Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Oh Yeah BTW I Moved To China (Month 8 & 9)


Not much happened this month. Thanksgiving at the school wasn't a huge event like Halloween was. No plays, no performances, no special songs to sing, or dances to learn. The day of Thanksgiving, a group of my Middle K and Upper K students visited a retirement home to perform a play and pass out gifts.

That's Betty on the right. She's one of the brightest in my Upper K class.
The kids warming up.
Show time.

Me on stage being silly. I dub thee "Sir Demo."
I wish I was able to speak Mandarin or Cantonese fluently so I could have a conversation with some of the people at the home. Imagine the stories they could tell. Imagine the kind of history they have witnessed firsthand. Imagine what they could say about how much China has changed in their lifetime. Not just talking points on TV show about cheap labor, or trade surplus, or economic expansion, or the growing gap between rich and poor. But actually living, breathing history. It was a fun experience, but I felt out of sorts most of the day. This year was the first time in 10 years that I didn't spend Turkey Day with my folks. We skyped and said "Happy Thanksgiving" to each other, but I'm sure you know, it's not the same. I also know it was a tough day for my Father. Unlike most father and son relationships I know, he and I are very close. I miss him very much and know he knows how much I miss him. 
I also know that these pictures brought him great joy:

Happy Thanksgiving from me and these Turkeys in Grade 3!
Rachael & Jenny Xie


It started off rather weird. We got word that government inspectors would be visiting soon, so each class had to prepare and be ready! It wasn't really an inspection of the curriculum, but rather an inspection of how the classrooms looked. So the Chinese teachers went into overdrive to make the classrooms "appear" to be REALLY FUN and INTERACTIVE. 

The kids were drilled on how to behave, while the Chinese teachers spent time filling the classroom with crafts they constructed. But to the outside observer, the crafts looked as though children made them. I'm slowly learning that most what goes on here is for the sake of appearance, my presence included. That's not entirely true, but often times I feel like I'm window dressing. 

"Hey, why are you wasting time on this bullshit? Shouldn't you be teaching my kids? Why is this English teaching wasting a whole day taking photos with kids from another school?"
That's how I would react if I was parent, aware of what day to day operations were. I'm also to the point of, "Well this is how they do things. I'm not going to change the system."

Just go with the flow and enjoy moments like this:

Does this really need a caption?
Unfortunately, I can't take credit for this photo. A friend from  up north in Shanghai sent it my way. There are many "Lost In Translation/That doesn't make sense" or like the above, "Umm, do you really know what that says?" moments here in China. Mostly it's incorrect grammar or phrases printed in English that no one in the West would ever say. 

Or from time to time you have silly, slightly sexual translations like this:

Hey, how you doin?  My name? Baby you can call me,  Black Love ;)
But the "Too Drunk To Fuck" t-shirt, well that's just too much. If you want to have a good laugh, look up some Chinese Translations To English. 

Guangdong Museum Of Art

I don't have really good pictures of this place, or of the art inside, but I did manage to find the museum on my own! The museum is nestled on an island in the middle of the Zhujian River right next to Xinghai Concert Hall far away from noise of Guangzhou traffic. There were two exhibits going on, "China Dream-Guangdong Spirit: Outstanding Works from The Exhibition of The 12th Guangdong Art Festival" and "Tears, Anger, and Tenderness: Retrospective of Oswaldo Guayasamin."
Both of them were solid exhibitions.

How I Got Bird Flu

Don't be alarmed, I don't really have bird flu, but knock on wood just in case.

I am an adorable, and I will infect you!

How did this happen? 
I was sitting with the kids watching videos, and because their chairs are small, I’m at eye level with them if they stand up. Olivia, whom is one of my favorites, kept tugging on my arm. 

“Jeff, Jeff, Jeff, Jeff…”

As I turned away from the TV to ask, “What is it Olivia," it happened.

Just as I was saying the ”aaaa” of her name, she COUGHED INTO MY OPEN MOUTH!

I never found out what she wanted, because as I was reacting, she just laughed like a crazy person and ran outside!

A friend then sent me this clip via youtube. It was funny before, but since I am now a member in the " A Child Has Coughed Into My Mouth Club, " I have a new appreciation for it. And his bit on children is gold!

So far I feel fine, but just in case I die, now would be a good time to buy a painting!

Hong Kong

I never really need a reason to visit HK, so I took a few days off and traveled to the former British Colony. 

I spent a few hours at the Hong Kong Museum of Art, enjoyed the sunny weather along Victoria Bay, ate some really good cheap food, navigated the subway BY MYSELF, and slept in until the late afternoon most days. No kids. No loud noises from outside. No one I knew. No set schedule. It was so relaxing. The only must see item, aside form the museum, was the Pearl Lam Gallery, Hong Kong Branch. I became familiar with this gallery last year at Art Basel, because the paintings of Zhu Jinshi were standouts at the fair. The gallery represents some of China's top contemporary artists, but also shows international art stars like Jenny Holzer, and new comer Ben Quilty.

Not only was "Embodied' a knock out group show, curated by  David Ho Yeung Chan, but the staff was actually friendly! Even the director of the gallery stopped to talk with me! Try walking in off the street in New York and chatting up the director of David Zwirner!

Dancing With The Kids and Christmas Feast

Group yoga, me dancing with pom poms (not pictured), and an army of adorable baby santas, this Christmas/Sports Day celebration had it all!

Opening ceremony.
Never tried this pose. Of course I do yoga by myself...
Fan dancers.
Shiny shirts.
This is how China will conquer the world!
An army of adorable Santas!
I dare you resist their cuteness!

It wasn't the same as a home cooked meal, but the buffet at the Swiss Hotel here in Foshan was legit. I ate so much food, this sums up how I felt:

Food coma!
These girls sang Christmas songs at the hotel during dinner.
They also happened to be students from my school!
This kid was terrible, but hey, he went for it!
Fruits n stuff
Rachael & some ladies from Ireland.
This is Floyd. He is my new pet.

Finishing off a bottle of wine in the elevator.

Floyd getting friendly on the bus ride home.

I had a good time with my coworkers, but this year was the first time I wasn't in California and it was a little odd. I didn't feel sad, but I just felt out of place. There was no gift exchange, no Christmas parties, no homemade apple muffins on Christmas morning. Next year at this time I will be in Shanghai, and I hope that my parents will make use of their passports.

Hint Hint Mom & Dad :)