We’re back in Guangzhou

•July 15, 2021 • 2 Comments

Well everyone it’s official! We are finally back in Guangzhou! My old school asked me to come back and we decided Dalian wasn’t really working out for us. You can take the boy outta the south, but you can’t take the south outta the boy! We will keep you all posted! More to come! It’s good to be back!

All Seasons Come to an End

•July 3, 2021 • 1 Comment

I wrote this a few weeks ago but because some students didn’t want to have their pictures posted (which is totally understandable), I procrastinated with editing the photos! Haha

Yesterday was the official last day of school and my last day as a teacher at Maple Leaf Dalian Girls Campus. It’s hard to imagine two years ago we moved here to the northeastern part of China and now this season has come to an end. Despite the challenges of living in Dalian and teaching at Maple Leaf, there are quite a number of friends we’ve made along the way that I will sincerely miss. Two years ago, I know this is where God had called us to come. These last few weeks have been a reminder of the impact that each and every one of us can have on our surroundings; this is often something I forget, especially when life gets so busy as a teacher. The fast pace and in particular here at Maple Leaf often causes us to forget the most important aspects of education (establishing friendships, inspiring others, being a role model, invoking contemplation, self-reflection, and paying it forward) and more specifically why I became a teacher. One of my favorite authors once said,

“People forget their faces when they are busy”

-Natsumi Soseki; And Then.

My faith in God, my family and my students this year in particular have encouraged me to remember my real purpose in life as a Believer, a husband, a father and a teacher. Our season in Dalian has brought us a lot of life experiences and meaningful friendships. Here are just a handful of these memories I’d like to share especially from my time at Maple Leaf. May God bless you all in your endeavors and I hope to stay in touch!

A Snapshot in the Lives of Private School Students

•June 28, 2021 • 2 Comments
六一兒童節在幼兒園- Children’s Day at the Kindergarten

Noah has been attending Kindergarten here in Dalian for the past few months and him starting school has got me a lot more interested in getting to know more about life for the average student here in China. I have been privileged to teach at both public schools here in China and private schools, though I have not really sat down to speak with students about their struggles they experience day to day particularly in China. Obviously as a teacher, I have spoken with students about issues they experience, but I have decided to actually sit down with three of my top students and ask them some specific questions. For the sake of this post, I will refer to these high school students as: Student A, Student B, and Student C. These are the opinions of three exceptional young students and provides some insight into just some student’s lives here in China. Thank you girls for taking the time to answer these questions! I wish you all the best in your academic endeavors and life! I know you all can succeed in anything you put your minds toward!

Student A-
How long have you been attending an international or private school? Have you ever attended a local public school?

I attend an international school since the second semester of grade 8, so it is been approximately three and a half years. I did attend local public school before I came to the school I am in now.

What is your opinion of the gaokao? Did it impact your parents or your decision to go to a private/ international school?

I think gaokao is a really competitive exam because most students in China will attend this exam and compete together to apply for a good university. Therefore, this causes huge pressure on students because this exam is so decisive. Your future is determined to some extent by the results of gaokao. That is because the university you attend will limit your job placement by what you can choose and apply for. In my perspective, I don’t think it is meaningful to only give students one chance to decide their future. Gaokao cannot represent students’ personal ability (communication skills, cooperation skills…). These are all important factors in judging a students’ ability and is not able to be shown on an exam. I think there are already some changes on the gaokao policy that the final score will be divided to a small exam each year and the combination of them will be the final score. However, the weight of the college entrance examination can still play a decisive role, but I am happy to see the progress and changes that have been made. This teaching program causes students to have to stay up late and study till maybe 1 a.m. everyday, which I think is harmful to teenagers. It is true that gaokao became one of the reason why I choose to change to an international school. I personally will easily get sick and my body cannot support me to stay up that late to study. Also, I don’t like this way of learning as it causes me to loose interest in studying. I like to effectively communicate with my teachers, which I believe is an important way in effective learning. I find myself really adjusting to the way of learning in an international school and although I feel tired each day, I am happy and enjoy life.

What kind of pressures do you think you encounter being a student in China specifically?

First, I think the environment in China is so competitive and this causes many students to have mental pressure. This also can lead to some mental disease in students and mor likely to commit suicide in the future.

Second, some excellent students cannot perform well during this huge exam. A lot of students work poorly under pressure, especially for those excellent students this can cause them to fail at their only chance. They cannot adjust the teaching environment they are currently in, so this can impact students in loosing some talents.

Third, I think the exam rank of students is also stressful for students. I think although some of the schools these days already make changes where they only publicly display the high ranked students name. However, for most schools, the situation still has not changed. This can lead to a blow to a students’ self-esteem and a backlash when parents criticize them.

Fourth, students in public schools need to learn many subjects, and they will receive homework from all those classes. It is extremely difficult to finish up all the homework. Some students are even afraid to attend school, especially for good students because they did not finish all the work.

Why did you choose the country you did to eventually study abroad?

