Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I am still going over the tour of Zhongshan we went on. There were just so many fantastic places we went and I want to show some pictures of all of them. None of us had any idea how big Zhongshan was until we went on the tour we went on. We live in Kaiyin, which is the very southern part of the city. Xiolan is the northern part and about an hour away. It translates to The Chrysanthemum city. They are famous for making foods out of Chrysanthemums. Every year they have a huge Chrysanthemum festival there that I plan on attending in November. Every 60 years they have an international Chrysanthemum festival but thankfully that is not this year. In Xiolan, we went on a boat ride that was sweet. The river we were on went under around about 16 bridges. There were the coolest windows, doors, and trees lining the river. I was just in awe of all the awesome things to look at. They served us tea but luckily Tina told them we didn't drink tea so we didn't have to try it because it smelled disgusting. We did, however, polish off a huge bag of peanuts while on the boat. There are ILP teachers living in Xiolan now so I am sure we will go back there sometime. The boat ride was really fun and I hope to get to go again. 

Monday, August 30, 2010


As a part of the tour, we got to see professionals doing calligraphy. It was amazing. I love Chinese characters because I do not know what they mean so they just look like art. They had brushes and ink for us to try to do it but it turns out that I do not know who to write in Mandarin so I signed my name in English and then the millions of photographers converged on us and I ran away. We each got to pick a piece of calligraphy we wanted and then we met the artist that did that particular piece. It was awesome to see true artists at work. I ended up with two pieces of calligraphy. One of them means tree and the other is something about the Chinese National Games in Guangzhou this year. I picked it because it looked cool and everyone laughed at it when they read it. I think it is quite obvious why i chose the tree one. 

I am home from vacation and very glad to be back. We had a great time in Shenzhen, the third largest city in China, but we missed our little Zhongshan with only 1.46 millions people. Wendy and I are going American hunting tomorrow because we know that the other ILP groups of teachers arrived yesterday. 

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Click Click Click Click

Today has been one of the more remarkable days I have had in my short lifetime. We went on a tour of Zhongshan that was put on by the city for foreigners who live here. The people we work with at the school obviously really wanted us to go and we wanted to see more of the city we live in so we decided to go. There is so much I want to share about this wonderful day but I thought I would begin with one of the funniest things about the day. I do not have time to write about it all now. 

The owner of the school named John, who lives in Canada, decided at midnight the night before that he wanted us to wear school shirts on the tour. It is really lucky for us that the Bond shirts they gave us are lime green polo's with sizes ranging from XL-XXXL with fabric that does not breath at all. We really struggle with standing out as seven tall, white, blonde, English speaking Americans. Today we were seven Americans wearing matching lime green shirts. We didnt blend in very well and it became apparent why John wanted us to stand out. The tour was kicking off a "Through the Eyes of Foreigners" photo contest. We knew that there were going to be professional photographers there but we did not know what their purpose was. Apparently their purpose was to follow foreigners around all day and take thousands of pictures of them. If that was not their purpose, it quickly became their purpose. We went on a boat ride in a part of the city called Xiolin. The photographers, about thirty of them, would take a million photo's of all of us in the boats and then go running to the next bridge to take more photo's. Lets just say that I saw something cool and wanted Wendy to take a picture of me in front of it, there would instantly be about 18 photographers with their huge camera's snapping photos. At first we were gracious and would smile and laugh but by the end of the day I would just walk away if I didnt want my picture taken. We had to be very sneaky if we were posing for a picture because the photographers would catch us and start clicking away. One of my favorite things was when Alex and I were taking a picture of ourselves. I held up the camera and snapped a photo of us and our calligraphy. Unfortunately, one of the photographers saw this and asked to take our picture. We smiled at him and he said, "no no, you take picture and I take picture". He wanted a picture of us taking a picture. All of a sudden there were dozens of photographers snapping photo's of us. I think the lime green polo shirts were a big draw with the picture takers too. I have no idea what is going to happen with all the pictures that were taken of us today. All I know is that I never want to wear that lime green polo again. I will post more photo's soon. I will be gone on vacation for a couple days and then I will be back with plenty of things to post about. 

The real irony of today is that my camera's battery died right away so I didnt get to take many pictures. However, do not despair because I have roommates who hooked me up with some sweet photo's. All these pictures are Alyssa's and she has quite the eye. 

Friday, August 27, 2010

Kung Fu Lessons

Whenever you talk to someone about Zhongshan, they always bring up a man named Sun Yat-sen who was apparently someone important but I didnt know how or for what. I did a bit of research on the matter. Sun Yat-sen is considered the founding father of Republican China. He played an instrumental role in inspiring the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty, the last imperial dynasty of China. I do not know a lot about him but I do know that he is Zhongshan's claim to fame. The Sunwen Memorial Park is a park created in Sun Yat-sen's honor and it happens to be right across the street from our school. The pictures are of the park. The second picture is the view from the park of Zhongshan. We see the park everyday but we finally decided to venture inside today. We had a bit of time between teaching and our Kung Fu lessons so, even though it was pouring rain outside, we went for a stroll in the park. The park is very green and beautiful. We want to explore the park more because we here that there is a pond and some waterfalls there that we didn't run into. When it was pouring rain today, there was steam coming up from the ground because the rain was so cold and the ground is so hot. Thank heavens for daily rain storms. I hope it cools off by the time the rainy season ends. The humidity and I are not very good friends at this point. 

