Red China…
About the only true red that one tends to see anymore is the red eyes from the male dominated Bijuo dinners. China is no longer full of the reds as Americans once feared. No, the reds have been replaced by the almighty capitalists consumption and each time I visit a new city I see more and more of the same thing, rows and rows of shops selling horrible clothes at prices that these people cannot afford, and the shops are not full of the people that are briskly walking down all of the streets.. Lots of window shopping but so little of the real spending that one wonders how the shops actually manage to keep themselves in business.
Perhaps it is like this because of low overhead, but there seems to be something else totally amiss about the Chinese and their idea of socialism. It is just very difficult to quantify all of it together and come up with a valid theory.
Here is what is at issue
1. Most of the people in this country are dirt poor.
2. This system should work that everyone is taken care of, no matter what the cost because it is the People´s Republic.
3. The public officials that are supposed to be providing the services for the people are not poor, but they are driven around in Audi´s, Volkswagon´s and Mercedes.
4. The concept of the amarketplace is being driven out by the mall concept because the less than acceptable merchants are individuals, not corporation.
5. The use of propoganda to the people is of astronomical levels. The World Cup is the greatest example of this. Before the world cup, never any mention of soccer anywhere. The football pitch was usually empty. Now that World Cup fever is here on the tele, it is amazing to see just how these people act like they have enjoyed the sport for all of these years.
And there is more, but I must say good night… Hard to believe its one of my final days here in Hunan.

Chenzhou Diaries

New Years is about reviewing the past year in review.
For me, 2005 was a pretty big year. I think most importantly, I moved to China. However, the year began on a totally different note. As January moved into focus, I moved in with Neil and Lisa to begin looking for a good job to be able to start paying back the huge debt I had accumulated from having the desire to go and finish my education. My friends were kind enough to bring me into their home and allow me time to find a job.
What a depressing time indeed. In the span of a couple of months, I found little jobs here and there, but nothing amazing or even fun. I spent a good deal of time working hard in college to have something to show for when I came out–but there was nothing that really caught my eye. I went on several interviews for different positions to teach in Japan, but the opportunities did not match what I was looking for. I had all but given up and decided to go back to the cell phone business and try to manage living on my own and getting my own place.
Just as I was beginning to realize what a big mistake it was to go back to cubicle hell, the chance to teach abroad resurfaced again. It was the perfect distraction from the dull and mundane life I had in store for me working in a dismal company like Cingular wireless. I remember being particularly depressed with my life because all of the people I worked with were discussing how they just spent the entire evening before playing warcraft until 3am. This is not what I had in store for my life.
Emails began to come in from China. It all started with something as easy as looking online for positions teaching English abroad. I figured it was the only job I could get with my degree at the moment, given the horrid turn that the U.S. has taken in recent years. I needed to get out of the country quickly before further debt buried me for good.
China seemed like a good option due to its status as a socialist country. I figured it would be good to visit a “people’s republic” instead of a capitalist republic that doesn’t give a shit about its own people. I felt that if the grass was supposed to be greener on the other side, China must have some awesome grass.
I began speaking to a man in China who simply called himself “Jeff”. He lived in Beijing, so he said, and he was looking to place people with degree’s into teaching positions in China. The dates ranged all over the calender and he would send me some offers if I was interested. At first glance, I was suspect and didn’t think anything of it. I decided to play along a little bit and see where it ended up.
A week went by without any response.

Yes, these are Chinese people. The nicest ones, in my opinion. They are the merchants all around China and they are from Xiangjang province. They primarily do a lovely mutton stick BBQ, which I find to be quite lovely. This was taken late in the evening at outside one of the pubs following a world cup match.

Have you seen “A Life Aqautic?”
“He got the crazy eye!!!”

Ahhh, sob sob… The farewell banquet.
From the left,
Zhifeng Chen “Bob” Foreign Affairs Director
Mr. Chen Chair of the Communist Party and reigning Bijui Champion.
The Xiangnan University President
Timothy Hogg, ChenZhou Icon
The Xiangna University Vice President
Apple, Head of Another Department simillar to ours.

And the whole gang… Same as before, with Mr. Cable, or Cable Guy as I call him and some random woman I might know. Cable is my official boss and a really nice guy with a heart of gold. He would do quite well in America.
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Sometimes change happens so quickly you it is difficult to have much reaction to it all. This week that transistion is certainly happenening to me. I am half way done with my first year of teaching and it seems unreal. The exams are going very well–the students are certainly surprising me with their views on literature and the class and I feel quite accomplished. Its a pretty amazing thing to see the change is people processing skills because of something that you have done for them. Before I began to teach these kids, they knew nothing of literature, they didnt know how to use the internet for anything but talking online and playing games and now, its different and you can see it in their writing and the way that they have prepared their exams. Most of the students have come into the class and have been really well prepared to take the exam.
This makes it more difficult to leave the campus.
Before, I think I was spacing myself from them, finding their faults in order to make it easier for me to just leave and go somewhere else. As the time comes nearer and nearer to come to a close, I begin to see that the reality is that I am going to miss this life.
The other side of the equation is that I am not sure what the next step is just yet. It is seeming more and more like it will be Korea to be the next opportunity, but I am still a little apprehensive about the teaching prospect again. There certainly are pluses and minuses to the teaching trade, I like the freedom of it. However, there is this nagging feeling within me to settle in and get a job doing something where I can establish tenure and benefits. Live the suburban life, just like most of you out there in la la land–but the reality is that it just doesn’t seem to be in the cards right now.

I still do not have a plane ticket home yet–mostly because there are lots of options open and available to me at this point and I want to select the right one. A big concern is money, so I am trying to make some of that before I return to the states, even if it is for just a couple of weeks–the problem is that I have not made much in China and it is going to begin to matter very soon as I go back to a country where you need money just to survive.
I have the chance to teach at a couple of summer camps in China and make a little bit of money for a couple of weeks here and there and there is an opportunity to teach in Tianjin in July as well, which is where Lili is. At the end of July, we will head to Chengdu before she goes back to Germany and we figure out the next stages of our lives. Should be interesting.
We will be living together for most of July–in mostly her own enviroment, so it will be a good test to see what we have. Although I am a little apprehensive because I know that my mood in particular is going to be one of stress unless some things develop in the business end.
Regardless, the days are flying by and I find myself looking back at the end of the day wondering what I have actually accomplished and I realize that time has once again defeated my goals.
So it goes…

World Cup 2006

World Cup Opening Night in Chenzhou… Where Chris and I were the two celebrities of the night. We were invited for what turned out to be a very nice meal in one of the main hotels and then taken to a new club that was decked out for the event. We painted our faces for the event and were told that we could drink for free the entire night.
No Problem!!!
However I have realized that Free Drinks is more costly than paying for your drinks as I discovered the next morning when I woke up with a spliting headache from the previous evenings events.
Last night we watched the games at McDonalds, who are one of the main sponsers of the event and we were invited to go and watch the game for free food and since there was no way I was going to drink, it turned out to be a nice event.

This shot is me practicing my Karate moves with a kid that kept coming over to our table and practicing the four english phrases he knew. It was pretty hilarious.

This is me, about three hours before the opening match, still doing ok.

The opening cheers before the opening ceremony. Typical of the Chinese, the television station was showing some chinese sing-along when the opening ceremony began, so we missed the opening of it and then the pub turned it off so that we could play some dumb ass game. I had a belly full of beer, otherwise I would have complained.

Here I am, teaching them what little Football chants I know. What a jokeshow.
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