Friday, July 24, 2009

China Calling Coming to a Close

Dear Family,
Things here at TIP have been moving fast of late. The free time that I have I use to sightsee and spend time with the other teachers as in a few days I may never see them again. In a only a few days I head back to the States! I must apologize to you for not writing more, but as I see it, I will see nearly all of you who are reading this very soon. Seeing you face to face and being able to share everything with you then will bring me great joy! Besides, I can only share so much on here due to government restrictions, so there is so much more to tell you when I see you. I will save the stories until then. I will take this time to explain a little bit about what I will be doing until I see you.
Today is the last “regular” day of classes and normal weekday events for the students. Their last day here is Sunday. Sunday will be their practicum which will be graded by their fellow classmates. Sunday is also the closing ceremony. Sunday is farewell and it will be a very emotional time. There is so much prep work and busy time before this that we don’t think about tomorrow very much. This makes things less difficult. After the students leave on Sunday, all of the staff here will be going out to dinner for a staff farewell celebration. Teachers begin to depart starting tomorrow already as the flights are very staggered. There are also four teachers who are leaving tomorrow to go to a middle school in Beijing to teach for several weeks. Monday is clean up day, but there won’t be too much to clean up as the next crew is here and the next session begins in less than a week. The new crew is in quarantine and we will not get to meet them. There are only about seven of them compared to the near forty we had this session! My flight leaves Wednesday so I have Tuesday free to sightsee with some remaining staff. I arrive in Chicago on Thursday morning and will be taking a bus to Minneapolis that day arriving around 3 in the afternoon. I will stay with mom and dad for a night and the next day I will be going to Cumberland, WI to visit Kjrstin’s family at their cabin. I will be back in Superior on the 2nd of August. I’m looking forward to be coming home (home as in all of these places in the States!).
As I close, please remember to pray for the students. Please pray for the teachers as well, as we need lots of energy for the next two days. Pray for more opportunities to share our faith. Pray for safe travels and Gods continued provisions.
As always, thank you for praying. See you soon, Jeremy

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

China sessions begin...

Dear Family and Friends,
It is the middle of the second week of the session. It has been a very enjoyable time here with the students! I feel like I have shared a lot about what I am doing here so I would just let to take time to explain in this post about a club I am facilitating. It is called the Relationship Club and it is one hour each day for three days. All clubs only last three days because of the amount of students. In our club yesterday I taught the students about the 5 Love Languages. They really enjoyed it! They filled out the survey to discover their love language and, not surprisingly, everyone in the room had their strongest love language as Acts of Service! 16 people scored this one. The next highest was Quality Time. 8 people had this one. The only other love language that scored the highest for anyone was Physical Touch. Only one person had this one! We discussed the results afterwards and came up with some cultural explanations for why acts of service and quality seem the norm (this was for men and women alike). It was great to be able to share a Christian authors perspective on love with them.
Another club of interest (that I am not involved in) is the Bible Club. This club is invitation only – meaning the facilitators have to invite the students. I can tell you more about this in person when I return, but there are seven students in the club right now (one of them is from our class). This is exciting because I believe there will be many more in the club by the end of the session (Bible Club is the only club that lasts the entire session). I say this because while some students are more open about their faith, others are not, so it may take time for them to feel safe here. And, of course, there is always a chance of our father working here in the lives of those who don’t know him.
TIP does a great job of incorporating the good news into every activity they can. For instance, there is a Holiday Club where the students spend a day learning about Christmas and another day learning about Easter! In our class, Ray begins each day with his Proverb of the Day, and has the students discuss what the verse(s) mean.
There is so many other good things going on here for the students and for the teacher as well. It is a great place to be surrounded by brothers and sisters who walk the same walk. I am growing in my faith daily it seems and while there are always setbacks, I am learning so much and I am so thankful to be here. I wouldn’t be here without you and I remind myself this often as I am here because He sent me through you. Thank you.
Jeremy J

