Archive for July, 2010

What I love about this place …

Saturday, July 17th, 2010

Guangxi

… are the mountains. They are beautiful. When I came here for the first time earlier this year, I remember thinking, “I get to live in a place like this?” This time around, I am content to simply accept this wonderful gift, seeing these mountains in all varying sizes surrounded by lakes and fields. The travel time is shorter when I get to stare at these beauties.

More Goodbyes

Friday, July 16th, 2010

Becky and Angelia

My roommate and I spent my last day in Shanghai together. She graciously offered to do with me anything I needed to do before leaving, like helping me find containers for shampoo/conditioner, going to the bank, paying the bill, etc. We had lunch at this chicken place we frequent over the last semester and enjoyed Haagen Dazs ice cream for dessert. Afterwards, we headed over to the movies to watch Toy Story 3 (in 3D). Fun movie, but certain parts left us bawling. What a memorable day! At the end of the day, we had a time of prayer, knowing that this goodbye isn’t really goodbye … just a continuation of this journey that we both travel together. We have the same Father and work for the same Cause. Indeed, the internet isn’t the only thing that connects us!

Finally … done!

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

Shanghai Cohort

This is a group of people with whom I spent the last year and half laboring through all-Saturday and all-Sunday classes plus weeknights when we should have been on vacation along with the other teachers. Today, July 15th, we reap the rewards (at least the thought of it — still have to finish more work) of our labors. We had our last class for the masters program with Dr. Beach, the same professor who started the program with us in January, 2009. We celebrated the end of this cohort with dinner at Element Fresh in lieu of a graduation ceremony. What a sense of accomplishment! Besides earning the degree, we did truly learn a lot about improving our teaching practice. Even though it is a great relief to finish, I know I will miss this group of dedicated people whom I’ve learned to appreciate and respect. Tonight, I think it is finally hitting me that I am actually done in this place.

Goodnight, Shanghai.

KTV

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Maisie and Carol

This is yet another (important) event wherein I forgot to bring my camera. So, with dim lights and music blaring, I managed to get a cell phone picture in with Maisie and Carol whose birthdays fall on the same day. We celebrated by taking them out to a KTV (buffet included). One thing I learned is no matter what the culture, one can never go wrong with The Carpenters, Michael Jackson, and the Beatles.

Once again, there were a lot of goodbyes at the end of the night. I’ve been with this group of girls for three years … and while it is clear that we each have our paths to take, it doesn’t help that I won’t see them every week anymore. Once again, I just have to remember to be thankful for the time we did have … I’ve done this goodbye thing so many times but it doesn’t get any easier.

Korean BBQ

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Korean BBQ

I forgot my camera again, so I took this picture of meat-grilling with my cell phone. We treated our professor for some Korean food and it was one of the best Korean meals I’ve had in while. It is the kind where you take the meat, dip it in sauce and salt, and wrap it in lettuce. I think there were some bugs in the lettuce, though, because I had some “gurglings” afterwards …

I Love Babies

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

Evie and me

This picture was taken with my cell phone. I forgot to bring my camera to the restaurant where I was meeting with some friends and their baby. Good thing my phone has a camera feature. Did I mention I love babies? I have six nephews and two more coming in the next year. I miss them very much and I can’t wait to play with them and pinch their cheeks and give them kisses, as all aunts are compelled to do … only I hope I’m not the obnoxious kind. I want to be the cool aunt they seek out and not someone their parents force them to visit.

My Little Corner

Friday, July 9th, 2010

Starbucks

That’s my Macbook. Right next to it is a Java Chip Frapuccino. Across from where I sit is my backpack with everything I need from external hard drive, notebook, iTouch, keys, wallet, etc. This little corner at Starbucks is where I spend most of my time when I need to concentrate on grading essays, plan lessons, and write papers. It’s a convenient spot because there is an outlet under the table and the restroom is right around the corner. I cannot count the number of days that I’ve spent here for hours at a time. There is something comforting about the familiarity of a place, even though I’ve memorized the playlist by heart and have been reminded many times that the shop closes at 11.

Kindred Spirits

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Kindred Spirits

I first heard this term in “Anne of Green Gables,” a movie I can quote at a moment’s notice and the movie that helped shape me during my formative years. Those early years of looking for a best friend with whom to trade secrets, go shopping, stay up late chatting about boys and girlhood dreams are long gone. I’ve since expanded my definition of what it means to have met a “kindred spirit” — one of those unexplainable connections that naturally draws one to another in a very deep way.

Sometimes, I meet a kindred spirit in the books I read — past writers who have once lived and now leave their mark only in writing. If I am lucky, some of these kindred spirits are still alive and weave their art into the context of my world. Sometimes, I meet them in song — honest and daring artists who capture the beauty, wonder, and delight of our world in song and dance. These are the ones that find me waking up in the morning feeling inspired and energized. Sometimes, I meet them in person for a very brief moment in time — a casual conversation, a meaningful exchange, a short dialogue — and I always wish there was more. Sometimes, I meet them for longer periods, spending quality time with them for seasons at a time. These are the special ones I consider great blessings.

As another season in my life comes to an end, I reflect on the many kindred spirits I’ve met over the years and I am grateful for how my life is richer because of them. I used to think it was so hard to meet kindred spirits, but maybe I just naturally look for them now. Or maybe they find me. Or maybe I’m just blessed.

Boat Ride

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

Sky Riding

In my five years here, I’ve never been to the port of Shanghai. I had heard that it was mostly a commercial port. We went to visit for the first time and I was surprised to find that there is a designated “beach” area where people can ride a boat and go swimming, canoeing, and do other water activities. We also took a 10-minute tram ride along the docks (found out we were still way inland, far from where the ocean actually starts) and we had seafood (only fish — and they were out of veggies) at a restaurant by the water. Maybe because we went early, but there was not a lot of people, just a couple of families enjoying the water. The water looked clean enough … it was not blue, like advertised. Actually, it was more of a lake than ocean beach. It was good to have visited once but not sure I would go back a second time.

Tucked Away

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

Dong Qiao Villa

I’ve been to this part of town only once. In a big city where most of what you see are concrete buildings, wide roads, and motor vehicles contributing to the growing air/noise pollution, there is this place tucked away in a seemingly secret place. Here, there are lakes, trees, wide plains of green, a trail where one can appreciate the quiet scenery and cross over quaint bridges. In another goodbye lunch, a friend treated me to French cuisine in this country club where this idyllic place is located. For at least one moment during the day, it was like being taken to another world. I only had time to take a couple of pictures, though. Maybe someday, I’ll be able to go back when I have more time to take a walk and revel in it