China, schools, The China Chapter, travel

How We Do Summer

I appreciate the emails and Facebook messages goading me to post, post, post. So finally, with a bit of downtime, I’ll oblige.

May and June were a whirlwind of activity as we wrapped up the end of the school year. So many teachers were moving and we were expecting so many new incoming teachers that much time was spent helping friends pack, working with our school community to host our annual yard sale, and answering questions that new hires (still not in China) had about life in Chengdu.

The last day of school descended upon us in a rush of graduations and spring performances. Then…summer silence.

I was only here a few days after school got out, making sure the office was set for the summer and that some classrooms were moved to new locations, before I flew stateside.

After boarding the plane in Chengdu, it was a quick 29 hours (Quick? Ha!) later that I was at my parents’ house. I think the best part of the flight—save, of course, flying business—was having Amber, a preschool teacher, on my flight. We meandered the SFO airport together for a while before heading our separate ways.

Back in Fredericksburg, I spent about a week hanging out with family and seeing friends before my brother Sean and I headed to Knoxville, Tennessee. There, we got a chance to see family, eat at a pub our great-great-great grandfather used to bartend at, and listen to music written and recorded by our great-great-great uncle. It was a pretty fun way to kick off the non-jet-lagged portion of the summer.

After nearly a week in Knoxville, we drove back to Virginia in time for the fourth of July…although I definitely slept through any and all fireworks this year, I did get to see my other brothers and even had the honor of being one of those who got to help Colin strip wallpaper in his new house. Oh the glory of it all!

For about a week and a half, I floated around my parents’ pool in an inner tube swam, played with Scout (Meghan’s adorable kitten), did way more shopping than I should have, and spent time with friends catching up over breakfast or walking around downtown.

Then it was west coast time. Just like last year, I flew to Seattle for a QSI conference. I’ve been so caught up with email and data at this school that this post is triggering memories of things I need to look at that we worked on in Seattle…add that to the list of things to do this week!

This year, there were a lot of Chengdu (or former Chengdu) teachers in Seattle at the same time. Seven of us were directly involved in meetings, while 3 came to be with spouses or nearby family. All-in-all, it was treat to see everyone before we again went our separate ways—spreading ourselves all over the earth, from East Asia to South America.

After Seattle, I came home for literally one day to repack and take a test. Then it was Iceland time.

I spent about a week in Iceland…and it was magical. I don’t remember ever being in a country where I felt so emotional about the beauty of it all. From the hump-back whales and pods of dolphins to the spitting geysers and glacial waterfalls, the immensity of the landscape was overpowering. One day, I rented a car to drive down from Reykjavik to Vik and had to pull over multiple times—often to take pictures, sometimes just to wipe the tears that formed from falling so overwhelmingly in love with the country and feeling so small in comparison.

After a soul-reviving trip, I flew back to Fredericksburg. I was so tempted to…whoops…miss my flight from Iceland, but my great-aunt was coming to visit, so to Virginia I returned.

The last week of vacation was spent, again, with family. I learned about Escape the Room box games, played a few, and spent too much time putting together Legos, which….is just fun no matter what your age. I’m just waiting for the company to release a “Chengdu skyline” set.

Before July was even over, it was time to head back to Chengdu. I arrived on a Sunday night—later than expected, due to mechanical problems in San Francisco—and had to report to work on Monday. The first week back was full of work, but a little lonely. Not many people were around—and everyone here had families to go home to at night. After about a week of watching way too much Game of Thrones at night, new teachers all started to arrive. Kurt, James, and I took turns meeting them at the airport and taking them to their apartments.

And then…it was orientation time. During new teacher orientation, returning teachers started trickling in. Before the whole staff orientation, we held a barbeque at the school so new and old teachers could mix and mingle.

Since then, we’ve been up and running. We’ve had kinks to work out—a smaller recess space, a new lunch system, but the new teachers are all very positive and energetic. I really enjoy having them all here and can tell it’s going to be a good year! It’s always a shift when old teachers—especially ones you’ve known for years!—leave, but I convince myself that, hey, now I just have many more countries in the world that have a built in tour guide for me.

So the official first day of school was 17th and for the past 10 days—minus two days when I was knocked down by strep—it’s been work hard during the week, cut loose on the weekends. One of the highlights of my year thus far was getting Lucy—who has been here for 5 years—to go to the Jellyfish (a stupid, loud, obnoxious, can-actually-be-really-fun night club) for the first time ever last night. I thank her niece for helping me chart that victory!

Okay, it is time for dinner, maybe a phone call to the states, then most assuredly, bed. ❤

China, schools, teaching, The China Chapter

作业现场 – The Job Site

I must have watched this video about a dozen times after I was hired.  Having taught here over a year now, I think it’s interesting how the school has physically changed so much and, in terms of staff, transitioned so much as well.  But, when all is said and done, this is definitely still the school I work at…

China, schools, teaching, The China Chapter

China Schools

I can’t believe my first year teaching in China is over!  I flew to Hong Kong over the weekend, saw some boat races and International Yoga Day being…”celebrated.”  Now I’m spending my last few days in Chengdu cleaning my apartment, hanging out with friends, and packing for a summer in the states.  I’ll be in the US for 6 weeks, primarily hanging on the east coast, before flying back here for year two in China.  Next year, I’m moving up to teach 3rd grade with my same kiddos (well, the ones who will be here) and same para-pro.  Otherwise, next school year will be so vastly different!  Out of 11 elementary school teachers, only 3 of us are returning.  I’m a tad overwhelmed with everything that has to be done!

But, it’s not time to think that far ahead.  Time to pay homage to this year…and what better way to do that then compare China and US schools?  (Also, to be noted, my school is much more like a US school than a Chinese one…)