Finding Myself in China: Between September 1st and October 5th quite a number of things have happened, not the least of which is that the city Sign has disappeared. Over a period of days I saw the sign being dismantled and had assumed that they were going to 'refresh' the place so to speak. One evening on my way home from visiting Judy, the traffic at the roundabout up from the school, was stopped. The road was blocked off with a rope, and a number of people in hard hats were running around. I had no idea as to what was going on and as there were only two of us left on the bus I decided to walk the rest of the way. A very officious 'hard hat' started signaling me to go back. A student ran up to me and warned me that it was dangerous to proceed.
Daily Life in China Part 16: The New Semester in Hong Hu
This article was first published at Magic City Morning Star on October 14, 2004. The article has undergone some reediting. I have carried across most of the photographs in the original file and added more.
Semester One 2004/2005 : Doing it the old fashioned way
Last week I talked about my 'first' classes with Grade Two for the New School Year and today in the first part of this article, I will provide you with an update on what has transpired since then. In the second part of the article I am going to formally introduce you to Hu Jing Shi, or as appears on her birth certificate, Judy Z. Ho, an American/ Chinese conversational English teacher currently teaching at 'Blue Sky' private school attached to the Hong Hu Number 5 Middle School.
Grade Two Update:
I started last week's article by relating my 'teaching strategy' for each new class that I encountered in that first week of school. I told you that I informed the students that I was only guaranteeing to stay for eight weeks, and that if they, 'the students,' proved worthless, then I would not stay. I also related that my approach had rendered most students in most classes, speechless. What they thought of my approach during my first week during which I held my 'lessons' in student classrooms I do not know. This much I can tell you though, if they thought that I was 'shocking' then, they were in for an even bigger surprise the following week, when they started coming to MY CLASSROOM.
One thing you should know about students here, is that generally they have absolutely no idea what subject follows what on any given day. When the teacher walks through the door, they grab for the appropriate books, and so often my students will be late for class, because they are still sitting at their desks waiting for a teacher to show up.And so it was for that whole second week. I would be patiently sitting outside of my classroom waiting for them to show up. A couple of times I even wondered if I had scared them off completely.
And of course, Chinese people are never in a hurry to go someplace 'on time' and yet strangely, they are always hurrying to go no place in particular. And so it was that eventually the herd would wander into the ground floor of the Technical building, only to hear me shout from the third floor balcony, 'You're late!' That would get them running, and like sheep, when the first one starts to run, they all run. Not that they know why, but you gotta stay with the herd. After running up the stairwell the students came to a sudden stop, with those at the back running into those in front, because they had no idea why everyone had come to a screaming halt. It only took a second to realize. There, dressed in a suit in the heat of summer, was that big, mean, stern looking foreigner, standing tall like an army drill instructor.
A Little Military Discipline
I should point out that all students in high school undergo a week long army drill instruction at the beginning of Grade One, and on this their first day 'at' the foreigner's classroom, they were about to demonstrate their military training skills. They just didn't know it!
I had them line up (at one arm's length distance) into five lines, going down the line at another arm's distance apart. Well it is all just a bit of fun really. Isn't it? Giggling as they lined up, they finally began to look like a bunch of humans. And then the army Colonel screamed: 'A - TEN - shun! Smiles were displaced by confusion, as I screamed at them that they were now in the army, and would follow military drill, and that anyone who couldn't do it would be sent back to class.
It generally only took about three 'Attention!' screams to get the giggling and talking to stop, as they realized that I was quite serious. In the case of two classes, a total of about 50 students were sent back to their classrooms without even seeing the inside of my classroom. And they went with a shout and a holler and a 'thank you' to boot.
Once lined up and quiet, I warned students that there was to be no food, drink, rubbish or spitting in my classroom; and definitely no dirt. They were told to wipe their feet when they entered the room. Then they were shown a stool. 'This is a chair - c-h-a-i-r, otherwise called a stool - s-t-o-o-l, or a seat - s-e-a-t. They are for sitting on. There are more than 70 of them in the classroom and I put them all where they are. 'YOU' do not move them. You sit on them, where they are. You don't move your chair so that you can get closer to your friends, and you don't move your chair so that you can sit in line with everyone else. You leave the chair where it is! Got it? Understand?" -- "Yes Sir!"
