Thursday, May 29, 2008

Leaving Qingdao----Thoughts at the End of Our Trip

May 24th came too quickly. Our 4-week trip was up. It was time for us to leave China and return home. We left with mixed feelings. We were anxious to get home and to see our family and friends, but we were sad to leave the people that we had gotten to know. All of my blog has had to be about the city of Qingdao, but our readers were the important part of our trip.
Our readers have a place in our hearts. After having read with each of them every day for four weeks, we became close to them. We were interested in them as individual people with names and backgrounds and futures, not just as numbers. Our desire is for them to continue to study and to learn, especially from the important book that we shared with them as we were helping them to improve their English. I wish that I could tell you more about each of them and show the pictures of each one. I would like for you to know them, too. And, thanks to the support of many of you, those readers got to know more about the things that we all hold dear.
Ron and I read for a total of 248 hours during our time in Qingdao. We count that time as a real privilege! If anyone reading this blog wants more information about our trip or others such as this one, please let us know.
I am not very good at blogging everyday life, so there may not be much, if any, posted for a couple of months! Come back in September for scenes from Dakar, Senegal, West Africa------another Let's Start Talking trip!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Zhanshan Buddist Temple

Another temple that Ron and I visited was the Zhanshan Buddist Temple. It was built in 1945, and it is still an active temple.

While the pictures make the area around the temple look nice, the area was actually very dirty, and trash was everywhere.

The next building is one that had statues in the walls all around it. People were walking around and around the building and bowing down to each statue. There were all ages of people.

We did not get a good picture of the monks, but they are the ones in the gold colored clothes. They were taking down speakers that had been used for some kind of program.

The number of small figures on the roof corners indicate the importance of the place. There is a certain number that only an emperor can have.

One of the interesting things about this place was that there were "No Smoking" signs everywhere-----even though the inscense smoke filled the air!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Earthquake in China

The afternoon that the massive earthquake happened in China we did not feel a thing. That evening we did not check news on internet, so we did not even know about it until the next morning when we checked our e-mails from home and found out people were worried about us!
Of course, that next day all of our readers were talking about the earthquake. The situation made some of them ask lots of questions about how that related to the text we were reading. At least one asked if that was a punishment for a way of life. One of the readers has a friend living in the earthquake area, so she was especially worried. I think that the concern that other nations had for China really made an impression on the students.
The Chinese government did a good job of responding quickly to the tragedy. They were organized and effecient, but the job was enormous because of the mountainous and secluded locations of many of the affected villages. The government declared three days of official mourning, and all public events were canceled for those three days. One week after the earthquake, at approximately 2:20 p.m., the time of the earthquake, there was a national 3-minute silence. The interesting thing about those three minutes of silence was that, at least in Qingdao, there was noise. Ron and I were in the middle of reading sessions, so we stopped for the 3 minutes. Ron had a good view of the street outside his window. All of the cars stopped where they were in the streets, and most people got out of their cars and folded their hands behind their backs. However, even though the taxi drivers stopped their cars, they honked their horns continuously---some were even standing outside their cars while reaching inside to honk their horns.
Sun Woo, the owner of the Dr. Paul's Language School, and David S. had worked very long and hard arranging for the Harding University Choir and the Korean Christian University Choir to present 3 days of concerts at the local university. The Sunday night concert was held as planned, but the next two days had to be canceled because of the official mourning days. Ron and I fortunately had tickets for the Sunday performance, so we got to hear the groups, and they were really great. There were maybe 500 in attendance that night. It was wonderful that the Chinese government allowed the two groups to come to China and to perform! But it was sad that the final two days were canceled. Many of our readers were very disappointed that they did not get to hear the choirs. However, several of our readers were invited to be tour guides for the Harding students one of the days, and they were excited to get to meet American students.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Miscellaneous Scenes of Qingdao

Today I am posting some random scenes of the city of Qingdao. They are photos that did not seem to fit into any of the previous posts. Some were taken from taxis as we were going different places in the city.

(No, I don't have any pictures of the green algae in the Olympic sailing location that is making all the news these days. The news says that the algae became noticeable in May, but that it got much, much worse by June.)

The first photo is of a Best Western Hotel, and the second is a new hotel that is being completed---probably in readiness for the summer Olympics.

Next was a building constructed by the Germans during their occupation, but now it is used as a Communist Party building.

Roses were starting to bloom!

Flowers were being planted:
Following is a Baptist church that we were told is a State-run church.
Another of the 5 church buildings in the city is this closed Catholic church.

Next is the China Mobile building.

The following is a photo of one of the streets in the older part of the city.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Tianhou Temple

One Saturday Ron and I took a taxi to two different temples. The first is the Tianhou Temple (a Daoist temple) , the temple with the longest history in Qingdao. It was first built in the Ming Dynasty in 1467 A.D. It has a stage in the front and bell and drum towers on both sides.
It is now used as the Qingdao Folk Customs Museum. There were many artifacts inside the museum, but none of the words were in English, so it did not take us long to look through the museum!
The first three pictures were taken inside the musuem. The wood carvings are made of a tree root and the bottom part of the trunk.

The large sticks in the following photo are incense, which are sold to people who want to light them. There are all sizes of incense sticks---I guess it depends on how much money one wishes to spend, how much help one needs,..... or maybe on how high one wants the smoke to go!

Following are some photos of some of the images to which people were bowing down. There were old people as well as young people bowing down to them. It was really a sad sight........

When Ron and I arrived at the temple, we saw a large group of university-age students that were evidently on a bus tour. Later Ron and I sat down on a low wall to rest and have a drink. We noticed that some of the students were looking at us, and finally a couple of them came over and asked if they could take their pictures with us. We agreed, and before we knew it, more and more of the students came over to have their pictures taken with us. There were 30-40 pictures taken! We must be celebraties!....or maybe the students were just not used to seeing old, grey-haired Americans!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Apartment Grounds

The following are pictures of our apartment grounds.

Can you tell that the grass needs mowing?