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Showing posts from November, 2016

A day in the life

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Recently some friends asked me to talk about what a normal day for me is like.  Here it is, in maybe more detail than you wanted to know.Today is a pretty representative day of what “normal” is here.
6:45 am — I wake up to my phone BLARING the opening notes of Hamilton.Because, like a genius, I left the volume the entire way up.It’s still completely dark outside.
7:00 am — My second, you actually need to think about getting up now alarm goes off.  I set a timer for five minutes and then I’ll get up.  However, I’m very awake, thanks to my pal Aaron Burr screaming at me first thing.  Once I get up, and begin stumbling around my apartment in a very WALL-E-esque fashion, I have about 20 minutes to get dressed and ready for classes and to eat breakfast (yogurt, which comes in a container with its own spoon.  For those of you familiar with Chinese yogurt, notice I said a spoon.  Yes, it’s delicious thick yogurt.)  I have a few extra minutes this morning, so I empty a few trashcans to take the…

Thanksgivings from Thanksgiving

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Today was a pretty full day, because it's that time in the semester -- life is busy, not in a bad way so much as in an inevitable way.  We're rapidly hurling towards the end of the semester.  (When did that happen?)  We'll celebrate Thanksgiving more formally on Saturday with the city team in DJY (yay!) but today was ordinary for the most part, as far as such things go, here at Chuan Wai.

Which is to say, I've also hit the point in the semester where living in China feels normal (most of the time) and I'm not really sure what about my daily life is going to prove interesting to friends in other places.  (Maybe I'll write a post trying to explain daily life and normal, but not today.)

I thought about Thanksgiving last year and how very grateful I am that I did make it home after all.  I wonder about what's happening with my story-telling bus friend, Daniel, and hope that the Father has sent other people into his life who've listened to him and had chance…

人山人海

Anyone who's hung out with me much since this summer knows that I've listened to Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical Hamilton many many times.  Which means, of course, that my mind has been busy applying its lyrics to all sorts of situations in my daily life.


Every time I navigate the crowded stretch of campus between my apartment and my office, every time I'm in a metro station, crossing paths with hundreds of people who I'll probably never see again, every time I meet new students at English Corner and spend time talking with them on WeChat afterwards, every time I fly and see the evidence of civilization beyond my imagination stretching out below, I find myself resonating with the panic-stricken words of Charles Lee in the song Stay Alive:
"But there's so many of them!"
There are so many people here.  So much more work than I can begin to do -- at this school, in this city, this province, this country, this world.  When I think about the scope, it's ov…

On Thinking (or not.)

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As Miriam and I discuss issues that have come up with our students, in and out of the classroom, a common theme has become blatantly apparent: they don't think.

This has nothing to do with intelligence.  They are smart; they all made it to college in China, which is no small feat, and they're all capable of speaking at least two languages, so.  I'm not saying that they are stupid.

And of course there are a few who are good at thinking deeply, who do question what they hear in the news and are interested in global events and initiate discussions and keep conversations going and keep us learning.  They're a rarity, though.  We notice and wonder at these students.



But.  In general.

They don't think.  We are constantly challenging them to go beyond answers they can find in a textbook and to talk about their own opinions.  And then to consider another side of the issue.  To think about real world issues (this week, problems that women face globally -- lack of access t…

it's good

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There are days  (or weekends) that are just a joy, not because of anything spectacularly extraordinary happening, but simply because here, now, in this place, life is good.  
City team chill time post taco feast.
There’s bus rides to DJY, which means a chance to listen to music, and happiness that hits when the next song that comes up is the version of Saint Patrick’s Breastplate that Tyler made for me, and all of the memories of the terrible, intense, crazy, wonderful, exhausting, confounding, tear-filled, sleep-deprived months that February and March (and maybe April too…?) were.  Memories of riding around Bloomington and walking around Bloomington and how desperately wrecked life felt for so many people all at once, like a night that lasted for weeks and weeks.  But morning came.  And I think, God is good.
Then Boyhood Bravery comes up on shuffle and listening to that I think about all of the adventures that were packed into the last half of my time in Bloomington, the time that felt …

After the election

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Dear America,
I fell down the stairs yesterday morning (in China), smack in the middle of the election results pouring in.  
It seems appropriate.  
Today I’m sore and a little bruised.  From what I read on Facebook, from conversations with friends who are there, you’re feeling the same way, only more so.  Battered, shaken, badly scared.  
I get it.   
I understand your fears that are being fueled by the idea of Trump’s presidency.  He’s said and incited horrible, disgusting, foolish attitudes and actions.  I’m a woman.  I have friends who have been sexually assaulted.  I have friends who identify as gay, lesbian, transgender.  I have siblings who are African American.  I have friends who are Muslims.  I have friends who are immigrants.  I hear you.
I’ve been encouraged by the thoughtful, sad responses of many of my friends to this entire election cycle, responses that question why our country is accepting and endorsing such hate and fear.  I’ve rejoiced at seeing the heart that so many of …