Angels watching over us

1 visitors Tuesday, April 29
I'm not sure if this made American news, but a Chinese train jumped its tracks today in Shandong Province, colliding with an oncoming train and killing 70 people. This was the train that I was on with three other girls just this past weekend from Beijing to Qingdao. Father is our protector.
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0 visitors Monday, April 28
There is a big demand for new teachers next year - 23 at the minimum with a max of 45. It is the last year for so many people who have been here for 2-4 years which creates a huge need for next year. Unfortunately there aren't enough applicants at this point to meet the minimum.

The ERAP program at Cedarville currently supplies teachers to four schools: Renmin University, Ren Da Fu Zhong (high school affiliated to the University), Fen Xiao Ren Da Fu Zhong (branch school of the high school), and Shi Yi middle school. If enough teachers aren't found very soon, there will not be ERAP foreign teachers next year at the Branch School and those teachers will move to the main campus to fulfill the minimum need. This means that those teachers have to start all over again in their class preparations and building relationships with students in a new place. We of course do not want to see this happen, so will you join us in our thoughts for more teachers? We want to see the program's influence expand beyond the number of teachers this year.
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Dr. Dixon weekend

0 visitors Saturday, April 26
Dr. Dixon was the President of Cedarville University for twenty-five years before Dr. Brown took over in 2003. He's still involved with CU as the Chancellor of the University. Dr. and Mrs. Dixon are touring China with a group of people from their home in Naples, Florida and invited all thirty-three of us ERAPers to dine with them at the China World Trade Center on Saturday night. This was the nicest place I've set foot in in China, and also the ritziest hotel and restaurant I've ever been in. It was definitely a change in surroundings from what I've been used to in the last eight months! It was a fun night of good food, fancy clothes, and interesting people. For several hours I forgot I was in China.

A couple sitting across from me wasn't shy in sharing that they make more money in investments each month than he earns as a tenured finance professor at UCLA all year. Most of Dr. Dixon's guests were extremely well-off and their impressions of China were interesting. My guess is that most of the tourists in Beijing for the Olympics will have similar impressions of China after staying in a 5-star hotel, eating Westernized Chinese food, and shopping in Chaoyang District (which has most of the foreigners). In any case, we all shared the same beliefs in one who is greater than us and it was a nice evening. I even got to network a little bit and met the head of HR at U.S. Steel in Pittsburgh.
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'One World One Dream'

0 visitors Friday, April 25
'One World One Dream' is the 2008 Beijing Olympics slogan and it's plastered all over the city. You're lucky if you can take a picture at the Great Wall without the ginormous and tacky 'One World One Dream' obscuring the beautiful view. Most everyone around here unquestioningly believes in world peace, except for maybe the Cedarville foreign teachers. To us, the slogan is good fodder for jokes.

For all of us girls here, being white and having not-black hair and eyes attracts a lot of attention from Chinese men. Staring is not impolite in Chinese culture, and we've dubbed these unabashed gazers 'UCM's,' or 'Unidentified Chinese Males.' During our students' Chinese midterms this week several teachers took a girls' trip to Qingdao, which is north of Shanghai on the Yellow Sea. Traveling back to Beijing by train, we had several humorous experiences with UMC's. After introducing himself - thus no longer a UCM - and striking up a conversation, our new friend Alan (a big NBA fan), commented on our 'unusual' friendliness:

" You say 'hi' to many people.
So good.
'One World, One Dream!!' "

Anna, Melanie, Katie and I about died laughing because after making fun of it for 8+ months, the joke was finally on us.
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1 visitors Saturday, April 12
China unblocked a lot of websites this week in response to the Olympic Committee and a lot of international criticism, which is why I'm able to post this right now! My favorite of all is Wikipedia!
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Something to be thinking about

0 visitors Thursday, April 10
My team leader at my school married a Chinese teacher this past summer, and they are trying to arrange for her to be able to travel home to the States with him this July for ERAP training. She was denied a tourist visa by the U.S. embassy three times last summer for failure to prove that she would definitely return to China, even though she submitted bank records and a school contract. They are in the process of re-applying for a visa now that they are married. Remember Mary and Joel in your thoughts because she'd really like to be able to visit Joel's family and hometown.
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0 visitors Friday, April 4
Reading through my Insider's Guide to Beijing, a feature on the Underground City caught my eye one Saturday. Anna and I decided to abandon our lesson planning and grading for the day and we set out to find it. We weren't able to find it on our first try, but we did find this Catholic Church, built during the Qing Dynasty.

