Thursday, May 24, 2012

Du Lian Village

Dr. Peter Chan is a professor at BYU in the Instructional Psychology & Technology department. He is originally from Guangzhou but grew up in Hong Kong. I told him about how my great-grandparents' village was in Guangdong province, I asked him about the village names (the romanized version) and if he was familiar. He asked for the names of the villages in chinese and as soon as I got the translations I emailed them to him. He did some research and found a village about an hour and a half away from the city we are living in (Panyu). We emailed back and forth about other things I should find out that might help us find the exact village. When we were at the Incheon airport, Dr. Chan spent quite some time finding someone to contact in the village. When we left for Guangzhou, not much had happened. We arrived at our apartment and everyone showered and unpacked and we met in the lobby for dinner a few hours later and by that time, Dr. Chan had found someone in the village that knew of the family names 'Jung' and 'Lum', which are my great-grandparents last names. That was Sunday evening and by Monday morning we were off to the village.

We rented a bus for the 13 of us to travel in. It was a little less than two hours away from where we live. The drive was so cool! We got to see a lot of rural areas. China is a BEAUTIFUL country. There is so much to see and so much to do. You can go from rural area to giant metropolis in less than an hour, it's so awesome. When we arrived in the village, I didn't really expect much. I just thought we would walk around and that would be that. However, we got to the building where we were supposed to meet the man that Dr. Chan had been in contact with. We arrived and next thing I know we were being handed genealogy books for both sides of my Chinese family. As in, my entire ancestry on my paternal grandma's side written out back to before the Middle Ages. SO AMAZING! Granted, it's in Chinese, but it shouldn't be to hard to get it translated :) 

One of the first men we were greeted by happened to also have the last name Jung. There's a possibility we are very distantly related but his grandfather and my great-grandfather traveled to America together. He even worked in my grandparents laundromat, they were really good friends! We later went to the ancestral home of the village. The building was plain inside with lots of random wood furniture and tons of old people playing mahjong. It was like the village gathering place. While I was there I met my grandma's half uncle's daughter-in-law. She then took us to the Jung Chin's ancestral home (my great-grandpa) and on the way we met my grandma's half-uncle's daughter. Which makes them my grandma's cousins! Walking through the village was SO cool. It was just like I imagined...but better. It was so unbelievably hot though...we were dripping with sweat. All of our shirts were several inches longer at the end of the day because of the humidity. Never even knew that was possible!

After walking through the village all of my "new" extended family hopped on our bus and took us to a restaurant that was in a hotel. It's definitely more of a motel...with pretty much no one staying in it. And there was a restaurant in it...with no one but us in it. Dr. Chan chose our dishes and we had two big tables. It was such a fun lunch! The food was great. At all the Chinese restaurants you sit at round tables with giant lazy susans in the middle and you share all your food. We had some soup to start out, a chinese broccoli dish, some kind of mushroom and noodle dish, a couple other things I can't remember and...beef and bell peppers!! I was so excited when I saw this because my grandma makes this and it's my FAVORITE. I ask her to make it every time I visit.  I didn't even know it was a legit Chinese dish haha. Anyways, here are some pictures of our adventure!

view from our window! it gets pretty wild at night...more on that later though.

entrance to the Du Lian village

the men at the village community center who knew about the Jung and Lum families

entrance into the Jung village (inside the Lum village)

ancestral home of the Jung village

inside the ancestral home, the woman in this picture is the daughter-in-law of my great-grandpa's half brother

where they worship the founding ancestors of the village by burning incense

I was so grateful to our whole group who all willingly tagged along for the ride!

very old machines used in the rice farming process (they don't use them anymore)

all the older women in the village playing Mahjong. It was so funny to watch them play, they get pretty intense about it!

more people from the village. the woman carrying the baby is the daughter of my great-grandpa's half brother

Kalli and I. She is from Las Vegas!

walking through the village and pretty much sweating to death

Sorry for the picture overload. It was just such an awesome day and I wished so badly that my whole family was there to share it with me. Pictures most definitely don't do it justice but I wanted everyone, especially my grandma (since it's her family) to be able to experience as much of it as possible via pictures. Dr. Chan did make a video that I'll post below. It's more of an intro to the program in general but towards the end he did a great job documenting our experience in the village.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

teaching at clifford estates international school

Ni hao!

