Back-To-School Food Edition

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Soft & Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies
My blog may have been quiet, but my kitchen never was! After being away from my apartment (and my kitchen) for too long, my fingers were itching and my stomach was growling for some home cookin’. It wasn’t until after I’d made baked chicken nuggets that I realized I was making some of my favorite foods from my childhood.

Here’s the situation:

  • Spicy Tomato Soup (with fresh basil and goldfish crackers)
  • Baked Chicken Nuggets (with barbecue sauce and homemade ranch)
  • Soft & Chewy Molasses Cookies

It was bound to happen. Fresh basil at the supermarket? Deal. Overpriced Cheddar Goldfish crakers? Of course. Breadcrumbs? It’s gotten real. Oh, and that unopened bottle of blackstrap molasses? Leh go! Now for the recipes…Read More »

A Fresh Start & My 10-in-10

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Courage is taking one step forward when it seems impossible to do so.
I must say: Pardon my absence. Or, at least cut me some slack. The last two months have been jam-packed with a variety of training programs: a two-week summer teacher training program and Peace Corps’ mandatory Mid-Service Training (MST) just to mention two. And while I can’t honestly say they were the best months I’ve had in China, I can say that I survived and am looking forward to teaching and serving my second year. It’s hard to believe that I am now well past the 1 year mark. They really weren’t lying when they said time would pass by faster than I could imagine.

How does it feel to be at site with a year under my belt? It. feels. good. Read More »

STOP. Let Us Take a #SELFIE.

From reading their paragraphs, I saw students struggling with finding who they are, but making the effort to be themselves no matter their particular challenges. I saw students learning to embrace the new stage of their life (being college students). I saw students loving boyfriends, girlfriends, parents, siblings, and even strangers. But most signficiantly, I saw students sharing the wisdom and experiences they’ve already accumulated over the course of two decades.

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With my students utterly exhausted with boring, common writing topics, I began thinking of new ways to help them finish the semester strong. I was reminded of a lesson given by a fellow volunteer here; however, her lesson was for spoken English and it’s focus was for lower-level students. I needed to figure out a writing question and a way to incorporate it into paragraph writing. Well, here is the topic students were given:

“Describe your selfie and what it tells others about yourself.”

I was tempted to make the topic a little more complex. I wanted to encourage my students to think more critically about what a “selfie” portrays and why people take them, but I knew better! Instead, I simply asked students to answer some critical thinking questions after taking their selfies, which proved to be the best timing. The students were so energized and excited after being able to get up and use their cellphones in class that they didn’t mind taking 15 minutes to answer the questions. In fact, they found some of the questions to be funny, such as “Did you use a filter (滤色镜)? Why?”

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After answering the five questions I gave them, I reminded the students of the paragraph structure we’d been discussing all semester and gave them 30 minutes to write. The students worked hard to accurately capture their image and to find the words to express their meaning. During the break, students came up to me and asked me to take a selfie with them after class because they found the class very interesting! What a treat for a teacher!

After spending some time reflecting on my lesson and reading through all of their paragraphs, I was realized teachers are encouragers, especially in language learning. Added to the frustrations of trying to become more fluent, or at least understandable, are the pressures of young adulthood and the need to feel known in the age of information overload. While the pressures to meet standard beauty requirements vary from region to region and country to country, everyone, especially young adults, grapple with finding their true selves. I enjoyed giving this lesson because I was able to affirm my students and tell them how beautiful or handsome they really are with proof via their selfies. I also took the opportunity to question the image they are displaying on their various social media accounts.

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三泡台:The “Eight Treasures” Tea

If you are offered something to drink at a banquet or a wedding in Gansu, chances are you’ll be offered 三泡台(sānpàotái) instead of the infamous 白酒, Chinese liquor. There are many different varities of tea in China, such as oolong, jasmine, and pu’er. While some varities are more famous than others, in northwestern China the eight treasures tea still remains a big part of its tea culture.

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(to the farthest right) The “Eight Treasures” tea. This is a photo from my welcome banquest from September 2015.

What is the “eight treasures” tea?* 三泡台, also known as 八宝茶 (bābăo chá), is called the “eight treasures” tea because it usually contains eight ingredients.Read More »

A Trip to 天祝: Teaching & Being Taught

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The School & Community of 华藏初中 (Hua Zang Middle School).
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She was excited because we were finally able to come. We were excited because of her smile!

If I were looking for one sentence to sum up my experiences teaching at the 华藏初中 (Hua Zang Middle School) and visiting my student’s family, it would be this, “Ms. Moriah, would you like to stay an extra night in Tianzhu? My aunt really likes you and wants you to stay with her for another night.” Our day-trip was full of hospitality and was inspired by one student’s desire to give back to her students and to her teachers.