Today we had our first Kung Fu lesson! Here are some questions that I thought you may have that I will preemptively answer, like a ninja. 
Was the lesson awesome? Yes.
Will you be able to walk tomorrow? I would probably have to say no. I can hardly walk now and it has only been a few hours.
Is your teacher named Spring? Absolutely he is. Spring is 27, studied Kung Fu for 4 years instead of going to college and he now makes his living by teaching Kung Fu. He is adorable and is a good teacher. He speaks very little English but tries very hard. When he was introducing himself today he said, "My name is Spring, not like autumn or summer. Like water spring." We will be sure not to mistake the meaning for his name for the season. 
I cannot picture you doing Kung Fu Tessa, do you have pictures or perhaps video to prove that you are really doing it? No, I do not have pictures but others have pictures that I plan on getting my hands on and destroying in some way. Before they are destroyed, I will post one so you know that I did indeed take Kung Fu lessons. I also have video's of Spring doing Kung Fu which, i admit, is not as much fun as watching me try to do Kung Fu but it is still pretty awesome. 
Is doing Kung Fu like being a ninja? Yes. It is exactly like being a nina.
How often do you have these Kung Fu lessons and for how long? Once a week for an hour and a half. Believe me it is plenty. Spring also gave us a million things to practice doing everyday we will will be very busy. Spring said that he would be very disappointed if we didnt practice and Spring is not the type of man you want to disappoint. You better believe I will be practicing those moves he taught us and doing those crunches. 
Does Spring play soccer? Yes. 
Why is Spring named Spring? Apparently his name means water in Chinese so someone decided that Spring was a good English name for him. I shall not judge. They are going to give us Chinese names next week and I am pulling for my Chinese name to mean owl or tree. 
Did you and Wendy wear matching purple pajama pants and black shirts for the lesson today? Yes. The pajama pants were planned but the shirts were not. 
If you were to describe Kung Fu, how would you describe it? It reminds me of Yoga. It is all about muscle control and flexibility. You sweat like a pig and you feel like you are hardly moving at all. 

I love our Mandarin, cooking and Kung Fu lessons. I cannot wait until our next Kung Fu lesson. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hello Moji

Yesterday we went to a new grocery store we had not been to before. It is called Vanguard. We pass it every day on the bus ride home and we finally decided to stop. It is my favorite grocery store I have been in so far. The rotten fruit smell is at a minimum in this place. Thank heavens for that! Before we checked out yesterday, Wendy and I decided to try some ice cream. We just picked the cheapest thing and, to our surprise, it was some of the best ice cream I have ever had! It turned out to be called Moji (MOACH-EE). It is a bit indescribable but I will try. It is rice dough with powdered sugar and flour on the outside with ice cream in the inside. It tastes like a marshmellow, sugar cookie, and ice cream all in one. We may or may not have went back to Vanguard today and got 2 more Moji's. They are just so cheap, about 25 cents each. In the picture, I am tactfully trying to hide my second Moji but to no avail. 

I have also been eating a lot of drinkable yogurt. I do not like yogurt usually but I love the liquid yogurt you can buy here. The picture is of my favorite kind. It has chunks of peach and oats inside. It is called cereal yogurt. It is possible that I have 5 in the fridge right now. There is a mystery that has been plaguing my brain. Why do all the countries I have visited have liquid yogurt and it is not readily available in America? I just dont understand and perhaps I never will. I am just grateful I can get it here and for the next four months! 

One of the hardest things about living here so far has been the food. I did not anticipate that being a struggle for me. I do really like Chinese food but I miss American food. I miss variety. We have the same thing for breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday. The semester starts next week and that means that we will start going to eat dinner at the other school. I think that will be good. Apparently we have options for dinner and our apartment wont be a cafeteria anymore. I look forward to that day. It is coming soon. For now, I am just grateful for the Chinese snack food that makes me very happy every time I eat it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hello Sam & Shine!

The best part about living here in China is that we get to have the coolest job. We get to teach little kindergarten kids English by playing games, doing crafts, and activities with them. It is awesome. It is extremely hard at times but it can also be wonderful. These are some of my favorite kids. It is a little weird because we arrived here three weeks before the semester began so we have been teaching summer school. The kids are are teaching now are not the kids we will teach for the semester. I am just starting to get attached to these little kids and then they will leave next week. The good news is that we have been teaching around 45 kids per day and we will only teach 25 kids when the semester starts. That will be really nice. 