Friday, July 10, 2009

China! The teaching begins

Hello Everyone!
Our students arrived yesterday and have been going through orientation. I am helping facilitate a class of thirty with another teacher, Ray. I met our students today and they are very friendly! I am looking forward to getting to know them. Our weeks will excelerate from here on out so please pray for energy for all of the teachers. The students are here for the next 20 days and every day is a jampacked schedule for them! From 7a til 10p they are busy learning and they must only speak English! Please pray for them as well! Many come from far away and many have never been to Beijing or even interacted with foreigners before! It is a nervous experience for many of them.
There are near 400 students and they come from all over China. They represent around twenty provinces. Some come from Beijing and others from hundreds of miles away. Most are teachers, the rest are university students and nearly all teach English in their schools. This session there are many students who have very good English and are looking to improve – there were not many students who scored low on their entrance interviews. This helps them understand us better of course, but this also means they expect a lot out of us as teachers! I explained to my students that I am not a teacher back home, but they are very respectful of that fact and look forward to getting to know me.
Class time begins tomorrow and while it is only a 2 hour block of time, the rest of the day the students are scheduled with all sorts of English training through various means. It is all centered around the students teaching each other and hence the English “teachers” are given the title “facilitator.” We facilitate their language learning while they actually teach each other and themselves. We are here to give them encouragment and direct their study.
I appreciate all of your prayer support. Please continue to pray for the list below and also for my health as I have been having a hard time recently with the food. I have a hard time eating much food at our meals and I will most likely lose some weight from the trip because of this. I am healthy otherwise, thank you!
Love and miss you all!
Love, Jeremy

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day From China

July 4th
Our students arrive here at the campus in four days. Tomorrow is the fourth of July and the first time that I won’t be celebrating it in the usual way. We will be celebrating with ice cream! Ice cream snacks are a common item with vendors and shops – its common to see many people walking down the street eating them too. A popular one among the teachers is the magnum bar which is reminiscent of a vanilla ice cream bar with nestle crunch coating. Its quite delicious and refreshing in this hot dry weather.
The name of the campus we live, train, and will teach at is the Yuan Ming Yuan Campus. It is part of Peking University, but the main Peking campus is only about 10 minutes from here. The day we were released from quarantine, I went running in the morning with five other male teachers. We ran past several of the main campus buildings – one of them was the gymnasium which housed the Olympic table tennis championships. I have yet to play table tennis. It seems the staff must have lost their equipment for the sport in the move. We have outdoor stone table tennis tables – all weather tables if you will; with wire netting. I get the urge to fire a ball across those tables whenever I walk by.
We were at last assigned our roles for when the students arrive. I will be running games for my class. My class meets in the morning for two hours Tuesday through Saturday. On the weekends (Sun – Mon) I am a morning facilitator, which means I will be monitoring students during their study times, helping them with assignments. I am also co-leading a sports club and a relationship club. Other than this, other regular duties include dorm visits and breakfast greetings. We get one complete day off each week, but while it might seem like our days are full, we do get many breaks. Even the students get an hour each day specifically designed for them to take naps.
It will be very difficult for the students while they are here. For three weeks, keeping with the rules of TIP, they are not allowed to speak their native language. Anytime they are caught speaking their language, they receive a citation given by the teachers and staff. After their fourth citation they cannot graduate. They can remain or go home. Pretty strict but its proven to work! Its rare that people go home from this though. Majority of the students have a strong desire to succeed. So the staff and alumni tell us!
I am looking forward to the students finally arriving. Training can become long and tiresome. We have been blessed with some sightseeing however! We visited part of the Great Wall and that was fantastic! I am hoping for a chance to post pictures to facebook when I have my day off. We also had a day where we strolled through a larger shopping area. Its nice to be out of quarantine! Thanks for praying!
On Sunday we will be attending one of the government sanctioned churches called the Haidian (the name of our district) Church. Im looking forward to this!
Some things to pray for:
Good health for all teachers. Loving hearts for our students. Strong bonds among teachers. Internet situation.
Thank you for praying. God bless! Love, Jeremy ( (I cannot access Yahoo here)