“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” — Gandhi
Grade 2 kids ~ these kids are so smart, they are gaining confidence with their English, and are very inquisitive. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked how old are you (answer is always older than you), are you okay, where do you live, what’s your phone number, and the list goes on.
Seven grade 2 classes, average of 40 students in a class ~ a lot of inquisitive children who are always excited to see me! They love feeding me their snacks too (usually with their hands right into my mouth ~ no wonder I had so many colds!).
The unabashed hugs, taking my hand and leading me into class, the excited faces when I stand at the front of class and say “Teacher says stand up!” ~ those are the moments I will miss the most.
These kids have made me a better teacher with their questions and their eyes lighting up when they realize they can understand what I am saying. Their quick minds, short attention spans and endless fidgeting made it challenging, but I can say that I came, I saw, I conquered!!
An extraverted protagonist. Sounds interesting right?? I recently did a personality test and my results show that I am an extraverted protagonist. A diplomat People’s Master. It all sounds very confusing. It was something a close friend thought I would find interesting. And I did!!
It showed me results that definitely resonated with me. All but one section definitely is my personality. And it also showed me some ways to strengthen my weaknesses. Things I will definitely start to do!
So why am I writing about this here? Really, who cares about someone else’s results of a personality test?
I am not writing about this to share my results. No. I am writing about how personality traits can make us stronger or weaker as we grow older and explore our self-worth.
When I was younger, I was very shy. I did well in school but kept to myself a lot. As I went through many struggles in my adult life, my self-esteem grew stronger, I became more assertive and my personality changed. I became the person I am today – in my eyes, I am a strong, self-assured woman who can do anything she wants and be a success at whatever comes my way.
Traveling has changed me. Seeing different cultures and dealing with situations I never would have had to in Canada have made me humble.
We take for granted so many things in life. So many of us want material things (and I am not saying anything against that – it’s just not for me), but living in northern China has made me aware of so many struggles these people have on a daily basis that are beyond their control. Living in the conditions they do have made them stronger than any other culture I have seen so far.
While my complaints of China are many, the strength and perseverance of these people is truly admirable.
So like the title says, whatever you are be a good one. If you are a neighbour, be a good one. A mother, a daughter, a teacher, whatever it is you are – strive to be a good one. The people here in Changchun have shown me that, despite the conditions they live in, they take it in stride and they are the best they can be. Their personalities shine through. I will take away from this chapter in my life the strength I have seen of the Chinese people. And I am now, and forever will be, a better person because of it.
Every day on my way home from teaching, I come to two paths. One is stone, easy to walk on but uneven. The other is grassy, an uneven surface but muddy.
A sudden storm came through the city today, lighting up the afternoon sky and rolling thunder, scaring me and the kids in class! Luckily, when I left for home, the rain had stopped, leaving a freshness in the air but a wet walk.
When I came to the path, I pondered which to take. Do I take the stone path and avoid the mud but possibly slipping on the wet stone? Or do I take the muddy path and get dirty, but avoid slipping?
As I made my way home, this thought kept creeping into my mind. Had I taken the safer path in my life, would it have been as exciting as my life is now?
There are times in our life that choosing the safe path is the best thing to do for ourselves. But then there are other times that its okay to take the riskier path just to see what happens.
The question is ~ what if you decide to turn around and never take either path? What if you decide that you would rather go the long (and safe) way to your destination?
Life is what we make of it. Choosing the path that is right for you is something only you can figure out. Be a risk taker sometimes ~ take that unknown path and see where it leads you. The future is yours!!
So are you wondering which path I took?? I took the grass path ~ uneven surface with lots of mud. I felt like a kid again, getting muddy, and enjoying the walk. I always try to choose the path that will make me happiest!
I think quirks is a funny word. It’s a word I like teaching! But in this instance it’s not a funny word. It’s unusual things that I find slightly disturbing and things I won’t miss when I leave China.
1. The spitting/horking that everyone does. If it was just spitting and just men doing it, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. But everyone horks and its probably the most disgusting sound a person can make. And when I see fashionably dressed women walking toward me, then hork and spit ~ they suddenly don’t appear so fashionable anymore.
2. The constant noise. Noise pollution here is almost as bad as the air pollution. I feel like every store is competing with each other, not for customers but to see who can be the loudest. Seriously, it’s so annoying that I try to avoid busy areas now. I am lucky to live in an area where I can get everything and avoid some of the noise! My area is loud too, just not as loud as other areas.
3. Children using the streets/sidewalks/wherever as their personal bathroom. It’s disgusting and yet parents seem to be okay with it. And the babies with no diapers and parents letting them go wherever. I just don’t get it.
4. The smog. How the population is as high as it is baffles me. How they survive without apparently having serious lung problems is beyond me. And smoking in the smog. Double whammy. These people must have lungs made of steel.
5. Let’s talk about the smoking. Coming from North America where it’s illegal to smoke anywhere is a blessing. These people smoke in restaurants, bars, shopping centres, pharmacies, hospitals, clinics and school bathrooms. The adults are doing this. And they think it’s funny to see kids pretending to smoke. Frightening.
6. The squat “toilets”. Thank goodness almost everywhere I go has either one regular toilet or a handicap toilet. Oh and having to carry tissue with you everywhere. Because it’s not provided. Add that to my list of things I’ve learned to never forget!
7. Washroom facilities at my school. I am lucky there is a regular toilet on every floor at school. But there is no hot water. No soap. No paper towels or air dryer. And on the one floor, the regular bathroom does not have running water in the sink. Seriously, isn’t it time to upgrade?
