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China Educator
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It has been almost 3 weeks since leaving Kunming and all the other cities/towns (Shaxi, Weishan, Weibaoshan, Shuanlang, Baoshan, Pupiao, etc.) I visited during the 15-day program with Dragons.  On July 30th, I flew from Kunming to Shanghai and then to Vancouver to join my husband for a 2-week Alaskan cruise and did not get back to New York City until last Saturday.  Much to sort through both in practical matters (laundry, pet care, grocery shopping) and internal matters -- Dragons propelled me go through a most existentially challenging summer the intensity of which I cannot recall experiencing since in my 20s.   Living a mere couple of blocks away from The 9/11 Memorial Ground which is now open to the public, I am used to threading my way through hundreds of tourists every time I need to get somewhere in the city (a ten-minute walk takes me to subway lines to the rest of the five boroughs.)  This morning marked the first time I took that familiar walk since leaving for the China Educators program five weeks ago.  And I was keenly aware of the reversal of roles - I, THE “local” and THEY, THE “tourists.” In my mind, I repeated the Dragons’ mantra: Tourist vs Traveler.  Some of THEM surely are immersed travelers and aware of the culture and history of this place, but a whole lot of THEM surely are just tourists.  By looking at me, a 4-foot-11, 51-year old Chinese woman, wearing sandals and a bamboo basket, who would know that I’m not a tourist/traveler?   And  how can I tell for sure that some of them are not 9/11 victims families coming from Brooklyn or New Jersey to pay tribute and respect to their loved ones?   Thinking further: I’m not even sure that I can truly label myself as a “local” -- being here for 23 years after growing up and educated in Taiwan kind of makes me only a semi-local, doesn’t it?  Where could I truly call home?  Taipei where I was raised?  New York City where I reside now?  Baoshan which was printed as my “origin city” on my Taiwan national ID?   These kinds of multi-stepped thoughts manifested on an hourly-basis while I was with Dragons.   They cropped up while the leaders, Max and Yingzhao, walked the five of us in the group through practical exercises for educators who might be leading a student group to a foreign country following Dragons’ experiential model.  I took quite a bit of notes and asked a lot of questions about the stages of Group Dynamics, about the basics of Non Violent Communication (which I thought perhaps could be termed Non Aggressive Communication,) meditation techniques, and different icebreakers and check-in techniques.  The hows, the whys, and the why-nots.  The could it be…. and couldn’t it be… s as well.  Whatever was given to us, I wanted to dig up more!   Then there were the more complex issues of cultural adaptations, interpretations, mis-interpretations, encounters, understandings and misunderstandings.  My life-long knowledge of Chinese history, geography, literature, and traditions both enriched my experiences during those 15 days and challenged my status as a “knowing” but “foreign” outsider.  I don’t even know what an average monthly salary for a middle school teacher is and how is that compared to the living standard: what is the monthly rent for a 3-bedroom apartment and how much it will cost to buy such a unit?  I don’t know who the most popular local singers are and where might I buy a reasonably priced rice cooker.  I observed, I photographed, and I talked and talked and talked to any locals that would talk back to me.  Making friends with Mr. Ma who had a sweet-soup stand in the courtyard shopping ground within the Green Lake Park gave me just a little window into the life of a local shop owner.  He and his family are believers of the Islamic faith.  They just finished observing Ramadan.  The ingredients of their food come from rural Yunnan.  His daughter is studying to go to college, and along with his wife and his nephew, who is 24, helps him with running the shop.  Business is decent. We talked about my family root in Yunnan and the political relationships between Taiwan and China.  His nephew firmly believes that Taiwan should just be absorbed as an official Province (or special political unit) of China.  And I found out that the attitude toward Chiang Kai Shek and his military strategies during WWII, fighting against the Japanese invasion, has completely changed in China in the past few years.  Now they recognize his and  Kuomintang’s achievements.  This altered view was confirmed time and time again by others whom I met during the time in Kunming.  Much to my joy and relief, since being an army brat of the Kuomintang armed forces, I had always feared the animosity that could be hurled my way if my affiliation had been revealed.   Meeting Lao Zhang, an artist and writer, who survived and thrived after The Cultural Revolution added even more cultural perspectives.  I learned yet more from too many others to detail here…. Mr. Yu, a total stranger who gave me a ride and helped me find my ancestral home, my cousins, Ms. Ji, who runs a cafe in Shaxi, Shitou (Rock - a 25-year-old woman from Shandong province) who served as my impromptu tour guide in Shaxi, the Taoist priest who showed me the scripture he was reciting in the morning “lesson,” the girls who mind the shops in Baoshan, etc.   Holding all of the information in my mind, feeling the powerful emotion of “going back to the motherland” for the first time in my heart, and trying to learn new techniques of group management while being part of a group that’s being managed, was truly too overwhelming for me to absorb at once in such a short time.  (Not to mention miraculously finding my relatives separated since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949, 65 years ago.)   This finally led to the toughest, most complex, and mind-shattering aspect of the whole trip: my personal identity struggles.  My many years of complacency of self-worth, self-awareness, and self-understanding were jolted by the thunder and lightning of an internal flash storm which questioned whether I actually knew myself -- what was my own identity?  Stripped off of the coziness constructed with long time friends, a loving family, fairly established professional standing, and the most satisfying dream-job, and many other aspects of my daily existence such as the art and music I love, I had an opportunity to examine me as ME, raw.  It was a frightening experience, one that I am still trying to recover from, and yet it was also a truly incredible experience, leaving me hopeful that I might have learned a couple of new things, even though I did not go on this trip to re-establish my self-awareness or re-construct my ways of relating to others. It has been almost 3 weeks since leaving China… and I am still re-considering priorities, trying to decipher reasons behind my fears and reluctances, and figuring out how I can improve fluency in empathy. 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Practical, Cultural, Personal