I personally really like Britain, especially London. I love the buildings style there and have always dreamed about living there. However, I had take into serious consideration about the university that I wanted to go attend. There are many top universities in Britian and currently a lot of students in our school applied for those universities. Of course, I have to say that I need to consider about the political situation now so some countries I will not choose to go. However, I always wanted to go to Britain for studying, so this hasn’t influenced me a lot. There are students who changed the country that they choose to study abroad because of this factor, so I wanted to mention about it here.

What do you think is the biggest difference between a Chinese education and a Western education?

I think it must be the way of learning. I think Chinese education focuses on listening during class and always trying to study about knowledge and you must understand it by yourself. However, the western education focuses on practice and group work. I think that these methods will fit different children. Like for me, I would like to have more communications with my teachers during class and have more discussions to share different ideas. Long time of receiving knowledge without practice is not a good way of learning for me. With different study methods and personalities, these two ways will benefit more than the other in different situations.

Student B:

How long have you been attending an international or private school? Have you ever attended a local public school?

I went to a foreign language international school in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province, because I am not a Dalian local. It’s similar to this school, which has a primary, middle, and high school. I stayed there for nine years.

What is your opinion of the gaokao? Did it impact your parents or your decision to go to a private/ international school?

Yes, not only because of gaokao, but also because of the student’s final exam in middle school that might determine a students’ future. I wasn’t particularly gifted in math, but I excelled in liberal arts. My parents did not want me to be limited by the Chinese school system or rely on it to determine my future, so they put me in this school.

What kind of pressures do you think you encounter being a student in China specifically?

To begin with, the Chinese school system, particularly in Hebei Province, is rife with restrictions. We must cut our hair because we are not allowed to have long hair. Any form of entertainment is seen as a sin that is unrelated with study. It’s also crucial to have good relationships with peers and teachers. Some of the students enjoy showing off and laughing at someone assomething funny. Poor students may even be subjected to bullying at school. Every student in China has enormous learning constraints. They don’t have time to relax or have fun. Every second counts, and a student’s mind can be broken down by a mountain of homework.

Why did you choose the country you did to eventually study abroad?

I chose Britain, because the requirement of Britain when applying university was easier than others. The British gentleman style and architecture is very attractive to me. Edinburgh is also in the top 10 of the world’s most beautiful cities. So while studying, I can also experience the beautiful scenery.

What do you think is the biggest difference between a Chinese education and a Western education?

I think the difference is an open teaching model, and the focus on practice. Western teaching does not restrict students too much and does not define them. Grades are also relatively confidential and are only available to that student alone. This is very beneficial to students in terms of their personal growth. Chinese teaching is too strict and as a test-based education system, it places too much of a heavy burden on students, leaving them unable to freely develop extracurricular activities and hobbies. In addition, emphasis on practice in Western teaching allows students to learn from practice, rather than simply knowledge from textbooks and memorizing it by rote memorization as in Chinese teaching.

Student C:

How long have you been attending an international or private school? Have you ever attended a local public school?

Till now I have attended an international school for 11years. I started to go to this school in grade one, and I have never attend any local public school before.

What is your opinion of the gaokao? Did it impact your parents or your decision to go to a private/ international school?

I don’t like Gaokao only because I think it is meaningless, and Chinese parents only focus on their children’s grade in the Gaokao, but not the growth or experience of their children. They make Gaokao seems like a child’s only entry of success, for me that is a wrong perspective. My parent never bother me, so I’m super appreciative of their respect. I have a brother who went through Gaokao three years ago. Apparently, my parents knew how hard it was going to be for students who are facing the Gaokao, so they listened to my opinion, and didn’t send me into public.

What kind of pressure do you think you encounter being a student in China specifically?

I think the biggest pressure in being a Chinese student is related to stereotypes and profiling, which I think it’s a common phenomenon, but basically a wrong conclusion. This is the way in judging whether you are a good child or not, just by looking at your score, and nothing else. This idea is such a shame to have.

Why did you choose the country you did to eventually study abroad?

I want to go aboard to the US, UK or Canada because I feel it can open my mind in doing things, and prevents me from being swayed by traditional Chinese thinking. To be honest, I choose go aboard because I like English, it let me feel free. Same with language, the places I choose can also allow me to have freedom, and experience different cultures.

What do you think is the biggest difference between a Chinese education and a Western education?

The biggest difference between Chinese and Western education is that China tends to be theoretical; teaching how to solve problem on test paper. Western education tends to be more practical, and wanting student to solving problems in real life, and how to use it in daily life.

Lee’s Coffee Shop- 李小姐的咖啡店

•June 15, 2021 • 1 Comment

Greetings everyone! I have successfully finished my classes this semester for my masters and now have more time to spend writing again. This post is a little different, I thought I could do something a little more interesting than just writing about my travels, I thought I could start documenting or recording life in China (for myself and others). I decided to interview a local small business owner here in Dalian and wanted to give some insight into local business here. What are some struggles they have in starting a business, what are their expectations, etc. I hope you enjoy it and if you are around the area (Jinshitan- 金石滩), please visit this coffee shop! It’s always better to support local businesses over franchises (like Starbucks).

