Spring festival break a Southeast Asia vacation 

Following the fall semester and in service training two other volunteers and I went on a Southeast Asia vacation to Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Below are some pictures in the order of the trip. Some highlights include the grand palace in Bangkok, Angkor Wat complex in Siem Reap Cambodia, the killing fields near Phnom  Phen, and Ho Chi Minh City.


Above are some photos of Bangkok 




 



Above are some photos from the Angkor world heritage site near Siem Reap Cambodia. It was amazing to see the mix of Hindu and Buddhist influences. Don’t think my photos do it justice.



Boat ride from Siem Reap to Phnom Phen  Cambodia. Also went to the killing fields and genocide museum of the killing under Pol Pot a very moving experience.





Photos of Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City and the beach town Vung Tau. The people of Vietnam were amazing I can’t wait to return.

My next post will either be more photos my trip or picture around my site and the city of Chongqing. Thanks for reading.

Finishing my first semester at site, 6 months in China 

Well my first semester teaching at Southwest University in China is winding down. I have started my finals with my junior grade classes and my Freshman oral English begin their finals next week. Time has flown by hard to believe I’ve already been in China 6 months.  For the most part it was been a challenging, rewarding, and overall prey great experience. 

This is also my first Christmas and holiday season outside the United States. However, my friends and student have made a nice time here in China. 

Many of my students gave me Christmas cards and candies which was very nice. In many of my classes we watched the movie Elf which all the students said they enjoyed.

The International College of Southwest University also held their student led end of the semester gala last night which was fun and enjoyable. The students of each language performed plays, skits, songs, and dance routines. The languages studied at my school and on display last night include English, Russian, Spanish, German, Korean, and Japanese. The English students performed some Shakespeare, parts of the musical Singing in the Rain, the play Waterloo Bridge, and some English song dance medleys 
Some of the foreign teachers also performed. The American teachers me included sang Rudolph to help everyone get in the Christmas spirit.

So far my site and the people I have met especially my students have helped make the my first sit months in China great. I’m looking forward to seeing what the next semester and year will bring.

Happy holidays and New Year.

Gone fishin’

One of my countrparts favorite activities is fishing and he has been kind enough to take me along. Most Chinese fishermen don’t use reels, their fishing is a cross between jigging and fly fishing. Throw the line out and flick the pole up in the air to cast the line out as far as possible. Then wait for what is often carp to take the bait, jerk the pole to set the hook and lift the pole high in the air to reel them in. That’s fishing Chongqing style anyways. After fishing we have the cook make a meal of our fish and local fresh vegetables and we play majiang while we wait. I have become surprisingly good at majiang a Chinese game similar to rummy. 

The fish was great but you have to watch out for all the little bones.

Along with fishing I went to a local orchard and farm, where we picked oranges and had another justo pick from the ground fresh meal

Some showing off the radishes they picked. They were quite delicious.

The fishing and farming was done about a 15 minute car ride from my apartment in Beibei Chongqing, at the foot of the Jinyuan mountain. Fun was had by all.

First few months at site

Well so much for blogging all the time, but I have been busy so I guess that makes it ok. Once the freshman completed their manditory month of military training at the start of the semester, I teach 7 classes a week that each have to periods so 14 40 minute periods. I have 4 fraeshman classes and three juniors teaching mainly oral English but also writting. The students have been great so far and have been really eager to learn though many are very shy. The hardest part has been improving their confidence and let them be willing to make mistakes. They always want to find the right answer though I am trying to get them to think more critically. Overall they have been great and teaching is often the best part of my day. 

The freshman ladies of one of my oral English classes.
Outside of teaching I have been busy in other ways I judged a English singing competition, attended the schools minority festival, and am on the English departments basketball team. 



Above a pictures of round one of the dining competition, I judged three rounds. Below are photos of Southwest University’s minority festival. I enjoyed the performances and am proud of my students for representing their people


The food has also been great. That my be because I enjoy spicy food and the people of Chongqing and Sichuan put spicy food in almost everything. The most popular is hot pot, a meal where food is cooked together in a boiling bowl of spicy oil. Sometimes it is too oily but on a cold day it hits the spot. 

