Kind of a Dream Come True

I sort of hate to admit this out loud, but I have been a Taylor Swift fan for a LONG time. Pretty much since her first album came out and my one of my good friends joked and said when referring to the song Tim McGraw “When I hear that song I think of you.” He would send me a text every time, he liked it since it talked about boys in Chevy trucks πŸ™‚ So I have always liked her songs(though sometimes I have been wary to admit that). Last year I had a student name herself, Taylor, because T. Swift is her favorite foreign singer(awesome right). Well this past week we had the opportunity to perform for a freshmen welcome concert. Last year my team sang a Michael Jackson song that I barely knew. But this year being all girls and all, we decided to sing a Taylor Swift song!! LOVE IT! Well we picked Love Story because it is a bit slower, and we figured people would be able to follow it, it is also familiar to some of our students. Five female students joined us for the performance and despite some pre-performance nerves I would say the performance went off without a hitch! It was a lot of fun to be able to sing a T. Swift song in front of approximately 600 Chinese students and most of our administration. Here are some pics from the evening. I am in the process of trying to acquire a video of the performance and if I do, I will definitely try to put it on here. Hope you are having a great week!

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Girls Night #1 Fall 2011

Last Friday night we held our first Girls Night of the semester. The 3 of us teachers just wanted to have a time where we could hang out with some students, take them to dinner, and get to know them better. We talked about what we wanted to do and then each of us invited one student along. The 3 students we invited were Michelle, Naomi, and Christine. The night started with dinner at one of the new restaurants outside of campus. Most of the dishes were pretty good, but the service was a little slow. Conversation was good over dinner and we laughed a lot! After dinner we came back to Kate’s room and asked each other questions while we made Chocolate Chip cookies. The girls had never made or even eaten a Chocolate Chip cookie before so it was so much fun to watch them devour them and really enjoy themselves. Please enjoy the pics of our fun evening πŸ™‚ It was a great night had by all and we all really want to hang out again soon!

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Breakfast in China

Growing up I hated breakfast foods. I didn’t like cereal, pancakes, waffles, scrambled eggs, pop tarts, basically anything most kids would eat. I was the Queen of eating leftovers for breakfast, it didn’t suprise my mom when I would eat salad, pizza, or spaghetti for breakfast. Being home educated helped since I could basically eat what I wanted when I wanted. Oh the days of doing school in my pajamas(sometimes I still miss it). Ok but moving on. Over the course of my college career at Virginia Tech and my time at Rockbridge I realized the value of eating breakfast, and that there were actually some breakfast foods that I enjoyed. Places like Gillies and D2(loved to go there after the high school), helped in my love for breakfast as did moving to the South and discovering Biscuits and Gravy. Last year in China I pretty much ate a peanut butter sandwich for breakfast every day but this year I have been trying to widen my horizons in the area of breakfast. This summer I realized I really enjoyed yogurt so once my stomach was back to normal over here I started trying some and realized that it is delicious!! We also made granola with Almonds in it which was a fun team activity as well as a yummmy snack/breakfast food. I am enjoying of cooking a little bit as well as just trying new fun foods. Here are a couple of pictures of my breakfasts in China πŸ™‚ Enjoy!

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These are a few of my favorite things

I wanted to post a little something about my life in China and share you what some of my favorite things here are. I chose ten of my favorite things in China and here they are πŸ™‚

1. My Team: I am so blessed to be here with Kate and Lauren serving in Tianjin this year, we have had an awesome time together thus far and I am so excited to see what the Father will do in and through us this year in China.

Tianjin 2011-2012, Lauren, Kate and Me

2. My journal: I filled up about five journals in China last year, and I plan to chronicle my adventures, feelings, and heart thoughts again this year. Journaling is something I developed a love for at a young age, and really started to do a lot in college. I especially love to go back and see what the Father has taught me and where He is continuing to take me on this journey of life.

3. My students: Some of my favorite times of the week are when I am in the classroom with my students. Teaching is something I love to do and something I feel like the Father put on my heart early in life. The look of happiness on a student’s face when I tell them they have done some well, or gotten a good grade, brings such joy to my heart and I love encouraging them!

