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Wherever we go,
we have found a warm welcome by people at all
levels. This banner (below left) was set up for a large
international conference in Shanghai (China hosts many such events
around the country).
living here does have its challenges. We survived Shanghai's worst rainstorm in 50 years (Aug
Many streets, sidewalks, and homes were flooded as the city got several
inches of rain
within a few hours--and it happened TWICE within a week of heavy showers!
(Read Vivian's account of the flood!)
Chinese New Year
is lots of fun. These red banners decorated our door in 2003. (Right)
Andrew and Michael play with sparklers--we leave the firecrackers to our
neighbors! Andrew enjoyed being able to celebrate both Western AND Chinese
Shanghai's Nanjing Road is always busy,
but words can’t describe the National Day (Oct 1) crowd! One holiday tradition is
for young people to buy large inflatable hammers and “play” with
other hammer-bearers as they pass!
Wherever you go, foreign children draw a crowd of admirers who line
up to get their picture taken together! (When Andrew was young, he hated
Chinese people want FRESH food. These living chickens will soon be
someone's dinner, and waiters often show you the squirming fish before it
You really have to feel for whoever is in charge of
China's city roads. This (above left) is a major intersection we had to cross to get to Andrew's
Shanghai school. Can you tell that vehicles are
moving in about six ways at once--to say nothing of the pedestrians who
don't even bother to look at the traffic lights? Chinese taxis are good for your prayer
life, as are major intersections if you are on foot! Bikes
are faster than buses a lot of the time, but finding YOUR bike in a lot like
the one pictured above can be a
problem! Motorcycles are also popular, and Xi'an adds 2000
private cars to the roads each week. Most streets have bike
lanes, but people ride EVERYWHERE (traffic lanes, bike lanes, sidewalk,
and in either direction!). When most left turns were outlawed in 2002,
everyone started to practice the right-turn-U-turn combination
(regardless of what was coming the other way). Public busses even do it,
even though they can barely negotiate a U-turn on a five-lane road. It
is easy to see why I think that China's traffic engineers have an
The first "snow" of 2002 came INDOORS when our
apartment maintenance crew scraped the whitewash off the stairway walls.
The fine powder got into everything! They let it sit like this for almost
Like all places,
there are rules to obey. For example, Andrew got frustrated because our
apartment complex didn't let kids play on the grass. However, Andrew
thought this sign in a Beijing park took the cake. He said: "Why not just say
On December 10,
2004, Michael went with Andrew and his schoolmates to
"share Christmas" with a flood-damaged elementary school
in Weinan (near Xi'an). The school welcomed us with a
traditional drum and cymbal band, and the students had worked very hard to prepare dances, music, and other
forms of entertainment. I liked this sign so much, I put it in my
Here you see a year's worth
of Xi'an's dirt and dust, combined with Andrew's love of the outdoors.
Yes, it is the same "model" of shoe!
is a headache whenever you move (anywhere in the world), but things can really get complicated
here. Above, some of our boxes got soaked as they were shipped from
Shanghai to Xi'an with the international moving company "Tiger" (fortunately, only inexpensive things were ruined).
Other things were damaged from Xi'an to Kunming
when we used the famous Chinese "Ant movers" (蚂蚁搬家),
and still more were destroyed from Kunming to Xiamen (below). We managed
well enough "across town" with Pidgeon Movers in Xiamen (see
here). You can also
read about our nightmare over
getting things from the US to Shanghai.
These are some of our things that ZJS Express crushed in the move from Kunming to
Xiamen (more pictures here). We knew we were in
trouble when they picked up our stuff, and started rolling the boxes head
over heels to get them to the van--deaf to our protests ("It doesn't
matter; they will be treated much worse by others later"--as if that was
supposed to be comforting!). I'd used the white cups since 1985, when I bought them in
most of these keepsakes had only sentimental value. Of course, the
monetary value was negligible, and nothing (in any of these moves) was
covered by insurance. That's just "life in China."
In Xi'an, Michael
taught "advanced writing" and spent eight to fifteen hours per week in
this chair, grading student essays. (If you like marking papers, this is
the course for you; but be sure the university takes the marking time into
consideration, as my university in Xi'an did.) The work at NPU resulted in
a textbook, which many say is very useful. In
this photo, Michael grades the LAST essay of the 2002-2003 school year. Of
course, he will be at it again after the well-deserved summer break!
After leaving Xi'an, Michael taught writing (to teachers)
for a year, but never again accepted a job teaching this subject. For the
next few years (in Kunming and then in
Xiamen), he taught oral English. But not
content to give students a grade based on a quick end-of-term interview
(with 200 students, they get only a few moments to make an impression!),
he has always also given a written final exam. Marking tests is just a
part of the job of a good teacher (and his wonderful wife!).
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