The first little boy is named Haniel. I have no idea who gives them their English names but I sure love this one. He is the happiest little boy and very good. He is in the littlest group but his English is very good for being that little. We all love Haniel. He is going to go to the Kindergarten we work out but he wont be in our program. I hope we get to still see him sometimes. 

The next little boys are my favorite boys. They are twins named Sam and Shine. Sam and the one with his tongue out and Shine is in the back. They are both chubby but Sam is the bigger of the two. Talk about a solid little boy, he has knocked me over a few times. They are hysterically funny and laugh at everything you do. They are ALWAYS matching. They have these outfits that they sometimes where that are  red and blue horizontal stripped baggy capri's with matching stripped muscle shirts. They also have matching bedding on their little beds that they take naps in. That is what the picture is of. It is Garfield Bedding.  Wendy and I have a grateful door that we put things that we are grateful for on everyday. One of the things on our door says, "Sam & Shines Matching Beds (and the people who sleep in them)" I think that pretty much sums it up. We are losing them next week. We found out today that they go to school in Kaiyin so the other ILP group is going to get to teach them. We are all bitter about that. I am sure that we will get some new awesome kids. 

In two days I will have taught for 3 weeks. All the kids call me "Teacha Teesa", or "Teacher Tesha". I love being called teacher. All the Chinese teachers call me Tesha. I have no idea why. They call one of the girls in my group Jess with no problems and my name isnt much different. I think they may genuinely think my name is Tesha. I think it is funny but I never know they are talking to me when they say Tesha. I am getting used to it now. 

I am looking forward to my cooking lesson tomorrow and our four day weekend this weekend! 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Day in China

This is a rundown of a day in the life of Tessa in China...

6:00 am- sleeping

6:46 am -should be awake, but still sleeping

7:10 am -wake up suddenly, Wendy asks me while looking at her watch, "Tessa, is it 7:10?" Me: "Yes."  We frantically get ready which entails brushing teeth, putting on a skirt and that is all. 

7:20 am- leave the apartment to meet the other girls and go to the bus stop. 

7:45 am- Sparky arrives in the school bus.  No Michael Jackson today, but Wendy and I definitely sang 'El Scorcho' and 'Hey Ya' for all to hear. It turns out that my head phones came out of my ipod a bit so it was broadcasting for the whole bus. I did not know this until we arrived at the school of course. Also along the way we pick up two kids named Kevin and Justin. Today Wendy and Kevin played hide and seek for part of the ride.

8:00 am- arrive at school. We go directly to the cafeteria where Michael, the chef, brings out breakfast. Today it consisted of noodles and vegetables and meat... oh wait... that is what we eat for every meal! (I am definitely not complaining.  I really really love it.) 

8:20 am- I get ready for classes by putting dirt and leaves in bags, blowing up a beach ball and cutting paper into pieces. Sometimes my lessons are pretty creative. It's just whatev. 

8:45 am- Opening with all 45 Asian children begins. Wendy and I are in charge this week. We just talk about the weather and sing songs and such. We learn today that singing "Once There Was a Snowman" is a bad idea because all the kids end up sprawled on the ground and then the Chinese teachers freak out because the kids are on the ground and much mayhem ensues. Mental notes are taken not to sing that one again. It should also be mentioned that these little Asians know primary songs better than I do. 

8:55-10:30 am - We break into classes.  All classes are as bonkers as usual... nothing out of the ordinary besides that fact that Haniel, Sam and Shine are not there :( They are all of our favorites. 

10:30 am- I realize that 4 year old Eddie's yellow polo shirt is not just a normal polo shirt. It has English words all over it.  This wouldn't be a problem normally, but phrases such as "You Stole my Lesbian Lover", "Bedroom Addict" and "David Bowie Confessions" were definitely present and accounted for. Here is the thing: Asians like anything American. Oft times, they don't really know what words mean, but they are English so its cool. Should we have told a Chinese teacher about the meaning of Eddie's shirt? Maybe. Did we tell me? No Did we take pictures? Yes. You can see some of those pictures above. I am so glad we carry around our camera's everywhere.

10:40-11:30 am- back to normal-ish classes

11:30 am- LUNCH TIME! Michael served us meat, veggies (including these delicious potatoes we love), and rice.  ALSO, at the last minute he surprised us all with MASHED potatoes with corn and peas in them.  I LOVE whenever he makes us stuff like that because he is just so proud of his American dish and he tries so hard to please us. He just smiles so big and brings us food especially to our table. We love Michael a great deal. 

12:15 pm- Sparky is waiting for us in the school bus and we are waiting for Michael to give us food for dinner.  A lot of odd things happened all within seconds of each other at this point in the day. First of all, Wendy was practicing her Mandarin with Heidi to tell Michael that his food is extremely good, but when he came to the door, she just managed to say "fei chang lei!" (very good!) really loud and in not the right tones. Next, Jess was spinning her water bottle around and let go and it semi hit me in the face. Then, Michael came to the kitchen door and threw something out into our group which just so happened to be a bird! Here is the question plaguing our minds "Why was that diseased bird in the kitchen with Michael and our food?" When we saw that it was a bird, most of us screamed, Wendy ran up to the next floor, Alex was rooting for the bird to go into the boys bathroom and Alyssa was trying to catch the bird to take it outside. Confusion central. 

