Merry Christmas! 圣诞节快乐! (sheng dan jie kuaile)

JISHOU, HUNAN — Our college’s annual Christmas extravaganza has been put to bed, this year featuring more dances than I can ever recall. Even we teachers danced. (Video may be forthcoming). We foreign teachers (all five of us) had dinner with the president of the university, the v.p., and the deans of our colleges. Unless my memory is faulty, this was the first time the president has joined us. The food was delicious and ample — quite suitable for a Christmas dinner. I have received about a bushel of apples today (OK, really just a half dozen apples), because the Chinese have acquired the custom of giving an apple on Christmas Eve. If I’m not mistaken, this is an English custom. And just now I was on a video chat with five former students, including one in Thailand. They all graduated in June. Another guy called me from Shanghai. (I think he was a little drunk.) A gazillion people sent me messages on QQ tonight. One friend has promised me a handmade scarf, but was profusely apologetic for it not being on time or in my favorite color, and being so simple. I told her it makes no difference, because ...

Merry Christmas! Sheng dan kuai le 圣诞快乐!

Merry Christmas! Sheng dan kuai le 圣诞快乐!
JISHOU, HUNAN — This photo sums up my Christmas here. Hope you have some fun, too. It’s Christmas Eve here. I just got back from a big faculty luncheon. Tonight was the annual Christmas show by our college students, and tomorrow I’m busy with other holiday gatherings. And we may have snow tonight. I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas, Kwanzaa, Festivus, Solstice or just a quiet time at home with someone you love, or like, or can at least put up with for a few hours. God Jul!

ESL students meet Dickens’ Christmas, yearn for travel 2

[Cross-posted at The Daily Kos.] JISHOU, HUNAN — The fall term is coming to a close here. I gave my exams this week, and will spend the next two weeks reading and marking them, so I can return home to see my offspring with a clear conscience. Before exams, I decided to give my students — and me — a break, and show them a movie. Of course, it had to have some educational value. Believe it or not, Christmas, at least among our students, is a big thing here in China. They learn about the holiday as part of their English lessons in middle school, but still have only a hazy idea of what it is all about. Chinese textbook authors condense Christmas traditions from the USA, Europe and the UK into a mishmosh of ideas that serve only to confuse, not inform. Students ask me about how we celebrate Christmas in the USA, and I give them a pretty generic description, based on my own memories of 50-odd previous Christmases. But descriptions, particularly for ESL students, do not really convey the spirit of the holiday. So, I chose A Christmas Carol as the movie I would show all ...

Christmas in China II

Christmas in China II
JISHIU, HUNAN — My pictures on Facebook and Picasaweb may give you some idea of what my Christmas holiday was like, but here is the text version. Our college had planned to have a big Christmas party/performance like we did last year, but fears of spreading H1N1 scotched that idea. Instead, each class (we have nine groups of 27-40 students each that we call classes) was to arrange for its own Christmas party. While disappointing, the lack of a college-wide Christmas event freed up a lot of time for all of us planning on performing. Last year, the preparations for the big gala pretty sucked away any free time I had, so I was not able to plan any Christmas event of my own device. This year, though, I decided to invite people to my home for a dinner. A few friends had already offered to cook for us, so all I needed to do was to clean up the apartment and get people there. But first, there were some Christmas Eve events. One of our classes, Sophomore Business English G2, held their party in the morning. They had four hotplates going at the same time, cooking up 火锅 huoguo ...

We now resume our regular programming, now in progress. 2

JISHOU, HUNAN — My webhost just upgraded many of its customers to a new superduper server over the weekend. Somehow, my site got lost in the shuffle, but now we’re back! Predictably, the outage happened while I was out of town and for the most part away from the World Wide Web. So, I had no idea anything was wrong until my buddy notified me by email. I sent a message to Planet Earth Hosting, and 24 hours later, the site was up, good as new. The occasion for my trip out of town was the big car show in Changsha. Two of my former students were going — one to shop and one to wish — and asked me to join them. So, Saturday morning I took the coach to Changsha. Also on board was a postgrad friend of mine and her friend. They were going to Changsha to shop and (for one of them) to sit for a qualifications exam. To my delight, the bus company has changed its normal stop — next to a swanky hotel — to a place practically next door to my usual — non-swanky — hotel. It makes catching the return bus a ...

Post-Christmas update: partayy!

JISHOU, HUNAN — With the end of the term approaching, I have been so busy lately that writing anything substantive for this blog was well nigh impossible. I’ll try to recap recent events as best I can, starting with Christmas Eve. All the colleges here at Jishou University hold some kind of end-of-term/welcome-the-new-year party, reminiscent of those old movies where they say, “Hey, let’s put on a show!” Members of the colleges sing, dance, act in skits, or play instruments, and the audience plays some silly games. (I joined in on one game a week ago. Blindfolded, with a partner riding piggyback and giving directions, I had to stomp on balloons to burst them. We won a 2-liter of Coke.) The College of International Exchange is the only one that puts on a Christmas-themed performance, scheduled suitably for Dec. 24. Our students spent weeks rehearsing their acts, while we faculty managed to cram our practice time into a few afternoons. Being a white-haired, bearded fellow, I was asked to play Father Christmas, and students also pressured me to sing a song. So I was really busy that night. I discovered that our students are multi-talented, with considerable performing chops. We ...

It’s Christmas morning here! 2

JISHOU, HUNAN — I’ve been so busy these last two weeks that I have had no chance to write anything. End of term items, filled social calendar, rehearsals, etc., etc., have occupied my time. I had a great Christmas Eve with friends, students and colleagues today, and I hope yours are all just as wonderful. 圣诞快乐 to all! Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
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