Tuesday, June 1, 2010

This week I got to see a bit more of Guangzhou: Susan and her friend Vicky showed me the Chen Clan Academy near downtown. It's a very old, massive, traditional building that the Chen clan founded to educate their own family, and now it's open for tours. Among the artifacts inside were rooms where people lived and studied, old furniture, an extravagant gift shop full of amazing things, and really neat paintings. After the Academy we went to see Beijing Lu: one of the wealthiest shopping strips in Guangzhou. Traditional lanterns line parts of the streets, with a huge statue of the Asia Games GZ goat characters right in the middle. We also saw some street-pavement bricks from the Qing and earlier dynasties, blocked off and under glass in the middle of the street.

Last Friday I moved from the hotel I was at for the first four days, and moved into the Huang's house (the owners of Bart). I'll be living there for about a month, when I'll take John's apartment when he moves out. Like most people I've met here, they're super generous. Their house is very nice as well (only 3 months old); a vertical square column of stone, each floor with about 4 rooms, and a spiral staircase in the middle. The rooftop is an open patio, and that's where they do the laundry!

I also got to see Susan's school, the South China University of Technology (Faye, Susan, and Vicky are all engineering students :) ). The campus is similar to the U of M, a mixture of old and new buildings, but they also have a green, manmade lake (green from pollution, they tell me). On campus I met Susan's friend, also in engineering (side note: the ratio of guys/girl students is still ~90/10). He had been looking for an English name for a bit; the Chinese like taking on an English name that sounds like their Chinese name, in his case, Xiang. I had the honor to give him his English name, Shawn!

On Sunday night Boss John (the owner of Bart school) took all the teachers out to KTV - karaoke, Asian style! It's not at all the dump that I expected; from the outside it looks like a nice Hollywood joint with black glass walls and glowing blue song titles. Then a staircase brings you downstairs, with a gourmet-quality buffet on the right and corridor of karaoke rooms on the left, each party with its own separate room. The karaoke room had 2 tables for food, with a huge wraparound couch along the edge of the wall, and a computer panel to choose songs. It was legit! I sang "American Pie" with one of the American teachers, and I had to sing some Avril Lavigne because the girls wanted me to.

At Bart, things are pretty laid back right now; I mostly test prospective students on their current English skills and place them accordingly, and train by learning some technical terms of speech and sitting in on other teachers' classes.

My mailing address (the school's address) is:
2/F Jinli Building, #217, Qiaoxing Dadao,
Shiqiao, Panyu District, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, PRC

But just to be sure, if you send something, just let me know via email so I know to expect it...at least until after I receive the first piece of mail.


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