Some of the Chongqing volunteers also meet with some previous China Peace Corps volunteers including the author Peter Hessler, he wrote a few interesting books on China including River Town, and Adam who now works for the State department. They were kind enough to share insight and we had some good discussions over dinner.


I will try to remember to get photos of the food for future posts.
Thanks for reading
Nathan

My Site Southwest University in Chongqing China

It’s been a little while since my last post. I got my site placement, final language exam, said goodbye to my Chengdu host family, swore in as a volunteer, moved to Chongqing, and started to get settled. I begin teaching on Monday. I teach mainly oral English to freshman and audio-visual English to juniors this semester. Bellow are some photos from the past few weeks. I am looking forward to the next two years at SWU in Chongqing.


All the volunteers who trained at Chengdu University with our TEFL trainer and are amazing language trainers.


All the volunteers serving in the Chongqing area. Plus our program manager mama Peng and assistant manager. I think 18 volunteers total.


All the China 22s volunteers with our Peace Corps country director, the US ambassador to China Max Baucus, and the Chengdu consulate consolr general Raymond Green. I think 83 volunteers total.


Me, my CDU training site manager the wonderful Zhang Yupei or Chloe, and my friend Skip now a volunteer in the province of Guazhou.


Me and US ambassador to China Max Baucus.

My language class at CDU. Garret, Jacob, me, Stephen, and Oscar

My sitemate CC and I’s luggage on its way to site via express service. It could not fit on the fast train from Chengdu to Chongqing.


Some photos of Southwest University where I teach


Photos of me and my homestay host dad in Chengdu, Liu Xiao Ping. I can’t thank them enough for their hospitality and friendship. Also community basketball game with out host families at CDU. Saying goodbye to CDU group photo.

Peace Corps training weeks 4 and 5, model school

During the fourth and fifth week, of the ten week Peace Corps service training (PST), volunteers co-teach and oral English class to Chinese university students. While many at my training site including me have taught before it always good to get new experience especially with students similar to those we will be teaching for the next two years. This was just a two week class so my co-teacher, Megan and I, decided to focus in improving out students situational oral English skills. We lead off with introductions then taught students about using English while traveling, at schools including university, shopping, holidays, parties, and popular culture in United states like sports music and movies. Overall I think the classes seemed to go well both the ones we individually taught and co-taught as well. The students even claimed to learn a thing or two from us and improve their speaking ability of English as well. While many in China learn English there is greater emphasis on listening and writing, which is why we focused on actually speaking English. I really appreciate the students coming to spend their free time over summer break working on speaking English when they could have been doing other things.

From left to right Flora, Chris, Ki Ki, Megan, Me, Edith, Lisa, and Reagan. I can only hope my students at my permanent site are as eager and willing to engage as they were.

Next in training we continue language work, interviews with site mangers, and have some TEFL classes before we find out our permanent site in week seven. Then have site visits in week eight. Site specific training in week nine and officially swear in as volunteers in week ten. Side note I have done a little traveling I hope to post those photos in the future when I am not so busy with training.

 

First two weeks of PST

What is PST. That is peace corps service training. In the China program it consist of the first 10 weeks of service prior to swearing in as a Peace Corps volunteer and teaching at a university in China for two year. The first two weeks all 83 volunteers of the China 22 were at a hotel in the center of the city of Chengdu prior to staying with host families around the Chengdu area for the next 8 weeks. My training site is at Chengdu University on eastern side of  Chengdu with another 20 some volunteers with in walking distance of Chengdu University.

The first two weeks of training at the hotel was a lot of administrative training mainly medical work, safety and security, teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL), and language and cultural training. I was also able to visit the Chengdu panda research center and a Buddhist monastery in the city of Chengdu as well.

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Group of Volunteers visiting the Panda Research Center
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Panda Life

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Red Panda Life

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Hanging in a Tree

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Baby Panda Life

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Buddhist dragon and a temple in the background

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Outside view of one of the Buddhist temples
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 Buddha or a cast of Buddhist monk that reached enlightenment not entirely sure.