12:20 pm- We all get on the bus and we all say "Ni hao Sparky!" Even though we just saw him five minutes before. I also have noticed that none of us ever just say hello to Sparky. We always say his name. I do not think we can be blamed. His name is Sparky after all Sparky takes us to the bus stop where we get onto our Kaiyin bus. He is a ninja and gets us there right in time. 

12:30 pm- Three of the girls and I get off at the One-Plus-One Super Market to grab some useful items and the other girls go home.

12:32.5 pm- We walk into One-Plus-One. Few things in the world smell as disgusting as this place.  Rotting fruit is what we believe to be the source of the smell. However, the eels that you can get for one US dollar probably do not help a great deal. 

12:32.5- 12:50.7 pm- We purchase all things that are necessary such as Pockys (delicious pretzel things dipped in chocolate), juice, and items for store (store is when the kids use the tokens they have earned throughout the day to buy sweet things). We also found some sweet Mandarin-English translation mishap notebooks that we quickly bought a bunch of. 

12:51 pm- We get onto our regular bus to go home.  Sometimes buses do not go their regular route.  For example, Sparky takes us a different way to school every day. This time, the bus definitely took us a different way than it has ever taken us and we were scared for point two seconds. 

1:00 pm- home sweet home-ish... we still have to walk from the bus stop to our apartment. It is so humid outside, we might die at any moment. 

1:10 pm- we are NOW home.  Our apartment smells weird and Heidi and Alyssa's AC is literally leaking buckets full of water. That is nice.  We turn on the AC (We have to turn it off every time we leave.) and change out of our sicky clothes. 

1:30 pm- Time for Wendy and me to eat pockies, lesson plan for the next two weeks, and check email

2:00 pm- Wendy and I play the longest game of California Speed to ever exist. Wendy had to pee so SO so bad. I kept telling her that we could pause the game but she would not have it. After the game is finally done, Wendy raced to go to the bathroom and tripped out of her mosquito net princess bed resulting in a huge welt on her forehead. It was hilarious and a bit sad.  

4:30 pm- Wendy and I make some pasta and use Michael's left over spaghetti sauce for some Spaghetti Chinese style. 

6:30 pm- Wendy and the other girls go to the other girls apartment for second dinner. The other girls apartment does not have a 4th floor. That is what the picture is of.  The number 4 means death in China so many apartment buildings skip it and use 3A and 3B. I think that is really funny. You better believe we took out all the 4's on our calender. It is not the 24th of August it is 23'rd B. I stay to catch up on my blog, emails, and journaling. It is a good thing I did because two Chinese men come to fix the air conditioning. They did fix the AC and left all the tools and left over parts in the other girls shower for us to take to the garbage. 

7 ish pm- Bad Minton with Wendy (We got two rackets and 12 birdies for five dollars! Amazing.)

9:00 pm- Finish the lesson plan that I never ended up getting too earlier and chill. 

10:30 pm- turn off the lights and open the curtains because it is raining the beautiful chinese rain that I love!!! What a beautiful end to a beautiful day. I must also add that Wendy and I ended up singing God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and Joy to the World a few times before sleeping. 

There you have it. That is a typical day for me in China. There are variations to this schedule but it is basically similar to this everyday. Next week school starts so we will go to eat dinner at the Kaiyin school that is close to our apartment every evening. I am excited for the day when we do not have to hall pots full of food home everyday and then use our apartment as a cafeteria. I love my days here. I love the simplicity of my life here. I had no idea how much I would love not having a cell phone. Looking forward to another great day tomorrow! 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Walking Street

Everyone from China says that Zhongshan is a little town but it does not seem very little to me. There are around a million people that live here. That is much bigger than I am used to. We live in a place called Kaiyin. There is a Kaiyin community bus that is for people from Kaiyin to ride into town and back. You usually need an ID card to show that you are a Kaiyin resident but apparently our skin, hair, height and language is our ID card. They know who we are and where we are from. That is nice because I cant misplace my nationality. I would definitely misplace an ID card. We ride the Kaiyin bus home everyday from school. We also take it into town on the weekend. The first picture is of all the people on the bus on our way to Walking Street which is a outdoor mall type place. The bus was completely full and I loved the dozens of black heads all in rows. Chinese people only have black hair or white hair for the older folks. I am getting more and more used to buses and waiting for buses. I am not accustomed to relying on public transportation as much as we have to here. However, I am so glad that we do not drive. The roads here are pure and utter mayhem. There are no rules just mere suggestions that are rarely followed. I love the crazy streets i just dont love crossing them. 