With that done, they were then allowed to enter the classroom. First I pointed out all the newspapers and magazines around the room that were available for reading if they arrive before the start of class and they were informed that two minutes after the commencement bell sounds, the door is shut and locked and if they come late, they can jolly well GO AWAY!
On this score, I KNOW that they paid attention, for quite a few have raced around the corner and stopped dead when they saw the door closed (it isn't actually locked). The adventurous few knocked. The rest just turned away and returned to their classrooms. Ah! Nothing like well disciplined children. Yes! yes! yes! I know! I'm a cruel heartless son of a 'so & so,' but DISCIPLINE is the hardest thing to achieve and maintain for ALL foreign teachers in China. But this dumb foreigner, having studied psychology, and having studied local culture, has worked out how to achieve it and keep it.
Once the 'brumbies' are broken in, the rules disappear completely. They are not necessary. Once the students achieve 'self discipline' it is amazing how well they progress. So what did they do in Week Two? For most classes, I tried to get them to think, by anticipating each new question I would ask. The questions involved the content of an 'introduction.' I had to walk them through the process of anticipating 15 questions that someone might ask about their name, their education, their living situation and what they intend to do when they finish high school. With all questions written down, they were given time to answer the questions (on a separate page). From there it was a quick lesson on the use of conjunctions; a 'how to' lesson on joining answers to make a nice little story.
As the lesson drew to a close, they were given HOMEWORK. Shock & Horror! Written homework for ORAL ENGLISH? They had to write their introductions using the answers they provided. Apart from the two classes from which I expelled about 50 students, most classes had an average of about 55 students come to Conversational English class. But the following week, that number dropped to an average of around forty students. Class Nine dropped to 27 students. It is amazing how a little discipline can get rid of the lazy and the trouble makers.
Week Three (Week 2 in MY classroom) commenced with a bonus. It rained! When it rains here, everything is wet, both inside and out. What water doesn't blow in with the rain, leaks down through the ceilings or runs down the stairwells. When they arrived at class this week, the students encountered a 'cultural stumbling block.' Outside the classroom there are 2 big red mats for wiping the dirt off their shoes, and inside there are another eight. But when they arrived this week, those mats were covered with something -- 18 meters of white cloth! They balked like 'water shy' horses.
This cloth was clean, and on the floor yet! There was no way they were going to walk on it. It might get dirty. Some tried to manouvre passed it. Some just wouldn't walk on it. Even when I explained that the cloth was there specifically to walk on, so that the water and mud would come off on IT, rather than on my clean (personally hand scrubbed) floor, it was a cultural barrier almost too difficult to surmount. But surmount it they finally did, but not without those who tried desperately not to dirty it too much. Some did their best to get off of it as soon as possible, so that they could TRAIPSE MUD ALL OVER MY BLOODY FLOOR! Naturally I did draw their attention to the absurdity of their actions. "GET OFF MY BLOODY CLEAN FLOOR AND WIPE THAT DAMN MUD OFF YOUR SHOES!" But I did scream it in a nice way!
By the following week, numbers had dropped quite substantially, with one class now down to only 14 students. My biggest class still sits at around 60 students. I estimate that I will end up with around 500 students this year, as opposed to the 200 I had last year.
The main advantage for these students however, is that the discipline is in place right from the beginning of the school year, and so after they have spent first semester going through the basics of 'conversation' they will have a second semester in which to do nothing but speak and improve their skills. This was something that the previous year's students missed out on, for there was really only one working semester.
Top Left: Mrs. Gong Top Right: An Attempt to have the water and mud left outside Bottom Right: Sometimes we had class on the balcony
On the matter of discipline, the students were amazed the day that Mrs. Gong sat in my class and said nothing when I 'blew them all up.' I told them in front of her, 'Make up your minds! Stay and work, or get out of my class!' In front of her I reminded them that it was she who told me that I only needed one student per class to collect my salary. If they doubted my word beforehand, they certainly believed it that day. The following week there were 25 less students in class.
At the moment we are just going through the motions of preparing a one minute introduction. The process requires them to anticipate questions, to learn new words and phrases, and of course to recite their introduction. As they do so, I take their photos and record their particulars, so that I have a photographic note page for each student so that I can learn to identify each one and keep tabs on their progress.
