Sunday, 30 September 2012

Sunday 30 September 2012

Hello again,
The party on Friday night was a grand affair at the top hotel in the city, the Shangri-la. We were escorted to the function by our three foreign affairs office administrators, Wendy, Susan and Maggie, who have become friends. The ballroom was beautifully chandeliered and festive for the party, which was to welcome all the foreign teachers in the province of Guangdong. The platform dignitaries (about 12) assembled in a row on the stage. The vice-governor gave a speech that was translated in intervals. We and the dignitaries were standing while the introductions and the speech were given. This party always coincides with the National holiday.

Then it was time to have something to eat and we were treated to about 100 different dishes to taste. It was all quite (very) wonderful and amazing. It was beautifully presented and we enjoyed the variety. I didn't try the red bean soup dessert, but was told that it was unusual, but delicious. The personal service in China is perfect. We stood throughout the whole dinner. There were a few tall tables that we could stand beside. Susan, from the office, came over to visit and she said to me, "Isn't this odd to be standing while we are eating?" Then I realized that this wasn't the usual thing for anyone to be doing. There was an orchestra of about 15 playing traditional Chinese string and wind instruments. They played background music for a few hours. They started with traditional Chinese music and then went on the play songs from various countries. We noticed "Danny Boy," "Santa Lucia," and "The Red River Valley."

The party ended at the right time because our feet were starting to be tired. There were no gift bags this year as China is experiencing the economic downturn also.

We went home happy and content. It was a fun night.

The photos are from the party and the night lights of the New Town in Guangzhou. Tilt your head again.

Tomorrow we are leaving for a 5 day tour to Urumqi. I remember Dr. Luke Kwong saying in a class that "no self-respecting Chinese would live in Western China." Look on a map and you will see that it should be quite a visit. We will report later.

Good bye for now.
Since we are too busy to become homesick yet. We went to church today at the Ramada.

MOM/ Kathleen/ Aunt Kathy

Friday, 28 September 2012

Friday 28 September 2012

Hello again Family and Friends,

This has been another good few days. Our apartment is feeling very much like home now and nothing feels better than
walking into air conditioning after a few hours of teaching in the heat and humidity. Don says that our teaching building has very
good feng shui. I don't know if that expression is used correctly but he means that the building, which is 6 levels high, is open with breezy walk-ways and at least some fresh air blowing through. Classrooms are fairly open here with large windows that are left open into the hallway. It is more public than we are used to. We have been told that in the winter some of the students come to class with winter coats.

We will probably see some fault with these students eventually, but we haven't seen it yet. There are some differences that we are trying to
navigate around. They speak in class but not as freely as at home. Yesterday a very nice student came up after class and asked if I felt "bored" (he used the wrong word) when I asked a question and the students did not answer. I replied that I was only worried that they couldn't understand me. Then he explained, as best he could, that in China students do not have "communication" with the teacher. I said, "Don't the students answer questions?" He replied that yes they did, but that was not done very often and me asking a general question for any or all to respond to was uncomfortable. His kindness was appreciated and the students are getting used to my style. When I asked about the Diaoyu Islands they had quite a lot to say and it is a very passionate topic here in China now.

Also, the common knowledge is completely different. One student in our oral class was speaking about Friday being the best day of the week. He talked about all the good Fridays and then he had a picture of Good Friday, with the Christian symbolism, and he was not aware that Good Friday means something different and specific in the West.

Our navigation skills on the busses and the Metro are getting better. Paul and Ann Brooks have again taken us to places to see the city or at least show us where things are when we have more time. We went to Beijing Lu ("Lu" means street….aren't you impressed?) and it was a great, modern shopping street. I have included some pictures. The picture of the fruit shows what you can buy for $3.00. The last photo is of the very modern subway system. You will have to tilt your head a bit. I am not that skilled yet!

Tonight we have a dress-up affair at a downtown hotel.
I will report later.

P.S. to Debby,
We have discovered that the grocery store by the north gate of the campus has Magnum ice cream bars.

With love,
Mom/ Kathy/ Kathleen

Monday, 24 September 2012

Monday 24, September 2012

Hello from China,

This isn't particularly newsworthy but Don just left for his 7:00 PM class in the largest
downpour of rain that I have ever seen. The thunder was impressive too. His umbrella will be useless. My umbrella was loaned
to Susan, the office contact, who came to look at our water heater, which hasn't been working for
a few days. We have a big party this Friday night where all the foreign teachers in the province will be
the quests of the governor. The dress is formal, which is not going to be accomplished by me, but
my hair will be the most spectacular fluff. The humidity does wonders for hair volume. Maria, tell Melissa and she
will be able to picture it. We are relieved that we are starting to put names with the faces of our students.

