Monday, December 29, 2008


I just walked up the lonely tiring stairs after watching Jeremy's family leave and I'm amazed at how quickly you can become attached to people. They were seriously a breathe of fresh air. Austin (Jeremy's youngest sibling) was sarcastic and funny which fit in perfectly with me and Danielle, Allison (the middle child and only girl) was hesitant about everything new which completely reminded me of my first days in China. And Jeremy's mom was just Mom. She was so loving and funny, I just soaked up having a mother figure around again. Man, I already miss them and they've literally only been gone for about five minutes!

Some Orphanage Pictures

Christmas/ Orphange

Christmas turned out to be wonderful yet way to short. I had a Christmas party for my sophomores on Christmas Eve which was so fun even though nothing really went right. We played white elephant and one boy brought cigarettes for his gift! Crazy.
We had a big dinner that night for Christmas Eve with some other foreign friends who came in from other places. Jeremy's family flew in that night around 11:30pm and brought a ton of luggage! Most of it was for Jeremy as well as gifts for him and the rest of us! Trying to get a taxi was awful and they were trying to take advantage of us which was upsetting because it was late Christmas Eve night and Jeremy's family was tired and just ready to be done with their traveling!
Christmas morning was wonderful! We all woke up and ate ourselves some wonderful traditional American breakfast foods which of course includes biscuits, eggs, bacon, etc. We all opened gifts which were quite hilarious (please refer to my facebook profile picture!) That night I got to talk to my family and see my parents and Erica's face for the first time in quite a long time! We opened gifts via skype and got to spend some really good time together.
That weekend we went to an orphanage in the Henan Province. There were said to be about eighty kids and about 15 old men that are taken care of there. As we got off the bus at the orphanage some of the children immediately recognized some of our second years that went to their orphanage last year, took their hand, and were attached to them the whole time they were there. We had a party for them with a balloon streamer, a few singing acts, dancing, etc. We made them Christmas cookies and had a few 'give aways' where we gave the children some of the clothes, toys, school supplies, and other things that were brought on the trip. Because of the lack of beds we shared beds with the children there. I shared a bed with a 15 year old girl who knew a little bit of English, at least enough to say 'go to sleep' and 'good morning'. The bed we shared, I'm pretty sure, was smaller than a normal twin bed! I believe that the children aren't really schooled much, and they lack any organized activity. They really loved having people around to pay attention with them and play with them!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Lesson

I received a ton of hilarious/ awful Christmas cards from my students. Three were the exact same because there aren't too many choices for Christmas cards and three weren't even Christmas cards! They were random cartoon or love cards.
One of my students that really tries the hardest and is always making a point to come talk to me and be nice to me, gave me the best Christmas present that a Chinese person could have given me. First, he bought me a package of runts. The actual runts don't matter but they don't have those in China, he obviously had to go out of his way to go to an import store, which are really expensive in comparison to normal supermarkets here. The best part was the card he gave me. His card was small and quite cute (no chenglish!) but the most touching things were the words he wrote. "Dear Tara, Firstly, I want to say "Merry Christmas" to you. Secondly, maybe it is the first time that you spend Christmas holiday without your families, especially in China. But we are also your families. Please don't feel alone. At last, I hope you will have a happy and nice time in Wuhan, China. Yours, Will Young" I can't tell you how much that card meant to me. Especially sitting alone Christmas Eve morning.... It reminds me how much our words can affect each other. Tell your family and friends how much they mean to you every chance you get.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The beginning of Christmas

So much to say!

I had a Christmas party this morning for one of my freshman classes and it turned out great. We had hot chocolate, cookies, they all brought some food, and we did a 'white elephant' christmas gift swap. Which was so funny to watch! Some of my freshman call me Stephen and Steve and I know have a clue why. I originally thought that they just couldn't get the last S out when they said my last name, but when I received three cards addressed to Stephen, I realized, NOPE they think that's my name! And I guess that they call me Steve because when I see them on campus, they get nervous talking to me and can't get out my whole last name so they just say Steve!

Went to Metro today (a huge import store about an hours bus ride away) with my Chinese friend Stephanie. She really enjoyed seeing the new food and learning new words. And I think she always likes opportunities to see how and why foreigners are different. She liked seeing what I was buying and why. She kept asking if I was going to get coffee or needed coffee. Even though she knows I don't like coffee! That's what they know of foreigners! She was amazed at the insanely high price of the huge bag of cheese I bought for our Christmas Eve dinner of pizza!! PIZZA!

I took my little kiddos to Daniel's Christmas party so they could see a Christmas party as well as be around older students who are learning English. Daniel's students would talk to them in Chinese and I would run up saying "English! English! Use English!" One of my kiddos Steven is ridiculously intelligent and I'm constantly asking him out of the box questions and quite a bit of the time he understands them. Mary is strong-willed, stubborn, and so much like my sister Erica! The third kiddo is Sue who is three. THREE! She just repeats everything I or Steven says. Her pronunciation is great though!

Making cookies for my party tomorrow!

Last little note: two days ago I was riding the bus listen to 'Sweet Child of Mine' and there was a girl walking exactly to the beat of the song. Might not seem significant but it made my day!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My first Chinese Christmas Gift!