Roxanne Hsu Feldman,China Educator

Description

It has been almost 3 weeks since leaving Kunming and all the other cities/towns (Shaxi, Weishan, Weibaoshan, Shuanlang, Baoshan, Pupiao, etc.) I visited during the 15-day program with Dragons.  On July 30th, I flew from Kunming to Shanghai and then to Vancouver to join my husband for a 2-week Alaskan cruise and did not get […]

Posted On

08/20/14

Author

Roxanne Hsu Feldman

Category

China Educator

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IMG_0332 IMG_0364
We left Wei Bao Shan, the Taoist mountain this morning, and already miss the tranquility of the place, and kindness of our caretakers. The sweet old lady took really good care of us, along with the master below. The energetic and talkative priest at the mountain top monastery shared his pride of the good feng shui of the mountain. A few of the many memorable people we've had the good fortune, or karma, to meet on our journey. [post_title] => Taoists at the mountain [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => taoists-mountain [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-02-02 12:04:59 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-02-02 19:04:59 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://wheretherebedragons.com/?p=106878 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 159 [name] => China Educator [slug] => china-educator [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 159 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 254 [count] => 21 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 8.1 [cat_ID] => 159 [category_count] => 21 [category_description] => [cat_name] => China Educator [category_nicename] => china-educator [category_parent] => 254 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/summer-2014/china-educator/ ) ) [category_links] => China Educator )
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Taoists at the mountain

Yingzhao Liu,China Educator

Description

We left Wei Bao Shan, the Taoist mountain this morning, and already miss the tranquility of the place, and kindness of our caretakers. The sweet old lady took really good care of us, along with the master below. The energetic and talkative priest at the mountain top monastery shared his pride of the good feng shui […]

Posted On

07/25/14

Author

Yingzhao Liu

Category

China Educator

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    [post_content] => We made our way to Shaxi yesterday, and thank to the newly opened highway with tunnels that are over 4KM long cutting through the mountains, our journey was much faster than expected. It's easy to fall in love with Shaxi, and we have great discussions on the complexity of the forces that are changing this treasure, as we speak.