By the way, Magnum ice cream bars are good in China too.


Sunday, 23 September 2012

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Hello to Family and Friends,

Happy Birthday to Connor and Ayden this week.

This week it has become obvious that China is a try mix of the ultra-modern and the traditional.
As you move about the city you can tell that shopping is a mixture of the new and the old. I
like to call it the malls and the stalls. The stalls are the thousands of cubby-hole stalls that are in
the old market areas, and even on some of the modern streets, while the skyscrapers in the new city
have remarkable design that could rival any modern city.

In class students have taught me about some small differences. After our Handshake Lesson,
a student came up to say that a 2-handed handshake was a sign of respect. This was after I had taught them that
it was too personal when meeting someone for the first time. In China it means respect. In Canada it means affection.
Another student said that in China a handshake, just grasping the fingers, is appropriate when shaking the hand
of a woman. I said that in Canada all handshakes should be the same.

Annie, you would be proud of my techno skills. Consider this. I can now plug in my computer, use a thumb drive, project my
power points and use a clicker, and do this on machines that are labelled in Chinese.

Today we went to church. The meetings were held in the Ramada, or the Ra-ma- da- (with the accent on the "da" as they call it here)
and it was a group of about 100-120. To let you know how international it was: the person conducting was Chinese, the branch president
has a British accent because he is from England, the young man sitting behind us was a Samoan, one sermon was given by an African-American man from Illinois, and we spoke with a man from Spain who had been introduced to the church 7 years ago after they had moved to
Guangzhou. It was good to once again have the security and strength of a church unit.

Don is still getting drenched with the shower faucet in the middle of the night.
We are wondering when he will learn to avoid the downpour.

Good bye for now,


Friday, 21 September 2012

Saturday 22 September 2012 (continued)

Family and Friends,

Please excuse the interruption.
If my memory is correct I was about to tell of the places we visited.
We learned to appreciate this huge city and see the beautiful, old streets with the treetops
touching in the middle to form a canopy. We saw the endless markets that specialize in pearl,
and jade and Guangzhou silk. This is called the pearl capital of the world, and I believe it.
There are thousands of little cubby-hole stalls where merchants are doing business. The city is
a true mix of the ultra-modern and traditional. Once when we were caught in a rainstorm we took
the taxi home and it cost $1.50 US. Our street, Wushan Lu, now rolls off our tongue. We have
enjoyed some Cantonese cooking, but the KFC on the corner tasted pretty good too.

The bottom photo is of Ann and Paul Brooks plus Brad and Susan Hertz.
Good bye for now,

Saturday 22 September 2012

Hello Family and Friends,

Maria phoned last night and wondered if everything was OK since I had not posted anything all week.
It was a surprise that the week had sped by so quickly. It was a great week. Don and I discovered that we will
enjoy our teaching experience and the company of our students. Each class has been taught once now and now we
can finally feel the routine of our life here. It is already feeling like our home away from home. I even told someone the
other day where the post office was. Annie would be impressed how I can hook up my computer, bring down the projector
and even use the clicker. Wow!

Students are all serious and eager with many of the happy, exuberant qualities that most young adults have. The boys come to school
very casually dressed, probably because it is still hot, but not as hot as last week. They wear shorts and flip flops. The girls can often be seen walking with umbrellas to stay in the shade. They are used like parasols. The fashion for them includes the most feminine, fluffy chiffon dresses. Also, I think large eye glasses must be coming back into style.

There is an unbelievable rush of bikes at 8 AM and the evenings are calm and quiet like a perfect summer's night at home. Many people have an evening walk and it is fun to see a group of women having an outside folk dance class. Whenever you walk past one of the teaching buildings, which are very open to the breeze, you see students sitting and reading in the empty rooms. This is because the dorms usually do not have desks for them and they do their work in the classrooms, after hours.