Lee’s Coffee Shop- Dalian Jinshitan Shuimuhuating Community 4-3-102:
李小姐的咖啡店- 大连金石滩水木华庭4-3-102

What interested you to start a business? (什么激发你的兴趣去创业?)

回复: 首先,我本人非常喜欢喝咖啡,从高中开始就喝咖啡了,喝咖啡的时间超过了二十年。其次,我经常光顾一些咖啡馆,当我喝他们的咖啡的时候,我认为有些店的咖啡豆非常好,而有一些的咖啡豆非常一般,店家的服务也很一般,感受不到温度,,而我想开一家属于自己的有温度的,使用好的咖啡豆的店,我想提供给大家好喝的咖啡,当然,更方便自己每天喝咖啡。

Response: First of all, I personally like coffee very much. I have been drinking coffee since high school, and I have been drinking coffee for more than 20 years. Secondly, I often visit some cafes. When I drink their coffee, I think the coffee beans in some stores are very good, and some coffee beans are very average. Sometimes the store’s service is just average and I can’t feel a welcoming atmosphere. I wanted to open my own store with a welcoming atmosphere and good quality coffee beans. I want to provide everyone with delicious coffee. Of course, this makes it more convenient to drink coffee every day.

How difficult is it to start a business in Dalian? (在大连创业会遇到什么困难?)

回复: 在大连创业,说实话,很难,困难重重,因为大连的经济现在并不好,大连的发展也不够好,这就导致了人们的购买力不够强,而咖啡不是大多数人们每日生活的必须品,它是可以替代的,甚至考虑经济因素,人们可以在家里或者在公司里喝速溶咖啡,假如没有品质要求的话。另外,很多人的消费观念和对商品品质的要求并不高,可能很多人宁愿花费更少的钱喝很一般的咖啡而不是多花点钱喝好的咖啡;而另外还有一些人,追求品质,追求品牌效应,他们可以花更多的钱去买星巴克或者其他很有名的产品,而不愿意去不知名的小店消费。

Response: To start a business in Dalian, to be honest, is difficult. The economy of Dalian is not as good now and the development of Dalian is not good as it once was. This has lead to people’s insufficient purchasing power, and coffee is not a necessity for most people in their daily lives. It can be substituted, even considering economic factors, people can drink instant coffee at home or in the company, as long as they have no requirements in quality. In addition, many people’s ideas on consumption and requirements for product quality are not high. Perhaps many people would rather spend less money on regular coffee instead of spending more on good coffee. There are some who will pursue good quality coffee. Many people might spend more money to buy Starbucks or other well-known products instead of going to unknown shops.

Question: What makes your coffee shop unique? (是什么使你的咖啡厅独一无二?)

回复: 我认为,首先我的咖啡豆都是经过严格挑选的,自己烘焙,这样可以保证咖啡豆新鲜和品质。另外,就是我的服务,我可以根据每一位顾客的要求去调整每一杯咖啡的浓度,甜度和各种口味,在这里,我们没有固定的套用模式。

Response: I think that first of all, my coffee beans are strictly selected and roasted by myself. This means that the freshness and quality of the coffee beans are guaranteed by myself. In addition, it is personally made by myself; I can adjust the coffee ratio, sweetness and or other flavors of each cup of coffee to the customer’s preference. Here, we do not have a fixed standard that needs to be followed like other shops.

Question: How and where do you get your coffee beans? (你在哪里和怎样采购你的咖啡豆?)

回复: 我家的咖啡豆主要来自非洲的埃塞俄比亚产区,100%阿拉比卡

Response: My coffee beans are mainly from Ethiopian in Africa, 100% Arabica.

Question: Do you think Chinese are changing their drinking habits and adopting coffee? (你认为中国人会改变饮食习惯而习惯喝咖啡?)

回复: 我认为改变人们的饮食习惯不容易,不是一朝一夕的事情,咖啡馆并非可以轻易的改变人们的饮食习惯,我认为咖啡馆现在越来越趋向于成为人们消遣,休息或者三五好友谈心的一个场所,可以说,去咖啡馆坐坐是一种文化,有时人们甚至还不习惯喝现磨咖啡,但是他们喜欢去咖啡馆坐坐

Response: I think it’s not easy to change people’s eating or drinking habits. It’s not an overnight thing. Cafes can’t easily change people’s preferences. I think coffee shops are becoming more and more a place for people to go for entertainment, rest or even talk with friends. It can be said that going to a coffee shop is a kind of culture. Sometimes people are not even used to drinking fresh brew coffee, but they like to go to a coffee shop.

Question: What do think the demographics are for drinking coffee in China? (在中国有哪些年龄段的人喝咖啡?)

回复: 据我所知,还是以年轻人和中年人为主,老年人比较少。

Response: As far as I know, it is still mainly young and middle-aged people, while the elderly are relatively small market.

