Monday, January 25, 2010

The Big Day

I had my first day of work!!

I was anxious all morning. My stomach was in knots… I’m not sure whether it was because I was nervous about teaching or just nervous about this whole working in China thing and wanting to be sure I’m listening to the Lord and doing what He wants me to do. It’s a lot to consider.

I woke up first thing and spent time with Jesus. It was so good… He reminded me from Ex. 16:20 that He wants to provide anew every single day. I don’t need to hoard or hold on to His provision from yesterday. His provision is fresh and new each and every day. So don’t hoard and don’t worry. Good stuff.

After Jesus time I met my friend to go and get a bus pass (goodness knows I need one fully loaded with lots of money… the way I get around on the bus system here, going the wrong way and getting off at the wrong stops). It’s only ¥1 (about 15¢) to ride the bus and it’s totally worth it to get the pass so you don’t have to worry about having cash or change all the time. After getting the pass, we grabbed some lunch real quick and then headed off to Sianggang Lu (Hong Kong Road) to start my first day of work.

My workday began with getting my schedule for the day. I had one hour to prepare for teaching my first class. I didn’t get to sit in and observe anyone!!! I had really hoped to, just so I could get a feel for how they do this thing, but apparently they were desperate to get me started. So with one hour of prep I set off to teach my first class. It was a private lesson with two brothers (must have been from a very wealthy family for there to be two of them). They were 13 & 15… typical boys, but we had a lot of fun. The lessons are all planned out so all I really had to do was follow an outline. We played Taboo and talked about their life achievements. The lesson rounded off with us talking about the NBA. I pretended to know what they were talking about, and thankfully my exposure to the NBA (via the brother) gave me some street cred with the kiddos. We went over our time because they didn’t want to stop talking with me about basketball.

After that lesson I had another hour to prepare for a private one-on-one beginner’s lesson with a very shy and sweet young lady. It went well. We were talking about family and schedules. She also asked me some questions about my life in America, including what my job was there. I told her where I worked and she seemed to be intrigued and very surprised. It’s really neat that I can answer any question that’s asked of me. And it’s really convenient that so much of my life and work experience includes Jesus, so He’s bound to come up at some point. He came up again in the next lesson when the two students in the class asked me what my degree was in. They seemed shocked that I would spend four years studying Theo. They checked their little pocket dictionaries to determine what Theo meant and then the girl asked me, “Why would you study that?” Yay for answering questions!

The Lord has definitely given me favor here, and all the doting I receive is great for the self-esteem! Yesterday I had several students tell me that I was cute, beautiful and sweet. One girl even gave me the nickname, “Beautiful Girl.” Okay. I’ll take it!! And they really like my voice. I had students tell me that I sound so young and my voice is so soft and sweet like a little angel. One girl said I sound like a small child from American films, and then she went on to say that I sound like HANNAH MONTANA!!!! That’s exceptionally funny to me, given that Hannah Montana sounds a bit like an old diner lady. Definitely a stark contrast to a small child’s soft voice, but I’ll take it. I think it may be my most favorite compliment to date. It’s the best of both worlds! :)

So there you go... day one down. I wish I could have everyone here with me to experience all that’s happening. Other than the language barrier and the non-intuitive eating (I think I may starve to death in China if left to dining out on my own… only because I don’t know how to order or what to order for that matter… I had Starbucks for dinner last night), this place really is entirely lovely and it would be fabulous to have you all here with me. So, work on making that happen, okay!?

~Teacher Jaime (that’s my fancy teacher name now)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

China. Part 1 :)

What’s that?

You’re looking for an English teacher?

Oh, well I just happen to be one!!!