Walking Street is the place to go to find shoes, clothes, and other things like that. It is also the place I am going to go when I get the gumption to finally try an octopus kabob. It is in a really pretty part of town and we always attract a great deal of attention there. It may or may not have something to do with the fact that we always go in the middle of a dance floor that is set up and dance to the techno music that is always playing. People always ask us to take pictures with them or just take pictures of us without asking. It makes me laugh so hard that they want pictures of us. It reminds me of the song "Click Click Click Click" by Bishop Allen. So many Asians are going to have pictures of me in their computer and in their houses by the time I leave. We went to walking street the other day and everyone kept welcoming us to China. I love how friendly people are to us. They always talk to us in the little English that they may or may not know. At stores, we communicate by calculator. Everyone laughs when we try to say thank you in Mandarin so I am rather sure we are butchering it. I usually resort to a big smile. 

I have officially been in China for three weeks! It has been an eventful, terrifying, awesome, tiring, hysterically funny three weeks. Bring on seventeen more! 

Rain Rain Come and Stay

I am an Arizona girl. I know all about heat. I have been told my whole life things like, "At least in Arizona it is a dry heat." I have always replied to those statements by rolling my eyes and saying something like, "100 degrees is still 100 degrees dry or not." Well universe, you win. I miss the dry heat. There is a huge difference between a dry 100 degrees and a humid 100 degrees. I am in southern China and it is very hot right now. Instead of having nearly 0% humidity there is around 90% humidity. It is nearly killing me. I am always sweaty and stinky. I am hoping I can get used to it. I figure that I will start to get used to it by the time I leave in December. The good news is that everyday we get a small reprieve from the heat in the form of rain storms. It pours and pours for an hour or so and it is wonderful. I have never been more grateful for rain. 

Wendy and I noticed when we got here that every Chinese woman carries a beautiful umbrella around with her. They use them for the sun and for the rain. We are trying to be Chinese so naturally we purchased a beautiful umbrella to carry around. We love our beautiful matching umbrella's I cannot wait to bring it home where I plan and whipping it out to shade myself from the sun at all times. 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Shiqi, Zhongshan Group

I would like to introduce you to the girls that I spend 70%-100% of my days in China with. There is a range in that percentage because I am with my roommate, Wendy, all the time and with the others not quite as much. I feel like a missionary sometimes because I am never alone and I walk around in a skirt with a backpack all the time. It is quite amazing how well the seven of us girls get along for being put together randomly. We are all within a few months of each other in age. We live in two apartments. Heidi, Alyssa, Wendy and I live in one of the apartments and Jess, Alex, and Gabby live in the other. The apartment I live in is by far the sketchier of the two. Our apartment has mold, cockroaches, lights that explode off their sockets, a random bed in the corner that has piles and piles of blankets stacked on top that I know has cockroaches living underneath, nasty smells and air conditioning that leaks buckets worth of water. I do love our apartment despite all its flaws though. I am glad that we get to live in it. It is a palace compared to the places the people here live in.

*Heidi is our head teacher and is the youngest out of all of us. She went to Russia with ILP a year ago. She is awesome and we are all glad that she is our head teacher. We have the same taste in movies and she can quote Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy almost as well as I can. We get along well. 
*Alyssa is from Washington, goes to BYU, and is a Arabic major. She is a little energizer bunny and is so motivated that it exhausts me just thinking about doing all the things she does. She actually goes running in this heat and humidity. Amazing. 
*Alex is from Utah Valley, goes to Utah State, and is a special education major. She is a twin and her twin brother is in Ukraine. 
*Wendy is a friend of mine from EAC that I came to China with. I am so glad that we came together. It is so nice to have someone I know here. We understand what each other is talking about when we talk about our families and friends. We have a lot of fun together. We are both really into crafting so our room floor is usually covered in craft supplies. 
*Jess is also from Utah and wants to be a dental hygienist. Jess is one of those people that laughs at everything you say and makes you feel great about yourself. We all love jess. She is up for anything and very positive except when we have been waiting at a bus stop for more than 20 minutes. 
*Gabby is from California and is fun as well. She is trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life. 
Fanny, the other girl in the picture, is one of the Chinese teachers at the school we teach at. We asked for one of the teachers to take a picture of us and they just kept jumping in the picture with us. I love the Chinese teachers. They are so nice to us and love to help us out. I have absolutely no idea how old they are because I am not a good judge of age here. I never know. Everyone looks very young to me. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cooking Lessons