Well everyone, I hope you found this entry interesting. While China’s taste in drinks are swiftly moving from tea as a dominant preference, many Chinese are adopting coffee as a go to drink. That being said, many Chinese seems to be price conscience about certain things, especially with convenience store’s offering coffee or other fast foods places. That being said, there can be a lot said for a barista that can really cater to the customer. Overall, I had a nice time chatting with Mrs. Li about her little coffee shop. Mrs. Li is very interested in using the best imported products to make her coffee and doesn’t skimp on the cost in using good quality ingredients for items on her menu. She is currently working on preparing a new set of drinks and sweets/ snacks (all-natural ice cream, Hainan coconut drinks, etc) for the oncoming summer months here in Dalian. Though her shop might be small, it has a peaceful and neighborhood feeling vibe to it. Mrs. Li is a local Dalian woman who has a passion for making friends with people from all around Dalian and to share a good cuppa with anyone interested. As I mentioned earlier, support local businesses and check out her shop.

Hanami in Dalian China

•April 11, 2021 • Leave a Comment

Greetings everyone! It’s been a while, I have been swamped with the teaching (marking, prep, blah blah blah), working on two projects for my master’s degree and trying to spend the rest of that time with my family. I’m not going to lie, this has probably been the most difficult semester I’ve endured so far with my master’s degree. I cannot wait until I start my dissertation in a few months so I can get done with this part of my life.

I saw the first video pop up in my YouTube feed from the South China Morning Post (SCMP) almost two weeks ago and I remember thinking that these cherry blossoms were so beautiful. I know that a lot of Japanese have a special place in their hearts for this particular flower. I have always thought this flower was very beautiful, along with maple leaves and azaleas. Apparently it is a thing in Japan during this time of year to get together with friends and family under the cherry blossoms to have a hanami party. Anyway, another YouTuber I follow, Asagi’s Life, also ended up doing a very interesting video about the same topic and how these hanami parties look differently this year. Hearing about these Hanami parties from her and the SCMP made me really think about what a shame it is that this year people cannot carry on such a quaint tradition. While I have seen cherry blossoms in Raleigh or Charlotte, North Carolina (I don’t remember which city) and Washington DC, we do not have that tradition of gathering around with friends for a picnic under the cherry blossoms. But I’m somewhat envious about not having such a similar event to spend with family and friends, though we do like to get together with friends and family for a good ole barbeque in the South around this time of year leading into the summer time.

Anyway, this post is just to share some of the cherry blossoms surrounding our school (大连枫叶国际学校/ 大連楓葉國際學校). While I was taking these photos, I realized that I didn’t noticed them this time last year because we were stranded in the USA due to the pandemic. Apparently, cherry blossoms have a very short timespan for blooming. It’s hard to believe it has already been six months since we have been back to China. When I reflect back over that time, it seemed like a dream I was back in the USA after having been gone for so long and now that I am back to China, it seems like the dream continues. Anyway, enjoy some of these photos. I took them at different times, when they were just starting to bloom and after they had bloomed. While you may or may not be able to have a cute little get together with your family or friends in public, just remember to make an effort to keep in touch with them during these restrictive times. May God help end this pandemic very soon all across the world! Until next time, 下次见!

My EDC in China

•February 18, 2021 • 1 Comment

My EDC in China- 在中國我的日常攜帶品

Over the years, I have become quite used to carrying a bag with me everywhere I go. Though the size of those bags have changed over time, lately, I have decided to carry a much smaller bag. Perhaps the size of a liter or half a gallon. The items I carry look quite different here in China than what I carry while back home in the USA. In fact, many of these items I would not carry on me, but I would leave in my car to have access to them if needed. Unfortunately, I have yet to get my Chinese driver’s license. My international driver’s license doesn’t qualify me to drive in Mainland China, only Hong Kong, Taiwan or Macau. Unlike other EDC blog posts or videos you’ll find on YouTube, I want to give a little insight as to why I carry some of these items with me as my EDC. Some of these items might seem strange to westerners who haven’t been to China otherwise.

Before we get started, I just want to remind everyone that their EDC items might be completely different. Please share some of your EDC items in the comment section below. These are just some ideas to help you navigate your stay/ residency in Mainland China. Alright, lets get started.

UniQlo Mini Messenger Bag 優衣庫包

I have decided to go smaller and lighter with my EDC bag because I do a lot of walking on a daily basis. Carrying around a large heavy bag can become tiresome or cumbersome after a long day. On average, I walk around 10,000-20,000 steps daily. I decided to go with this smaller bag from UniQlo that probably is about the size of a liter. As I get older, I am less interested in flashy brands and labels plastered all over myself, I like this minimalistic style bag. I think it also attracts less attention, which is a good deterrent from the occasional pickpocket. This particular bag I can swing around to the front with ease when on public transport to better keep an eye on my belongings. Pickpocketing is becoming less of an issue here in China (in my personal experience), but as living in any major city, I think it’s good to be mindful of these things.

Key Bag, Wallet, Passport, Handkerchief, 2 Fountain Pens (black, blue), a Mechanical Pencil, a 1200ma Battery Pack, Swiss Army Knife, Red Packet, the Gospel of John in Chinese.

