B’s school field trip

Most international schools in China got the Friday before May Day off. Our school limits all weekends to three days, requiring us to work on Sunday if we would have ended up somehow with a four-day weekend. So instead of giving us the day off, they made us take a field trip to a park or cultural site. So the same amount of learning happened (zero), but they got to feel like we were still under their control. Nice.
Anyway, we were given three choices: a section of the Great Wall, a bird sanctuary, or the local steel mill. About 90% of the students selected the Great Wall or the bird sanctuary. About 80% of the Western teachers selected the steel mill. Why? Because the published ending time was 2 PM (the other options weren’t supposed to return to school until 6:30), and when you factor in the terrible traffic that should be expected but is never allowed for (because doing so would be insulting to the nation’s transportation planners, I guess?), we Westerners were going to get our weekend started about five or six hours earlier than those kids. I took this picture during the five minutes that we were actually inside the steel mill. It’s no longer functioning; the hard hat was in case it collapsed on us.

This sign reads, “Don’t spit for the sake of your health.” While I disagree that spitting makes ME unhealthy, and I find laughable the idea that this sign will have any effect at all on a nation of champion loogie hockers, it makes me happy that at least one Chinese person is trying to address the problem.

This is Yongding Tower. We were supposed to mill around it for the last hour of the field trip. Instead, I went to lunch down the road with two colleagues. (“You culturally-insensitive jackal!” Relax, it was built in 2012. Anno Domini.) Beijing’s “crack-down” on indoor smoking was honored by a table of five gentlemen who chain-smoked throughout their meal. Our final bill included a dish we ordered but they never brought to us. When we asked them to remove the charge, they offered to make it real fast. We declined. They got surly.

A Tour of B’s campus through the kids’ eyes

It was warmish the other day and the air was clean so I sent the kids on a walk around campus (a lot of times, the field/courts are packed with students until dark).  Is sent PS with my old phone to take pictures on their walk which kept them all happy.  Here’s what they brought home:

Random Pictures

Picture 1: Escalator warning pictures inside an elevator on B’s campus.
Picture 2: the Christmas tree in B’s building.
Picture 3: Apparently, the students didn’t really get dressing-up for Halloween but it turns out they dress-up for New Year’s. And the majority of the costumes are military with realistic guns.
Picture 4: The group of students B mentors were supposed to pick out a costume for him.  He showed up at work the day of the carnival and his costume was this pink wig.  Visitors from other Chinese schools lined up to have their pictures taken with him.  The teachers/staff of the other schools.
Picture 5: The school had a carnival for their New Year’s celebration.  There were some fun rides set up on the field but it was super frigid that day and each ride had a long long line so we skipped it.
Picture 6: For some reason, a lot of shrubs/bushes had these wooden frames built around them for the winter and then were covered with tarp.
Picture 7: B and I took Buddy with us on a trip to Sam’s Club so he can be my GPS/navigator on future trips.  We found this giant stuffed dog.

School Christmas Party

For the first year, B’s school had a Christmas party for the international department teachers (and their families).  It was really nice.  We all got dressed up, everyone complimented the kids on how nice they looked and how well behaved they were.  The kids stuck around for the appetizers, dinner and some of the Christmas caroling before they declared boredom and requested we let them go home.  And since we were traveling over Christmas, this Friday night (Dec. 19) was our Christmas Eve (we’d done all our Christmas Eve stuff before the party) so they wanted to go home, leave Oreos out for Santa, put Squirt in bed and watch movies.

Picture coming.

Brandon’s Fieldtrip: Marco Polo (Lugou) Bridge, Wanping City, and Qianlingshan scenic area

B’s school field trip (Oct. 31), his report on it:

It seems my school makes a yearly field trip to a World War Two museum, which, in an effort to produce reasoned dialog and international cooperation, the Chinese refer to as “The War of Chinese People’s Resistance Against Japanese Aggression.”

I had no interest in going. I lived in the Washington, DC, area for four years and made sure I never once entered the United States Holocaust Museum, and I was not about to spend an afternoon looking at exhibits detailing the Rape of Nanjing (link intentionally not included).

I’ve already told you that I hate Holocaust deniers and downplayers. I don’t need to see a murdered Jew to fully understand the severity of what happened. Maybe some do, and so I’m not going to generalize to a condemnation of such museums. I just don’t see any benefit to my life, while I see a giant downside.

Worst of all would be treating these tragedies as a type of entertainment, or manipulating them for political purposes. Holocaust museums aren’t trying to hold something over Germany’s head for the rest of history, they are opposed to modern antisemitism.

I feel I’m making my point very poorly. A partial reason is my tiredness. Another is my reticence to criticize the internal workings of my hosts. And another is my desire to not really think about these things more than absolutely necessary.

Denouement: my school allowed the international faculty to opt for a visit to a nearby bridge instead. It was a nearly-unanimous decision.


Part two, Coming Soon!

Halloween in China

These uploaded in reverse order, so here goes:

Actual Halloween night.  We lit them but didn’t put them out or go Trick or Treating.




B’s school had a field trip on Halloween so their party and pumpkin carving contest were after school on the 30th.  Only a handful of students and teachers were dressed up in addition to our kids but several students carved pumpkins.

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PS had a church youth activity across town where she carved her pumpkin.


photo 2

The Saturday before Halloween (was a bad air day) and there was an unofficial Halloween party at church for the kids.



Our decorations.