8. One of the most disturbing things is street meat. There is a street vendor that I pass on my way to the shopping center. I know what he is cooking because they are right there in a cage for all to see. I refuse to eat pigeon. So gross.
Am I going to miss anything about China when I leave? Yes of course ~ there are so many things I will miss but the above things I will not miss at all!!
Regrets, I’ve had a few… words from a great and memorable song. My way ~ the way I choose to live my life.
Do you have regrets in your life? Is there something that you wish you could go back in your life and change?
I have regrets. Less than I used to but I still have regrets. There are times that I think maybe I would go back in time and change things, but then would I be where I am today? Not likely.
I truly believe that everything in our life happens for a reason, and that we meet certain people who are only in our life for a short time but have the biggest impact on us. Do I regret that this person is no longer in my life? No because I know the time we had together helped me grow into the woman I am today.
So don’t go through life with too many regrets. Be grateful for everything you have. Life is too short to have too many regrets.
And remember what Frank said ~ I did it my way!!
There is a reason why the Chinese are so advanced in education. The children are always in school it seems. Even on days that are holidays, some kids are at special schools for the entire day. And this isn’t just the older kids. These are 8 year olds and up going to school from 7am until sometimes 7pm. And older kids are having to do homework until 11 at night. And by older I mean middle school kids ~ 11 year olds. So is it too much? Is there too much pressure being put on these kids?
Some people ~ especially the parents ~ say no. They want their kids to have as much education as possible so that they can be successful later in life. And I do understand that.
But does more education mean more success? In my opinion, no it doesn’t. I consider myself a very successful woman and have an amazing career that I love, but I am not as educated as others my age are. Does that make me less successful? No. Hard work makes someone successful. Perseverance and overcoming obstacles makes someone successful. Education can play a part but not the only part.
I wish I could talk to the parents here and explain to them that it’s okay for their children to have some downtime and to just be kids! I would hate to see these wonderful little minds become resentful because of the pressure put on them.
So I say ~ let them be kids. They are young for such a short time and then adult life happens. And that is meant for kids all over the world ~ not just in China!! Let kids be kids ~ real life will happen for them soon enough!!
Growing up in a small Ontario city, one dreams of having the chance to see and maybe even live in exciting cities of the world. But how many of us actually get to do that? I am sure people would be surprised to hear that many of us do!
I am one of those people. I grew up in Welland, Ontario ~ a small industrial city in Southern Ontario, close to Niagara Falls. I enjoyed growing up there. I had lots of friends, school was fun for the most part, but then I turned 16 and I started dreaming of moving away. Toronto and New York City were the big cities that I wanted to see and live in!
I did end up moving to Toronto when I was 19. I stayed a few years, moved to London, Ontario and got married. Yet I still had that itch to see more than Southern Ontario. I just could not see myself being brave enough to get out in the world.
A few years ( and a divorce) later found me and my daughter heading to New York City. One of my bucket list items came off my list!!
Single motherhood became my most important job then and so the bucket list had to wait.
A move to Calgary and discovering a new confidence in myself found me looking at European opportunities to work. A trip to Italy in April 2014 took another bucket list item off and added so many more to it!!! I knew I had the courage to make a move.
In November 2014, after quitting my job, I moved to Prague to start a new life. Teaching English was never on my bucket list but its enabled me to see London, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Dresden, and now China. And I have a career now ~ not just a job.
I loved growing up in Welland and I wouldn’t trade my memories of my childhood for anything, but I am so proud of myself to have made it as far in the world as I have. I can only hope that I inspire my children to live life with all their potential and to see just how far they can go, with hard work and a bucket list!!
Which are you? Someone who works to live, or lives to work? Have you ever given this any thought? Maybe you were thinking of re-evaluating your life and started to question this. It causes great debates between people.
Many discussions have taken place between my friends and I about this. Some of these discussions have turned into lively debates. I believe both sides have valid points. I was one of those people who lived to work for a very long time. But then the world opened up to me, and I discovered a whole new way of thinking and a new way of life.
We all know that life is short. And there is so much more to life than work. Of course, in order to live, most of us need to work. But when work takes over and you are no longer enjoying life because of work, is it really worth it? There has to be a healthy balance. I find it hard to believe those people who say that they love to work 15 hours a day.
Take the time to stop and smell the roses. Enjoy life – work to make enough so you can enjoy your life, but don’t forget to live.
Happy Birthday to me!!!
This is birthday number 3 for me traveling abroad, and my 52nd in this awesome world. It really has been an amazing journey, these 52 years, and while I know deep down that I am NOT middle aged (because, really, who lives to be 104 ~ not many of us!), I do not feel my age at all. And I attribute this to doing what I want and loving what I do!
I turned 50, a milestone birthday, in Prague, and while it was not exactly the day I had in mind, it was definitely memorable turning 50 in Europe! A weekend trip to Cesky Krumlov on my own was just what I needed after that monumental day.
At 51, I was on my way to Berlin for a short holiday to celebrate my birthday. I enjoyed celebrating on my own as it gave me a chance to reflect on my life, what I had endured and how it had turned out at the time. Celebrating one’s birthday may sound lonely but it really wasn’t. I was in an exciting European city, enjoying new sites and sounds and food. This was when I made the decision to make a change. China and other Asian countries were on my list but obviously China won. And while China can be challenging, I don’t regret it at all!
So now here I am, turning another year older in another country and it really is exciting! I have made many friends here who I know are going to be lifetime friends. I have discovered a side of me that I never would have found had I not jumped into this new life ~ that side being the incredible patience I have for teaching young children, and loving them all so much.
I don’t know where I will be next year to celebrate my 53rd birthday but no matter where I will be, you can be sure that I will make it the best day possible and that I will be grateful for being there!