Most of these items are self explanatory, but I do want to make a public service announcement. While living in Guangzhou, I went to a seminar conducted by the Guangzhou police concerning expats. We were told by the local authorities that as foreigners living in China, we are required to carry several documents on us at all times living in GZ. We should carry our passport at ALL times (I know some foreigners who carry a photo or printed copy, these types of ID may or may not work depending on the officer you may encounter). Two other documents that you should carry with you at all times are your foreign expert certificate/ 外国人工作许可证/Wàiguó rén gōngzuò xǔkě zhèng (if applicable) and your temporary residence registration/ 境外人员临时住宿登记表/ Jìngwài rényuán línshí zhùsù dēngjì biǎo. We were told at least in Guangzhou (2019), that if you do not carry these documents with you at all times, if you were to be stopped by an officer, you could face a 20,000RMB fine. Now that I am living in Dalian, apparently I do not need to carry my foreign expert certificate, but it is the law in China to carry your passport and temporary residence registration with you at all times. If you are not sure how to obtain these documents, please speak with the HR department at your school/ company to ask them or you can go yourself to the nearest police station to obtain the temporary residence registration. My recommendation would be to ask the local police what additional documents you might need to carry with you as my personal experience is that many schools or companies in China might not know or be up to date with the law (as it often changes) or they do not want to give you these documents because they do not want to be hassled with this responsibility.

Another quick note, I often carry a handkerchief with me around China because most bathrooms do not carry paper towels. Those that do might even make you scan a QR code to trade your personal information for a paper towel or even TP. That being said, I have also seen plenty of studies that have shown that TP or paper towels in public restrooms are the dirtiest objects in the restroom, even more than the toilet seats.

My wallet and key bag I keep in my two front pockets. It is more difficult for a pickpocket to get items out of your front pockets than back pockets. Especially when you can put your hands in your pockets on a crowded subway train.

Wallet, Passport, Traveler’s Notebook, Writing Utensils, Swiss Army Knife, Cetirizine (allergy meds), Portable Charger, Tide to Go Pen, Gospel of John, Tylenol, Seirogan, PM 2.5 Mask, Toilet Paper

As previously stated, most public restrooms usually do not carry toilet paper or paper towels in China. If they do, you might need to pay for them, trade personal information via WeChat to get some. If your lucky, there might be one TP dispenser located outside of the stalls in the bathroom (usually by the entrance/ exit, sinks or trash cans) and you will need to grab some before heading to the stalls. So I always carry with me some TP just for this reason. One time when I first began traveling to China, I was in Dandong China. I remember going to a public restroom with a man standing outside the restroom selling TP. He asked me if I wanted to buy some and I thought, “why, there will be some TP inside the stall”. Well after using the bathroom, I realized that there was no TP in the stall. I called out to the man and asked if I could buy some TP and he raised the price! He went from 1.5 RMB for TP to 3 RMB for some TP. He laughed and said that next time I should listen, I learned my lesson and have never again been caught without TP in Mainland China.

One thing that I often took for granted in the USA was the fact that I could buy allergy medicine or Tylenol almost anywhere. Whether your at a gas station, Walmart, grocery store, it was common and easy to get these if needed. As stated before, I would keep some in my car at all times in the US. Here in China it is a different story, these types of drugs can only be carried by licensed pharmacies. You will not find them in grocery stores or convenience stores like 7eleven, Family Mart or Lawson. I cannot tell you how many times I went to a different city for travel or work while in China and was caught with a terrible migraine, upset stomach or allergy attack and just had to deal with it. Pharmacies in China (especially in smaller districts or cities) will close fairly early and now because of the pandemic, a lot of them will not even sell you Tylenol without an ID because the customer might be using it to lower a fever, which could be related to Covid. There were several times where the only pharmacy close to me were in a local hospital and I would have to get a doctors prescription just to buy some Ibuprofen. Obviously pharmacies outside a hospital wouldn’t need a prescription. So I always carry some traditional Japanese medicine good for food poisoning or upset stomachs (Seirogan), Tylenol or the only allergy medication that seemingly works for me (Cetirizine). I have yet to find Cetirizine in China, so I would often have to go to Hong Kong to purchase it. But if you are alright with a different brand, Claritin is also available in most pharmacies in China.

Air pollution is quite a problem in most of China. Before I started taking air pollution serious, every time I traveled to China back in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012, I would get some kind of upper respiratory infection. While there are times were wearing a mask is not necessary, there are times were especially in Guangzhou, the air quality can deteriorate. During the winter this is especially true when more people are burning coal or using gas to heat their homes and there is less rain to help clean the air. I would highly recommend carrying an extra PM 2.5 mask with you in case you drop yours or the air quality changes when you are outside. Since I have taken a lot of these precautions, I can count how many times I’ve gotten upper respiratory infections in China during the last 5 years.

ESV New Testament, alcohol wipes, Fitbit tracker, Hand Sanitizer, Lightning Cable, Earplugs, Earphones, Medical Mask, Solid Cologne, Fisherman’s Friends, Toilet Seat Sanitizing Wipes, and an ICE Card.

