Monday, June 30, 2008
I’m on the search for the real China. While my classes are great…sitting in a room just isn’t doing it for me. It is honestly hard for me to comprehend that I’m in another country. I feel sheltered in this program. We have very little free time and every day is structured. I guess this is what taking 15 credit hours of class in 6 weeks should be like!
Friday morning we went to the U.S Ministry of Agriculture. I am beginning to realize just how important and interesting agriculture is. This is the business of feeding the world! As all eyes are shifting to the rising power of China, they are in a significant catch 22 when it comes to food sustainability. Peasant farmers are given their own land (only a half hectare!) even if it would be more productive for farmers to work together and use large machinery; it is a matter of security to keep peasant farmers investing in the land. The urban movement cannot handle any more people. This is opening the door of opportunities for countries, such as America to get in on importing foods to these 1.3 billion people.
I love parties. Friday the CAAS students hosted an ‘English’ party for us. We were told to prepare a few acts; but in normal American college student fashion, we thought of a few ideas and decided to wing it. Bad idea. They were prepared with Tai Chi and kung fu routines, traditional Chinese instruments and a special welcome song. We taught them the national anthem…it was really awkward. Then we taught them some ballet moves and I finished up the night teaching them the Cupid Shuffle. These events are fun because we are treated like celebrities. Everyone wants to talk to you and get his or her picture with you!
Saturday was a great tri p to the Summer Palace. I didn’t know I could find that much green in Beijing! It was truly remarkable. I just cannot comprehend that they could build these huge palaces for the emperor’s…it’s ridiculous!
Sunday, when I set my eye’s on the huge Haidian Chrstian Chrch I began to tear up. This is home to me. They have five services that are filled to the max. There was standing room only in the English service I attended. It was very much like a contemporary service in the states. I knew all the songs and enjoyed the message. I was just so refreshed to worship again. I made quick friends and went to lunch some students from the University of Florida that are studying here for three months.
I enjoyed this little adventure by myself as the rest of the students in my program went to the zoo for the day. I felt kind of free for the first time!
Elaine met me in the afternoon and went shopping at Off-Price. It’s owned by the same people as TJ Maxx and Marshalls. She is a great shopper and helped me pick out a few things I’m really happy with. Their shopping process is really weird; I never would have figured it out without her!
Afterwards, her husband (who I later gave the English name Shawn), picked us up and took us to their apartment. It was really neat to go to the fifth ring and see where the majority of the residents in Beijing live. It is definitely different than the commercialized touristy look of the rest of the city. We hung out for a while then she and her husband treated me to one of their favorite restaurants. It was some of the best food I’ve had yet! I was so humbled by how kind they were to me the whole day. They really took care of me and I had a blast!
So the search for the real China continues as I make plans to hang out with students and venture into the city. I feel like I got a fresh breath of air from this weekend; getting to worship and get a break from the loaded program. I begin and end every day exhausted. I’m trying to live up this time to the full!
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
We’re getting into a routine here at CAAS. The classes are pretty long to sit through, but still have some really interesting information. China has an intriguing (and long) history. We learn about the past and present. I'm interested that the professors and students openly criticize parts of the governmnts policy. I’m always anxious while in class to be out doing something else. I just learned that this won’t be the relaxing summer quarter I was hoping for…the class presentations and papers are going to be a lot of work!
Yesterday, my professor had a small group of us over for a traditional Chinese meal and story telling at her apartment. The housing situation in the city is unreal. The cost is incredibly high for the small amount of space. Her place looked very ragged and old on the outside, and I was extremely surprised with the expensive, modernly decorated apartment. You walked right into the dining room table...there were two small bedrooms, a little living room, and a tiny kitchen. Just absolutely nothing compared to the square footage of any American home. There is little room for extra stuff...no junk drawers or attic storage!
Sunday we went to Tianamen Square and the Forbidden City. I was paired with the cutest couple. It was incredibly hot and a little exhausting to communicate with these students for the day, but very enjoyable.
The OSU students in the program are bonding well. We have fun finding places to eat and ordering new food. It’s always fun to get the bill and split it. Most meals with 4-8 courses are around $3!
Monday after class I met up with my friend Elaine, who I met the last time I was in Beijing. Her office just happens to be three bus stops away from CAAS! It was great to see her again and talk about her life in the work world of China. She got married last year and has already planned to have her child in 2010; the year of the tiger. I look forward to hanging out with her again. We will maybe go shopping or to her house for dinner so I can meet her husband.
Then group of us then went on a wild taxi adventure to the craziest shopping center you could imagine. There are 4 stories of every knock off you could ever want. Chinese workers yell at you to buy things and even grab your arm. You bargain with them to lower the price. Once they give you a price you start 50-80% lower and bargain from there. Everyone was really happy with what they got for so little money!
