Monday, April 21, 2014

Made it on the Billboard

This week I was on a billboard.

The Chinese kind of billboard I mean, which is actually a giant video screen that plays a variety of advertisements. My school put up a quick ad that features photos of all the current teachers. If you're looking for white teachers, then this is the school for you!

And when I say quick, I really mean it. The school must have opted out of the deluxe package, because our photo is light in the rotation and only pops up for about 3 seconds. I had to take this picture REAL quick, but you get the idea. Hopefully everyone who sees it has a paper and pen REAL handy.
Did you get it?

Monday, April 14, 2014

"All These People are Dead Now"

Last week we escaped the room.
And here's the squad that did it.
There's an activity here in Jilin that we've done a couple times that's unlike anything I've ever experienced before. "Locked Room," as it's been translated to me, is essentially a place you get trapped inside and have to solve a series of puzzles to escape. In some ways, it's like a giant point-and-click game come to life. There are physical challenges (like throwing balls or grabbing keys), codes based on words, numbers, or characters, and all throughout you constantly need to use your environment to your advantage (like aiming and reflecting laser beams to hit sensors that will unlock a door, or finding a lock combination on a scrap of paper with a UV light).

So far, it's been extremely difficult. The answers often require uncanny creativity, and many times I've been thinking "I never would have thought of that" as we move from room to room. But last week, we did it. The goal is to finish all the puzzles to earn your freedom in under an hour, and we were successful. Full disclosure: a couple of us had already done this room before, but we stayed pretty quiet and quite honestly had forgotten most of the solutions anyways.

To those who escape, the reward is a picture of them on the wall. So now we have the honour of mounted fame, plus we'll be the only foreigners on the wall!

Here's a video from our first attempt at the same room, when we were not as successful...

Thursday, April 10, 2014

From the Archive- Thailand

Today I'm opening the Archive.

In an effort to catch up on all the footage I have lying around, I hope to (in time) create videos of these little experiences I've had during my time away. It'll really clear up some space in my apartment, and hopefully someone somewhere will find some part of it interesting.

So today, I begin with a video from my trip to Thailand this past February. For some reason, although I was in one of the most beautiful locations I've ever witnessed, I was far too relaxed and usually couldn't be bothered to bring or use my camera. As a result, the video is a very short and admittedly erratic collection of clips. Enjoy.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

It's All Just so Terribly Confusing

Today I don't know what to do.

There comes a time in each foreign teacher's life when he must decide what to do next. For me, that time officially began today. I was approached and asked what my plans were regarding my contract, and sadly I had no answer. The decision is between leaving when my contract is up or extending my contract to stay for another summer.

I enjoyed my previous summer in Jilin immensely, and I'm sure I would enjoy the next one as well. The problem is, I don't know how long to stay here in China, and when to start looking for the next opportunity (wherever it might be). 

I've written before on the emotional difficulties of teaching abroad; signing a year long contract means a lot of goodbyes, and unfortunately, I can feel mine getting closer. I don't like that feeling. I'm dreading the moment I'll say goodbye to my students and leave them after what seems like such a short time. I still have so much more English to teach them! At the same time, I know I can't, and won't, stay here forever. My co-workers that I've spent a year with will be leaving soon, and sooner or later I need to join them and make a move. 

So for now it's a lot of thinking and praying. Am I done with China now? I wonder what's next.