one exited the maze between two pine trees! But that was a fun experience as well. Then we got in little row boats and spent some time in the water. I can’t count how many times I heard boats hitting each other!! But it was all in fun and no one got hurt or wet! Then our last activity was to play with toys. The students enjoyed playing with the yoyos, the top and whip, the feathery hacky-sack and more. It was really neat to see them all having fun. Their last task of the day was to make lunch! They made wontons and cooked them with the help of their teachers.

I learned so much from my students this week. I wish I had this experience with them before I started teaching so that I was not always seen as the serious American who looks like Asian English teacher. But having this experience is better than never having it. I enjoyed being with the students in an environment that was NOT school and was able to be fun but still looked at as an authority figure (at least at school/serious functions). I am very lucky to have been here for such an opportunity and to have such kind Chinese teachers to look after me. I am sure that for my last 2 weeks here, I will be embracing every moment I get to spend with my students and the staff at this school, because I am having experiences that not many other people can even claim to have had!

More Pictures to come!!!

“Study as if you were to live forever. Live as if you were going to die tomorrow.” Isidore of Seville

A Good Day

“A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.” Herm Albright

So Today was the first day of school since National Week. Before National Week I was very discouraged by what was happening in my classroom, especially behavioral. I felt like I tried everything I learned and none of it worked. I was so ready to give up and just teach the way the students were used to learning. But I didn’t.

Before break, I felt like I finally knew the goal I wanted my students to reach. After I discovered this, I started coming up with endless activities that would help my students learn, yet have fun as well. So let’s say my students and I got along right before break.

When I woke up this morning, I was nervous!!! I was trying to figure out what happened to make the last week of school amazing. I concluded that perhaps the students were ready fro break as well and decided to behave. But I have to say, I missed my class dearly. When I walked into class today, the students were all so happy and greeted me joyfully helping my day start off great!! As a future teacher, I have learned that some days your students are going to love you and follow directions well. Other days, they may hate you and ignore everything you say. But it’s not necessarily your fault. The best thing to do every day is go in with a positive attitude and be prepared to be the teacher who is patient, understanding and encouraging.  So far, I have definitely learned a lot from my placement here at Shanghai Far East School.

One great thing that I learned today though, is that I will have an opportunity to go camping tomorrow with my two fifth grade classes!! Hoping for great weather, great pictures and a great experience!! I mean I’m going camping in China!!! YAY!!

“Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.”  Anthony J. D’Angelo

Hungry? Grab a….

“The healthy being craves an occasional wildness, a jolt from normality, a sharpening of the edge of appetite, his own little festival of the Saturnalia, a brief excursion from his way of life.”  Robert MacIver

So far I have not mentioned much about the food here. But I guess I should share a little bit about what I have encountered. In Whitewater, we have China House. I would love some China House right now….why? Because the Chinese food here is definitely a little different.

When we think of Chinese food we think some kind of fried noodles or rice or chicken or pork. With our experiences in the US, we think that all Chinese food is the same. But coming here and speaking to people about where they are from, you learn that different regions have different specialties. Even different restaurants have different specialties as well. In the US we definitely have different takes on food depending on what region you’re from, but we never really think of Chinese food the way we think of American food. I mean it is diverse. I always thought there was only one way to make fried rice and the ingredients you put in it, depends on what you like. But when you look at a menu here you can have Shanghai style fried rice or Yangzhou fried rice. And here I am looking at the menu thinking….do you have normal fried rice? But what is normal? I mean in the US the fried rice we experience is all very similar so you just order fried rice with shrimp, pork, beef or chicken. Here you need to be familiar with the different kinds of fried rice and the different styles. It’s not confusing or bad, it just takes realizing that China is also diverse (something you don’t really realize until you get here).

So I’ve been wondering where the famous General Tso’s Chicken is served. And granted I haven’t been to every restaurant in China, but I have not seen it or heard of it (also the possibility that it’s not called General Tso’s chicken..I mean who is General Tso anyways?). So I wonder if maybe the Chinese food we get in the US has an American twist to it. Maybe General Tso’s Chicken doesn’t exist in China. Maybe it does but I haven’t been in the region that specializes in it. We will have to see.

But I have to say that I have seen many McDonald’s and KFCs here in China. As we were walking in Beijing, there was a McDonald’s across from another McDonald’s. I mean you can tell that these western restaurants are definitely making a presence. They even have a pizza hut here. And trust me….it is way fancier than the Pizza Huts we have in the US. They have appetizers, steaks, pastas, salads, special drinks and of course pizza. I mean Pizza Hut is fancy here and they are definitely present here in China as well. It just amazes me how western China is becoming and how fast. So far we have seen many healthy looking people, but I wonder what will happen in the next couple years. Will the people still be healthy or will they end up like us and be battling obesity? I hope not, but with a western influence they might!

Though having pizza once in a while makes me feel like I’m back home, I would not want to be on a western diet the whole time I am here. I have been served duck, chickens feet, bull frog, pickled eggs, noodles, rice, shrimp, fish and many other things. Not that I was brave enough to try everything listed, but the foot here is different and not in a bad way. It’s not like you eat out every night and eat all these different foods, but when in China, you should at least experience some of the food. I can’t say I liked everything I tried, but sometimes you’d be surprised about what you like and what you don’t like. The food is almost always fresh and when it arrives you don’t just dig in. You stop and look at the art of it for a couple seconds, wonder what it might be, then you take a chance and try a piece. If you like it great! If not, well wait for the next dish to come around and try that! You can’t go wrong, there will always be something that you find appetizing, even if it looks different, is different or tastes different.