Tuesday was the big match: OSU vs. CAAS in basketball. We actually played against their schools competition team! They lent us jersey tops to match their uniforms! There is one guy in our group that is pretty good at basketball and the rest of us were honestly a mess! Girls don’t usually play basketball and the guys were really surprised to see us out there; some were scared to guard us so we got some good shots in and a huge applause from the large crowd watching! It was a fun and competitive game. We ended up losing by 2 points…but I’m all up for a rematch!
Today after our long morning class, we had time with the Chinese students. They did a presentation about China and then we played a game. We would pass around this toy (like hot potato) and if it landed on you, you had to do some sort of act. Some of the guys talked about sports or told stories. The CAAS students would always giggle nervously…they were really funny! Some of them danced or sang serious songs! I did the can-opener (a dance move)! One of the guys came up to me afterwards and said that I had a really good Kung fu move…I tried to explain it was a dance move, but gave up with the language barrier and accepted the compliment!
Everything is great here in China…I’m getting well adjusted and it’s starting to feel more like my home for the next month. I really do feel like I’m at the center of the world with all that is going on in China. These people are truly expecting great things. Not only with the Olympics, but every sphere of society seems to be running at a sprinting pace to catch up with the few countries ahead of them in GDP.
Join me in praying for a chrch and a community of people to share my faith and life with. Although I have a lot of fun friends, I desire so much more to grow lasting and meaningful friendships.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
I am so blessed in China to have amazing friends and family like you in the States. I feel like you are all literally holding me up every step of the way. There aren’t words to describe how much each silly voicemail or message means to me. Some have called just to pray for me or share a verse. What a wonderful family I am a part of. I hope I never take this for granted.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
So, I’m not in America. Every once in a while that becomes incredible clear how different China is. The culture is very rich, I very much desire to better understand the daily life of the Chinese people.
Yesterday we sat in class for 3 hours. That wasn’t so bad, but I cannot explain how uncomfortable the chairs are. I must change positions every minute and I have yet to find a comfortable position. There is NO chance of sleeping in class like those nice lecture halls with cushy seats!
The classes are really interesting. Our professors speak English fairly well and used Power Points. We learn about culture, history, rural development, and agriculture. I do spend a good portion of some of the classes having no idea what is going on and day dreaming about where to go next in Beijing.
The cafeteria is no Kennedy Commons. Let me tell you East/West has got it all wrong! The Chinese don’t really eat rice except on the side. It often comes at the end of the meal and there is little mixture of the meat and sauce with it. The cafeteria was so intimidating…the food kind of gross, but I enjoyed eating as the students do. I made friends with Jackie and he some how misunderstood something I was saying to mean that I wanted coffee. He insisted on taking me to Starbucks, so I went with him enjoying the opportunity to get away from the Americans for a bit and soak up the Chinese life. The drinks are the same price as the States: meaning the equivalent of two to three meals here!
And let me tell you the dorms were a little shocking. On our way back we ran into two of his friends and one insisted on giving me a drawing. So these two girls, Jackie and I went and hung out in her room. There are four loft beds in a room with no mattresses- they sleep on a mat and plywood! We had a very enjoyable chat and laughed a lot. They don’t believe in any Higher Being. I could tell this wasn’t a usual topic of conversation. One girl asked if I feel really bad doing wrong things because of Papa. I got the amazing opportunity to share about love and forgiveness. They responded that this ‘hero Friend’ I talk about is very kind! Jackie said there is one guy in his dorm that believes. I hope to meet him!
Can you picture your entire Middle and High school doing Tai Chi twice a day? I loved our visit to Beijing Beyi High School; it was very impressive. The students were all smiles as we walked around the campus. This is one of the best schools in Beijing. It has it’s own museum and stuffed giraffe…seriously; they have the largest taxonomy exhibit of animals I have ever seen including a giraffe!
We then went in a large lecture hall and were bombarded with students eager to practice their English with native speakers! Some of the students’ first questions were: where can I go to medical school, what do I need on my SAT, and how much do you study? My heart broke as I saw the tremendous amount of pressure these children are put under; and they know it, and they know we don’t study near as much as them. The 15-year-old girl I talked to was clearly head of the class, she was the first one in with a notebook and spoke wonderfully. I think she was surprised to hear me say at the end of the conversation that she is loved regardless of how she does in school. Most of these students don’t believe in anything more either. She is my special friend. There were also many silly questions by the students about UFOs, ghosts, and every Hollywood movie and TV show!