While I do not use these often, there are times were I am grateful to have them. If I am in the office/ library and trying to focus or more riding on the metro, having these earplugs are a life saver. Those people living in Guangzhou know just how noisy the train cars can be at times, especially line 7! Some of the lines are not as noise proof as they should be and especially the newer lines are not built to the same standards as maybe line 1 originally was built.

On the days were the air pollution is high and wearing a mask while teaching seems to not be working, I like to carry around some Fisherman’s Friends to help ease my throat. My good friend Steve got me using these. Lately, I have been enjoying the lemon or blackcurrant flavor.

While this might seem like overkill, PM 2.5 masks are great for fighting air pollution, but not for fighting against viruses. During the flu season at school with my students or protecting against COVID-19, I like to use these imported medical masks that are BFE, VRE and PFE rated from Japan. Supposedly, they also help with PM 2.5, but they don’t offer as tight a fit as most PM 2.5 masks I have worn in the past, therefore I am a little skeptical of how effective they might be in regard to pollution.

Lastly, I want to mention is having an ICE card. ICE stands for In Case of Emergency. I think this is good to have on someone where ever they might be, but especially when you are traveling. I have even seen some people take pictures of this information and leave it as their lock screen wallpaper on their phone. That being said, while this system might be expected for first aid responders to check for in the West, I do not think it is as common in China. Therefore, I have one side in English and the opposite side I have translated into Chinese. That way, whoever happens to find it in case something happens to me in China can understand it or if I am traveling abroad, I can use the English side. Unfortunately, I cannot find the original file I created with the help of geticecard.com, but I am including a PDF copy where you can print out and write in your information.

Important Vocabulary Words 重要词汇

  • Bag 包 Bāo
  • Key Bag 钥匙袋 yàoshi dài
  • Wallet 钱包 qiánbāo
  • Passport 护照 hùzhào
  • Handkerchief 手帕 shǒupà
  • 2 Fountain Pens 钢笔(black, blue) gāngbǐ
  • a Mechanical Pencil 自动铅笔 zìdòng qiānbǐ
  • a 1200ma Battery Pack 充电宝 chōngdiàn bǎo
  • Swiss Army Knife 瑞士军士刀 ruìshì jūnshì dāo
  • Traveler’s Notebook 旅行笔记本 lǚxíng bǐjìběn
  • Cetirizine/ Claritin 佳力天过敏药 jiā lì tiān guòmǐn yào
  • Tide to Go Pen 汰渍便携快速去污笔 tài zì biànxié kuàisù qù wū bǐ
  • Tylenol 必理痛 bìlǐtòng
  • Seirogan 正露丸 zhènglùwán
  • PM 2.5 Mask- PM2.5口罩 PM2.5 kǒuzhào
  • Toilet Paper 厕纸 cèzhǐ
  • ESV New Testament 圣经新约 shèngjīng xīnyuē
  • alcohol wipes 酒精卫生湿巾 jiǔjīng wèishēng shī jīn
  • Fitbit tracker 计步器  jìbùqì
  • Hand Sanitizer 免洗洗手液 miǎn xǐ xǐshǒu yè
  • Lightning Cable 手机电线 shǒujī diànxiàn
  • Earplugs 耳塞 ěrsāi
  • Earphones 耳机 ěrjī
  • Medical Mask 医用口罩 yīyòng kǒuzhào
  • Solid Cologne 固体古龙香水 gùtǐ gǔlóng xiāngshuǐ
  • Fisherman’s Friends 渔夫之宝 yúfū zhī bǎo
  • Toilet Seat Sanitizing 便圈清洁纸 biàn quān qīngjié zhǐ 
  • In Case of Emergency Card (ICE Card) 紧急联系卡 jǐnjí liánxì kǎ.

Are there some items that you carry around with you as your EDC that I did not include but you think would be equally important? Please comment below and share! I would love to hear your EDC or recommendations.

Dalian and the Pandemic

•February 16, 2021 • 2 Comments

It’s been almost 4 months since we’ve returned back to Dalian, China. It’s hard to believe that this time last year we were being informed that our return flight to China was cancelled because of the pandemic and we were unsure how to get back to Mainland China. In this post, I wanted to show my family and friends how Dalian is handling the pandemic. 

Toward the end of December, beginning of January, there were a several cases that broke out here in Dalian/ greater Liaoning province. The local municipalities had required our school to close and we were all back with distance learning. During those few weeks, the local government here tested almost everyone in Dalian three times! Just to give you some better perspective, Dalian according to Wikipedia, as of 2010, had a population of around 6,700,000 people.

In the photos above are an example of what my health QR code looks like. If your code is green then you have not been in contact with anyone with COVID-19 and if the code is red, then you have been around someone who was exposed or you yourself have caught COVID. The rest of the photos consist of the various signs plastered all over the walls, doors of different malls or metro stations in Kaifaqu 開發區. In some of the pictures you can see the people lining up trying to get their codes to load and then a gentlemen standing at the entrance checking people’s temperature. The blue card 通行證 was a physical permit we had to carry around in order to prove that we live in our apartment complex so that we could come and go freely. Thankfully, since the cases have now dropped to none, our apartment complex is no longer requiring us to carry those pieces of paper.

