Sunday, May 18, 2008


I just wanted to let everyone know that I am still OK after the earthquake as is everyone I know here in China. Unfortunately, there are thousands of people who were killed, even more who were injured and millions who have been left homeless from this disaster. Please keep them in your thoughts in prayers.

I'm hoping this summer they will be more open about letting volunteers in and that I'll be able to go help those in need. If any of you hear of any efforts like this please let me know.

Lastly, I'd really like to sincerely thank everyone for their concern this past week. The number of people who have left me messages and sent e-mails to me, my friends and my family in regards to my safety is truly overwhelming. I feel so blessed to know there are so many people out there thinking of me and who care for me. Thank you so much.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Is this an earthquake?

I was in class this afternoon for all of about ten minutes trying to teach my students some new vocabulary words. A lot of them stopped repeating after me and I put down my book to give them a stern talking to about how it is important for them to practice their English. When I turned to look at the kids they were all whispering and pointing and I had no idea what was going on, but then I realized that the lights and ceiling fans were shaking and my stomach felt a little queasy. I looked outside and sure enough we were having an earthquake and everyone was evacuating the building. I panicked a little and went outside to see if everything looked OK. I was teaching on the fourth floor so I knew I should get my class out of the building in the event that something did happen. Some of them seemed scared and some of them were joking around so I just tried to compose myself and ushered them all out the door. We went and waited on the sports field until we were given the all-clear to go to our next class. All in all it was kind of crazy to experience my first earthquake here in China. You can read about it here.
I'll let you all know if anything else happens.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

A race between teams: The undersurface of a shoe of a male duck

As many of you may know last weekend was the Drake Relays back at my beloved alma mater and because I never like to pass up a party we decided to host our very own China-Drake Relays right here in Handan. Of course for this to be a successful event we had to take everything that is good about the Drake Relays and Chinafy it.

Everyone from the Shiz came in to celebrate the Relays and all the Handanren were exposed to the awesomeness of every Drakies favorite celebration. On Friday night Ben and I met all the Shizren at the train station and then took them out to dinner at the donkey restaurant we had before. It was really nice to introduce our Drake friends to our Handan family and see how well everyone got along. After like three hours of dinner we just went home and hung out and drank a little ... it was a very relaxed evening.

Saturday morning we got up bright and early and started in on the festivities. We cooked scrambled eggs and had fruit and I had made some blueberry muffins and apple cinnamon muffins. Of course we also had screwdrivers. Ben and I took everyone on a tour of the school after that and experienced mayhem when the kids got out of class and were all staring at the eight new foreigners visiting the school.

We then went back to my place and prepared for the games to begin by drinking a little and gathering all the supplies. Around 12:30 kids just started to swarm the field and they were anxious to get started. We had an egg toss, a slowest bicycle race, a three-legged race, piggy back rides, a rice eating contest and more. The kids went nuts and were cheering and having such a good time. We told them about Street Painting and they drew pictures on a long roll of paper that we put out. We even taught them the wave. Basically everyone was running around on a beautiful day having an amazing time. We took a ton of silly pictures and one of the headmasters was there with his camera the whole time ... he told us it was a great event and lots of fun.

After the races finished and the kids went back to class we went home and did a power hour in preparation for the next part of the day. Ben and I planned a scavenger hunt around Handan for everyone that consisted of completing some very Chinese tasks in order to be the winner. We split into teams and spent the next two hours running through Handan trying to complete our challenges, which were:

1. Find someone to take a shot of baijiu with all the members of your group

2. Go to one of the tea shops in Handan and buy one kuai worth of any kind of tea

3. Snap a pic of a baby’s bare bottom

4. Head to Congtai park and take a picture of your group plus at least one Chinese person in front of the castle/pagoda structure at the park

5. Find a group of old folks playing mah jong on the side of the road

6. Go to any store that sells baijiu and snap a pic of the most expensive bottle you can find

7. At least one group member needs to eat a piece of stinky tofu, take pictures of them chewing and swallowing

8. Get a picture of at least four people on one bicycle, bonus points if one of your group members is one of those people

9. Find people playing badminton or ping-pong in the city and play a quick match with them

10. Take a photo with a group of kids equal or larger than the number of people in your group, everyone needs to flash the peace sign

11. Go up to a construction crew and attempt to help them with their work

12. Snap a pic with a crossing guard somewhere around town

13. Buy some sunflower seeds and challenge a group of Chinese people to a seed spitting contest

14. Get a pic of the best Chinglish sign you can find

15. Hit up any supermarket in town and get a picture of your entire group and an employee, all of you holding an item from the store

16. Get a picture with one of the ladies who watches the bicycles, bonus points if she lets you wear her apron

17. Find someone flying a kite around town and convince them to let you have a turn

18. Get pictures of each of your group members posing like the stone lions outside any building

19. Have one of your group members eat the weirdest thing you can find on a stick

20. Get someone to take a picture of your entire group in front of one of the garbage piles around town, tell them you think it’s beautiful

21. Find some teenage boys playing basketball, tell them you know Yao Ming and grab a picture with their team

22. One group member should be brave enough to take a ride on one of the ancient and unstable roller coasters at any park

23. Take a group picture with any Chinese person who does not have black hair, peace signs are a must

24. Someone in your group should be willing to try the corn flavored ice cream treat they sell on the streets, document the whole process

25. Go to any fast food joint in the city and convince an employee to let one group member try on their hat

26. Get a picture of a car or bicycle accident anywhere in the city

27. Ask a random Chinese person to dance with you in the middle of wherever you are

28. Find baijiu in a bag for sale somewhere

29. Get pictures of at least five stray dogs meandering the city

30. Play the shuttlecock/hackey sak game with any group of people you can find around town

When we got together again everyone shared their crazy stories from the hunt and we went out to dinner for lamb kabobs and draft beer. We sat outside and talked and sang and taught our Chinese friends some drinking games. We were at dinner for over three hours and it was at one of our regular spots so they just kept laughing and were really nice to us all.

After dinner we went back to Ben's house for a dance party where we listened to random music, sang along, danced and drank the night away. We even had a beer bong, which we dubbed "Mao Ze Bong" in honor of every Chinese person's favorite leader. Eventually everyone passed out and the next day we went to McDonald's to cure everyone's hangovers before they headed back to Shijiazhuang.

It was a great Relays weekend and a lot of fun to share our traditions with our students and friends here in China.