By the time you read this, they will have left that lesson to commence 'aural comprehension' lessons in which I teach them how to improve their hearing skills by using a cassette tape. That lesson will last three weeks as they learn to hear and understand a textbook lesson which introduces the concept of informative answers. After that they will be doing some reading from their text books so that I can check their pronunciations. After that, I will commence 'The mechanics of Conversation' classes, from which they will learn what everyone else in the world learns just by speaking.
That will be the testing time; to see if they are really ready to start 'free thinking' and speaking. There is just one thing I will finish this part of the story with, and it concerns the issue of discipline. As you have seen in the photographs and as I have written, their first day to my classroom, I used military drill to install some concept of discipline into their sweet little heads. Oh how I wish I had a photograph of the lingering effects of that discipline, for on occasion, a student or two has arrived a little late for class. You can hear them running up the stairwell and as they arrive breathless at the classroom doorway, up will go their right hands in a salute as they ask; 'May I come in?' Thank God for Chinese military training.
So what else has been happening?
For the English Students of Hong Hu Number 5 Middle School and for this foreign teacher personally, the most significant event for this new school year is the arrival of a new 'Foreign Teacher.' Her name is Judy and she is from 'Fresno,' which is somewhere in the USA. But her arrival has caused a little consternation, for she is Chinese American. Her mother was born in China and spirited away to Hong Kong, and later moved to America. Her father is Chinese, but from Malaysia. Because of her parent’s different Chinese dialects, Judy grew up only speaking English and this is utterly confusing to the locals here. How is it possible to be Chinese and not speak Chinese? They can't work it out. Some have surmised that perhaps only 'one' of her parents is Chinese, or perhaps only 'one' of her Grandparents is Chinese. So tired is she of trying to convince people that she is fully Chinese, that she now just assents to whatever explanation is suggested.
She has agreed to give me an interview before the end of the year. I think it will prove interesting not only for my American readers but for an almost equal number of Chinese readers.
When she came to China, she was on a journey of self discovery, and happily, it has not taken long at all to work out exactly who and what she is, and is not. While she originally agreed to do a one year contract, by the time that she had finished a summer camp in Shenzhen before coming here, she was fully convinced that she would not last a whole year. She anticipates leaving in January 2005.
Between September 1st and October 5th quite a number of things have happened, not the least of which is that the city Sign has disappeared. Over a period of days I saw the sign being dismantled and had assumed that they were going to 'refresh' the place so to speak. One evening on my way home from visiting Judy, the traffic at the roundabout up from the school, was stopped. The road was blocked off with a rope, and a number of people in hard hats were running around. I had no idea as to what was going on and as there were only two of us left on the bus I decided to walk the rest of the way. A very officious 'hard hat' started signaling me to go back. A student ran up to me and warned me that it was dangerous to proceed.
What to make of it all? Why I assumed that they were going to use explosives I don't know, but I just had time to get my camera out and open when the blast went off and I instinctively took a shot. It was a pretty good one at that I thought. While the photograph following shows the end result after literally days of blasting, today it is a smooth cemented over section of road that may yet have traffic lights installed. It is hard to say.
The life and times of the Ci Biao
In 2009 I was back in Honghu to meet up with some students (in the additional photograph section). We went up to the new park on the river bank (Yangtze River) in which the Ci Biao is now located.
On the subject of traffic lights, the city council has indeed been busy. Overnight (literally) Three sets of traffic lights have been installed in town, and what chaos that has caused. Let's face it, what is the purpose of sitting at an intersection when there is no traffic coming from the other direction. Result: People ignore the lights. Then of course there is the other problem associated with driving in China. If you don't want to be the 6th car back from the lights, you just drive around four or five cars and 'butt in,' even in front of police cars. It doesn't matter! It is normal!
So now that we have these new lights, what is happening is that on a two lane road, each side of the lights has four lanes of traffic lined up ready to beat the other three when the lights change. And given that there are another four lanes on the other side, when the lights do change, there is utter chaos.