I got a job! Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I did a “demo” at Web International English ( this afternoon and it went smashingly. Personally, I don’t think it was all that terrific, but the guy who observed me said I was perfect, except for one piece of feedback he provided. In all honesty, I just think he thought I was cute. The voice gets ‘em every time! :)

So, I start tomorrow at 1PM and will be working part time on a three-month contract. I am actually quite thankful for the arrangements… I asked the Lord before the interview to work it out so that they would offer me something part time with a short-term contract. I didn’t want to be locked into something for an entire year, and three months is the perfect amount of time to determine whether this school will be a good fit for me or not. I also have a potential opportunity at Ocean University this September (which would be awesome), so the short contract keeps that option open. I will have a probation period of one month with Web and after that they will begin the process of getting my visa in order. That means I will have to fly to South Korea in the next couple of weeks to renew the 30-day duration of my visa.

I’m such a brave traveler!  I’ve been talking with Jesus about the job situation a lot, especially about getting myself into a situation where I’m being duped (which is common in the foreign teacher business). But I felt like He said that no one really wants to be messing with me (because they’d be messing with Him) and duping me means big trouble for them. So I feel pretty confident. It’s nice having the Creator of the universe on your side. He wins every time!!

The school is just lovely and I think the set up will be perfect for me to learn how to do this teaching thing. The location is great too! I’ll always feel safe going to and from work because it’s right in the middle of the financial & municipal area of the city. Check out the fancy-schmancy building I’ll be working in…

So, in other news, today was my first full day in China all by myself. The mom left yesterday…

I am SO brave!!! It was pretty good day though! I got up early and went to Sunday service this morning. Didn’t understand a word that was said, but the service was sweet. Very traditional. At one point I got really caught up listening to the symphony of body sounds echoing throughout the auditorium. Coughs, snorts, throat-clearings, loogi-hawking. It was comical and I was completely unable to hide the grin on my face as I sat there.

After service my friend called and asked me to meet him on the bus to go to lunch and then on to my interview. I ended up getting on the bus going the wrong way (not my fault… he did not specify which direction, only which number), and having to get off two stops later and walk to the nearest stop going the right way. It was all the way back at my hotel (unintentional exercise… Bob from the Biggest Loser would be so proud). I took the bus to the city center and met my friend (after I got off at the wrong stop – I’m very good at bus riding) to have beefsteak for lunch. Note to self (and to you for that matter): Chinese beefsteak is NOT delicious. Nor is it anything like steak. I tried to eat as much of it as I could since he was treating, but it was trying my meat tolerance (and gag reflex) for sure. The flavor was good, but the consistency was very fatty and gross.

Some things I’ve learned since being in China:
1. Public nose picking is acceptable and encouraged. Especially fervent picking. Oh, and while you’re at it, you just shoot that booger right out. Who needs tissue?!

2. Always look down when you’re walking. You will either trip or step in loogi.

3. Stay away from Chinese beefsteak.

4. Starbucks in China is 5 million dollars. And the “Daily Offerings” sign is beautiful.


5. Try to find a seat or have your feet firmly planted before the bus driver takes off. Lesson learned.

6. Chinese people like to eat animal feet… and every other part for that matter.

7. Chinese people are incredibly generous and hospitable.

8. Body sounds abound in China.

9. Staring is socially acceptable but can be combated with a smile and a sappy sweet “ni hao”.

10. Going to “lunch” means eating for five hours straight. Seriously.

11. Cars before people. And lanes… they’re really only suggestions. As are traffic signals, double yellow lines and one-way streets.

12. Why bother eating with your mouth closed? Easy in. Easy out.

It really is kind of freeing… not having our pesky standards of etiquette. I ate pork off the bone with my bare hands the other day. It was amazing, and I think it may have tasted better that way.

It hit me yesterday that I’m going to learn a whole lot more here than I am going to teach. I sat in on a fellowship meeting yesterday (Saturday) with incredible men and women who were so passionate. They shared stories, and while I could not understand their words, their hearts were evident. These precious people love their Maker and have given up so much to serve Him. I think how I serve them will be very different than how I imagined. And I’m not sure what that looks like yet. I guess while I’m figuring that out I will just have to love like crazy. A great way I can do that is by learning the language. I’m excited to begin studying. It will be such an incredible asset, no matter how long I am here. And working part time will allow me time to devote to learning. Perfect!

Check out the beautiful city I get to live in…


So, there you have it. I think you’re all caught up now!
Zai Jian!