So I've meaning to finish a couple posts that I have saved but we have been so busy teaching I haven't really had time! It's 10 pm right now and I have to get up early for work again so I don't have time to finish my posts with pictures but here's an update on what's been going on the past week! (it'll probably be really long so...sorry)

We started in the schools last Wednesday. We got a tour and met our mentor teachers. The next two days we started observing and then this past Monday I started teaching. I have two subjects, four different classes. I'm teaching two history classes and two geography classes.

The school is organized kind of weird. On the whole Clifford School campus there are the Bilingual Kindergarten, Elementary and Secondary schools. These students are all mainland China passport holders (and any foreigners who want their kids in this program...although there aren't many). Then there is the Clifford International School, which is where I teach. They have K-12 and there are also two parts to this program. There are the foreign passport holders (this includes Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan) which are part of the "international program". Then there are the Chinese passport holders (this is a new program, most came from the bilingual program) who are part of the "Manitoba program". The Clifford School uses Manitoba curriculum, they take the provincial exams associated with Manitoba and most of the teachers are from Winnipeg (in Manitoba). I teach one history class of the international program and one of the Manitoba program. I also teach two international program geography classes.

My history students are grade 11 and they are SO fun! My IP2 (international program, level 2) students are such characters. It's a pretty international class with students from Poland, Belgium, Colombia, Mexico, South Korea, Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and mainland China. Most of the students in all my classes are on the lazy side but there are some pretty bright students. One student I am SO impressed with how much he knows about the Cold War (the unit I'm teaching right now)! They all have a great sense of humor and teaching them is SO fun. They are all very curious and love to talk and discuss things which makes my job easy! The A2 (Manitoba program, level 2) kids have a lot lower english level so it's a little bit harder to communicate with them and teach them but as I've gotten to know them, they've become just as fun as the other class, just in a different way. I have them after lunch everyday and because the Chinese have naps after lunch everyday, and they don't get to take naps, they are SO sleepy. I have to tell them to get their heads off the desk like every 5-10 minutes. There are two boys in this class who are lazy, but SO bright. I'm always impressed by how much they know without me even teaching them. I'm really excited about this class. I'm teaching about my favorite time in history and the students are awesome. I can't wait to teach them about 60s/70s music and culture. I wish I had my LIFE magazine, Woodstock edition with me! They would love it.

I haven't started teaching the other class, I will start on Monday. This class has been a little harder to prep for since I haven't taken a geography class since 8th grade. But it's been fun to kind of teach myself a lot of new information. These students are grade 10 and they are REALLY chatty. They have so much energy and they are really a fun group. They are all on the lower end of english and very lazy. But I think they have great potential, they will just need a lot of pushing. There are mostly students from South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong in these classes but there are also some students from Russia, Belarus, Australia, Mexico and the UK.

I feel so lucky to be able to teach all of these students. I already can tell they are going to change my life! It's kind of interesting because most of the students that live in Clifford Estates have parents that are literally nonexistent in their lives. It's a very wealthy community and most of the parents are businessmen/women and often both parents work full time. There are some students who live in the school dorms (even 3 year olds who live in the dorms and only see their parents a few times a month!! So sad.) and are pretty much on their own. Sometimes the parents work in Hong Kong during the week and come home on the weekends. Usually the grandma or grandpa takes care of them or their nanny/maid takes care of them. Generally, when parents are absent in the lives of adolescents, they tend to be on the wild side, they often have major behavior issues, don't come to school or do very poorly in their classes. Although these students are not perfect, I am so impressed by what genuinely good kids they are. They are so friendly both to the teachers and their peers. They almost never talk back to teachers, there is maybe one fight a year, and the only classroom management issues come from chattiness simply because all the students are such good friends. All of these students have every opportunity to be totally rotten to their peers and their teachers, in all honesty their parents would probably never find out or even care, yet they truly like their teachers and want their teachers to like them. It is such a neat dynamic at this school!

