Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Tuesday, November 26, 2012

We are nearing the end of the semester for our classes. The school accommodates foreign teachers who want to return home
for the Christmas holidays. Most stay and enjoy the sights of China.

You may be interested in our beautiful teaching building. It is very open and breezy , which is great on a hot day. Today was chilly with heavy rain and so I put on heavy socks for the first time. Some of the students wore winter coats during the class, since there is no heat. The students remain one of the greatest pleasures of being here. Almost all are serious in their efforts. Of course, this is a required course. I am always surprised at the sacrifices the married students make to earn an education. A month ago an older student came to say that he would be gone for a week and he asked for my permission. He said, "I just miss my baby so much." (He became a father in September) Then I realized that he was hundreds of miles away from his wife and new baby, probably his only baby. Another student wanted to talk about her husband who is working in Calgary at the Bank of China. He will be there for 3 years and she has visited Calgary once.

It has taken a long time for the students to feel that they can relax and not be worried about making mistakes. Now they willingly go to the board to correct sentences and that would have been too humiliating a few months ago. It is a big step. They are fun, fun, fun, when it comes to competitive games. And, when they are having fun their English is better.

The photos are of the teaching building, the umbrellas along the hall by my classroom, and a group of 4 students who wanted to have a picture taken. Their names are Nathan, Scindy, Olive and DeeDee. (Some of the English names that they came into class with are a bit "off") I will remember them forever.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Monday 19 November 2012

Some random thoughts:

On the walk from the campus to the metro station along Wushan Lu (Lu means road) we passed a man diligently making flowers from
duct tape and other kinds of tape.  This photo is for you Jane.  He would have been able to give you a few pointers.  Next time, if he is there, I will buy one for you to examine.

Then in Hong Kong last week (more on that later) we saw a crowd in the Apple store.  Whatever came out in Hong Kong on November 17 was causing a mob scene.  The next picture is for Anna Lee and whoever else loves Apple.

The last random thought is about our apartment building.  It is 9 stories high and does not have an elevator.  Also, in the evening the lights in the halls are controlled by noise sensors.  So, while we are in our own apartment we can hear people making noises at every floor as they climb the stairs.  It is usually a "hoo" shout and it  turns the lights on for a few seconds.  When we come in, a heavy stomping sound is enough to turn on the light in the hallway.  And, a good "hoo" works for us too.  This is one of the unique sounds from Guangzhou.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Sunday 18 November 2012

Let me finish telling you about our day tour of Guangzhou.

We had a delicious "spinner dinner" at the oldest restaurant in Guangzhou. It has been in business for over 100 years and it was memorable. The site of the restaurant was in the old entertainment district and it had a beautiful view of one of the branches of the Pearl River. The view was peaceful. We were escorted to one of the many private rooms on the second floor in this spacious, ornate building. As usual, the food was delicious and beautifully presented. This restaurant specializes in tofu dishes. We enjoyed the meal, but are always caught off guard with dishes whose ingredients we cannot recognize. Who would have thought that fried milk, with shrimp, is a delicious dish. Fish is also a specialty in Cantonese cooking.

After, we spent some time in an excellent, new museum.

Then we were off to the Canton Tower. This is the main landmark in Quangzhou and it is a fun visit. The tower is the 3rd tallest tower in the world and it is amazingly graceful. Of course, we all had to test our courage standing on a transparent ledge. I failed. Don was OK.

After another dinner, we sailed down the Pearl River on an evening river cruise. The weather was perfect and the lights of the buildings, including the Canton Tower, were glitzy and showy. It was fun. We exited through a small park that commemorated The First Opium War of the early 1840's and Canton's resistance. There was a large statue of Governor Lin, which luckily I remembered (thank you Dr. Kwong) plus cannon. (Remember, Great Grandfather William Wood was in China with the British navy during the Second Opium War from 1856-1860) We will visit the park again and it will be easy to find since it is right behind Little Mama's fabric mall. That night the greatest attraction at the park was ballroom dancing by a few couples.

