A Christmas Program Unlike None Other!

When our team was invited to sing at the Foreign Languages Department Christmas/New Year’s Program, I envisioned past programs that I had participated in, where the foreign teachers were asked to sing. Sometimes it was fun, with everyone just wanting to have a good time to celebrate the end of the semester. (Yes, they may have called it a “Christmas” Program, but the purpose was not to celebrate Christmas!) Sometimes it was built up into a massive production where the presentation became much more important than having fun.

I could never have dreamed of the overwhelming production that was organized for this program! I was told that the department had spent hundreds of thousands of yuan (tens of thousands of dollars) on costuming alone for this production. It was definitely the most elaborate program that I have ever seen a department in a Chinese university put on!

In the midst of all the flash and glitter of the students’ performances, our team sang “Silent Night” to the accompaniment of my guitar and Wendy’s flute. What a contrast!

Since we sang it in both English and Chinese, the packed audience understood the words, and because of some comments made after the performance I’m sure the contrast between the frenetic performances of the students and the peaceful song by the foreigners was not lost on the audience.

When The Sky Ate The Moon

We watched a full lunar eclipse tonight, and what made it even more rare is that we were actually able to watch it! Instead of the usual gray pall of pollution hanging over the city, tonight was completely clear, the perfect weather to watch an eclipse. I’ve included some pics of various stages of the eclipse for your viewing enjoyment.


English Done Right!

I had a great language experience this morning. I went to the ATM on campus before 8 am to withdraw money for the health check that we needed to get in order to renew our visas (that’s another whole story!), and on the way back I was walking along the sidewalk when I saw a little girl walking toward me. She was probably in 2nd or 3rd grade, obviously on her way to school. She glanced at me and then looked again when she realized I was a foreigner. I was expecting the usual nervous “Hallo!” thrown at me after having safely passed me by, like most Chinese children do.

However, this little bundle of joy looked up at me as she got near, grinned at me, and with a twinkle in her eye gave me a cheerful, “Hi!” I was so surprised by her oh-so-appropriate greeting that I almost forgot to say “Hi” back. Almost. And I certainly said it with a grin on my face!

Yep, someone’s doing their job right in English class wherever she goes to school!

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas!

Several students came over to our apartment to help Wendy make the first batch of Christmas cookies of the season, and to help me put up our tree. Okay, it wasn’t much of a job to put together the three different sections of our fake tree, but it sure was fun for everyone!

The Power of Music

I just finished watching “August Rush” – again. What is it about movies with great music that touches me so deeply? Mr. Holland’s Opus, Music of the Heart…they all touch me at a very deep level. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend August Rush.

“Music is all around us. All you have to do is listen.”

Great Scot!

I just finished watching Braveheart for the umpteenth time. Why does this movie affect me so much? Is it my Scots heritage that wells up in me every time I see it? Is it the bagpipe music that skirls in the background, stirring my blood? Is it the Scottish brogue that makes me want to sound like Sean Connery? Is it the desire to cheer for the oppressed underdog? Yes, yes, yes, and yes!

(The pic is of me in parade marching with Clan MacKay at this year’s Grandfather Mountain Highland Games in North Carolina this past summer. And yes, that’s a kilt!)

My Uyghur Daughter

A young Uyghur girl studying at a nearby university has pretty much decided that Wendy and I are her surrogate parents here in Xi’an. She tells me that I look like her father (I’ve seen a photo of him; hmm…); she gave me soup that she had made herself when I was sick; she gave me medicinal tea from her home (near Kashgar).

Her Uyghur name means “princess” and she treats me like a king!

Understanding Chinglish

For those of you who are interested in exploring the wonderful world of Chinglish, you should know that it’s taking Broadway by storm. Well, okay, maybe not by storm, but there is a new play on Broadway titled “Understanding Chinglish” that shows what happens when Chinese is mis-translated into English, frequently with humorous results, humorous, at least, to native English speakers. If you’re interested in reading more about this play, here’s the link:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-15471753