The day I took the photograph of the 'Ci Biao' being blown up, I met with Judy to go 'walkabouts' in Hong Hu. I agreed to help her get her bearings and everywhere we went she wrote down street names on her little mud map. To make it more interesting, I took her to see some of the temple like structures. There are at least four in Xin Di but only one is a 'living monastery.' The rest are for who knows what purpose. The following photos will give you some idea of what they look like.
Above: Bottom Left: is a working Temple Bottom Right: another working temple out near the sluice gate on the Yangtze
Below: Bottom Right: Judy out at the sluice gate.
During that week I had been asked by Mrs. Xia if I wanted to go to dinner with some of the English Teachers, and I agreed and asked if I could bring Judy with me. 'Oh Yes!' she said, 'by all means. Just make sure that no one else from her school comes with her.'
As usual, no specific details were provided. On the 15th, she reminded me about the dinner to be held the next day but when I asked for particulars, all she could say was that it would be 'after 4pm, but I don't know where!'
On the 16th, I finished school at 3:30pm, went home, got changed, and sat down to work on the computer. At 4:30pm there was a knock at my door. It was a teacher who had arrived on his motorcycle to take me to the dinner. My first thought was that Judy was expecting to go with me, and that I couldn't even phone her to tell her where, because the teacher taking me did not know where, just that he had to meet someone, somewhere. So off I rode into the distance, on a motorcycle (my third time), ever so grateful that I didn't cause him to lose control of the bike. (I did that to a guy in Huangshi when I was visiting my son).
Judy and I on Teacher's Day Mrs. Xia is on the edge of the photo top right and she is in the purple dress in photo bottom right.
Above: View from the back of a motor bike
The people we were to meet were not where we were supposed to meet and finally we made it to the road near Number one hospital where somehow, he was able to spot our crew down a laneway. Once we arrived I borrowed a telephone and phoned Judy, who, as it turned out, lives just about 6 blocks from where we had dinner. A good time was had by all, but rather than the long drawn out affair I had expected, the dinner was only being held during an extended supper break, and everyone had to go back to school, leaving Judy and I dressed up for an evening out, with nothing to do. In the end, we took a walk, and decided that next day we would definitely go buy her a bicycle so that we could take that bike ride that she was dying to do on the levee road. Next day we did just that.
Despite being Chinese, Murphy's Law apparently sticks to Judy as close as it does to me and she had her teaching schedule changed so that instead of having all morning to ride, we had but two hours. Maybe it was because she had been to other places in the world but she was not that impressed with the view and her desired 'photo op' did not eventuate.
As I myself have taken plenty of photos up there, the top two frames of the composite photo below are the only photos I took. It is of a common scene in China, particularly at the moment to see rice drying on the road. The farmers need somewhere to dry the harvested rice, and roadways are an ideal place. Never mind the traffic. I couldn't resist taking shots of the tourist bus. It was just 'my way' of staring at the (Chinese) tourists.
Top Frames The New levee road with drying rice and Chinese tourists
Bottom Frames: Lotus square opposite the Yangtze River on the Levee Road.
The following Sunday was 'free weekend' when the students, after being in school for 13 days straight, get to go home on Saturday at 4:15 pm, to return by 6:30 pm Sunday. I had arranged for the Grade Three students to have an 'English Corner' on Sunday at 4pm, and had invited Judy to attend. As I had nothing in the house to eat, I figured that I had better do some shopping, so that after the class, Judy could dine with me at home. On the way back from the markets I ran into the two boys I know from the fruit shop, as they were walking in the street with a dozen friends.
To cut a long story short, one of those friends rode up to talk to me a little after I had left the group, and despite not being able to speak English, he continued to talk with me all the way home. Naturally I invited him in. As he was about to lock his bike, I told him not to bother, but that he could put the bike in my house. So he threw the unlocked lock into the bicycle carry basket. We spent the afternoon trying to communicate with each other. From our conversations I learned a few things. Firstly, his father (who apparently beats him) lives in Xin Di, while his mother lives in PuQi. Secondly, that the following morning he was going to visit his mother. Thirdly, that he wanted to come live with me. He wanted me to be his 'Daddy?' and he would teach me Chinese.
