Friday, March 9, 2012's the weather?...

No, it isn't that we've run out of more interesting topics--weather actually can be pretty important to consider.  We've decided to take several layers of clothing...and hoping we stay warm enough, cool enough...whatever the weather.'an+China+CHXX0141

Xi'an, we have been told, is quite dry in March.  Springtime winds can bring dust from the Gobi Dessert and our Chinese friends here in Lexington advised that we pack dust masks.  However, it appears there are rain showers forecast for the end of next week, so that should settle the dust and the smog.

The weather here in KY has certainly been noteworthy.  Last Friday, several communities throughout KY were devastated by tornadoes.  Lexington was more fortunate than Madisonville in the west and West Liberty in the east.

Then on Monday morning we awoke to 3 inches of snow!

We have been enjoying several last minute visits with friends and family as well.  (and we have certainly talked about more than "just the weather" :)

We also learned that Ben and I will be staying in an apartment/dorm on the campus at Gaoxin High School.  This will allow us a great deal of interaction with the faculty and students.  Meals will be in the cafeteria.  So much for hoping I would be able to practice my chopsticks skills without an audience!!

We'd like to keep in touch via Skype, so look us up!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

...what we are reading...

On President's Day we stopped at the Nicholasville Starbucks and saw two Deaf ladies visiting in American Sign Language.  We recognized Jackie, whom we'd recently met at our friends' 50th wedding anniversary celebration. 

Upon learning we were going to China, she insisted that we find a copy of Frances Parsons' book, I Didn't Hear the Dragon Roar, published by Gallaudet University Press. Professor Parsons, who is Deaf, has traveled extensively and written 3 books about her travels.  This book about her months in China in 1986, includes accounts of her visits to schools for the deaf.  It has definitely lived up to Jackie's recommendation.  Here are a few links about this outstanding lady:

As an American Sign Language/English interpreter, I am certainly hoping to meet members of China's Deaf community and would be absolutely thrilled if I could visit a school for the Deaf in China! When we return from China, I plan to continue working on a degree to become a teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

@ the historic Kentucky School for the Deaf

...what we are packing...

We are down to the Final Four days before our departure and carefully scrutinizing each item to determine its eligibility to earn square inches in our luggage. Of course, this is a topic that has infiltrated much of our research regarding this adventure.

A few pieces of packing advice that have surfaced multiple times:
  • Take half of what you think you will need.
  • Carry tissue and hand sanitizer.
  • You can buy almost everything you will need at your destination...
  • ...EXCEPT shoes...for our size feet :)
Speaking of shoes, we tried out some hiking shoes last week at Raven Run where we spent a sunny afternoon with John and Laura.  I found a pair of walking shoes that are trail rated by Jeep. (J-41 is the brand--at DSW)  Supposedly they'll take me "over the river and through the woods"...I'll be content with "over the Wall and through the hutongs". this point, my luggage consists of a backpack and a wheeled carry-on size suitcase.  Together, they total around 60 pounds.  This includes clothing, shoes, laptop, camera, books, host/hostess gifts, medicines, toiletries and a few granola bars.  When we return, I'll reassess my decisions regarding the items I took and those that got voted off the packing list. 

We are also packing Pepe, who looks somewhat like University of Kentucky's wildcat mascot.  The students in the Liberty Elementary Spanish Immersion class, where Ben started his internship, are looking forward to seeing photos of Pepe's adventures in China!

And last, but not least...Flat Stella is sliding into our backpack.  She is joining us from Cassidy Elementary School here in Fayette County.  If you haven't heard of Flat Stanley projects, I'm guessing you haven't been around any elementary school students lately!

...and here is one more glimpse of our group that is traveling from Lexington to Xi'an.  We met for dinner at Malone's last Tuesday evening.  Some UK faculty and staff joined us as well.

@ Malone's: Stacey, Kevin, Carrie, Kelly, Ben, Barry, Dr. Henry, Joe
Dr. Henry's husband will also be in Xi'an.  Joe R. is a high school guidance counselor, as
well as a graduate student.  He will be in Xi'an for 2 weeks.  Stacey is an Elementary Ed
major as well as a dance instructor.  Kevin, Carrie and Barry are completing Master's degrees in Social Studies.