Today was probably the best day I have had in China. This is why...
1. I had the most fun I have had teaching today. I made macaroni and string necklaces with the kids. I could see from my first group with only 3 kids that groups with 9 kids were going to be a disaster so I went and called in my Head Teacher for assistance and we had so much fun. It was still mayhem but having the extra help was amazing. I am also becoming more patient and better at teaching which helps a great deal. I really think that teaching may become my favorite part which would be amazing. 
2. We had cooking lessons with Michael (Mike-coal) our school cook. He is awesome and so very smiley. He taught us how to make deep fried dumplings. The best part is that we got to bring what we made home for dinner. I love those deep fried dumplings. They smelled like a Fair. I loved being in a Chinese Kitchen with HUGE woks and pans everywhere. I cannot wait until our lesson next week. Thursdays may become my favorite day.
3. We found margarine. This may not make your most grateful list but I am pretty darn happy. We have been looking and looking and margarine or butter are no where to be found. We finally found the grocery store that we have been on a rigid search for since last week. I have been dying for some cookies or some other baked good but we could not find any butter. Our worries are now over because today we did. I am now on a rigid search for brown sugar.
4. Wendy and I bought Badminton racquet's and birds (2 racquet's and 12 birds for 5 American dollars!). There are tons of old men at our apartment playing Badminton all the time and Wendy and I want to be like them. We went out and hit around tonight and it was awesome. I am so happy about my new prospective hobby.
5. I was not attacked my ninja assassins. It is always a good day when this doesn't happen. 
6. I am feeling more and more comfortable with China and living in it. I am getting in a routine and getting into my groove. That is always nice. 
7. Wendy and I sang El Scorcho by Weezer at a semi-loud volume at the bus stop today. That is always a true sign of a good day. 

The pictures are of our cooking lessons today and the dumplings we made. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I was very concerned that I would not be able to get chocolate or snack foods that I would love in China. My worries on this account are now over. Wendy and I made it a goal to try something new every time we go to the grocery store. Lucky for us, Pocky's were the first thing we tried. The best way I can describe them are pretzel like sticks dipped in chocolate. They are not extremely sweet and had to grow on me a bit but I love them now. They have different flavors but the chocolate ones are my favorite. Mango is terrible and strawberry is pretty good. Wendy and I go through a package a day on average although we are trying to making the average amount of days a package of Pocky's lasts higher. I will let you know how that goes. I think you can get them in America. I have seen them in Movie theaters in the past. You should give them a try! 

Today a miracle happened. That miracle was that Sparky got us to our bus stop 2 minutes before the bus arrived to take us home. It was amazing. Usually Sparky gets us to our bus stop 2 minutes after the bus arrives. We are making Sparky a card and a new Michael Jackson CD in gratitude so there may be more days like this one. Anything to help Sparky drive faster. Tomorrow we start Chinese cooking lessons! I am more excited than I can say. Michael (our cook) is teaching us how to make Won Tons and it is going to be awesome! 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bond English Preschool and Kindergarten

This is the school that I get to teach at everyday! This particular Kindergarten was built just a couple years ago specifically built for the ILP program. It is the most expensive Kindergarten in Zhongshan so we teach the kids of government officials and other wealthy people. All the Chinese teachers tell us that we have the cutest kids at our school because the more money they have the cuter they are. I am not sure how that is directly correlated but I think that is how many Chinese people see it. Our school is three levels and really nice. It is nicer than any elementary school I have seen in America. We are really lucky to get to teach here. We teach kids ages 2-5 and they are adorable. They are crazy and usually out of control but I am coming to terms with the fact that it is just going to be like that most of the time. It is becoming easier. I am getting better at teaching and keeping them under control. Teaching is one of the hardest things I have ever done. My first week was really difficult and I may or may not have broke down into tears during one of my lessons but this week has been much better. They say that the first month is the hardest so I am hoping that it will get easier and better the more time goes on. There are six teachers and 6 different groups of kids with about 8 kids in each group. We teach six- twenty minute lessons a day. It is exhausting. I do, however, love the kids! Some of my favorites so far and two little twins named Shine and Sam. They are ALWAYS matching and super chubby. They even have matching sheets on their beds at school. Today Sam came up to me and said "Teacha Tesha, I be good for you today." I just love those boys. There is also a little boy named Daniel who is very smart and does everything asked of him. We all are big fans of Daniel. There are many times when the kids will just come up to me and hug my legs or come rest their heads on my shoulder when I am teaching. I am loving getting to know these adorable little people. Right now we are teaching summer school so we wont teach the same kids during the semester. 

The other teachers that will be in our city are coming in a couple weeks and I am excited to hear about their schools and teaching experiences compared to ours.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mandarin to English Translations

One of the most entertaining things in China for me so far has been all the translation mistakes. They put the English translation on nearly everything but it is seldom correct. I think that some of the mistakes and very funny and take pictures of all that I can see. Most of these pictures were taken around our apartment in Zhongshan and a couple were taken in Hong Kong. I do not hold them responsible for these mistakes. I started Mandarin lessons today and lets say if English is located on the Earth, Mandarin is in a totally different galaxy. It is tonal and like nothing I have ever heard before. One sound can be five different words simply by the inflection of your voice. It is mayhem. I plan to work hard and maybe I will learn something by December! That is the goal! 
Also, I run out of things to blog about sometimes so if anyone has any questions about China, what I do here, the kids I teach, the food I eat, how I am doing or anything else that may or may not be vexing your mind just let me know and I will answer in a blog post. If I do not know the answers I will try to find out! Thanks!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hello 20th Birthday!

