Monday, September 26, 2011

Photo attempt

I can't get photos to load on wordpress or photobucket, even when using a proxy, so here we go blogspot. Here's my last try at finding somewhere to upload photos! Please work. This should be a picture from Lance's birthday with several of his students and us.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Monday, June 27, 2011

Blogger won't work

in China.

So unfortunately we'll have to say goodbye in August for a whole year! Luckily I figured this out now, though, because I've spent the whole day researching other blog sites and have settled on wordpress, which happens to not be blocked (at least right now!) in China. So when I say "we'll" be saying goodbye, I of course mean just me and this blog. Not me and you. You can still read about our adventures at

Bear with me as I figure out wordpress, OK.

Other sites I learned are blocked:
Wikipedia, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook (knew that), Google Docs, Flickr (off and on) and Hotmail.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Lesson plans!

Lance and I learned about China Horizons in a round about way, and my dear friend Alisa Heintz who introduced us to the program has proved helpful ever since!
To be honest, we met in kind of a weird way. As members of the LDS church, women are assigned a few other women in the ward to visit and share a message with once a month, and just check up on and be friends with. It sounds kind of like an odd set-up, but it's actually genius, especially when you are new in the ward! It's like you are automatically assigned friends! And it doesn't have to be as cookie-cutter as it sounds, but it instead gives you an excuse to get to know someone you might not have otherwise.
Anyway, tangent. Out of the blue we had "assignment switch-ups" and on my first visit to Alisa's house she randomly tells me about "this one time she taught English in China." Hello! What a blessing! That's exactly what Lance and I were looking into at the time, but had already been shot down through another program.
After our visit, I went home, excitedly told Lance about it, we did some research, applied, were accepted and felt amazing about our decision!
Since then--- I have asked Alisa tons of questions about life in China, what to expect, what to pack, what not to eat. She very graciously lent me her lesson plan book and I have spent an hour or so reading it and making a lesson book of my own!

Can you even read those? The left one is Alisa's book and it's on the page of a lesson plan about holidays! Mine is on the right and it's about learning vocabulary about being lost in a jungle! More about these below.

Here are a few of her ideas that I may or may not have converted to be my own:
Lost in the jungle: students must imagine they are lost in the jungle and give me a list (orally) that I'll write on the board of what supplies they should bring. I will fill in the blanks. Then in groups of three, students must discuss which five items from the list they think would be most important to survive and share and discuss with the class.
American holidays: Alisa discussed the American holidays in one or two class periods and just told a little bit about the traditions and cultures of what we do for say Valentine's Day (wear red and pink, give hearts and valentines, flowers etc) or for Easter have a bunny deliver candy and search for Easter eggs. Which by the way, they get a kick out of, because how ridiculous is that haha. But I was thinking I could do or I could celebrate American holidays as they happen in the school year, like come to class wearing green on St. Patty's Day and do a little St. Patrick's activity or whatever. Then I could have students break into groups and over the next few days do presentations of their favorite holidays-- the origins, traditions and why (American or Chinese).

Collectively, we had plenty of ideas. Like word games such as Hangman, game shows, Pictionary and Taboo, Boogle, Scattegories, Picture Picture, Scrabble, Do you love your neighbor etc. anything to get the students talking in English! I also have other more serious plans, such as learning about job interviews and the vocabulary that comes with that, and travel and other useful English words/situations. It's a little intimidating to think I'll be a teacher in a few months, but during orientation (the first few days we're there) our director will give us teaching materials, as well as the school has a text book we can use. Also, we Skyped with the current teachers in Xinxiang a few days ago and they said we could borrow some of the materials/lesson plans they have because they have about 10 years worth of it! Nice!

What do you guys think? Any teachers, mothers, wise and creative people, or those who have lived or traveled foreign have any suggestions for me?

p.s. I know you guys have to be as excited as I am, so in case you are, here's a blog of a couple who is teaching in China right now that I definitely stalk on a regular basis:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

movies we've been watching

So Lance and I watch a lot of movies. Well, relatively. We have some friends who watch at least a movie a day, usually more, so not compared to them. Anyway, here are a few we've seen lately and enjoyed. I actually really like "Tron." It was cheesy in the expected way, but quite entertaining. And different, we liked the whole "grid" aspect. But I wish the dad could have came back to real life instead of dying (like how Harry Potter killed Voldemort and he still lived!!)

The reason I am even doing this post is because we saw "The King's Speech" last night and I loved it. Lance gave it a B!! Which is a really high grade for him (when it comes to movies) but I was so surprised, it was definitely an A. The only A Lance has ever given is the movie below:) Anyway, I cried during several parts of it. I don't know what it was about it, but it seemed so raw to me. The emotions were so .. there .. without it being dramatic or forced. And it's based on a true story. It was almost painful to watch. But very rewarding, I'd suggest it to anyone. Plus, did you know though it was rated R (so it would get all sorts of awards) but then in select theaters they edited and changed it to be rated PG-13 so the rest of the world would watch it? I read about it in the paper, since I read newspapers and all. It does cuss in a few parts which is really annoying, and that's probably what they edited out to change it from R to PG13, though. So I wouldn't suggest it for your kids.