“Why not go out on a limb?  Isn’t that where the fruit is?”  Frank Scully

All about Culture

“Our incapacity to comprehend other cultures stems from our insistence on measuring things in our own terms. “ Arthur Erickson

So this week I we had off for National Week and the Autumn Festival. Although the Autumn Festival already arrived, I feel as if the weather has not. There are still days that scream “SUMMER!!!!” to me. But I’m sure the weather will soon catch up to the season and festival. I will definitely enjoy this weather while it lasts!!

But this week was National Week. All I can say is that it was BUSY!!!!

We spent Monday in Jiading. When they say that it gets busy everywhere… gets busy everywhere! Jiading is never packed on the weekends, but boy was it packed on Monday!! It was definitely a struggle to get through to certain places. But Kristi and I survived and we were able to return home in one piece. After being here for about 4 weeks, we feel like we’ve lived in Jiading for a while now.  We know which bus to take to the metro and where to interchange on the metro. Once you’ve been through it a couple times, you get more comfortable and confident. I mean I could find my way to downtown Shanghai and back…as long as I have a metro map!

Then on Tuesday we ventured to Beijing. In regards to Beijing, I am speechless. There were places we visited where I was just so amazed at the history. Then there were other times where I felt like I was not prepared for this trip! Let me put it this way, I did not experience culture shock when I got to Shanghai. But as I stepped out the high speed train in Beijing, I was in for a big surprise. I was not prepared for the hustle and bustle of Beijing. Granted we were there during National Week, so everywhere you go…it was packed!!!

In all honesty, I was not extremely happy with my trip to Beijing, but I also understand that we visited the same week everyone else was visiting. Of course with a huge population and many tourists, all of the places we visited would be crowded. People would skip and people would push. Being polite may get you somewhere, but it may not either. It was just very overwhelming.Over and over again all I could think about was “We don’t do things this is way in America!!!” But then I remembered…I’m not in America.I am in China. After this realization, I was determined to go with the flow. Since I will be in Beijing in a couple of weeks, I am determined to have a better experience. I refuse to go home with a negative mentality of Beijing. Why? Because I had the greatest experience with probably the simplest thing.

Of all things to be excited about, I was most excited about the rickshaw ride we had. I’m not sure about the technical name, but we were being pulled by a bike. It was so exciting!!!! We were going down the old streets of Beijing and seeing Beijing’s past was incredible. Although we may have seen other places that were more historical or more meaningful than the rickshaw ride, I think I really enjoyed it because it was so simple!! In Beijing there is a mix of the old and new, and it can get overwhelming sometimes with new fancy buildings being put up or new fancy malls. But I loved the rickshaw ride, even though it was simple and may not have been the most exciting thing in the world. I think seeing the old buildings and seeing people still living there had a greater impact on me than seeing all of the newer places.

So far I have not had the opportunity to travel to rural areas of China, and I may not get this opportunity on this trip. But when riding on the high speed train, I wish I could just stop and watch the farmers for a while. I want to know how they are continuing their way of life when everything seems to become more and more western. I can’t say that becoming more western is a bad thing, but I expected something different in coming to China. I guess I expected to see the history of China revealed before my eyes…but was given a resemblance of what I am already familiar with. I can see cities any day, granted they may not look like Shanghai or Beijing, but they can and may be similar. But I want to see China. I want to see the history and see the landscape and imagine how life may have been hundreds of years ago. I want to learn more about this culture  and it’s history, not see my own. I want to  have the opportunity to (in Kristi’s words) “be more of a ‘global citizen’ than a tourist.”

“I plead for conservation of human culture, which is much more fragile than nature herself. We needn’t destroy other cultures with the force of our own.”  Arthur Erickson

10 Year Anniversary

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” Walt Disney

So I’ve been so busy with my actual teaching that I forgot I even had a blog for sometime. But this week has been amazing….and it reminds me of why I wanted to come here in the first place.

On Monday I had the privilege of hosting the Fourth Week’s Flag Raising Ceremony. My speech was about the 10th Anniversary of Shanghai Far East School. Although I did not feel like I could say much about the school, it was an honor to be invited to give the speech about this school’s anniversary!

As the week progressed, I found that my classroom management has improved and teaching has become less challenging now that I understand what my teaching goals are.

Today, Saturday, the Primary school had a competition and I was very impressed. It was an honor to get to be a judge at this event. Additionally, I was invited to be a judge for the poetry reading as well. Granted, I did not understand any of the poems, but it was evident that the students enjoyed this and they did such a wonderful job!!!

Then after all this, all of the teachers and staff went out to dinner. It was amazing!!!! The food was great and meeting the different teachers outside of the school grounds was a great opportunity. There was a toasting ritual, where everyone goes around toasting, and I felt so privileged to take part in it!!

After the night all of the teachers and staff were given a gift and it is amazing!!! With the past few weeks being a little rough, I almost felt like giving up. But this week has really lifted me and encouraged me to continue to do my best. In any place I go, I will most definitely face challenges and being here at Shanghai Far East School I feel that I am challenged to be a better teacher. I am not trying to be a decent or average teacher. Being placed here I am learning about a different culture, different teaching styles and above all, I am learning more about myself.

I am truly blessed and privileged to have the opportunity to student teach here at Shanghai Far East School.

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” Lao Tzu