We have a shared sense of settling into this place, and into the course. Excited to be diving deeper...
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Settling into Shaxi

Yingzhao Liu,China Educator

Description

We made our way to Shaxi yesterday, and thank to the newly opened highway with tunnels that are over 4KM long cutting through the mountains, our journey was much faster than expected. It’s easy to fall in love with Shaxi, and we have great discussions on the complexity of the forces that are changing this […]

Posted On

07/19/14

Author

Yingzhao Liu

Category

China Educator

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    [post_content] => Well, I had attempted to upload this post two days, ago, but we lost our internet connection just after I clicked "submit." So goes posting notes from the field. Since I wrote the below post, our group has continued to engage the "big" issues of hold to understand and handle group dynamics, modeling values and behavior for the experiential education environment, and discussions on how to present development complexities to student groups. Still loving this, still basking in the energy of our group:

I hesitate to make this update brief, because much is percolating in my mind and body. But alas, we are preparing to move deeper into the field tomorrow – physically and mentally. When I first considered the opportunity to lead a group of professional educators on a two-week program through Yunnan, China, I mulled through my history of working with students abroad in an attempt to locate some piece of wisdom. What I came up with was the simple idea that progressive educators understand that just as students’ lives can change under the influence of one teacher, we teachers can also gain valuable insight from our students.

Well, here I am, experiencing just that. Today, my “students” are actually teachers whose combined educational experience is about eight times that of my (measured in linear time). The power of our teaching is in the creative discussion that follows…and that discussion is informed by years of wisdom and insight that Roxanne, Julie, Kabe, Margie, and Frances bring to this program. Yingzhao and I are impressed by their high caliber engagement and willingness to try what even the most intrepid of our students struggle with.

Tomorrow, we will board a bus for western Yunnan. Sometime in the evening we will arrive in a small town on a small river along what was once the Tea and Horse Caravan route that extended from Tibet into Southeast Asia. There, we will continue our orientation and skill-building, preparing our group for their expedition: to lead us to an ancient Taoist monastery and facilitate several nights’ stay with the monks there. We are all looking forward to it! (Note: Since writing, we are now settled down in Shaxi and exploring the lush countryside of this high mountain valley!)
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China Educator

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On the road

Max Woodfin,China Educator

Description

Well, I had attempted to upload this post two days, ago, but we lost our internet connection just after I clicked “submit.” So goes posting notes from the field. Since I wrote the below post, our group has continued to engage the “big” issues of hold to understand and handle group dynamics, modeling values and […]

Posted On

07/19/14

Author

Max Woodfin

Category

China Educator

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    [post_content] => We had the best breakfast, met the cutest baby, drank famous Yunnan Pu'er tea, visited historical Yunnan University and Yuantong tample.  We didn't have good luck finding the right place to print our copy of the debrifing card, but we did it!!!!!  Off we go to the west gate!!!!! Winning~~~~~:-)
    [post_title] => Morning scavenger hunt FUN!!!!
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China Educator

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Morning scavenger hunt FUN!!!!

Margie and Julie,China Educator

Description

We had the best breakfast, met the cutest baby, drank famous Yunnan Pu’er tea, visited historical Yunnan University and Yuantong tample.  We didn’t have good luck finding the right place to print our copy of the debrifing card, but we did it!!!!!  Off we go to the west gate!!!!! Winning~~~~~:-)

Posted On

07/16/14

Author

Margie and Julie

Category

China Educator

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Scavenger Hunt

Roxanne, Frances, Kabe,Picture of the Week, China Educator

Description

Scavenger hunt success! Team Max is rocking and rolling with 5 of 7 tasks completed. Morale is high. The sun is out! Posted from Yunnan University internet cafe.  

Posted On

07/16/14

Author

Roxanne, Frances, Kabe

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    [post_content] => We're off and running! We opened the circle, got to know each other, and rounded off our first program day with a group dinner, with the wonderful Lu Laoshi from S.I.T. and her son. Amazing food, genuine warmth, and we're really excited for the days ahead...
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First group dinner!

Yingzhao Liu,China Educator

Description

We’re off and running! We opened the circle, got to know each other, and rounded off our first program day with a group dinner, with the wonderful Lu Laoshi from S.I.T. and her son. Amazing food, genuine warmth, and we’re really excited for the days ahead…

Posted On

07/16/14

Author

Yingzhao Liu

Category

China Educator

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    [post_date] => 2014-07-15 21:08:14
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This really feels like home.  Mostly it reminds me of Taipei and a Taipei as I left it in late 80s: there is a energetic blend of the older and the newer.  Nothing is so ancient as to lose its connection to current life and nothing is too at the front of the world stage to feel absurd.  It feels just right.

I have talked to a sixth grade girl at the airport: her favorite pastime is to stay in her room, playing classical music both western and Chinese as background for reading good books.

