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China: Language Intensive 4-week B, Summer 2012


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Yesterday, 8 students from the trip biked to a nearby monastery to teach young Tibetan monks English. The students split up into pairs to teach more effectively and we (Brett and Vikram) partnered up. We were worried that the students wouldn't be motivated to learn from a 16 and a 17 year old teacher, but we kept open minds and ended up being very wrong. While the monks were being split up amongst the 8 Americans, we agreed to tackle teaching the 20 oldest monks (16-19 years old), which also happened to be the largest group of monks that any American pair got.

Since the monks spoke no English and we don't exactly speak perfect Mandarin, we were unsure about how to go about teaching the monks, or even where to start. We eventually decided to begin with teaching them how to introduce themselves. We taught them how to ask "What is your name?" and then to respond "My name is______." We then transitioned into teaching them how to ask/tell about ages, which we prefaced with teaching them the numbers 1 through 20. After they had their numbers down, a few brave monks even reciting 1 through 20 aloud in front of the whole group, we taught them how to ask "How old are you?" and respond "I am _____." For our last lesson, we taught them body parts. The monks enjoyed learning how to say eyes, nose, mouth, ears, shoulders, arms, hands, legs, knees, and feet in English.

We were completely surprised by how much effort the monks put in and how determined they were to learn. As soon as we ended our session, it was really gratifying to see all the monks run off trying out their new english amongst each other. It was also really cool to see the smiles that lit up their faces when they got something right. Overall it was a really fun experience and we can't wait to go back.

-Brett and Vikram

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China: Language Intensive 4-week B, Summer 2012

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Monks and English

Brett and Vikram,China: Language Intensive 4-week B, Summer 2012

Description

Yesterday, 8 students from the trip biked to a nearby monastery to teach young Tibetan monks English. The students split up into pairs to teach more effectively and we (Brett and Vikram) partnered up. We were worried that the students wouldn’t be motivated to learn from a 16 and a 17 year old teacher, but […]

Posted On

07/26/12

Author

Brett and Vikram

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Our service projects came to be teaching English to the young monks (lamas) at the Tibetan Buddhist temple. With Lila and Joann giving everyone a crash course to start, students jumped into their new roles with impressive enthusiasm and creativity, relying on their Chinese in the process as well. The lessons were great fun and we've been invited to tea with the head lama and to share lunch with them anytime. The smiles on the young lamas' faces are really something to behold. Tomorrow we'll conclude the project with the full group going to the temple, sharing tea, and I'm sure lots more beautiful smiles!

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China: Language Intensive 4-week B, Summer 2012

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Teaching English!

Yingzhao Liu,China: Language Intensive 4-week B, Summer 2012

Description

Our service projects came to be teaching English to the young monks (lamas) at the Tibetan Buddhist temple. With Lila and Joann giving everyone a crash course to start, students jumped into their new roles with impressive enthusiasm and creativity, relying on their Chinese in the process as well. The lessons were great fun and […]

Posted On

07/25/12

Author

Yingzhao Liu

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When you think "China," do you picture the hustle and bustle of an up and coming city? Or do you picture the slow grazing pace of a small farm village? Do you see the rush of morning traffic and sky high buildings? Or do you visualize the plodding process of a horse and the lazy snort of the farm pigs? Do you push through the high fashion crowd? Or do you saunter behind the roaming chickens?

China to me has always been an adventure. When I lived here as a child, walking from the busy Shanghai city to the quaint working village was a daily journey. I loved the sheer contrast and the fact that both of these opposites were nothing I knew from home. I jumped at the chance to come back to China, to return to this crazy place of diverse living and complete disparity of lifestyles.

Signing up for Dragons I had no idea what to expect. I knew I would be pushed out of my comfort zone, I knew it would be an experience I would never have again, and I knew I wanted to see what it would be like. What I didn't realize is it would be hard. It has threatened to shove me from every ounce of comfort I know into a whole new realm of unknown. It has pushed me to not just be who I am to me, but who I am in a group setting. It has forced me to discover what makes me tick in the barest of settings. But most of all it once-again opened my eyes and heart to China.

Today I am sitting in an old style hostel art studio placed in the farm village Jixiang; we call this the program house. After all the group activities close for the evening, I will venture through the gravel and mud roads to find my home, a simple farm about five minutes away. I'll walk into the gate, nod hello to my cows, pigs and chickens, then give the dog a quick pat before I wave to my family. Now you see, this home is nothing like one I have ever lived in before, and I will never experience this again. I am one of the lucky few who is blessed with running water and electricty. For that, I am thankful.

