Monday, November 2, 2009

Barbeque and Abstract Art

It’s been awesome getting to know some of the other tutors as well. The other day I went to this Muslim-style barbeque place with my buddy Randall. We ordered lamb and beef on sticks that look like really long toothpicks. We also ordered thin mushrooms wrapped in tofu and Mediterranean flat-bread. The two of us sat on low stools at a table that stood no more than 12 inches from the ground. We began talking about work at the Academic Center—what sort of advice we’d given students that afternoon.

Before long, though, our conversation drifted elsewhere. Randall is an abstract artist. He showed me, once, how he takes plaster of Paris and smears it on the canvass, making neat designs and textures. He then uses spray paint, linseed oil, Windex, turpentine and random stuff like onion peels and garlic to finish his various masterpieces. As we sat on our stools eating barbeque, Randall and I speculated as to whether or not there is a potential market for abstract art in China.

Bruce's Birthday and Chinese Karaoke

My friend Bruce recently had a birthday. There was some debate about his age—whether he was turning 21 or 22—because the Chinese begin counting one’s years much earlier than we do in the west. Whatever his age, several of us went to KTV, a popular Chinese karaoke chain, to celebrate. I made a grand fool of myself that evening. We had a blast! Afterwards, Nikki and I took Bruce and Chrissy, another friend, to our favorite Chinese restaurant.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

First Post!

Hey everyone! This is my first posting for the China blog. These last several weeks have been full of exciting new experiences. Living in Dalian, China has been unbelievable. A year ago, I never would have imagined I’d be living in China and doing the stuff I’m doing now. Dalian is a beautiful city, surging with life and activity. Although it is fairly new by Chinese standards, it has a noble heritage and a character all its own. I’m meeting all kinds of interesting people, and every day I’m learning new things about China’s history and culture. Everyone is so polite and friendly. I feel completely at home here. To all of you back home in Missouri, whether you’ve considered coming to China or not, I encourage you to do so. This experience has changed my life, and if you ever get the opportunity to come here, you’ll be very glad you did. I’m looking forward to sharing my adventures with you.

This is a photo of my favorite coffee shop here in Dalian. I often just like to go and hang out in places like this because it’s a great way to meet people. I’m amazed at how many interesting people decide to pull up a chair or flop down on a sofa near me to talk with a foreigner. I had a conversation with one Chinese guy, Bret, for four hours; he helped me learn some Chinese words, and I answered some questions he had about English. I like talking about anything and everything with Dalian folk. It really makes me consider life and the world differently.

This here is a photo of the LNU-MSU library, where I work as an English tutor. Helping students with English has been a fantastic opportunity for me—particularly because I want to teach college English one day. I feel like I’ve really been able to help students here improve their writing, and in the process, I’ve learned a lot myself. I really enjoy reading and listening to ideas that spring from such a unique culture. Tutoring has other perks as well. One student mentioned a special kind of Chinese tea in a paper I helped him revise. Later, he brought me a big packet of tea to thank me for helping him. Getting to know the students here has been really fun.

In Shanghai, Nikki and I got the grand tour of a Chinese threadwork gallery. Every work on display had been elegantly stitched by hand, some of them taking professional weavers years to finish. Many of the patterns called for silk threads so fine they were practically invisible. A few of the designs were even mounted on rotating wooden frames so that when you turned the frame you could see the design from a different perspective—almost like a three-dimensional image. I can’t remember being more awestruck by the beauty of art than I was that day in the gallery.