I was lucky enough to get to spend my 20th birthday in China this year! Not many people I know can say that they turned 20 in China. It was easily the strangest birthday I have ever had. It did not feel like my birthday. It was only our 4th day in our new city and the 2nd day teaching in our new school so I didnt know anyone. The school bought me a cake which was really nice of them. It looked beautiful and tasted disgusting. Mom thinks that there is a lesson in there somewhere. So in light of the disgusting cake, I broke out one of my precious packages of pudding that I brought and put some peanut butter cups on top. It tasted delicious. It was not the masterpiece that the owl cupcakes were for my 19th birthday but it had to do. At school I had the kids make owls because it was my birthday and I love owls. That turned out to be a disaster but I got some cute pictures.In all, it was a good day. It is nice to not be a teenager anymore.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Tale of Tessa's Luggage Hatred

I shall begin with a preface. I have been taught to be a light packer from my infancy. When I went on a 9 day trip back east with Preston I took a 12 pound backpack and that was all. I hate taking big suitcases with me when I travel and do not ever do it unless it is entirely necessary.

 For this 5 month adventure to China, packing a great deal of luggage was necessary. First of all, I had to bring enough clothes and hygene supplies for myself to last the whole time I was here. I also had to bring a suitcase full of supplies for the school that I am teaching at. I was able to pack everything I needed in two 50 pound suitcases, a 35 pound carry on suit case and a back pack. I hated having all that luggage even when I was just going down the stairs from my room in Phoenix but that was only just the beginning. We checked in my 49 and 51 pound bags at the airport and thankfully I didnt have to pick them up until I arrived in Hong Kong. I lugged my backpack and heavy carry on around the Phoenix, San Fransisco, Korea, and Hong Kong. There were 19 other girls that were flying with me to Hong Kong that all had the same amount of luggage as I did. Somehow, we all managed to get our luggage onto a huge bus and into our hotel. All of my luggage was really too much for me to handle by myself. There was about 160 pounds of it all together.

On the day of our departure from Hong Kong, we checked in all of our luggage into security. At this point, we broke up into our group so there were seven of us at this point. The night before we left, Wendy and I got a phone call at 11:30 at night that went something like this...

"HELLO, Tee-sa Smitt? this is John from Zhongshan (zhong-shawn) you head teacher?"
"No I am not the head teacher." 
"Wendy Smitt head teacha?" 
"No Wendy isnt the head teacher" (he later explained to us that he thought we were sisters and so he figured that one of us must be the head teacher. I dont know why.)
"Oh Teesa tomorrow I send man to pick you and group up at hotel. He speak no english. You just follow him. You follow him he take you right place."
"Okay, we will follow him." 
"Good Teesa you do that. I see you tomorrow."

 We toured Hong Kong all day and then waited around for the mysterious man we couldn't talk to that was to take us to our new home. At the appointed time, a Chinese man came up to Wendy and said "ILP Head Teacher?" She said "no" because she is not the head teacher and then said "yes" really quickly because she is with ILP so the man handed her a piece of paper. The piece of paper said, "Hello, my name is Candice." She was very confused by this because the man in front of us was obviously not named Candice. She kept reading and we came to find out that his name was Banker and we were told, again, to follow him. A bus comes to pick us up. The bus is a small bus that would normally fit 9 people very comfortably but we were not 9 people. We were 9 people with 21 very heavy pieces of luggage. Banker, like a pure ninja, managed to fit all our luggage between the seats on the bus. When we were pulling out of the hotel, the bus hit a huge pillar and dented it. The bus driver didnt seem to mind though because he pulled away. We had no idea where we were going. We really hoped that we wouldnt have to get all our luggage off the bus again but that wish was not to come true. The bus dropped us off at the ferry to go to Zhongshan. We unloaded all our luggage and carried to through the ferry station. I want you to picture seven American girls blindly following a Chinese man that did not speak English with 21 pieces of luggage. It was a little bit like a momma duck with all her little ducks following her. At this point I was laughing hysterically because the alternative was to cry. Thankfully, we were able to check 7 bags onto the ferry, but only 7. We had to hall the rest of the bags onto the ferry with us that was completely packed with people. We were completely exhausted at this point and somehow made it through the one and a half hour trip to Zhongshan. Once we arrived, we lugged all our luggage off the ferry and after all of this, had to have them checked through customs because of our arrival in mainland China. For one final time, we loaded all our luggage into a van. They brought one van for us to ride in and another van for our luggage. We all felt terrible for Banker at this point because he had 7 white girls with hundreds of pounds of luggage that he was in charge of. To this day he still glares at us whenever we smile at him. I do not blame him. We finally got to our apartment and got our luggage to its final home.  It felt like home instantly because of how happy i was to see it. After this experience, I made a vow with myself. I am never going to go on a trip again with any more luggage than just a backpack. 

