Saturday, March 31, 2012

...signs of communication...

The other evening, just as we were headed to the catch the 608 bus, Ben spotted some more people communicating in Sign Language!  We really enjoyed visiting with these three folks.  They identify as Hard of Hearing.  They work at the Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts Special Education College of Arts.  I believe the 2 girls we met last weekend are associated with the same college.

In the background, you can see a Starbucks.

Check out the similarities and differences in the manual alphabets of CSL and ASL:
Chinese Sign Language Manual Alphabet

American Sign Language Manual Alphabet

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

...signs of life at ancient landmarks...

The Drum Tower in the center of the city is quite impressive.  Here are a few signs of life at the ancient landmark.  Ben’s blog has more photos and details.

Ancient landmarks still need caretakers. 

...if variety is the spice of life...

The Muslim Quarter has both variety AND spice!  Here are a few snapshots from our 2 evenings in this very neat section of the city.  Others must think it is neat too:  the other evening we saw large clusters of delegates from the European Union Employment Conference strolling through the main street and the alleys.  Lots of local people as well.  We have tried several food items here, which I’m sure Ben will detail for you in his blog. J

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

...this is the way we go to school...

These photos were all taken in the course of my 20 minute walk from the Primary School back to Gaoxin High School yesterday.  

This Grandpa and little grandchild were waiting to cross the street with me.

Spring is definitely blooming here!

The security people were in formation again today.  I guess it is a weekly practice?

This man was getting his kite out of the tree.  There are no power lines in this particular area, so that's a good thing with all the kites we see being flown.

Many hands make light work, but a nice weed trimmer sure helps too!

I'm sure this walkway will be completed very soon. 

This is the main grocery store we go to. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

...visitors from the University of Kentucky and the Confucius Institute...

Last Thursday we had dinner and a very nice discussion with 4 visitors from the University of Kentucky: Dean O'Hair, Dr. Parker, Dr. Maske and Dr. Fawson.  They had an opportunity to visit some of the classrooms and observe the University of Kentucky student teachers working with Chinese students and their cooperating teachers. 

Xiaolan arranged for us to have a meal at a restaurant just a 5 minute walk from the school.  Dr. Maske showed us how to properly eat the specialty--Peking Duck.  When I have time to upload the video, you may find it interesting.  It really was delicious.

Dr. Fawson, Dean O'Hair, Dr. Parker, Dr. Henry

Kevin, Stacey, Carrie, Barry

Dr. Huajing Maske, director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Kentucky

The U.K. visitors and student teachers discussed the Student Teaching Abroad program experience.

The chef carving the Peking Duck.

We found the kitchen on our way out of the restaurant.

...fresh air (not the NPR variety)...

Several people, both Chinese and those who have visited here, had informed us that the pollution is very bad in Xi’an. They were not exaggerating.  I am thankful I do not have asthma or any serious pulmonary problems.  I’m sure the Industrial Revolution in the early part of last century America produced some very similar situations.  I hope China’s air will be cleaner in the future as well. 

Perhaps we can thank last Thursday’s light rain and evening winds for Friday’s less grey/more blue skies.  They were not Crayola’s Sky Blue by any stretch of the imagination, but everything is relative.  When we looked out the window of the apartment, we saw buildings in the not too far distance that had been completely invisible for the previous 10 days.  Here is a snapshot of this clear day. 

Taken from our living room window at 1101.

The view behind our apartment. The people in this neighborhood are very friendly. 
I was observing a class Ben and Kevin were co-teaching.  The English conversation topic was regarding long distance travel.  The students were to discuss where they wanted to go and why.  I circulated throughout the classroom to visit with students about their plans.  The first student I spoke to said, “I want to go to Finland.  There are many lakes there and the air is fresh.”  This was actually a very typical answer.  The students here are aware that the smog is a huge problem. 

When I think of the vast distances we could see from Huron Mountain Club in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan or atop Pack Monadnock in New Hampshire, I hope these kids are able to travel to places with clear blue skies and no shortage of fresh air.

The view we see on the other side of our apartment.  These students make good use of the soccer field. 
I suppose one of the secrets to living anywhere is to accept what you can’t change and figure out what you can.  These ladies are cleaning the patio near the large China Tobacco establishment just a few streets away from our school.  Municipal workers are everywhere in the Gaoxin High Tech district—cleaning public rest rooms, removing debris from shrubbery, collecting trash from the multitude of conveniently placed trash receptacles along the streets and sweeping, sweeping, sweeping…

The dust finds its way in every crack, so even keeping things livable in this quite new apartment is a constant effort.  I’m glad Ben likes to mop J !!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

...from here to there, and along the way...

Yesterday was wonderful for many reasons, and lots of it could not be captured by a lens, but here are a few things we discovered on our way to the center of the city.  One of our Chinese friends took us to the metro station, which is Xi'an's shiny new subway system.  It is unbelievably clean, safe, cheap and fast.  Unfortunately, many lines are still being built, so we couldn't take it all the way back to Gaoxin High Tech Zone (where we live).

Here is a florist we passed. Sharon, I think they could use your help! of the great highlights of the day: we were strolling through a neighborhood and Ben noticed these 2 Deaf girls signing to each other.  They are college art students.  They know some ASL, written English, and our Chinese friend helped interpret through written Chinese.  We are hoping to keep in touch with them.

The water delivery system. Yes, this is how we get ours at the apartment too. 

In the background is the Bell Tower, in the center of the city.  It was first built in 1384.

Ben @ the Little Wild Goose Pagoda.  We didn't have time to go in the gate and when we got to the Bell Tower, it was closed too.  Maybe next weekend.

Right in the middle of a busy street are many reminders this city is in the midst of a huge construction boom.

From across the square this grandpa in the Muslim quarter was trying to get his little granddaughter to speak in English to me.  She happily said, "Hello!"  Her parents are off to the left, just at the edge of the photo.  People here tend to be very friendly out on the street.