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Gearing Up for Christmas 2009

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya,

Christmas huh! Seriously, where does time go? I can’t believe it is lurking just beyond my door once again!

This year will be my fifth Christmas here in China and I must say that it is very comfortable living in a country where Santa isn’t shoved down your throat and the supermarket shelves aren’t filled with Christmas 'things’ half a year prior to the actual event. It’s a nice feeling to allow such a festival to actually happen at a more gradual and comfortable pace without all the hype. In fact there really isn’t anything here in my little town to remind me that it is about to take place. Some of the stores have a few decorations hanging about here and there but like in many places in China;

They have actually been gathering dust in the same place from Christmas times long gone.

Like with many western festivals that the Chinese have and are taking on board, they don’t seem to have read the entire instruction manual…haha and thats a good way to tell that China is run by males! Things like having to actually take down the decorations have been totally over looked and they are left up in early readiness for the next year’s festival. With one week to go I am yet to have a single student mention the fact that Christmas is about to occur and I am happy to let it pass without reminding them.

Some though have been yelling Happy New Year! So I’m guessing they actually do mean Happy Christmas!

Most of my students are from poor villages from around my city and I don’t want to be the one that has them heading home busting their parents chops in expectation for Santa to arrive Christmas morning and then break down in tears because there were no presents waiting for them. This has actually happened to me several times over the past five years and it almost brings a tear to my eye each time. Most foreign teachers come to China (and other Asian countries) and spend several weeks teaching their students all about Christmas and/or Easter and/or Thanksgiving etc and never stop to think of the consequences from such teachings.

Maybe if I was teaching High School or University it would be a different story. So, to December and the latest happening in my life over here in China.

Lithuanian Laima has left the building and moved on to Shenyang town which is about an hour’s bus ride south from here. That was a sad happening as we began to spend a lot of time together and it was nice to have someone to walk and talk with over sharing full on English conversations over dinner or coffee and chicken burgers. We still spend time on the phone and MSN but it’s just not the same, but it is good to miss someone. Philippines Daniel is still in town but he’s always a busy bugger so we don’t get to catch up that often but when we do a huge fish is always on the menu. Several days ago Andrew the new Dutch guy arrived to town and both have been busy with Teachers College dinners and showing Andrew the ropes.

So we are hoping to all catch up for dinner sometime next week. I’m also hoping there will be a huge fish on the menu!

At the end of November Laima and I headed into Xian where she introduced me to several of the local VSO’s from around the Xian area. We all headed to a western restaurant/bar and spent a wonderful night in each other’s company. They are such beautiful and caring people and have invited me to spend Christmas with them in Xian. So we will all make our way back to Xian city on the Thursday evening after classes and meet up for Christmas dinner either Thursday evening or Friday evening.

Me being me, I’m hoping for both! As for the future…..

While my fellow Victorians (back in Australia) have been living with sweltering temperatures of up to nearly forty degrees here the weather has been freezing and light snow has been falling off and on which has been very much like the heating which is also off and on throughout the day. It seems to be coming on later in the evening than normal and going off earlier than normal leaving me shaking in my little doggie slippers that Luo Wei got for me last winter and going to bed with my thick winter jacket on along with several layers of clothing.

This I have been told is due to the schools coal supply dwindling due to this winter being much colder than the last and this has slso led me to question where I want to be next term.

Lately I’ve found myself missing the south of China more than normal and I’m getting sick of living in a black and white photo and eating boring northern food and I now have a longing to immerse myself back into the southern colours and culture. Being a contact for Bucklands several northern teachers have contacted me and we have all been feeling same, which has at the same time made me feel happy that I am actually not crazy in thinking and feeling that the north of China is so much different that the south. I have spoken to my boss about my desire to return to the south but it seems that there won’t be any openings to southern Primary schools until the next school year which begins September 2010 so I guess if I still have the same feelings after the up and coming Winter Break I may have to finally break away from Buckland’s and find my own school.

This will be in Guizhou Province which is the province that I find myself drawn to teaching in next.

Guizhou Province can be found just above Guangxi Province where I spent my first year and a half in China. Like Guangxi it is majority Minority Peoples and one of China’s most poorest provinces yet full of hill tribes and cultures which of course to me is a huge draw card but of course to make such a decision questionable is the fact that my students here in Shangzhou are my most favourite students ever. Every class tries so hard and they are so well behaved which of course makes a decision like leaving them a term before the end of the school year such an act of complete selfishness.

Believe it or not though, I have even been looking into maybe moving on to teach in South East Asia but what I have found on the internet is actually not as inviting as I thought it would be.

Here I have around four months a year to travel, my own apartment, can dress as I please and from what I can gather from the internet, South East Asia asks for shirt and tie, offers shared apartments of between three to five teachers and between twenty to forty days a year off. I have also found that many places in SE Asia you actually have to be a volunteer which is a bad thing aas I can not afford to do such a thing as to teach in such places they request that YOU pay a huge fee in British Pounds or American Dollars prior to teaching. This is simply a reality that I can’t live as I donated not only all my belongings prior to leaving Australia but I also donated all the money I had left in my bank account. I don’t mind earning a tiny salary that allows me to eat, travel and live in such places but to actually have to pay such huge fees to do so is beyond me and my non-resources. But on the positive side of things I do believe that when the time is right the right connections will come knocking at my door so it is just a matter of waiting.

So I’m guessing that my love of China and its people will be my reality for the next several years to come and as you can probably guess, I’m more than happy with that!

Beers N Noodles toya…..shane

PS: Hey Melanie, I've had an awesome time mate. It's been great to meet another Aussie Roo in the land of noodles. PSS: Hey Melanie, Bite Me Baby! Take a screen shot of that Maaaaaaate! PSSS: Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha, I'm gonna miss you when you go home! ____________________________________________________________________

The soundtrack to this entry was by the colourful Augie March The album was most awesome ‘Sunset Studies’ ____________________________________________________________________

Gearin Up For Chinese Xmas 2009

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Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China

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