Well here in Dalian, the biggest thing that has been widely adopted to “help prevent” the spread of COVID-19 are QR health codes. All residents here are required to register for a Liaoning health codes, whether through WeChat 微信or Alipay 支付寶. Residents/ visitors are then required to show this health code to most establishments in order to go inside. This is especially true for using public transportation, like the metro or bus system. Most major shopping malls around Dalian are checking people’s temperature. 

As of today, February 16, 2021, there have been no new cases of COVID-19 for almost two months. While I’m not sure how accurate these health codes are, the precautions taken by the Dalian municipal government have seemingly worked. I know this is a sensitive topic around many countries with implementing this type of health code or health check passport, but I’ve heard other countries have begun to implement such practices. Several of my friends back home in the USA have wondered about this and to be honest, it really hasn’t affected my daily life that much. That being said, I’m wanting to leave my person opinions out of this post and just share what Dalian has implemented during the pandemic. Do you guys think this type of health check/ COVID prevention scheme would work in your home country or area? Let me know in the comments below and please let’s remember to be civil. 

September 8, 2020- Update

•September 9, 2020 • 2 Comments

Hi everyone,

We just wanted to provide you all with a very short update and a prayer request. God has definitely got the ball rolling for us to finally start expecting to go back to China. Two weeks ago, I finally received a new VISA, even though my previous VISA had not yet expired. Apparently, my previous VISA was cancelled since we were outside of the country during this pandemic time. This VISA is only valid until November for my to travel to China, so needless to say we have some time, but not much time. So God has definitely been blessing us.

I recently posted on Facebook saying that my son’s travel document (or 旅行证) would be easy to apply for a new one. Well, at the moment they have been dragging their feet to help us. I know they are definitely swamped during this time and are probably working around the clock to process application and help overseas Chinese or foreigners traveling to China, but we could really use some prayer in this circumstance.

These last three weeks have been difficult, my school has returned back into session in China and I have now been working nights from 8pm-4am Sunday-Thursday. It is hard for me to get motivated to do much these days and I’ve been fairly exhausted. I do not sleep well during the day.

Please be praying that God will grant us favor for my son’s special travel permit, that God will allow the Chinese embassy in DC to see our request, to sympathize with our case, give my son his travel permit and God will allow us to return to China by mid-October.

Devoting the New Year to Memorization

•February 11, 2021 • Leave a Comment

Greetings everyone! I have been doing a lot of reflection this past year (I’d imagine a lot of us have been using this time during the pandemic to do the same). There are some things that I have come to realize and even come to appreciate during this time. It is not simply enough to read or consume God’s Word, but we should make it part of our heart and mind. The real transformation will come to us when we begin to actively take time to make it part of who we are.

Though I have already come up with a lot of habits, events, priorities that I am trying to make as the new norm in my life, the coming of Lunar New Year has caused me to think about how things are going and some things that I planned, but might not be high priorities. An old missionary friend of mine in Hong Kong once told me that he loved Chinese New Year (Lunar New Year) because it gave him another chance to start over the resolutions that he had already planned or broken for his New Year resolutions. While I have been doing fairly well with my new year resolutions, I have done some further reflecting and want to change or modify some things. Today, I want to share some a list of Bible verses and payers that I want to commit to memory in 2021.

I am not sure about you all, but lately, I have not been committing a lot of things to memory. I think I have been relying too much on having access to information 24/7 at my fingertips. I have shamefully become lazy in the memorization of Scripture. With recent events that have taken place both in China and the USA, I am beginning to see a new importance in how we really need to commit these Scriptures to heart. My goal isn’t to be controversial here or bring up political problems, but given recent events in our two countries, it has really alarmed me for the future of the Church.

Though, I have been working on yearly Bible plans for the past 3 years and I have been reading/ studying the Bible more this year than in a long time, but unfortunately I haven’t dedicated time to memorizing Scripture. So I have decided over the next 45+ odd weeks of 2021, I am going to commit to memory a Bible verse(s) or prayer to memory (both in English and Mandarin Chinese) each week. I want to make this an attainable goal and since I will be memorizing these Scriptures/ Prayers in Mandarin Chinese as well, I think committing to one a week is probably a better idea. The translations that I will be using are the English Standard Version ESV and the 新譯本/ Xīn yìběn/ the Chinese New Version (CNVT).

