F-1 Tornado

This morning when I headed to school I had no clue the wind would be so crazy. Jeff had told me that it was a dreary day, so I put on my most rain resistant jacket and headed out to face the day. In our apartment complex I could tell it was pretty windy. I could not decide which way to hold my umbrella because the wind kept changing directions. Ugh!

I persevered through the frustrating wind to meet my riding buddy, Ran Ran. We got into a tuk-tuk (the equivalent to a golf-cart in the states with foam board walls). We went down the road headed to school and I honestly thought we were hydroplaining (spelling?). However, it was the wind pushing our poor foam-board mobile. It was very scary to see and feel the vehicle move sideways as you are driving along a crazy Chinese street. Thankfully, we arrived at school safely.

Then we began our final walk through the complex to our school building (through a garden area). Once inside the gate it was like a wind tunnel. The wind that couldn’t make up its mind at our apartment was suddenly transformed into a monster whistling and whisking us along the sidewalk. At one point I had my umbrella in front of me and felt like a cartoon character as I battled to make it to the door.

While on our way through the wind tunnel we heard the cry of our students, who were also battling against the wind the poor things. We all finally made it into the school and assessed the damage. Everyone was soaked. Oddly, one girls whole left side was dry. but her right side was drenched.

After we all shed our jackets and put away our umbrellas (some of which were broken in the wind tunnel), a student came up to me. In Earth Science we just finished our weather unit. He ushered me to the window and said, “Mrs. Caldwell,” pointing outside “F-1 tornado – the rocks are flying!” 😀 I tried to no avail to convince him that it was more like a hurricane, but he still insisted it was an F-1 tornado down there. I love my students!!

Getting to School

How do you get to school? I am sure for many that is an easy question to answer. Until recently it was easy for me as well. In my previous Chinese city I rode the employee bus and got around via taxi or public bus (of course I also did my fair share of walking).

Now I am in a new city and there is no employee bus, the public bus and taxi’s are unreliable. So what’s a girl to do? Find another form of transportation. If you have ever been to China or maybe any foreign country, you know that sometimes driving and driving laws are very different from the U.S.  Once upon a time I said that I would never drive in China, because it was too crazy. I have learned once again to never say never. I bought a tric or three wheeler.

I know that three-wheeler’s are dangerous so I chose one that had a pick-up behind it to make it a bit more steady. So far I have only driven around the parking deck, but I will soon hit the road. School starts next week so if you think of me on the road send up a prayer. We live in a smaller city now so it is slightly safer and I intend to stay on the back roads as much as possible (don’t worry MAMA)!


I Walk Like My Daddy

I just returned from a whirlwhind of traveling. Our school takes the students on a cultural trip in the spring as part of our curriculum. We visit parts of the country so that the students learn more about the land they live in. This years trip took us to many famous places. All of which included a heavy amount of walking. As we walked, and walked, and walked I realized something. I walk like my dad. I have known for years that I share many of his features, but I really noticed during this trip how slow I walk. My dad walks pretty slow and takes everything in. That is exactly how I walk. My husband has now started calling me Gimli from Lord of the Rings. But enough about the slowness of my gait, I would like to share some pictures from my journey.

On the first day we visited Qing Ming Theme Park. This park was like Colonial Williamsburg, people who work here dress up like ancient Chinese. They have carts that you can ride, river boats and several shops that would have existed during that time. While the kids were exploring, in groups of four or more, the leaders took this opportunity to dress-up in ancient Chinese garb. It was a lot of fun!

That afternoon and the following day we visited Yuntai Mountain National Park. We were able to see some truly gorgeous scenery. The water at the park was clear and turquoise colored. I have never seen water in such a bright color. Each of the chapherones was in charge of a group. I was in charge of the 7th and 8th Grade girls. The seventh-graders are in my earth science class and so being the teacher that I am I took this chance to discuss types of rocks. As we were walking through a cave one of the girls said, “Look Mrs. Caldwell erosion” as she pointed at the water dripping from the rocks. Then a drop fell on her hand and she quickly replied, “Oh no I have erosion on my hand.” Too cute, right?

On the final day of our trip we visited The Longmen Grottoes in the morning. The Longmen Grottoes is a series of caves each containing an ancient Buddha. THere are at least 1000 of them. It was interesting, but the students found it a bit boring. In the afternoon we visited Shaolin. That was one of the highlights of the trip. We watched a kung fu show and played outside on the training equiptment.

At the end of the trip I was exhausted, but it was worth it. I got to know my students a lot better and we were able to learn together about some of the magnificent culture in the country around us.

Long Time, No Post

Our school started back on February 1st and I had a whirlwind of planning to do. Then during pre-planning our principal announced that nine of our faculty and staff members would be attending a TEFL training in three days. Eeeeek! I was one of the chosen members, and very excited about the training. However, that also meant that on top of regular planning, I had to plan for substitutes to take my classes for five days.

I finished all of the planning and everything ran smoothly. I now have my TEFL certification (wooo whooo)! We have been back in regular classes (no crazy drama) for two weeks. I finally feel that I am back into my routine. It was really hard to do after having five weeks off. I am used to our American system with two and a half to three weeks at the most 🙂 Five weeks really threw off my chi!

I do have a funny story from last week that I wanted to share. For those of you who don’t know, Korea is really into plastic surgery. It is normal in their society to have plastic surgery. I don’t know about you, but from my little town it was a faux pas to talk about it. If you had plastic surgery you definitely did not want the neighbors to realize it… For my students it is normal to talk about what you want to get done in the future and what your mother, cousins, or aunts have had done.

I knew that plastic surgery was prevalent, because it has been a topic of conversation among my co-worker/friends here. However, I must confess I never thought it would show up in an essay. We are reading Romeo and Juliet in my English four class. I assigned them to write an essay about their future love/girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse. Here is an excerpt from one of the papers:

“….I do not think looks or personality matters in my future wife. If she is beautiful, but mean I will send her to the army. If she is ugly, but kind I will send her to the hospital. I have discussed this with my parents. My father agrees with me. My mother says that it is too mean. Whatever. She has had plastic surgery too. I find that normal….”

Wow! I thought this was funny and a bit disturbing. What do you think?