The teachers are so cool here. They are all friends and they do really fun things like all the time. My two mentor teachers are in their late 20's which is perfect for me. They're still young enough to be creative and innovative in their teaching but they have enough experience to be able to help me with my teaching. They are both awesome teachers and the students LOVE them...and so do I! I totally lucked out with my mentor teachers, they have been a great help to me, I've loved it. Some of the teachers here have been teaching internationally for like 20 years, and I can totally understand why. If you love traveling and teaching this is the perfect job...I think I'm hooked. I can't imagine going to teach at a school in Utah County where most of the students are white, LDS, middle class and have never been outside the west coast. The kids and the teachers and the environment are so's totally addictive.

China is really an interesting place. It's very dirty in terms of hygiene. Little kids pee and poop in the streets all the time like it's no big deal. People spit everywhere, no matter what, they litter like it's nothing, they sweat like no tomorrow, and they all work out in their regular clothes and then stay in those clothes when they are done working they all kinda smell. But, for the most part, they are very kind, accommodating, generous and glad to have us there. There is so much to see and do here it's sort of overwhelming. I really am loving it though...I really don't want to go back!! Tonight someone from our ward showed us around this area right outside Clifford Estates. We ate and this Chinese Islamic food restaurant and it was SO good and dirt cheap. They hand make their noodles in such a cool way. We got some noodle dishes to share, one with beef, jalapeƱos, onions, bell peppers and this sauce and the other had jalapeƱos, bell peppers, and the top stalks of garlic. They were both awesome and for a pretty big platter of noodles (I had leftovers!!), a coke, and soup it was only 15 RMB, which is like $2.30..for DINNER!! And I was totally full after! We were shocked at how cheap and delicious it was!

Anyways, this is super long but I needed to do an update for my family. This has been such a cool experience for me. I was questioning for a long time whether I even wanted to teach anymore and this totally reaffirmed my love for teaching and history. I forgot how fun it is for me and how I'm actually good at it (probably my only talent...other than being able to wiggle my ears) and how I just love the students! I'm so happy here and I am so glad I decision I've made in a long time!!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

finally in china!

We arrived Sunday around noon and we were given a very, very warm welcome right off the plane. It is SO humid here it's unlike anything I've ever experienced. We moved into our apartments..they are SO nice! Most of the people that live in the lakeside high rises are like multi-millionaires. No idea how we got put in here considering we aren't paying a dime to live here. The first day, after unpacking, we went out to dinner. We just ate at a restaurant in the Clifford Estates Resort Center (I'll explain Clifford Estates later). They serve all kinds of Asian food as well as Italian food, so random. I got chicken curry Malaysian style. The flavor was great..really spicy! But the chicken had SO many bones and we only had chopsticks...and eating chicken off the bone with chopsticks is a lot of work. Not to mention the chicken was not very good. That night I was kind of discouraged and figured I would be eating rice and cereal and snack food for every meal. But that changed over the next few days. We were all so tired by the time we got home I think everyone was fast asleep by 10 pm. I need to plan my Cold War unit since I'm teaching on Monday and going to Hong Kong on Saturday so I can't update on the past couple of days yet. I have lots of pictures to post but I need to edit them first. China is an incredible place. I encourage everyone to visit. I've been here for four days and it is SO amazing. There is so much to see and do and the people are so nice. I don't want to leave!! For now, here's a few pictures of Clifford Estates.

the Baiyun airport in Guangzhou

view from our balcony

the building we live in

my grandma's half-aunt we found in China!

more family we found in China

all of the family we found in China

the kindergarten class at the Clifford School. They were SO cute!

jellyfish at lunch..gross!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

2 days.