At 4pm I saw him off. He walked his bike out of the house, jumped onto it, and rode off into the sunset (so to speak). When I returned from English Corner, I discovered that he had left his keys on my kitchen table. At 1:20 am, there came upon my door, the loudest thumping I have ever heard. It scared the 'proverbial' out of me, especially so since my bed is now by the front door. It was the boy! He was hanging onto his 'locked' bicycle, and gesticulating that his keys were missing. I let him in. Apparently he woke up the security guard at the front gate, explained his situation, and was just allowed to wander into the complex. To cut another long story short, he made it clear that he would stay with me until 7 am when he would leave for Chibi, and as he was not feeling sleepy, I decided that I would definitely not sleep since that might perhaps allow him opportunity to 'nick off' with my valuables.
We spent the night listening to Chinese karaoke. He danced, and I laughed while I took movies and photographs of his dancing. It was supposed to be sexy I think, but it was more comical. Next morning he asked me for some money to help him on his way, and I obliged. He also made it clear that he would come back to my place when he returned to town the next day.
On the left: My new neighbor and his crabs One the right: Maybe more crabs.
That day (Monday) I spoke to my liaison officer about the situation; for while I distrusted the boy, during the ten to twelve hours I had spent with him I was forced to learn quite a number of Chinese words and phrases. I figured that perhaps he was a 'sponge' or worse, but that if he could live in my house, I would learn Chinese far more quickly and far more cheaply than going to College. He would have his room, cigarettes and food, and an additional good allowance, and all might be well with the world.
I arranged for the liaison officer to meet with him the next day (Tuesday). After the boy was interviewed, I was told that he was not permitted to stay with me. That evening when I went to Zhan Yan's house for dinner, I took the boy with me, and it was made very clear to me that he was a 'bad boy' and to get rid of him quick. After dinner, he and I went to public karaoke in Lotus square and afterward stopped off at a little 'tarpaulin' food stall for a bite to eat. We discovered there a whole group of young people who ranged from 14 years old to 17 years old, and all bar two girls were drunk. One girl spoke pretty good English, and informed me that they were from the 'Sun Island' Private English School. This meant two things. Firstly that they were 'rich kids' and secondly that they should all be able to speak English. Well apart from herself, there was only one person who could speak English, and that was the 14 year old drunken boy who finally passed out at the table, and had to be carried away by his friends. Gives you a different impression of China huh?
After having some supper, Zhang Jie Chen and I parted company, and I haven't seen him since, although since he left some belongings at my home, I'm sure he will be back for a visit (and a sting for money).
Now the day previous I had received a visit from the new people on the block. I don't know what they do, but they live in the 'new teachers' building beside my house. These flats are really the pits, but these people renovated it, obviously at their own cost. They were inviting me to dinner 'Mingtian Houtian.' Mingtian = tomorrow. I tried to tell them that I had to go to dinner with some friends, and they kept saying that they understood this, but that they still wanted me to come 'Mingtian Houtian.' Finally they just gave up and left. Next day I asked at school what Mingtian Houtian meant, and it turns out that it is the day after tomorrow. Aha! A new Chinese Expression. Later that day I saw them and told them I would come Mingtian (tomorrow). Wednesday night (September 29th) they did up a wonderfully lavish dinner for me, paying good money for Seafood including those wonderful crabs in the photograph above. Unfortunately I don't eat seafood.
The evening was designed to provide an opportunity to introduce their niece to me. She is a grade one student (who didn't even want to talk to me). The purpose was to have me agree to give her some English Lessons. 'Sure! No Problems!' I said! And I meant it! I know full well that she will never come for those lessons.
Friday October 1st is the Chinese National Holiday, and lasts for five days. Normally I would have gone to Wuhan for an escape during this time, but since Judy had been asked by her school if she wanted to go to Guilin for a few days, I agreed to go with her (provided the trip actually eventuated). Given Chinese organization however, the trip remained in doubt for quite some time and did not become official until Thursday 30th September. By that time, I had been asked to visit my former student, Zhang Ming Xing, at his parent's farm in Heng Ji, at Fengkou, (part of Hong Hu greater City). When his father had been hurt in a car accident earlier in the summer, I told him that whenever he was home on a free weekend or on holidays, that if I was free I would come to help with the farm work. And guess what. It is Rice Harvest season. So I went off to the farm. But for that story, you will have to wait a few weeks.