We have ventured out with the 2 other BYU China Teaching couples. Ann and Paul Brooks have made sure that we are learning to use the buses and the Metro.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Monday, September 17, 2012


Today we passed a huge hurdle. We taught our first classes and we were both very satisfied and happy.
The warning was that the students would not speak at all and it would seem unsuccessful. Our classes were quite
talkative, but honestly it was difficult to understand everything (or almost anything) they were trying to say. Don and I both
had oral classes with our Phd students and they were serious about learning and very respectful. It was a pleasure. I learned the two-handed way to receive
their papers when given to me, with them always using both hands to hand papers in. We were just plain relieved and happy that
things went as planned. The students seemed interested in us and a few may have thought we were oddities, but all were very
Here is a funny one about Grandpa Wood. He will love this!
I was showing some family pictures and showed one from the birthday party in June.
I said this was my father at his birthday party. I asked, "How old do you think he is?"
Someone said sixty, and I replied, "I'm sixty!" They amended it to eighty. It was fun.
No one thought that it was his 90th birthday party.
Here is a picture of Grandpa with Chad, taken the day of Mark Ellingson's funeral.

Must go. The washing machine on the balcony is bouncing around and making a terrible noise.

Love to all,
MOM/ Kathy

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sunday, September 16, 2012 from Guangzhou

Hello Everyone,

Here are a few pictures. We are not certain if this will work so let me know if the pictures go through. Plus, we are unsure of the size of the photos. We will finally get this, I hope.

The above photo is of Don and our student volunteer helper, Michael. He has been our #1 helper this last week.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Friday 14 September 2012

Dear family and friends,
My blog is not working quite right yet and so Annie has instructed me to post something this way. If if works, and please someone let me know, then I will try to add pictures. So far I cannot read comments or see what the blog really looks like, but enjoy our experience with us anyway.

Here are a list of things that I am getting used to.

- humid heat and being wet all of the time
- walking
- showering with no curtain or even shower stall
- disinfecting vegetables and fruit
- eating wonderful vegetables and fruit
- thinking about eating vegetable dumplings at the favourite dumpling place just off campus in what I call "dumpling alley" for 30 yuan ($5), which will feed 4 people easily
- the lush beauty of the campus compared to dumpling alley
- having a student helper on demand. The student volunteers and office staff have been more than helpful and they have been needed
- using a little washing machine on our balcony
- adjusting drying time with wet laundry as it takes a long time to dry hanging out on the balcony
- remembering the good scent of clothes air dried outside
- having frizzy hair
- listening to the noise in the trees at night…at first I thought they were birds, then a tree full of monkeys, but Don wonders if they are tree frogs. They make a racket . Does anyone know?

It has been a very busy week for us. The apartment took a bit of work. The technology is still taking time.
We have had meetings and welcome dinners and have enjoyed meeting the people that are supervising us. We are now ready to venture farther afield even though we haven't explored all of the campus yet. We went to the Metro and it is modern with signs in English also, which is pretty rare here.

I appreciate the emails from home and it helps prevent homesickness, which I probably won't feel until Christmas. We are just too busy and are having a great adventure so far. It is an interesting experience to be the obvious foreigner and yet feel so comfortable.

Jane, I have your purple duct tape pen on my bookcase.
Kathryn, there is a volunteer helper named Kokimo who looks like you. The students take an English first name when they take an English class and hers has been Kokimo for a long time. We think it is funny since that was the name of an old Beach Boys song.
Grandpa Wood, you might be interested in knowing that I have heard a number of people here and on the Hong Kong TV channel refer to our city as Canton, so it still must be known as that.

Assignment: Look up Sun Yat-sen. There is a statue of him at the gate of our campus and he is an important figure in Chinese history. Sometime we will take a bus to his memorial. You kids, that means you Ben, can report on what you have learned.

Dad/Don has been 100% enthralled with being here this week. Me too.
Next week classes start and we will be happy when that hurdle is over.

Photos coming.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

test post

I am sending this to my blog. Let me know if it came through.
We will still be working on this since I want to see my blog also.
For some reason all the blogs are blocked and they come up as "ca" instead of "com."
Even when we change it "com" it still doesn't work. It says that the server has dropped it unexpectedly.


remote posting

Hi, this is Annie.

Mom has been have difficulty getting onto the blogger website to post to the blog. It seems to be blocked in China.

But I have set up remote posting, so she can email her posts to the blog. I am just testing it now to see if it will work.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Tuesday 4 September 2012


We are almost ready.
Actually that is not really true.
We are almost ready to be out the door, but we are not ready at all.
At least we brought up the suitcases to pick which will hold our 50 pounds per suitcase the best.

We are so excited.
Aunt Agnes and Uncle Leo dropped off some delicious squares to help us along.

Annie has been here again trying to fine tune my computer skills.
Thanks again Anna Lee.

Pictures from our last weekend at home.