4. My bed: For any of you who have ever travelled in Asia, you know that they beds here can be rather firm at times. It is such a blessing to have an American-esque bed to provide me with good rest here in China! We also tend to be the envy of the rest of the IECS Family because of our beds here in Tianjin.

5. Tianjin Starbucks City Mug: It is so much fun to have Starbucks in Tianjin cause it is a little taste of home, and I love that I live in a city that has its own mug(plus it is purple which just makes it all the better, and I am pretty sure it makes the coffee taste better too-same concept as Starbucks Red Cups at Christmas).

6. The Food: Now that my stomach has recovered from the early days in China I am once again enjoying the food here. I have always loved Asian Cuisine and living in China and getting to eat the food ALL the time is such a treat. From Eggplant to Noodles, to the ridiculous amounts of different types of mushrooms and various seafood-the food is great. And for those of you who are wondering, I am a PRO at using kuaizi(chopsticks).

7. Ice Cream: Ice cream in China is the fastest familiar flavor I can get my hands on, as long I avoid the funny red bean flavored ones(and the Tiramisu McFlurrys from McDonalds are the bomb dot com.

8. Traveling: I had so many adventures last year traveling inside and outside of China and I am looking forward to the new places we will explore this year. Sometimes trains can be crowded, and tickets hard to buy-but no matter what we always have a great time and some awesome stories afterwards.

9. The Language: As many times as the language frustrates me, I really am enjoying learning more of it and trying it out in different settings. Sometimes it can be difficult, but thankfully I am willing to laugh at myself and try again. As we tell our students, I need to remember to not be shy and JUST TRY!

10. Tianjin: I have never really had the desire to live in a Big City, but Tianjin definitely is that(around 13 million people). Tianjin is really beautiful though, and has a very international flair, and I feel so blessed to live here. I would highly recommend googling “Tianjin at Night” images, to just have an idea of the beautiful city I get to experience every time I go into town.

So that is just a little peek into the things I enjoy in China. Headed to Beijing for the weekend and I am sure I will have some great stories from that as well as my first week of teaching Freshmen next week!

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A Decade.

Ten years, a decade, so much can happen in that amount of time. And today we remember a tragedy that affected our nation a decade ago. Ten years ago I was thirteen, just starting eighth grade, thinking I knew everything. I had grown up in a world where the word terrorist was a word, but not a part of what would become our normal everyday vocabulary. A world where one could go to the gate to see your loved ones off at the airport, yet seemingly overnight that world would change.

This summer I was chatting with a woman in her sixties and she was commenting how it was to have a childhood not marred by anything, where you don’t really have a care in the world, and you have no idea about foreign affairs. As she said that, I commented, well that was definitely not the kind of childhood I had. And for my younger brother and sister, one whom was six the day before the 9/11 attacks, the other one whom was only two and a half, they definitely did not have that kind of childhood. They grew up with the reality of a war in the Middle East, the reality of heightened security anywhere and everywhere. Gracie especially does not even remember 9/11.

As the children of the fifties will never forget where they were when JFK was shot, children of the sixties will remember where they were when MLK Jr. was killed, children of the late eighties and early nineties will never forget where they were when they heard that the planes had crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania.

Throughout the past week, I have read a lot of blog posts and articles about that fateful day. A day that I just remember wanting to be over and life to go back to normal. A day when we were uncertain what would happen next. To this day I have a lot of trouble watching videos of the planes crashing into the WTC. Not that others find it easy to watch, but as a college student when we studied that part of Modern History I felt sick to my stomach and had tears spring to my eyes, as I recalled the early emotions that were brought on that day.

This afternoon I sat here thinking about the differences that have happened in me in 10 years. I was thirteen, at the time of the attacks, I am now twenty-three. I was a little girl then, most of the time now I think I am an adult. I was scared of my own shadow back then, now I live for adventure and with a dependency on the Father that I had not even grasped at that point in my life. I lived two and a half hours north of NYC at the time of the attack, and considered myself very much a yankee. My parents now make their home an hour south of Washington, D.C. and I would consider myself much more of a Southern kinda girl. In two thousand and one I think I had a very narrow view of the world, I liked comfort, wanted to stay close to home. Now I live on the other side of the world and know that living outside of my comfort zone is crucial for my growth.