On the contrary, last week I may have been sitting in a cozy apartment, complete with classrooms and full bathrooms. This was the program house we invaded in Kunming. There, once the day was over I would sit at a small bus stop waiting for my bus 92 to roll up. As I sat, I could watch the bikes and motorcycles whizz by and listen to the rising and falling of voices as people walked by and browsed in the shops nearby. Once I was on my bus, I could take in the city for 45 minutes before arriving at my midclass apartment complex. I would wave hello to the gaurd as he opened the gate for me and then climb four flights of stairs to reach my empty apartment. There, I would wait anxiously for the arrival of my "mom," "sister," and whatever new and exciting thing they had in store for my night.

You see this country is full of differences, contrasts and opposites. I will never be able to soak up the entirity of it, nor will I ever completly understand it. So let me ask you, when you think "China" what do you see?

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China: Language Intensive 4-week B, Summer 2012

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When you think China

Joanne Wobby,China: Language Intensive 4-week B, Summer 2012

Description

When you think "China," do you picture the hustle and bustle of an up and coming city? Or do you picture the slow grazing pace of a small farm village? Do you see the rush of morning traffic and sky high buildings? Or do you visualize the plodding process of a horse and the lazy […]

Posted On

07/22/12

Author

Joanne Wobby

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I could feel the blood rushing to my cheeks as laughter escaped from the mouths of my homestay sister and her friends in Ji Xiang. I stood awkwardly in the middle of their home, wishing I could escape, until one of the girls finally stopped laughing and told me to wait a few minutes until dinner was finally prepared. As soon as she said that, I couldn't help but feel like an idiot. And to think that I could have avoided that humiliation had I tried to communicate with them instead of just deciding to leave on my own.

This all happened to me because I arrived at my homestay late. All I could think about on my way home was how I would explain to them why I hadn't shown up earlier. I felt even worse knowing that it was a Naxi holiday, which meant that my family would have guests over. When I arrived, I saw my sister outside of the living room with two girls I did not know. When I looked into the room, I saw several strangers surrounding the televion and cups, sunflower seeds, and wrappers on the floor. I took in the sight before me before I mumbled a "hello" to my sister. I was too overtaken by hunger and confusion that I barely heard my sister's friend ask me if I was hungry. Delighted, I answered yes. My sister went into the living room, and she came out with a loaf of bread for me. I thanked her before running to my room. I was confused again becuase I could not believe that they had actually eaten dinner without me, or so I thought. I grabbed my smaller bag and decided that I would head out to the convenience store to by snacks. When I walked out, my sister was there with a few more friends. I tried to quickly walk by them, but my sister's friend stopped me and asked me where I was going. Using my newly acquired vocabulary, I told her that I was going to the xiao mai bu because I wanted some snacks. As soon as I said that, she, my sister, and the rest of the friends around started laughing at me, and this was when I found out that dinner was not yet ready. She told me to wait a few minutes, so I did. I went into the kitchen, and I actually started eating before everyone else which made me feel out of place. As soon as everyone joined in, I still felt awkward because they were having a conversation without me.

After dinner, we went into the living room, and everyone was either watching TV, talking, or playing mahjong. It wasn't until I experienced the Naxi holiday that I realized just how connected the family and friends were. They embodied the word community becuase they were so close with each other, and they were so open with each other. They weren't just like this on the holiday, but they are like this everyday. They go out of their way to help each other, and it is something that I really admire about them.

Being in this community has reminded me of my second home - Guatemala. Whenever I visist my cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents who live in a rural community, they always go out of their way to try to make me feel comfortable. And they always help other community members as well. Even though they don't have much, they give the little that they do have if it means helping someone else. My family in Guate is much like my homestay family here, which makes being away from home a little easier.

It saddens me that I don't have that sense of community in America. I wish more people could be more appreciative of what they have instead of taking it for granted. But as of now, I am very appreciative of my life in America, and I am appreciative that I have encountered such amazing people here in China that have made me feel at home.

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Best Notes From The Field, China: Language Intensive 4-week B, Summer 2012

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Reminds me of Home

Sheila Sisimit,Best Notes From The Field, China: Language Intensive 4-week B, Summer 2012

Description

I could feel the blood rushing to my cheeks as laughter escaped from the mouths of my homestay sister and her friends in Ji Xiang. I stood awkwardly in the middle of their home, wishing I could escape, until one of the girls finally stopped laughing and told me to wait a few minutes until […]

Posted On

07/21/12

Author

Sheila Sisimit

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Hello Yakkers,

I'm back to post about our adventure to Tiger Leaping Gorge aka虎跳峽 (hutiaoxia)on July 15th and 16th; and our day in Lijiang's old city on July 17th. So we took a bus from Lijiang to Qiaotou, the start of the hiking trail. From our sources, the bus ride was suppose to be about 30 min- 1 hr 30 min, but the ride ended up taking 2 hr 30 min. This just shows how unreliable sources can be. After the exhausting bus ride, we made our way to Jane's Guesthouse where we left our big packs for storage.