China opened the City to foreigners in 2001, but I haven't talked to a Chinese person yet who's heard of it. That made it very difficult to find because no one knew what we were asking about! The first try was unsuccessful, but we did get to wander about Beijing and Tienanmen on a pretty day.

Second try: Qing Ming. We made our second attempt today two weeks later, but this time we brought Andy (a teacher at Renmin University) and Mark with us... and found it! If you didn't know it was there, you would never find it. After walking through hutongs and wondering if we were desperately lost, we entered through what looked like a storefront and descended through tunnels similar to the subway. Here we are, elated to find it at last:

Built during the Cold War and Sino-Soviet conflict in the 50's and 60's, the Underground City is 85 square kilometers. It has passages to the Western Hills and Tianjin and could accommodate 40% of the city's population in case of Soviet nuclear attack. Before it fell into disuse in the 70's, it had cinemas, hospitals, and libraries. There was also a silk factory, mushroom harvesting, and an underground chicken farm.

We took some students from China's Xinjiang Province out for their first T.G.I. Friday's experience later this evening.

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April Fools in the news

0 visitors Wednesday, April 2
Some notable internet pranks:

Gmail Custom Time

Send e-mail from the past and never be late again!

"I just got two tickets to Radiohead by being the 'first' to respond to a co-worker's 'first-come, first-serve' email. Someone else had already won them, but I told everyone to check their inboxes again. Everyone sort of knows I used Custom Time on this one, but I'm denying it." -- Robby S., Paralegal

Virgle: The adventure of many lifetimes

Google and Virgin Group collaborate to launch the first permanent human colony on Mars. Take the questionnaire to see if you qualify to be a Virgle pioneer.

Apple logo can make you "think different"

"Whether you are a Mac person or a PC person, even the briefest exposure to the Apple logo may make you behave more creatively, according to recent research from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business and the University of Waterloo, Canada."

Stretching Sarkozy

Doctors will stretch French President Sarkozy to 5'10" to shape up next to his wife.

Mile-High tower in Saudi Arabia

This one, however, does not look to be a farce.

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Just kidding

0 visitors Tuesday, April 1
April Fool's Day: "A notable day marked by the commission of hoaxes and other practical jokes of varying sophistication on friends, enemies and neighbors, or sending them on fools' errands, the aim of which is to embarrass the gullible."

The foreign teachers are taking advantage of this unofficial holiday! Loren will be inviting his students to witness his marriage to a Chinese colleague on Saturday, Melanie is giving her kids a fake exam instead of a promised movie, Anna went to class wearing a wedding band, and I will be having some exam fun with my two classes this afternoon.

We're having a real exam today over historiography, early civilizations, ancient Greece, and the Roman Empire, but the top of the exam reads "Read all of the directions before you begin your exam." If they follow directions, they'll find this message at the bottom of the fourth page: "If you followed my directions and read the entire exam before writing on the test, you have a choice. You may bring Miss Hull your unfinished exam and accept a grade of 88% or you may choose to take the exam in hopes of a better grade. Happy April Fool's Day! :-)"

Can you pass my 10th grade history exam?

Which Roman emperor built many roads?

Which Greek discovered the famous triangle formula?

Which civilization developed along the Indus River?

Discuss the changes Constantine brought to the Roman Empire.

Which is a more ideal government: Sparta or Athens? Why?

In other news, the weather has reverted back to winter and we've been wishing the radiators were still on. There is a heat line in China - if you live above it, you have heat. If you don't, buy lots of blankets and long underwear! The government turns everyone's heat on around November 15 and it goes off around March 15, no matter how hot or cold it might be. Brrr! Beijing also had a sand storm last week!
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