Chopsticks, Presenting and Seven Courses

My jet lag has not been horrible, but I have been waking up pretty early. I spent some time from 3-5am worrying a little more about my presentation. Finally got up, dressed and went to breakfast.

The thing about using chopsticks for everything is it makes you very selective about what you put on your plate. Noodles yes; large leafy greens, no; large chunks of melon, maybe (stabbing technique seems to be acceptable.) At lunch yesterday I briefly struggled with the sticks to get a shrimp out of the shell, and was very relieved when Sun Li told me I could take the shell off with my fingers. Sometimes you make a little roll with a pancake and some items in it, and that is just chaos. Even though I have received compliments on my chopstick skills (thanks mom and dad) I am not at that level. Additional note: today at breakfast there were some new items, like “ginger pickle preserved egg” and “black porridge.” Everything is labeled and there was a soup called “Face the Soup” (I faced the soup, but I am not yet ready to try the soup) and one item simply labeled “Thing.” Ok. You do your thing there, Thing. There is a lot going on in the world of Chinese cuisine.

So the reason am here, facing the soup, etc is because I was invited (I volunteered at our county social studies supervisors invitation) to talk to a group of teachers who will be coming to the U.S. to teach. I am to tell them about what it is like to teach in America. (Hard. Thank you. Next question?) This morning was the big moment and thanks to help from my friends at school and a very helpful conversation with Sun Li, about her experience, I held forth for 90+ minutes about my students, lesson planning, and classroom management. I threw in a few activities and a stretch break. I think it went pretty well. I stood at the back and collected and exit activity where the wrote questions for me to answer on Wednesday, and some of the students were very complimentary and said they found it helpful. There was a sweet girl who showed me a picture she had drawn of me, and it was super cute, but boy are my hips wide. I asked her to show it to me Wednesday so I can take a picture.

Afterwards we had a cup of coffee and then went up to a special room to have a “Welcome Lunch.” I think there were seven courses, including Peking Duck! I lost count. It was delicious, but a crazy amount of food. I was pleased to see the term “food coma” needs no translation. After that, more coffee and a conversation about a series of history lessons they are trying to put together to offer to American educators to promote knowledge and understanding of China. I’m not quite sure what happened, but it is possible I agreed to do some curriculum work for the Chinese government. Not sure. If someone hands me a flash drive tomorrow with 60 lessons to look over, I’ll know.

I thought I was on my own for the evening, but later they called the hotel and Nancy, another person in the Beijing Language and Culture Institute came and took me to dinner. I was of course, in no way hungry after that lunch, so she took me to a smaller place. With only four dishes. They were more tapas sized though. Still, help!

Nancy’s English was very good, and we had a good conversation and a nice walk to an area called “the center of the universe,” since there are so many international students there, because of all the colleges in that part of Beijing. Very interesting to see the hustle and bustle, kind of like Times Square.

Tomorrow some sights and of course, more food. Dry toast for breakfast, I think. I dare not face the soup.

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