We ate a satisfying meal of pancakes and omelets at Jane's before setting out on our journey. Our first surprise encounter was this elderly lady at a great picture opportunity spot. She had a sign that said taking pictures would cost 3 kuai, a smart marketing move. None of us were very desperate for a single photo, so we just moved on, taking our pictures free of charge. This hike had a clear trail, but it wasn't very fun because of the ascent up being quite steep. After about 2 hr, we encountered our first stop, the Naxi guesthouse, where we had lunch. At the guesthouse we encountered a monkey as well as the other Chinese 4-week language intensive group, group 4A. We then set off as group 4A planned to spend the night.

This next hike, to the Teahorse guesthouse where we would spend the night, was halted momentarily by rain as we stopped at a small guesthouse to put on our rain gear as well as purchase some ponchos to cover our bags. The funny thing is, while everyone else bought nice ponchos and had good rain jackets, I only brought a pocket poncho. My poncho looked homemade because of its garbage bag like appearance. After the quick stop, just 10 min later, the rain, ironically stopped. The rain was the only adventure of our first 4 hr day of hiking.

We reached the Teahorse guesthouse and checked in. We then had group dinner, with some members ordering apple pie as a dessert. Then late at night, when it was pitch dark, we had a group discussion, giving everyone the opportunity to share what they always bring with them. That concluded a tiresome first day of our expedition phase.

The next day we woke up, each ordering "pancakes" which were actually crapes. After a quality breakfast, we had 1 hr of chinese class, working on giving directions to a person who was blindfolded. Next, we departed, going individually in 3 minute intervals, a method we called silent hiking. After a quick and easy going 2 hrs, we all met up at the first exit of Tiger Leaping Gorge. We then descended to the Low Trail to met our bus at the 14 km marker. The bus took us to Qiaotou where we had lunch, having our first sweet and sour meat dish. Following a satisfying lunch, we left for Lijiang.

We arrived in Lijiang and found our hostel, mama naxi's guesthouse. We then had free time till 10pm, Vickrom and I going to the bank, while everyone else choosing to shower. This was when I forgot my ATM card at the ATM machine, allowing the machine to eat my card =(. When Vickrom and I returned to the hostel after eating local chinese food, we found out that everyone decided to go to an Italian restaurant, to get a break from Chinese food. We met up with them, enjoying the night together as a group before heading back to the hostel. There, we had an argument with the actual mama naxi because we had to have 3 girls sleep in one two-person bed. We argued that we reserved 18 beds, and we only got 17 beds. Mama Naxi said that they called YingZhou, one of our counselors to confirm the reservation, but we didn't pick up. The reason why we didn't pick up the phone was because we were out of cell phone range while hiking in the mountains. We won the argument, despite the language barrier and received 20 kuai in return.

The following morning, we woke up, and decided that we would get to explore the city until 3 pm while finding the weirdest thing we could find. So I set out with Josh, looking for gifts in the old city. We both found gifts, but I won't reveal them because they are surprises. We then had lunch at a local restaurant, having my favorite meal yet with beef, cabbage and rice. Then we set out to find our weirdest thing, discovering crickets on a stick and a dried lizard used for medicine.

This concluded our 3 day expedition that we planned as a group. We took buses to our current city of Ji Xiang.

Thanks for reading,

Stephen Fung

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China: Language Intensive 4-week B, Summer 2012

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Expedition Phase

Stephen Fung,China: Language Intensive 4-week B, Summer 2012

Description

Hello Yakkers, I’m back to post about our adventure to Tiger Leaping Gorge aka虎跳峽 (hutiaoxia)on July 15th and 16th; and our day in Lijiang’s old city on July 17th. So we took a bus from Lijiang to Qiaotou, the start of the hiking trail. From our sources, the bus ride was suppose to be about […]

