It wasn’t easy to go back to school today after a two-week winter break (I’m a middle school principal), but as I’ve said before, I’m blessed to get to work with some special teachers in my job. One of our teachers, Mary, has spent a month of each of her past two summers teaching English in China.

We were so delighted that she sent us a postcard this year and asked her to share a little bit more about her experiences there. Here are some excerpts from Mary’s response:

“My time in China has been one of the most rewarding teaching experiences in my 30+ years in the classroom. I taught Chinese English teachers American teaching methodologies. Each and every one of the teachers was hungry for our ideas and anything we could tell them about our lives. They were eager to share their culture with us as well. In all my travels, the Chinese were the kindest, most accepting people I’ve met. I felt welcomed and at home.

I also taught Chinese high school students. Forget about the students being better behaved than American kids. They’re high school students. ‘Nuff said. But add to that a huge interest in all things American. They drank in all I could tell them about students in our schools and their lives outside of school. I have students I still keep in touch with by the Chinese version of Facebook—QQ.

When I was teaching in Baoding, our students took us out and about the city a couple of evenings. We had student guides who practiced their English as they showed off their city to us. It was so much fun to see the excitement in their faces as they led us to the beautiful gardens and temples in our area of the city.

 

 

Chinese students are driven to say the least. I had teachers showing me videos of their students coming to school early to practice their physical education routines or for a bit of extra study time. The usual day for a Chinese student runs from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Students have a long lunch break—about an hour and a half to two hours, but they have to come back for mandatory homework sessions from 7:00-9:00 p.m. I did see evidence of stress in the students, both in the time I was there and in communication since I’ve been home. They have little time to be kids. The goal of perfection weighs heavily on Chinese children.

I’ve been asked if I’d go back to China, it isn’t difficult to answer. It’s a resounding yes. I found that I like teaching adults as well as students and made some wonderful friends young and old. China is a third-world country with a fine veneer of development which makes it a delightful mix of experiences. I would encourage anyone considering a trip to China to grasp it with both hands and hold on tight. It’s an experience you’ll never forget.”

[well]When you’re traveling next, be sure to send us a postcard at Postcard Jar, P.O. Box 334, Crete, NE 68333. We’d love to hear from you![/well]

  • Steve writes: When I first set my eyes on the outside of the Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona, I was unimpressed. In fact, I thought it was plain ugly. Construction continued, and I returned several times over the years, each time finding more to like about it. Finally, on a visit with Ann, the inside of the Cathedral was open for a visit. So we went inside.⁣
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Architect Antonin Gaudi's creation is brilliant. The way he uses stained glass to bring color to the stone inside, combined with the shadows created by the shape of the stone is breathtaking. Truly, this cathedral might be the most impressive one I've seen anywhere. This place should be on your bucket list. It's worth a trip to Barcelona to see it.
  • We've been going to the @PWMercantile for a couple of years now, especially since we bought a house in Pawhuska. Over that time, we've seen a number of changes both to the restaurant and to the merchandise they have in the store. But one item has remained constant: these turquoise beads.
  • One of our favorite stops on our hosted food tour of @visitkansascityks was the @403club. Sure, they offer a great selection of locally crafted and larger production domestic beers. But they also have pinball machines. In fact, they even have a pinball league.⁣
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We spent about an hour in this fun spot, sipping, playing, and enjoying the relaxed atmosphere. It will definitely be on our list of places to go again, someday. Beer and pinball are a pretty good mix.
  • On our visit to Italy, we visited the Prosecco region. While we toured a number of wineries, we actually stayed at an inn run by the Roccat winery. ⁣
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Prosecco is a sparkling wine, and people often see it as intergangeable with champagne. This isn't the case at all. Champagne is made from the Chardonnay grape, while Prosecco comes from Glara. Because of this, the two wines are completely different.⁣
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We enjoyed a tasting at Roccat, where they served us glasses of crisp, clear, delicious wine alongside some crunchy breadsticks that were just the right thing to enjoy with the wine.⁣
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If you ever have the opportunity to go to Italy, make sure you include time to head to Valdobbiandene and try some Prosecco.
  • Located in @clearlakeiowa, the historic Surf Ballroom has hosted some of the biggest names in music. It was on this stage that Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and JP "The Big Bopper" Richardson performed their final show on February 3, 1959. After the concert, they boarded a plane for their next town on their tour. That plane crashed shortly after takeoff, and the date has been remembered ever since as "the day the music died."⁣
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@traveliowa
  • Set in Millennium Park in Chicago is one of the city's most iconic art installations. It's a giant, shiny bean which reflects everything in sight. It's fun to walk around (and under) the bean and see how the shape distorts what it reflects.⁣
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Folks come from all over to see this art installation and take it in. Children love running around it and gazing into it, not realizing they are learning about convex and concave shapes. ⁣
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Standing here you'll hear a multitude of languages and see people from all walks of life there to enjoy the art. And that's why we love public art so much--it brings people together.
  • On our cruise from Italy to Greece, we made a stop in Mykonos. There, we had the chance to take part in a Greek cooking class in a woman's home learning from her.⁣
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We spent an afternoon with lessons about Greek cuisine, and how they waste nothing, not even excess juice from a cucumber. We also saw how to make incredible dishes like this spanakopita, or spinach pie. Sitting in her dining room, enjoying the light, flaky crust and delicious filling is an experience we won't soon forget. ⁣
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While traveling, we try to find opportunities to experience local culture. It's amazing how similar people in the world really are if you just take some time to see what life is like.
  • Do you remember that song from "The Music Man" about trouble? You know the one about the kids in the knickerbockers, shirt-tail young ones, peekin' in the pool hall window after school. ⁣
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Well, we got to peek in a replica of that pool hall on a recent visit to The Music Man Square on our hosted to Mason City, Iowa. It's the town where "The Music Man" creator Meredith Willson was born and raised and his legacy lives on. ⁣
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Before you go see @thehughjackman and @suttonlenore in this Broadway favorite, consider a visit to the real River City.⁣
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Click on the link in our bio to see our latest blog post about why fans of "The Music Man" need to visit Mason City, Iowa. ⁣
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@themusicmanbway

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