After her spring internship in her hometown teaching at the middle school she attended when she was a child, my senior student felt inspired to give more back to her students and to her community. “Good afternoon, Ms. Moriah,” my student said as I was walking back from a long hour of office hours. “I was wondering if I could talk to you for a minute.” This senior, who was given the opportunity to study in Shanghai for two years, was struggling to make sense of what she wanted to say.

“As you know, I have just finished my spring internship and have returned to the university. For my internship, I returned to my middle school in my hometown, which is in a small Tibetan village in Gansu.” She continued. Okay. How nice. Where is this going?

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The Master Peace Corps China Volunteer Blog List

Just so you know I’m not the only one blogging it up in China. 

Not only am I not the only one blogging, but many of my fellow volunteers in different provinces offer their own unique perspectives on life, volunteering, and living abroad. We all come from different backgrounds, which directly influences our time as volunteers. Furthermore, the cuisines and cultures of each province is very distinct, despite all provinces being located in western China. You will find volunteers writing about attending Chinese weddings while trying to stay sober, travelling across the expanse of China making new friends and practicing their Chinese, eating some of the best found China has to offer in Sichuan, honing their teaching skills in the classroom, and watching their students compete and win in international writing competitions. Therefore, I have found it necessary to provide you with a comprehensive list of other Peace Corps China 21 Volunteer blogs.

For easy browsing, I have categorized them based on where each volunteer is serving and have provided a little information about each blogger. For more genral information about where Peace Corps China volunteers serve, check out my earlier post here. Clicking each title will take you to their blogs. Read, subscribe, and share! Happy Reading 🙂

Sichuan Province

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  • Title: “Journey to Self”
  • Volunteer: Felecia C.
  • Excerpt from Latest Post: “I had the opportunity to travel during the winter holiday break (January 1-February 28). It was nice to get out of town for a while and see other parts of China.  Some of the places I had the opportunity of visiting was Wan yuan, Sichuan, Guilin, Guangxi,  Xing Ping, Guangxi, Hong Kong, Chongqing, Chongqing. Each place has its own charm.”

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  • Title: “The Bougie Backpacker”
  • Volunteer: Blake B.
  • About: Ni Hao! I’m the type of guy who applies Burt’s Bees while in a third class Trans-Siberian train car and wears cable-knit sweaters in Bedouin tents. I love fancy cocktails and questionable street food. I put the #basic in basic necessities. I guess I’m just a bougie backpacker. Currently living in Luzhou, Sichuan, China teaching English with Peace Corps.
  • Excerpt from Latest Post: “I can’t believe it’s been 10 months since I’ve said goodbye to Washington, DC and made my way over to West Coast for pre-departure orientation. What’s crazier, is watching the new group of China bound Volunteers getting ready to depart! I wanted to be of assistance and share my packing list with annotations after some time here. Here it is!”

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The City & The Country: Homemade Biscuits & Strawberry-Rosewater Jam

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Strawberry-Rosewater Jam & Butter Biscuits

Life is full of irony and irony hurts my pride. First, I said I would never be a teacher after watching my parents teach in the education sector for over 25 years. Well, look at me now. Then, everyone knew how I felt about settling down outside of the city. Now, I wouldn’t mind moving farther out. In fact, my apartment here in Lanzhou is in 安宁区, or the “peaceful” district, which is essentially the suburbs of the slightly more modern 城关区, or downtown Lanzhou. In these more recent moments, I long for a quiet afternoon on the porch or a weekend trip to see my grandmother in Americus.Read More »

A Tour of Gansu Province: Symbolism

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My week is coming to an end, but I can’t relax and bake just yet. Research papers need to be edited, a writing class needs to be taught, and a conference call needs to be had. I’ve picked up a habit from my mother that she picked up from her father that he picked up from his mother…. cleanliness and order. I CANNOT focus and get work down when my eyes land on a stack of unorganized paper or on a pile of folded clothes that need to be put away. So, after my class this morning, I turned on Spotify’s #ThrowbackThursday playlist and began sorting old papers and students’ work. Sorting is never easy for me because I always want to keep everything even if I know I will probably never look at it again. However, living in a relatively small space does not afford you the luxury of hoarding.

Now, to the point of this ramble. As I was sorting and trashing papers against my better judgement, I found some of my students’ work from a gallery walk activity we did in our Oral English class. Discussing the Summer Olympics led us to exploring the deeper meanings of different types of symbols and the concept of nationalism. We focused our attention on the symbols of Southeast Asian nations, such as Myanmar’s new flag and the Philippine’s coat of arms. To check for understanding and to give my students a progress check, I asked students to get in groups or pairs with classmates from their hometowns. Their task was to design a symbol that best represented their hometown. I gave my students a blank sheet of paper and a lot of freedom in choosing a symbol (songs, flags, emblems, objects, animals, etc.) for the hometowns. Some groups created flags, some drew pictures, and some wrote songs! There were those who provided words and those who let their work speak for itself.Read More »