The past ten years have been great in many ways, they have also seen more tragedy than at this moment or anytime in the near future I do not intend to discuss. America came together after 9/11 more united than it is has probably been in its entire history. We still often let ourselves get separated by the points of politics, beliefs, and ethics, yet we still are so blessed to be born and live in the country that we do. A country established on foundations that set it apart, a country that knows how to stick together and hold on when something or someone attacks it. A country that today will mourn the loss of the thousands of lives that were lost on September 11, 2001. I know that today, and everyday I will say that I am proud to be an American.

Thanks for reading. I promise(at least I will try) to actually write about my life in China next week!

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18 Years Ago.

Michael and His Sisters this Summer πŸ™‚

18 years ago today something really important happened. Something that has changed my life forever. An addition that has brought joy, laughter, wisdom, and love to our family. 18 years ago today, my younger(can’t say little) brother, Michael, was born. He is the brother I know I can always count on for a hug goodnight. The one who is always sympathetic and asking how I am doing. The one who always wants to tell me the Virginia Tech football score. The one with the REALLY LONG legs who runs really well. The one who is a really hard worker and willing to help out with almost anything and everything. The one who Mom is always willing to take on errands just because he is good company. The one who is a die hard fan of the Yankees and the Hokies, and who is not afraid to tell you that. The one who loves the Father and who is willing to serve Him in so many different ways. The one who loves working with kids and would make a great teacher. The one who is an amazing older brother to Gracie and who takes such good care of her(despite the fact that he sometimes drives her crazy, she does the same thing so he is not always at fault). The one who loves to play video games and who you know is playing video games, cause you can hear him ALL over the house. The one who my guy friends in college loved, because he could just chill with the guys at a Sports Event, watching TV, or just hanging out. The one who I love and wish I could be there to share his birthday with. Happy 18th Birthday Michael, LOVE YOU πŸ™‚

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My reentry into Tianjin and the world of blogging

After dropping the ball during my last days in Tianjin in May and June, and then not really feeling the desire to blog all summer, now that I am back in Tianjin I figured I would give it a go again. On Tuesday August 30, my team and I arrived in Tianjin around 7:30pm. The flight was long and for some reason this year I had a lot of trouble sleeping on the flight 😦 Thankfully I have a couple of weeks to get readjusted to life in China due to the fact that I am teaching Freshmen and most of my classes do not start until the week of September 18. So basically for the next couple of weeks, I will be reading, blogging, skyping, and hanging out with students. Probably doing a lot of lesson planning too since I have some time.

My summer was pretty insane, I traveled a lot and was able to see a lot of friends and family. Here were the highlights from each month(if I forgot something important I apologize to the concerned party).

-Matt and Liz Wilkins wedding
-Roommate Reunion in Blacksburg
-Trip to Pittsburgh(inc. Pirates game, meeting my new teamie, hanging out in the Southside with B. Clifford, fellowshipping with the Budas, and seeing the fun city of Pittsburgh).
-Trip to Virginia Beach to spend time with the family and walk in the CHKD Walk
-YL Teacher’s Summit

-CMR Farm Show
-Family Vacation
-Trip to Blacksburg(making Chinese was the best)
-ADGA National Show in West Springfield, MA

-Trip to NY
-Getting ready for China

As I look at that list, I really feel like I left some stuff out. But it was just such a busy summer that at this point I don’t think I can even process all of what I got to see and do. It was such a blessing to have some time at home before returning to China, but I am also so thankful to be back here and see what the Father has in store for this year! I am going to try and blog at least once a week, and post some pictures as well. For now, I at least wanted to just get my feet wet in blogging again and make sure I could still manage a post πŸ™‚ Off to have a Quiet Time, lesson plan, and explore Tianjin with my new teamies. Have a great weekend!

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