Friday, August 13, 2010

Hello 10,000 Buddha's

On our second day in Hong Kong we were able to roam the city as we pleased. We went on a ferry across the harbor and then we went in search of a hike on an island that is suppose to be like Hawaii. After a train and a bus ride we found out that the hike we wanted to go on would take 6 hours. There were two problems with this. The first problem is that I do not usually go on 6 hour hikes and particularly not when it is 100 degrees outside with 90% humidity. I quite possibly may have died. The second problem was that we did not have enough time to complete the hike. It was very lucky for me that there was problem #2 because not everyone in the group has problem #1. After our plans were spoiled, we saw signs along the road we were aimlessly walking on that said "10,000 Buddha's Buddhist Monastery". We had no idea what this place was but we decided to try it. We started along a trail that led up to a huge building on the top of this mountain.  We found that the "10,000 Buddha's Monastery" is just that. It is a Monastery that has 10,000 Buddha replicas. While we trudged along the thousands of stairs that led to the monastery was passed thousands of Buddhas. I would venture it say it is somewhere around 10,000 but I cannot be sure since I did not count. Each of the Buddhas were different in one way or another. It is very safe to say that I have never in my entire life sweat as much as I sweat on that hike up the mountain.  I am used to heat but not humidity in the smallest degree. I hope I can get used it before the end of my stay in China. The Monastery and the path that led to it were amazing! It ended up being one of my very favorite things about Hong Kong. I love happy accidents. After we got back from the mountain, dripping with sweat, we found a home goods mall with an Ikea in it that had air conditioning. Ikea saved my life that day. 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Hello Hong Kong Temple

While in Hong Kong, I got the opportunity to see the temple! I have always loved the Hong Kong temple so it was awesome to get to see it. It is one of my favorite temples because it is so different. It was a breath of fresh air to see the temple in the middle of all the mayhem that is Hong Kong. It is also notable that the temple is one of the only free standing buildings that I saw. It was awesome to see missionaries and evidences of the church. The Hong Kong mission home is right across the street from the temple and is really beautiful as well. After visiting, I think Hong Kong would be a hard place to serve a mission but I am sure that those that serve there love it. More Updates to come...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hello Hong Kong

Hello from China! I have been wanting to blog and I am finally getting around to it. I have to blog from my email so I have no idea what this post looks like. I would LOVE to get comments because I can get them to my email so please comment. 

Early on the morning of August 3rd I awoke at the beginning of one of the longest days of my life. It took up two actual calendar days and over 24 hours worth of travel time. It was worth it though because at the end of it, I was in Hong Kong!

 Hong Kong, China was an interesting experience. We arrived at the Hong Kong airport at 11 pm at night. We were exhausted after a flight to San Fransisco, a flight to Seoul, Korea and a flight to Hong Kong. There were 20 other girls from ILP flying with me. That means that there were about 60+ bags to load and unload when we were at the airport and then when we were at the hotel. Matthew was our tour guide. He picked us up from the airport and then he took us on our tour of Hong Kong the next day. It was pure mayhem. The first sight of Hong Kong I had was at night with thousands of blaring lights. In my opinion, Hong Kong is at its most beautiful at night. You cannot see the smog at night and there are not as many people massing the streets. We finally got to our hotel and I tried to sleep. It was a semi-fruitless affair because it was around 10 AM for my inner anatomical clock but I did manage to finally get some sleep. The next day we got up early and got some breakfast at a local bakery that we ended up eating at 3 times in the 2 days we were in Hong Kong. It was the first purchase I made in China. After breakfast, we went on a tour of the city on a bus. He took us by the Hong Kong temple so we could get some pictures and forbid us to cross the street that we ended up crossing about 20 times later on that day. He then he took us to Hong Kong island which is where all the huge skyscrapers are, Victoria Peak where you can get a sweet view of the city and other islands surrounding it, a fisherman's village with hundreds of boat houses and their peeps living on the water, and Stanley market which is a huge market with really great cheap things. The tour was fun but it was a tour so it was nice for it to be over as well. We then got to do what we wanted in the city for the next day and a half. After the tour, we split off from the rest of the group and the seven of us, who live and teach together, did our own thing. We went to the temple, went on the Star Ferry, and ended up going to the 10,000 Buddha's Buddhist Monastery.

 Hong Kong was very interesting for me. It is very tropical and humid but it is also a crazy gigantic city. I had a very hard time breathing there. Turns out that the humidity and the pollution is not a good combo for my asthma. Our friend John from our school told us that Hong Kong is a concrete Jungle and that pretty much covers it. I enjoyed visiting but I am so happy to be living where we are living. My favorite part of Hong Kong is getting to see the lights at night. It is very beautiful.  It was an awesome beginning to our adventure. There is nothing more adventurous than 7 white girls frolicking around China among millions of Asians and I love it.