Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Mid-Autumn Festival

The Chinese people celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival or Moon Cake Day or Moon Festival at this time of year. When we arrived in China at the end of August there were mountains of moon cakes in all the markets. 

Here is the story of Moon Festival and how modern China celebrates it today as told by Opal Shao, one of my freshman Oral English students:

According to legend in ancient China, there were ten suns in the sky, each taking a turn to burn the earth. One day, however, the ten suns all assembled, so the earth became too hot. Houyi, a skillful archer, shot down all but one of the suns. To reward him, the emperor of the mortals gave him a magic pill which could grant human beings eternal life and warned him that he would only need half a pill to regain immortality.

Houyi took the pill home and stored it in a case. He decided to share the pill with Chang'e on the 15th day of August, when the light of the full moon shone on the earth. However, Chang'e opened the case secretly when her husband was away from home. She swallowed the entire pill and flew out the window into the sky. Chang'e reached the moon. She became lonely on the moon without her husband and always cried regretfully. Although Houyi was a great archer, he did not shoot down the moon because he loved his wife. Once a year, on Middle Autumn day, Houyi has a chance to visit his wife. That is why, that night the moon is full and beautiful.

All of us have learned that we'll take moon cakes on that day, but do you know the origin? Actually, there is a story about the moon cake. During the Yuan dynasty, China was ruled by the Mongolian people. Leaders from the Song dynasty were unhappy at submitting to the foreign rule, and set how to fight the enemies without being discovered. The leaders of the rebellion knowing that the Moon Festival was drawing near, ordered his cook to make special cakes. Baked into each moon cake was a message with the outline of the attack. One the night of the Moon Festival, the rebels successfully attacked and overthrew the government. Today, moon cakes are eaten to commemorate this legend.

Nowadays, there are hundreds of varieties of moon cakes on sale a month before the arrival of Moon Festival. They are mode with sweet nuts, red beans, lotus seed past or Chinese dates...then wrapped in a pastry.  Sometimes a cooked egg yolk can be found in the middle of the dessert. 

Moon is always used as a symbol of reunion in Chinese culture, so, besides moon cakes, Chinese family members will try to go home during this holiday. The families eat moon cakes together and watch moon in the evening. Those who can not return home watch the bright moonlight and feel deep long for their loved ones.

We Chinese people really love the festival, not only because it is our precious national culture, but also because we can have great fun with family and friends. During which we will gain happiness and love. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Memorable Saturday in Jinan China!

Roslyn and I had a great Saturday afternoon & evening in Jinan with Lily. We visited giant InZone Mall, Damming Lake and a great dinner at an authentic fish restaurant. Lily had her first "driving lesson" in a boat  on boat at DaMing Lake. 

Roslyn drove the boat away from the dock and then turned the wheel over to Lily.

Whenever Roslyn saw a young couple or a family taking pictures of each other she would routinely offer to take a photo of them together.
Dr. Kim is an eminent law professor who introduced us to a very authentic, earthy fish restaurant. We let him do all the ordering which was an adventure because he had a very "adventurous" palette. You can see for yourself all the delicacies we ate. He ordered from an array of live fish swimming in dozens of fish tanks.
Because Shandong Province has a long coast line, fish is a prominent part of the cuisine of this province. There are so many more kinds of fish that the Chinese are willing to eat. 

I have no idea what this sea creature is. But it seemed safe enough to eat. Added to the culinary adventure.
Loved these deep fried critters. Kind of like seafood French fries. Very tasty.

This is a section of fish eggs. I preferred them battered&fried. This was more authentic Chinese.

The delicacies kept coming regardless of the size of the table. Folks just pile them on top of each other. Our table in this restaurant was small and square. Most of the time the tables are large and round with a glass lazy-susan in the center which rotates the food around to all the guests. I love the Chinese style of dining because I get to taste so many culinary delights and not be limited to one thing on my own plate. The Chinese really know how to celebrate with food! And the food in Jinan, Shandong Province, China is fabulous!!!
More hot water cheers!

One of Dr. Kim's colleagues joined us and the conversation matched the feast. What a memorable dining experience. That's the Chinese way.

I recently heard a proverbial saying about Chinese eating habits:
"The Chinese will eat anything on four legs except a table; anything that flies except an airplane; anything in the ocean except a boat."

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Teacher's Day

Did you know today way Teacher's Day in China?
What a concept. 
Teachers are generally given a great deal of respect in China.
One of my students sent kind greetings; thought I'd share.

Dear Mrs. Roslyn Kuzmich,
Today is Teacher's Day in China. I wanted to send Greeting Cards to you and Mr. Kuzmich. But I can not find the English version of the greeting card. Here is its translation.I hope you will enjoy it.
您是一盏明灯 指引我们前行
You are a beacon to guide us forward.
您是睿智乐施者 传播知识与美德
You are wise and kind. You spread knowledge and virtue wherever you are.
师恩 永不忘
We will never forget you.               

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Elementary Ed. English

One of my students returned from a teaching internship in a large city notorious for its general lack of financial resources. I asked her about her experience and the following is some of her reply. It's interesting to note the similarities in public education found in most every country. Sometimes we hear too many one-sided stories and come away with a mythical view of other people's situations. One of the best 'take-aways' of our China experience is an honest view of the world as it is.

As a Grade 3 to 4 primary school teacher in an English Training Center in a large but poor city, I was surprised to hear some situations of primary school English education there. 

In the public primary school, the students have 2 English classes per week. But it's amazing to hear that there are 90 to 100 students in every English class! What's more, almost every English teacher has 4 to 5 different classes! So, the students there seldom have homework because their teachers don't have the time and energy to correct them after every classes! Thus, that's the reason why the training center is so popular. 

A local teacher told me that the poor local finance was the direct reason for the situations. The local finance can't afford too many English teachers. Nowadays, primary school and middle school students in too many cities don't learn phonetics. In my opinion, learning phonetics is very important because it can help students recite words! 

Also, there's a funny ban about alleviating burdens on primary school students recently from the National Education Bureau. "No homework for kids of Grade 1 to 6.  Only one school exams each semester for kids above Grade 4 on English, Math and Chinese subjects."  But it seems that this ban is gonging to change.

Isn't the English education in China quite amazing?  :)