Tonight, I went to tutor my babies. Well, first I went over for dinner and there were 5 adults there and even though 4 of them are pretty stinkin good at English they spoke in Chinese the whole time, which I'm used to sitting there with a smile on my face. I picked up bits and pieces there. I understood when one said "she's good with the chopsticks". I couldn't help but kind of chuckle which gave away that I understood and she got a little embarrassed.
Anyways, tutoring tonight was pretty fun. We read 'Green Eggs and Ham' tonight which they really liked! We reviewed some of the words they didn't know... aka all of the words! Then I read the story while someone translated and then I played them a video of 'Green Eggs and Ham'! I got a new little girl tonight who is three, but who was already quicker than some of my five year olds. So, no big problem there. Her mother also works at my University.
Lastly, the mother whom I've become quite good friends with gave me a Christmas present. She gave me a tang juang. A traditional Chinese jacket (juang) which comes from the Tang dynasty (tang) hints Tang Juang. Anyways, it was hand made by her father and her mother hand made the 'buttons' which are the traditional Chinese fabric clasps. It really is awesome!
One of my girls birthday is on Christmas Eve and the mother was trying to schedule her birthday party around me so I could come and I'm really so busy that I can't go and the little girl has been asking and asking for two weeks if I would come or not. I feel horrible! Maybe I'll cancel some of my plans to go. No decision yet! AH!

Monday, December 15, 2008

The first round of Christmas!

Here is our Christmas Card!! And my favorite picture from the photo shoot.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

This weekend!

Saturday we had a Lingerie Shower for Laurie before she heads to the states during the break to get married. We played a bunch of typical wedding shower games and obviously took some amazing random pointless pictures! The best ones are from right after a certain game we played where we asked Drew (her fiancee) a few questions, then asked her and compared their answer to see how well they know each other. If she got the answer wrong, sticker on the face! Also, for being in China. She got some really great and useful pieces of Lingerie. You would only really understand how close this is to a miracle if you lived here. I mean, I can barely buy socks!
Sunday, we met in the morning and then I rushed off to go tutor my babies but today was different. Today was field trip day to KFC! The Wednesday before we learned hamburger, fries, and ice cream. So, we met up and headed to KFC. There are a million stories for this day so settle into your chair.
1. Nine of us fit into a Toyota car. 5 adults and four children (oh, only four of my kids came today) I was sitting up front with two children on my lap. The lack of safety laws in China is quite amazing/amusing/terrifying.
2. The kids were constantly fighting with who gets to sit next to me, who gets to hold my hand, who gets Tara's attention. 3/4ths annoying, 1/4 makes me feel like the cool kid/teacher :)
3. Taught the kids some new words including nuggets, sauce, and delicious.
4. Played teaching games in KFC and was stared at by everybody because "Oh look, a foreigner! And she's teaching Chinese kids English!" Boo...
5. Met a girl who asked to join our little learning/fun hour who turned out to not only be the youngest member of the Hubei Provence synchronized swimming team. But, the Chinese National Champion! Thought that was pretty cool and she asked if she could start coming to all of our lessons to be tutored. She's older than the other kids but also was more mature and eager to learn.
6. Tried some duck neck and forgot to write about trying Pig skin on Wednesday.
7. Back to the little car with 9 people. On the way I'm holding the hands of the two girls and the two boys are in front of us, the mothers are a little behind us far enough that you can't tell we're in the same group. We walk past a security guard/ police officer and I speak a little (A LITTLE!!) Chinese to him and he pretty much pees his pants cause there's this white foreigner, with four Chinese kids, speaking Chinese. I loved the look on his face!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Tree

My sad little Christmas tree. For some reason they didn't put the base to my tree in the box so it's stuck in a cup of rocks and rice which really isn't working, hints the leaning against the t.v. that hasn't been turned on in months!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Today December 8, 2008

Firstly, Jackie and Tina came over to study. Tina is still teaching me to cook Chinese food, and let me tell you, you better line up to sign up to get the CHANCE to let me cook for you because I am becoming a master Chinese cook!!!

Secondly, I incredibly thank Jason Cooper and Drew Bowen for commenting on my blog! That helps motivate me to keep writing on it. And a thank you to Nicole Calvert who has threatened me in order for me to not stop writing it because she reads it. Thanks guys!

Thirdly, I'm planning Christmas parties for my students. I'm thinking white elephant gift exchange, hot chocolate, and singing Christmas songs. Any other good ideas? Something easy to explain and organize. If you do email me at Thanks!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Random Updates

#1. Lost my cell phone :( I'm on the hunt to get it back. Slim Chance!

#2. Went to a wedding between a Chinese woman who speaks no English and an Australian man who speaks no Chinese. Get that.

#3. I felt a little at home in China today. Walking across campus today I ran into a teacher I knew and liked very much and made plans to eat lunch with him and another friend on Thursday. As I say goodbye I run into more friends. I stopped and chatted with them as well. It just felt like I really knew people had Chinese friends here. Lastly, I was walking to pick up a package and in the distance I kept hearing my name being called out. After looking around for a while there were 4 students (not mine, friends of a friend of mine) on the fifth floor of Building #1 yelling 'HI TARA' and waving frantically. It made me feel so wonderful!!!

#4. Bought a Christmas tree and put it up with some lights and red garland. The Christmas presents from my church back home is under the tree! Thank you for all the wonderful gifts!