Less than 48 hours from now I will be on a plane headed for Guangzhou, China. I have never been to China or any place like it. I am nervous/anxious/excited/a little scared...but mostly excited. I have traveled out of the country by myself before and I have the same feeling I did last time. I am a constant worrier. I worry about everything. All the time. I'm really paranoid. If I allowed myself, I could spend all day coming up with ways I could be injured or die, most of them are things normal people don't think of. So naturally, now that it's finally hit me that I'm leaving soon, the worrying has kicked in. Once I get there it will all go away. But for now, I'm just going to stress until I land in Guangzhou and get to my apartment. I think I'm a little bit more nervous to go to China because...well, it's China. It's so incredibly different than Europe...and pretty much everywhere else in the world. But that's also why I am so excited. My grandma is full Chinese, her parents came to the United States from China, they didn't speak any english up to the day they died. My dad always tells us stories of how his grandma used to talk to them in Chinese but he could never understand what she was saying. We don't know a whole lot about my grandma's family in China, however, I'm hoping that will all change once I get there. That is one of the most exciting things for me about going to Guangzhou. China is a HUGE country. And the school BYU chose to do the student teaching program at just so happens to be an hour and a half away from the village my grandma's father was from. How incredible is that?! I will most definitely visit the area and I'm hoping that since I have my grandma's maiden name and her mom's maiden name in Chinese that we can possibly even track down some family members that are still living.

Besides the fun traveling, I will be teaching at the Clifford International School. It's a very westernized private school, there is a dual-language school for native Chinese as well. In the complex (along with the schools) there is a hospital, a hotel, apartment buildings and condos, a grocery store, a fire department, a pool and a track...and likely a lot more things that I don't know about it. The school has a very interesting story. I am so excited to finally get to teach and I'm even more excited that I get to teach in such a unique environment. This will be an incredible opportunity and something that I will never forget. I am beyond grateful for my parents who have been so supportive in allowing me to go on yet another adventure abroad as well as for BYU. I just finished my last semester of classes and I had the opportunity to sit in a final meeting about our China adventure with the Dean of the McKay School of Education, the Assistant Dean and the Chair of the Department of Teacher Education, as well as the two professors going with us and the 7 other student teachers and it was the most perfect way to end my last day on campus. The dean explained to us the importance of our task while in China, that BYU has a purpose to serve in China and we are part of that. His words were so encouraging and inspiring and it made me so grateful to attend a university where religion can be incorporated in the classroom and everyday activity, including our China adventure, as Dr. Bahr has been calling it. BYU has made this program an easily accessible opportunity and has paved the way for our student teaching to be a wonderful experience. I truly have been blessed to be a student at this school and I couldn't think of a better way to end my collegiate career than in China.

For the few who actually read that and made it to the end I'll likely update again on Sunday when we finally arrive in China :)

Friday, March 2, 2012


I know I don't really update this, and hardly anyone reads it but I recently found out that I will be spending two months in China beginning at the end of April. So, I'm hoping to blog my adventures while I'm there (assuming I can gain access to Blogger while I'm there). It sounds strange but I have always dreamt of going to China someday. I know...who dreams of going to China?! Don't most people want to go to Europe and Fiji and Bora Bora and New York City? I mean, I totally want to go all those places too but for some reason China has always intrigued me. I think this is in part because my paternal grandma is 100% Chinese. Our family is by no means culturally/ethnically Chinese, but I love that I am Chinese. It took me a really long time to appreciate fact, when I was younger I thought it made me weird and I never told anyone. But now, I LOVE when people ask me what my ethnicity is and I get to respond "I'm Chinese!" What's even more incredible about this opportunity is that the city we are living the same city my great grandparents were from! I was so excited when I found this out. Hopefully I'll get to do a little family history while I'm over there. I still can't believe I'm actually living out my dream of going to China. It still doesn't feel real to me. I feel so blessed and so grateful that I have been able to participate in all these wonderful opportunities that have come my way in the last several years. I couldn't do it without my amazing parents. They have been so supportive with all my crazy adventures and I am so grateful for that.