Lance's only A movie! We've seen it twice in the theaters, and Lance keeps asking me if we can buy it, which is a first for him! He never wants to buy ANYTHING! "True Grit" was delightfully surprising and funny. I soo didn't expect it to be funny, and it so was. Love Jeff Bridges in this character. Lance says he loved it so much because Bridges reminded him of my Dad! Especially the mumbling! And talking and telling stories even though no one is really paying attention:) And the dry humor. Anyway, we liked it. It was nice because if feels like all movies are the same these days (like when "Inception" came out, did you feel like a lot of other "inceptions" came out? Like "The Adjustment Bureau"?) so a Western was cool since we don't see westerns often!

Anyone seen any good movies lately? I haven't seen a good chick flick in AGES.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Destination: Xinxiang

We quite possibly know where we'll be living and teaching in China!! I say possibly because our director is still fine tuning the details, and until he says everything is for sure I don't want to jump the gun.
But we're pretty excited. The whole Hefei and Zibo ordeal was quite stressful and though we said no to Hefei, I didn't want to have to go through that stress again. Xinxiang just feels right, and it has a WAY sweeter name. (I'll keep it short and simple, we looked into teaching at other schools and though they were great, something didn't feel right about them. Especially the apartment conditions, which the director warned us about. After seeing moldy rooms and hearing not so pleasant things from foreign teachers who were currently at those schools, we decided to pass).
OK, so the details. We'll be teaching in the Henan Institute of Science and Technology in Xinxiang, in the Henan Province in China.
This school looks legit (pics below) and I'm loving how well-rounded all the amenities are. The location of the city isn't quite as >amazing< as Hefei (supposedly, because I've like never been there?) but it is in the south western area of China, about 6-7 hours south of Beijing (all calculations based on public transportation), 11-13 hours to Shanghai and about 23-24 hours (a whole DAY!) to Hong Kong. But that's all pretty good. Of course there are huge cities everywhere, Xinxiang has a population of 5.5 million, but those are three cities we really want to visit. Mostly because we've heard of them? Haha there is so much of China no one has ever heard of, even though the cities are enormous and wonderful. But Shanghai has some of the sweetest photos and the LDS temple is in Hong Kong, so I'm sure we'll make at least one trip to both in the year we're there.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures of the university we'll be teaching at that our director sent us.

Here's what we know about the university, city, and apartment:

1. Name of school: Henan Institute of Science and Technology
2. Location (Province, City): Henan, Xinxiang
3. Population: 5.5 million
4. Number of students in school: 33,000
5. Number of students in each class: 30-60
6. Number of foreign teachers the school employs: 5
7. Amenities the apartment includes: kitchen, computer, Internet, phone, TV, furnishing, private bathroom, western toilet
(OK we know much more but I'm not going to type the whole list)

This is a picture of one of the apartment's living room in the complex we'll be living at.

How all of this info makes me feel: I'm super excited the school has a manual for us to use but also let's us create our own lessons. And I'm glad they have a copy machine for us to use, because this means they quite possibly have other supplies for us to use. Also- a gym and pool! Sweet!
Also, I hope we get a two bedroom apartment! Just in case anyone ever comes to visit (Am I dreaming here?) The only thing missing from the list is a washing machine, which I'm hoping the apartment has? And a DVD player, but we can easily buy one of those. Is it weird we consider a DVD player a necessity?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Sooo... Lance and I are moving to China! We'll be teaching English for a year -- not sure in what city yet, still working on those details -- through a program called China Horizons. (Click here to learn more) We will teach at a school (possibly a university) and be given an apartment on campus rent free to stay in while we are there. Since we are college grads we'll be paid (opposed to being just a volunteer) and the school will reimburse our flights -- which is sweet, because we dropped $2,000 on those tickets.
We don't need to know Chinese/Mandarin to teach because most of the students have been studying English throughout most of their schooling and will be able to communicate with us. We'll be there to help them with conversation skills, to teach about the American culture and things that don't translate very well in English language books taught by Chinese teachers (expressions like "I'm so hungry I could eat a horse").
We leave mid-August and it's on my mind most of the day. I'm always thinking about what it'll be like, what I should pack, what won't be there that I take for granted here, the crazy places we'll see. Our main form of communication with you (America) will be through the Internet, so we plan to email and blog often as well as use Skype calling with family. We can get cell phones over there for cheap, but not sure yet if we will or not and that would generally be for emergencies or calling other teachers in the program.
So I'm excited, but kind of nervous too, when I think about the everyday things I take for granted. Like living in America? ha that pretty much sums it up. Clean water. Nice apartment. Free government. Close to family. Freedom of speech and religion. A car and cellphone. haha but it'll be good for us, especially me. I feel like I've had a lot of learning experiences thus far in life, but I think it'd be good for me to leave my comfort zone and experience the world. I think traveling is a great way to learn about other cultures and people, but actually living somewhere does that and will teach me a lot about myself, I'm sure. And about compassion. Before we were married we planned on doing something like this, and this past year everything fell into place as we researched programs and planned it. We think it'll good life experience before life starts -- grad school, careers, babies.. and it's something we'll probably never have the opportunity to do again.
So China.. here we come.