Week 7-
1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV- No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
哥林多前書 10:13- 新譯本- 你們所受的試探,無非是人受得起的; 神是信實的,他必不容許你們受試探過於你們抵受得起的,而且在受試探的時候,必定給你們開一條出路,使你們能忍受得住。
哥林多前书10:13- 新译本- 你们所受的试探,无非是人受得起的; 神是信实的,他必不容许你们受试探过于你们抵受得起的,而且在受试探的时候,必定给你们开一条出路,使你们能忍受得住。

Week 8-
Romans 12:2 ESV- Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
羅馬書 12:2新譯本- 不要模仿這個世代,倒要藉著心意的更新而改變過來,使你們可以察驗出甚麼是 神的旨意,就是察驗出甚麼是美好的、蒙他悅納的和完全的事。
罗马书12:2新译本- 不要模仿这个世代,倒要借着心意的更新而改变过来,使你们可以察验出什么是神的旨意,就是察验出什么是美好的、蒙他悦纳的和完全的事。

Week 9-
John 3:18 ESV- Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
約翰福音 3:18 新译本- 信他的,不被定罪;不信的,罪已經定了,因為他不信 神獨生子的名。
约翰福音 3:18 新译本- 信他的,不被定罪;不信的,罪已经定了,因为他不信 神独生子的名。

Week 10-
Serenity Prayer- God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
寧靜的禱告- 神啊,求你賜給我平靜的心,去接受我無法改變的事;賜給我勇氣去做我能改變的事;賜給我智慧,去分辨兩者的不同。
宁静的祷告- 神啊,求你赐给我平静的心,去接受我无法改变的事;赐给我勇气去做我能改变的事;赐给我智慧,去分辨两者的不同。

Anyway, this is what I have planned for the next couple of weeks. If any of you have a suggestion on some other Scriptures or prayers that I should memorize, please leave me a comment either here on my WordPress, WeChat or Facebook. Be encouraged my friends, God bless。

Out of Quarantine

•October 23, 2020 • 1 Comment

Well everyone, after arriving to Shenyang China, we had to go into quarantine. Everyone arriving from outside of China needs to go to a government approved hotel for two weeks. 14 days later, we are finally out and on the way to our apartment in Dalian. We are in a rental car heading back. Elizabeth kind of went overboard with wanting to bring back stuff! Haha But God has provided all the way. Thank you all for your prayers, we will miss our family and friends for sure! But God has provided us the ability to visit more often now!

I will say that I am super impressed with how the Chinese are handling the pandemic. When we touched down, the authorities boarded our plan and told us all what we needed to do. We immediately went to check in at the border and afterward we had to take a blood test, a mouth swab and a nose swab. They even sanitized the rooms everyone was in after we were leaving. The same was done at the hotel and we were not allowed to leave the room for the whole time, except to get two more tests completed. Today we have a clean bill of health and we received an official health certificate from the Liaoning government saying we are COVID free and can go back home!

The Chinese authorities boarded the plan before we could go into the airport to tell us what we needed to do.
Them cleaning the airport customs area after we were processed into the country.
Them fogging the whole room.
They even erected a plastic wall to protect the driver from the passengers on our way to the government approved hotel.
They even disinfected our luggage.
PPE for every hotel staff
They even fogged the entrance after we were all checked in.

Praise Be to God!

•October 8, 2020 • Leave a Comment
I’ll miss my mom and sister!

Everyone, this will be the final update until we enter quarantine in China. The Lord has done tremendous things these last 48 hours, not to mention the other blessings He has provided for us. Yesterday, we went to Nextcare Urgent Care to complete a Covid-19 test, the Chinese embassy explicitly stated on their website that we needed to complete a RT-PCR test before we leave in order to enter China. When I first went to Nextcare they assured us that this test was the exact test the Chinese government wanted us to get. After receiving the test results, we have found out it was in fact not the test that two of their staff told us it was. I had submitted their results and was denied because it was not a RT-PCR test (which apparently is the only type of test that is accurate for COVID on the market).

Well this caused us to call doctors offices all around town yet again to find the appropriate test. We called dozens of offices and they said they were either fully booked or didn’t have that test. We began to pray and fast for God’s guidance, favor and mercy. I knew God could and would provide because He has already overcome every obstacle for us. Well out of the blue, a few hours later around 4:30pm, a close family friend Rebekah Weins called me with a computer problem! Haha She had no idea about our dilemma and she could sense that something was wrong. I told her our problem and she was able to make some calls and provided a solution! We drove to Apex to get tested with Vero Diagnostics and they helped us tremendously!

We literally received our test results onboard our flight to LA and even God provided our flight to have WIFI on board so that we could take care of getting these test results and email the Chinese Embassy them, so they could give us our last negative COVID clearance form! Even now, I’m writing this blog post thousands of feet in the air, currently about to land to LAX. Now all we need to do is when we land in LAX is find a printer!

We were a little nervous about flying half way across the country without knowing whether or not we would receive our test results and this other document, but as these unfortunate mishaps were happening, it reminded me of a story I read about in the Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson. There was a very similar story were he was praying for God to provide the money for their mortgage for their half way house. He prayed and prayed and God didn’t seem to provide. But eventually around the last hour before this big mortgage payment was due, God sent a older man that felt led to write a check covering the costs. Not knowing their need. This story and our personal experience with our amazing Father gave us the courage to move forward even without these documents! Praise the Lord, we are ever grateful to Him and those He used to help us!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

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