Posted On

07/21/12

Author

Stephen Fung

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Before leaving on this crazy journey through China, one of my biggest concerns was the rural homestay. All people talked about was how the accomodations would be "sub-par", and this made me think "how is a kid from suburbia going to survive without airconditioning and toilets?". However, now that I'm acually experiencing life in this part of the world, I see how foolish I was. The specific village we are staying in is called JiXiang and it is located in the LaShiHai region of China. While this village is a 30 minute car ride from Li Jiang, it seems so isolated from any urbanization. On our first day here, we pull up into the courtyard of what would become our program house. Once there we stood upon the porch of one of the buildings and waited to meet our homestay families. Unlike in Kunming where the families had been preassigned, here members of families would walk up to out platform and choose which child they wanted. It in a way resembled how people pick and choose livestock. After I had been "chosen" my homestay mother led me to her house (about a five minute walk away). Once at my house, I saw that we owned a plethora of animals. These included: 4 dogs, 4 horses, a couple pigs, chickens, a cat, and the cats tiny kittens (the kittens are so small that 2 or 3 of them can easily fit on my feet). After that I am showed to my room, which consitsted of a single dangling light-bulb, a spring bed, a couple blankets, a concrete floor, and more than a few flies. After this I was shown around the rest of the complex, the entire time thinking "oh boy". My family has no running water, a hole for a toilet. As you are reading this, you are probaly facetiously thinkning "this sounds wonderful!!!", but so far it really has been. My homestay family is so caring. My "mom" is super nice, and my "dad" is hysterical. Although they speak a local dilect called Naxi hua, talking to and interacting with then always puts a smile on my face. Also my "parents" are probably in their sixties, but do hard, physical work everyday. They do the kind of work that many people would complain non-stop about doing. This inspired me to try and complete this leg of my adventure with an open mind, and to not complain. And you know what? It's really not that hard. The food is fresh and delicious the surroundings are gorgeous. The people are friendly, and there is always things to do or games to play. While the accomidations may not be as "cushy" as I am used to, it is not as if I am just scraping by. I have a bed, a shower and sink (at the program house), and TONS of food. While my families "toilet" may be just a hole in the ground, it gets the job done (and I don't spend as much time there as I usually do). Boiled water is readily available, and the air is clean. Right nown as I type on our lone laptop, I honestly have nothing to complain about. I'm not saying that I don't miss things like western toilets, just that you done need these types of things to be happy. This journey has taught me that you don't need everything you think you do to be happy, you just need to step back and apreciate what you have.

-Josh

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China: Language Intensive 4-week B, Summer 2012

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Money Isn’t Everything

Josh Schuftan,China: Language Intensive 4-week B, Summer 2012

Description

Before leaving on this crazy journey through China, one of my biggest concerns was the rural homestay. All people talked about was how the accomodations would be "sub-par", and this made me think "how is a kid from suburbia going to survive without airconditioning and toilets?". However, now that I’m acually experiencing life in this […]

Posted On

07/20/12

Author

Josh Schuftan

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    [post_content] => We spent a full afternoon at a Tibetan Buddhist temple a short distance from our village: tour, lesson on service and development, soccer match, and listening to their evening chant. We'll be back to teach the monks (called lamas) English, and likely a soccer re-match as well.
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China: Language Intensive 4-week B, Summer 2012

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Tibetan Buddhist Temple

Yingzhao Liu,China: Language Intensive 4-week B, Summer 2012

Description

We spent a full afternoon at a Tibetan Buddhist temple a short distance from our village: tour, lesson on service and development, soccer match, and listening to their evening chant. We’ll be back to teach the monks (called lamas) English, and likely a soccer re-match as well.

Posted On

07/20/12

Author

Yingzhao Liu

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From Tiger Leaping Gorge we spent a rainy day in Lijiang, exploring the canaled streets and various shops scattered throughout the Old Town. We took a close look at what it means to transform Culture into Commodity and critically assessed Lijiang’s greater implications for China and its many minorities, specifically the Naxi, whose beautiful village outside of town we now find ourselves in.

Our village Jixiang sits just south of Lashihai, a small lake perched on the outskirts of Lijiang. Here live 35 Naxi families, 13 of which now host our China Language troupe for the remainder of our Journey through the Middle Kingdom.

Life here is far different that that of the busy Kunming streets, and the contrasts are seen in almost every aspect of daily life. We spend our mornings learning Mandarin and our afternoons hanging with the locals, playing soccer or basketball, going for walks to the nearby lake or taking bike/horse rides to the Buddhist monastery on the other side of the lake. What better place to finish up our trip?

These photos depict “the selection” process. We met our homestay families all at once, and students were welcomed and off in mere minutes with their new brothers and sisters.

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China: Language Intensive 4-week B, Summer 2012

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Into the Rural Homestays We Go

I-Team,China: Language Intensive 4-week B, Summer 2012

Description

From Tiger Leaping Gorge we spent a rainy day in Lijiang, exploring the canaled streets and various shops scattered throughout the Old Town. We took a close look at what it means to transform Culture into Commodity and critically assessed Lijiang’s greater implications for China and its many minorities, specifically the Naxi, whose beautiful village […]

Posted On

07/18/12

Author

I-Team

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China: Language Intensive 4-week B, Summer 2012

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Dragons Leaping!

Yingzhao Liu,China: Language Intensive 4-week B, Summer 2012

Description

Dragons after successfully taking on the Tiger Leaping Gorge trek! We had a beautiful two days at the gorge, including a silent walk. We’ll keep the memory of this amazing place for a long time to come.

Posted On

07/18/12

Author

Yingzhao Liu

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China: Language Intensive 4-week B, Summer 2012

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Families Continued

I-team,China: Language Intensive 4-week B, Summer 2012

Description

More photos!

Posted On

07/16/12

Author

I-team

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