It’s time for the annual trek to America!

It's time for the annual trek to America!
JISHOU, HUNAN — If all goes to plan, I’ll be in the USA for another summer vacation on Monday. Now is as good a time as any to catch everyone up on what’s been happening here. The spring term basically finished for me last Friday. I gave my final exams the week before, and handed in the grades on the 6th. Since that time, I’ve basically just been cooling my heels here waiting to get my passport with a new residence permit back from the Public Security Bureau (PSB). Until then, I can’t leave town. Two years ago, the PSB almost did not renew my residence permit because they thought I had been teaching at another school, which is against regulations. My foreign affairs officer was able to persuade them to grant me my residency, though. Last year’s renewal went off without a hitch, but this year not so much. See that photo above? I visited a combined primary-secondary school in Huayuan County in May, where a graduate student friend of mine teaches English. He thought I could visit the school’s English classes to encourage the kids to learn English better. I visited three classes in the morning. It was ...

Big Hunan TV debut 1

JISHOU, HUNAN — OK, so I was only on screen for maybe 10 minutes — tops — sandwiched in between musical acts for a pre-Spring Festival concert extravaganza, but it was still a debut on provincial TV. And, get this, all of my lines were in Chinese! I learned them on the spot, with patient coaching from a Hunan Economic TV director (and of course promptly forgot them all by the following day). Here is the link to the on line version of the telecast last night. You will only be able to watch it if you are using Internet Explorer and only if you download a plugin for IE here. I have had no luck viewing the clip yet. Either it is not yet available, or my antiquated versions of Windows (2K Pro) and IE6 are not up to the task. When you load the first link, this is what you will see. I have labeled the appropriate buttons to click on to see the video. If any clever person can figure out how to capture this video stream and/or make it a YouTube video, let me know. I have people working on the task on this side of ...

Post-New Year’s update

JISHOU, HUNAN — My exams are marked, final grades are calculated, and I can now start my Winter Holiday! Phew! The campus is pretty empty right now. University students have four weeks’ break, officially, but many left for home as soon as possible after their last examination. Left on campus are a few exchange students, assorted graduate students with work still to submit, and faculty. In China, Spring Festival — celebrating the lunar New Year — is a big family affair, like Thanksgiving and Christmas are in the States. Imagine rolling Independence Day (fireworks), Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve into one holiday, and you can begin to understand what a festive occasion awaits us here. With some time on my hands — finally — I can recap what has happened in the last several days since my last post. When we last left our hero, he was recovering from a long day in Fenghuang shooting for a TV show…. The following day, I helped make and eat dumplings at the home of a freshman student, Fu Xiao, whose father is a local government official. Fu Xiao and her friend, Tian Fang, another of my students, helped me buy a ...
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