I’m feeling a little sick after an amazing Olympic bus tour…I’ll post those pictures. I’m eating the comfort food of oatmeal and peanut butter. The PB has little crunchies in it…I was so confused at first!
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
After one of the guys in the group randomly showed us some self-defense moves, the students gave us Chinese names. I was named Li Yue – which somehow means happy! Sometime later in the program we have to do some performances for the Chinese students and host an entertainment time. I’m so ready to bust out some dance moves! One of the guys and I might also perform a special variation of ‘milk & cereal’ by g love and special sauce. Although now that I think of it, they don’t really know what cereal is. I got a box this morning and ate it with warm milk from a bag…yeah, and I thought what they ate for breakfast was weird.
They love the Backstreet Boys…I’ve heard the ‘Backstreets Back’ song twice blaring in public and after one of our students said his name was Nick, a Chinese student got excited and said, “like the famous singer…Nick Carter!”
I’m having a little trouble ordering food, but Selina has been working with me on some phrases. Pointing can only take you so far. Today our waiter for lunch was so sweet…he didn’t speak any English, but by the end of the meal he had memorized a phrase. He said, “you are my best friends”. Oh and at that my heart melted, I love these people!
I titled this ‘smogtastic’ because Mike coined that term tonight as we tried to take pictures and the smog was overwhelming. You really can see it and feel your lungs taking it in! Those poor Olympic athletes, I can see why they are complaining!
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
I’m adjusting pretty well but am ready for a nap! Our dorm is secretly a really nice hotel. It is kind of like if I stayed at the Blackwell at Ohio State—I can’t believe it!
We’ve walked around a bit and I really like campus and the surrounding area. As we were looking touristy and taking pictures of everything, including the grocery store, I vowed never again to make fun of the Asians I see taking a billion pictures at places like Easton! I made friends with one of the grad students, Selina. I think it was her first time going by her English name because she never remembered to respond to it! I hope we become good friends.
The other students in the program are really easy going—I think we’ll get along just fine. Hopefully we will all have a little more personality once the jet lag wears off.
We spent most of the day hanging around the dorm getting to know each other and sleeping. A few girls and I ventured off to the grocery store. I couldn’t do more Chinese food after my very interesting breakfast of a pancake filled with seaweed, noodles, egg, and who knows what and my spicy tofu lunch. I did well with the few Chinese statements I know: Wo bu tzi ro (I don’t eat meat)! I got some oatmeal and peanut butter to hold me over until tomorrow.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
I’m sitting here at the Columbus airport looking towards a really long flight and a long trip. I’m pretty excited for this trip! It honestly just feels like the right thing. My nerves are calm. Papa has led me on this journey to China from day one. I never really though twice about going on the trip until after I was accepted!
I’ve never really been alone, never really been the new kid. I feel like this is a chance of a lifetime to discover more of who I am. I know parts of this trip will be hard, but I like to go into things thinking about what it will be like to look back on. When I back I think this will be a pivotal time in my life. I’m soon to graduate college and the world is in front of me.
I also want to go to China to find Papa. I feel like I have something to learn here, that I just couldn’t get in America. I am excited to see the passion of the Chinese people and hope to have opportunities to worship and pray with them. Pulled away from my comfort zone will be the best thing for me; to lean on Papa alone.
June 16- July 25: Bejing: The first six weeks are pretty organized through Ohio State. I’m taking 15 credit hours and have regular day trips. We also take a trip to inner Mongolia.
July 25- early August: I don’t know. I would love to meet up with a team doing earthquake relief around Chengdu, but there is some complication with dates and training. I also hope to visit Hong Kong for a bit before flying to Taiwan.
Early August- August 20: I’m meeting up with some friends doing mssion work in Taiwan. It will be great to be with these brothers and sisters serving and traveling.
My friends seem to think I'll fit pretty well in China. I have Asian hair and like Asian Chrstan rappers :) Many like to joke that I will find my soul mate and never come back. Over the past couple months I've picked up a few nicknames including Pasian! I look forward to the many embarrassing and hilarious stories that will fill this blog. Each of you are so dear to me; I am truly blessed in Ohio. There are a lot of people that are loved and will be missed!
prayer requests: *safe travel *getting adjusted *finding a place to get away for quiet times when I'm on campus *sharing my life and faith with my OSU group and the Chinese students
And so...the Adventures of Paige (or Pei-ji; my Asian alter-ego) begin!
p.s. I’ve never written a blog before, so I don’t really know what to say. Please write comments and leave questions for me to answer. This is going to be quite the adventure. I don’t know what I can and cannot say on this blog, so if I use code words hopefully you’ll understand.
***special shout out to those crazy friends that saw me off at the airport: I feel so loved :)