It's less than two months until I arrive in China...WHAT?! It's all moved so quickly. I found out about the program in January, applied a week later, interviewed two weeks after that, got accepted a week after that and then two weeks later here we are! There is still so much to do it's sort of stressing me out. I have to go to the doctor, get two month's worth of prescriptions, change my phone plan, get a visa, book my flight, pack for this trip and a trip right after this (yes, two days after I get back from China we are taking a three week vacation in Europe...seriously, who am I to be able to do these things?!), take/pass my praxis test, apply for real, grown-up jobs before I leave for China, figure out my bank situation while I'm in China, pack up my apartment, sell my contract, put everything in I forgetting anything?! These next two months are going to fly thing I know, I'll be in Guangzhou. I am nervous, excited, anxious, overwhelmed, and so so so happy about being able to student teach in China. I have no idea what subject I'll be teaching or the core standards or how I'm supposed to teach but I am so excited to learn! Anyways, just needed to make a quick journal entry about this exciting news :) I'll probably return in 7 weeks when I arrive in China!

Monday, December 12, 2011

ski the world.

i love skiing. i've been skiing my whole life. by no means am i an expert, but i love it. and that's good enough for me. one of my dreams is to ski everywhere i can possibly ski. okay, maybe not everywhere but i have quite a few places on my bucket list right now. while i was on my study abroad, i HAD to ski the alps. i was a day trip away from could i pass up that opportunity?? my dad met me in basel, we stayed there for a day then took a train to zermatt. we stayed in a tiny little hotel with the matterhorn outside our window. the next day we skied one side of zermatt. it was honestly the most beautiful skiing experience i have ever had. we skied mainly just on gornergrat. it was early december so some of the other areas were closed. my favorite part was at the very top of gornergrat there is a hotel and beyond the hotel is a huge canyon and the whole thing is covered in snow. i seriously felt like i was in the north pole or something, it was so amazing!

i've been working on a paper all semester about civil society in post-communist eastern europe so i've had to do quite a bit of research on eastern european countries. while i was in vienna, my haus frau's son (who is a big skier!) told me that skiing in bulgaria and slovenia is awesome and really cheap! so lately...i've really been wanted to ski in those two countries.

these are pictures of bansko in bulgaria...the picture on the top reminds me of how it was in zermatt...there were no trees anywhere, it was so strange since skiing here there are trees EVERYWHERE!

bohinj in slovenia is comprised of several smaller areas. as soon as i saw this picture i was sold. this looks SO incredible! i really like the open feeling of no trees feel like you could seriously get so lost on the mountain.

in addition to skiing there being cheap and pretty good, i really just want to visit those countries. although i loved being in western european countries on my study abroad, my favorite were the eastern european countries we visited (hungary, czech republic, slovakia). the history of communism there is so fascinating to me. it's so crazy to think that just 20 years ago they were all living under an oppressive communist regime and now they are (for the most part) fully consolidated democracies.

other places on my skiing bucket list:
cortina, italy
stowe, vermont
banff/lake louise, canada
vail, colorado
breckenridge, colorado
kitzbuehl, austria
whistler, canada
borovets, bulgaria
levi, finland
voss, norway
jackson hole, wyoming
saas fee, austria
big sky resort, montana
courchevel, france
niseko resort, japan
kiroro resort, japan
mt. bachelor, oregon
mammoth, california
mt. hermon, israel
alpensia ski resort/yongpyong, south korea (where the 2018 winter olympics are being held)
palandoken ski resort, turkey
alshan alpine ski resort, china
gulmarg ski resort, india
las lenas, argentina
bariloche, argentina
portillo, chile
valle nevado, chile

i know it's a long list and considering how expensive skiing is, it probably won't happen but..a girl can dream right?