Saturday, April 25, 2009

The North Face 100

Over the weekend, I went with eight other teachers from International English and Cultural Studies and two students from Langfang Teachers College to Changping, China--a district of Beijing-- to run the 10 K race as part of a series sponsored by North Face. The race itself was fascinating and challenging for all involved (most of us were running our first race at this distance), but my favorite part of the weekend was being able to be with each other in such a picturesque setting and being able to build community with them, as we live so far away from one another and rarely get to see each other outside of large-group gatherings. We ran the race around the same resevoir where the 2008 Olympic triatholon was held.

I ran the entire race without anyone I knew near me. I had a pace in mind, but (as with many things) it was hard to continue motivating myself to push forward. The most fun I had during the race itself was running by other runners who seemed to be struggling and yelling, "Jia you peng you!" which means, "Come on, friend!" in Chinese. I don't know if doing this was a sincere encouragement to some people walking on the side of the course, but I know that I would be reinspired should someone have done this to me in the reverse circumstances. All in all, everyone ended up meeting their goals. I finished with a time of 56:30.

After dinner the night before the race

Me standing on top of the resevoir

Left: Stretching together before the race; Right: Race faces before the Start!

The Starting line

Wil Corder, Wan Li (student from Langfang, China), and I after the race

Friday, April 17, 2009

Baseball, Catch the Fever!

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to play a pair of baseball games with the Hebei Tigers, a group of rag-tag students from Hebei University in Baoding, China. We played two games total. I got to play catcher and made two errors, but also picked a guy off third base...check out these photos!

The Hebei Tigers vs. The Hebei College of Agriculture

Warming up for the game

on deck to hit

Me not swinging at a pitch


With the team after the game

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Dear friends,

Our first English Night three weeks ago was a spectacular success, with over 200 students coming out to see their English teachers, perform English songs and silly skits, and hear a lecture that I gave at the end. Too bad we couldn't relive it all again!

Or could we?

Because the five of us are the only teachers in Baoding, China currently, our team is forced to stretch between two different campuses (Hebei COllege of Finance and Hebei University) and last Tuesday, March 30th, we got to do it all again!

Front: Robert, a student at Hebei Financial College. Left to Right: Jon, Amelia, Tim, Emily, Cameron, Ryan at English Night.

We entered the room about an hour before show time, expecting to have to do a little bit of set-up and practice, but instead we walked in on a pile of cords and a large speaker, but no projector for the musical slides to be found. Frantically, we searched for ways to pull off our English Night without the proper equipment--it's truly a merciful thing that we are not allowed to do these types of things without appealing to the true source of our help.
"He easily could have let us go through this arrogantly, knowing that we'd already done the whole thing once," Jon and I later surmised. He didn't--he forced us to ask for peace that logistical matters would work out--and, if they didn't, that we'd quickly find that late-night copies aren't too expensive, after all. Either way, trust is just as necessary on this microcosmic scale.
Things did work out: we got our projector and held the English Night. For the lecture itself, I had the great privilege of talking to the and teachers present about "Love in action" (see attached Power Point slide for the lecture slides). What impressed me the most about the presentation was how much the students responded to a story that I shared with them about a time when I was in Colorado, working for a camp there for part of the Summer and had the chance to work with disabled students who were visiting for a week.
"The truths I was saying just kept becoming more vivid and real as I talked," I said later to my team, "like He was revealing them to me even as I taught them to everyone listening."
We talked later about how amazing it is to have two rooms on two different nights where students are hearing important and life-giving words spoken from people who really care about them, instead of learning about some of the other sources of English learning they have, like 'Prison Break' re-runs and magazine articles teaching them to "Beware of Advertisements!"
Our friend, Cameron, helped us with technical equipment and afterward, Jon thanked him.
"Ahh, I'm just an assistant."
"Well," I said to him, "so are we."