As I viewed the little park in this great city, I was struck by how bold, but unrealistic the British were in the 1800's. Their one and only advantage would have been better weapons and ammunition. To think that China would ever change to suit their needs, or be permanently altered for any length of time, was foolish dreaming. And, China remains a nation with a rock-solid dedication to being Chinese. I see this in the student paragraphs that I read. There is great pride, as there should be, in the 5000 year old civilization.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Friday 16 November 2012

A few weeks ago the university took our group on a tour of Guangzhou.  They are taking good care of us.
We left early in the morning and saw the main attractions and it was a very good day.  The tour will be divided into
a few blog postings because too many photos are a problem to send.

The first stop was the Chen Family Academy.  This was built in the late 1800's after a member of the Chen family earned first place in the Imperial Examinations. It was such an honour that it warranted the building, which was used as an academy or school.  It was also rare to have the #1 spot going to someone from Guangdong Province. These examinations were the basis for government posts and other important positions.

Next we visited a street that was famous as part of the pleasure district in Guangzhou.  Now it is a lovely gathering place with the river and a park nearby.  You can tell that it was in the wealthy part of Old Canton.  We saw an impromptu choir and listened to the excellent singing.  Maggie, from the office, said that they were singing the traditional songs from the old days.  When I asked if they missed the old days, she gave me a look like I was crazy.  "No one misses the old days!'

A park was filled with people of all ages kicking around what looked like a hacky-sac with feathers on it.  As you can see, Don wanted to get into the fun and he was pretty good for an old guy.

We walked past a home that is famous for being a former residence of both Mao Zedong and Chiang Kai-shek.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Sunday 11 November 2012

Remembrance Day

Today at church I heard a quotation and it seems appropriate to share it .

"Into the mosaic of victory, I lay my priceless piece."

This is found on the headstone of a British soldier who was buried in Libya during one of the world wars.

Thank you Grandpa Wood, Dad, for being part of the mosaic.

Saturday 10 November 2012

Hi Family and Friends,

We are still here, but busy. Our supervisors from the BYU China Teachers program were here this week. (Kirk and Midge Evans)
The foreign teachers office put on a "spinner dinner" on their behalf and we enjoyed the Cantonese food. Gifts were
exchanged and pictures were taken. It is a gruelling two months for the Evans' visiting the teachers, all over China. Midge came to one of my classes, and luckily it was the class that is the most responsive and fun. An oral class where no one talks is not very impressive. They spontaneously gave Midge a welcome applause, and I could have hugged them all.

Last night with the Evans's was not as impressive. As a matter of fact, we looked like the "Three Stooges." All six BYU teachers, plus Kirk and Midge, walked to the Metro station en route to a dinner downtown. First, someone forgot their metro pass. Then, as we were entering the subway car, 3 of us couldn't get on the car. The crowds were amazing! I was left standing on the platform with Kirk and Midge. Since I didn't really didn't know where we were going, and I do not use a cell phone, we were in a dilemma. Should we wait or should we go somewhere, anywhere? (Don and I have an arrangement that if we get separated each will find our own way home.) We had to continue since Kirk was paying for the dinner and we were meeting other BYU teachers coming from another university in Guangzhou. I vaguely remembered someone saying the word "Chingang Pagoda," and so we went to that stop. Absolutely every square inch of space was taken in the subway car. Luckily, some of our group were waiting for us there while Don and Paul were backtracking to find us. To make a long story short, it took 2 hours to reach our goal. We overshot one metro stop, lost free spirited Brad when he went ahead at one stop, and we could hardly get a taxi to take us home after it was all done. Kirk did say that it looked as though the Guangzhou group gets along very well. And we do.

Let me boast about Ann Baines, since she would never boast about herself. Kirk Evans told me that when she and Bob were BYU Teachers in Nanjing, a few years ago, she won the best teacher award for her province. Belated Congratulations to Ann.

Here is a random picture for you to enjoy.

Mom/ Grandma/ Kathy/ Kathleen