Summer holiday update 1

CHANGSHA, HUNAN — Here’s my summer so far: 3 T’s. Teaching, travel, Thailand. Except Thailand starts tomorrow. (4 T’s, then) The spring term wrapped up for me around July 4th. Right away, I started teaching some middle school students English four hours a day for 20 days straight. I also finished up working with some university faculty preparing study and research abroad. Together, these two jobs netted me 10,000 RMB. With one group of students, we spent one hour with oral English and the other with their textbook, New Concept English 2. Despite its title, NCE was first written in the 1970s. It’s more suitable for adult learners than teenagers, but that’s what they use at their training school. I tried to make it not too boring. The other group has better English, so we read an American juvenile novel, The Midwife’s Apprentice. I had found a classroom set in a Louisville St. Vincent de Paul store in April, and brought back eight copies. It was slow going, because the vocabulary is pretty advanced even for American young readers, but the story is interesting and it held their interest. Explaining the culture and history behind the story was harder. We ...

Winter holiday time

JISHOU, HUNAN — I had meant to post this a few days ago, but my webhost was having serious server issues, so I had to wait. Exams ended Jan. 11. I had two days free before teaching four middle school students two hours a day for a week. That was basically my only time commitment until the 20th, when it was time for all of us to begin the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) holiday. Most of the students on campus vacated as soon as exams ended. A few stayed to work short-term jobs before heading home, and even fewer are staying here for the entire holiday. So, at least I had some company. I’ve also spent time with friends in town. Most of the time, it’s blessedly quiet, so I can pursue projects that I’ve put off for months. One was to get better wireless Internet service. China Mobile, my cell service provider, has WiFi service, but it’s spotty in Jishou and on campus. They are reportedly building it out over the next few months, so that I might actually have WiFi available in my classrooms and home by April. I wanted something a little quicker, so I asked ...

Happy Winter Solstice!

It’s today, at 6:38 PM EST (6:38 AM Wednesday my time). I hope you got a chance to see the lunar eclipse, because I’m on the wrong side of the world for it. Just for the record, this is the shortest period of daylight in the northern hemisphere for the whole year. And the furthest south on the horizon that the sun will rise and set. Now the days will get longer, and the sun will move toward the north. Good reason for a celebration! Have some glögg! It’s a traditional holiday punch in Sweden and the other north lands. The really old fashioned way to make it was to leave out the sugar, and instead drink the punch while holding a sugar cube in your teeth. At least, that’s how my grandpa did it. Sugar was expensive way back when.
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