The cab driver and I and a guy selling local specialty foodstuff are all from the same generation…within the same decade… Everything and everyone just feels familiar and easy going.

The Green Lake Part 翠湖 proves to be highly enjoyable, clean and beautiful and family friendly.

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In Kunming, Yunnan, At Home

 Roxanne Feldman,China Educator

Description

This really feels like home.  Mostly it reminds me of Taipei and a Taipei as I left it in late 80s: there is a energetic blend of the older and the newer.  Nothing is so ancient as to lose its connection to current life and nothing is too at the front of the world stage […]

Posted On

07/15/14

Author

 Roxanne Feldman

Category

China Educator

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    [post_date] => 2014-07-13 22:45:36
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    [post_content] => Dear Educators,

Yingzhao and I are so excited to greet you in Kunming. By now we have spoken with almost every one of you, and at least have a voice to put to the photos you have posted in your introductions. Soon enough, we will be sitting together in China (likely sipping tea or something of the sort).

Although we have confirmed everyone's arrival time, we wanted to get you each specific instructions for getting to the Lost Garden Hotel on the 16th.  When you arrive at the airport in Kunming, you have the option of either taking an express bus or taxi from the airport. The taxi is a little more expensive, but direct, whereas the bus will drop you off about 1km from the hotel. The hotel is on Green Lake Park, or Cuihu Gongyuan. Taxi drivers will all know where this is, and only the last little side street is slightly difficult to find. Here is the address. We recommend you print this and carry it with you:
翠湖南路黄公东街 一丘田7号
Cuihu Nan Lu, Huanggong Dong Jie (larger and smaller street, it's intersection is very close to the hostel)
7 Yiqiutian (this last bit is a tiny street that the taxi doesn't need to go down, you'll see the sign for Lost Garden).
We will all be meeting at 3pm on the 16th at the guesthouse dining room. Your rooms will be ready for you earlier, however, so please do go to the check-in counter and let them know that you are with Yingzhao and Max's group.
Yingzhao's cell phone number is 18701303112. Any taxi driver will be able to call this number from a cell phone, and in Kunming they are usually willing to call for you. I, for one, am about to board my own flight to Kunming, and I am looking forward to retiring to this beautiful corner of China and sharing our experiences and knowledge with you. Travel safely! Max [post_title] => Your Impending Arrival [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => impending-arrival [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2014-07-13 22:45:36 [post_modified_gmt] => 2014-07-14 04:45:36 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://wheretherebedragons.com/?p=105581 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 159 [name] => China Educator [slug] => china-educator [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 159 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 254 [count] => 21 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 8.1 [cat_ID] => 159 [category_count] => 21 [category_description] => [cat_name] => China Educator [category_nicename] => china-educator [category_parent] => 254 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/summer-2014/china-educator/ ) ) [category_links] => China Educator )

China Educator

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Your Impending Arrival

Max Woodfin,China Educator

Description

Dear Educators, Yingzhao and I are so excited to greet you in Kunming. By now we have spoken with almost every one of you, and at least have a voice to put to the photos you have posted in your introductions. Soon enough, we will be sitting together in China (likely sipping tea or something […]

Posted On

07/13/14

Author

Max Woodfin

Category

China Educator

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    [post_content] => Hello everyone,

In just a few days, we'll be starting our adventure in China. I'm very excited to meet everyone and to explore a part of China that I've never been to. China is a huge country with an incredible array of diversity, and I look forward to seeing the place I once called home with fresh eyes.

I spent most of my formative years in Northeast China. My family then moved to Canada and we've lived here ever since. Currently I teach Mandarin in the Upper School Division of Crescent School, an independent boy school in Toronto. My students are interested in knowing what Chinese people are really like and how they think, in addition to learning the language. My wish for the trip is to gather some insights and stories that I could take back to the classroom.

See you all soon!
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Introduction

Frances Wen,China Educator

Description

Hello everyone, In just a few days, we’ll be starting our adventure in China. I’m very excited to meet everyone and to explore a part of China that I’ve never been to. China is a huge country with an incredible array of diversity, and I look forward to seeing the place I once called home […]

Posted On

07/11/14

Author

Frances Wen

Category

China Educator

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