So there you have it. Just a few snapshots of things that have happened since the beginning of the school year. Next week I bring to you the story of what life was like for me during the past year, living in a household of students, and following that, will relate the story of my visit to Tianjin with one of those students.
Top Left: Pancho - The cigar smoking old man who lives at the residence and collects my recyclables. Top Right: Eight Year old 'no name' who turns up at 8pm and wanders around my apartment Bottom Left: Carting the prisoners off to hard labor Bottom Right: More hard labor - a foreign scarecrow in a field
Taken in Hengji Village
I mentioned in the story about students saluting me. Do you really think this is Chinese custom? Perhaps it is something they constantly observe the foreigner doing. It is amazing how many people will actually salute me.
Also taken in Hengji Village
2009 Reunion in Honghu
There will be another reunion at the Wedding on February 12th 2015 (Mentioned in the addendum in the previous article).
Despite all the hysterical accusations made by the sociopathic ideologues, the reality is that REAL everyday Muslims who have left their homelands to settle in democracy loving western lands DON’T WANT to be controlled by Islamists. They more than anyone else know what living under Islamic (theocratic) political and social control means.
Politically Correct Ideologues are people who become so trapped inside fundamentalist thinking, that they lose contact with the real world and see nothing other than their ideology. In short, they are totally focussed on what is inside their own heads, which is why I constantly refer to such people as ‘sociopathic.’
In China, the rights of society take precedence over individual human rights. This, we Westerners call totalitarianism and from an ideological perspective, desire to destroy it right? But ask yourself this: “What does MY country promote?”
There is no doubt that the immediacy of Trump’s order has caused inconvenience for many people, like the one I read about today of an Australian woman who arrived in the US only to be told that she had to leave because of her unacceptable dual citizenship. And I quote the illusion of truth:
Right now you are probably asking, ‘What the heck is the Seder Olam Rabbah?’ So here is a little information gleaned from a variety of online sources. Seder Olam Rabbah is Jewish literature of second century A.D. dated to about 160 AD. and first printed in 1514. It is a Midrashic chronological work generally regarded as a work of the tanna Jose b. Halafta. [The “tannaim” were the masters of the “oral law,” i.e. the men who wrote the Talmud.]
That there are probably many errors and circular arguments in relation to ancient history is attested to by many, including Colin Renfrew, Professor of Archaeology, Cambridge University (James Et. Al. 1991 : foreword pages.xiii-xv)
Since 2004 he has been writing academic articles, social commentaries and photographic 'Stories from China' both here at KingsCalendar, and formerly as a contributing columnist at Magic City Morning Star News (Maine USA) where from 2009 to 2015 he was Stand-in Editor. He currently has a column at iPatriot.com and teaches English to Business English and Flight Attendant College Students in Suzhou City Jiangsu Province People's Republic of China.)
BenDedek originally created the site to publicize his research results into the Chronology of Ancient Israel. Those results were published under the title: 'The King's Calendar: The Secret of Qumran.' Whilst there have been many attempts to solve the chronological riddle of the Bible's synchronisms of reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah and their synchronism with other Ancient Near Eastern Nations, no other research is based on a simple mathematical formula which could, if it is incorrect, be disproved easily. To date, no one has been able to dismiss the mathematical results of this research.
Free to air Academic articles set forth Apologetics for and results of his discovery of an "artificial chronological scheme" running through the Bible, Josephus, the Damascus Documents of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Seder Olam Rabbah. Check the Chapter Precis Page to see details of each chapter and to gain access to the Four Free to Air Chapters
(The Download book does not contain a section on Seder Olam)
Definition: King's Calendar Chronological Research
The Premise: Between the 5th and 3rd centuries BCE (but continuing down to at least 104 BCE), Sectarian redactors transcribed the legitimate 'solar year' chronological records of Israel and Judah, into an artificial form, with listed years as each comprised of 12 months of 4 weeks of 7 days, or 336 days per year, thus creating a 13th artificial year where 12 solar years existed.
When the Synchronous Chronological Data provided in the Books of Kings and Chronicles for the Divided Kingdom Period are measured in years of 336 days, the synchronisms actually align. [Refer to Appendix 5. to see how it synchronises the Divided Kingdom Period]