Saturday, September 2, 2017

Editing, Mind Mapping, Wedding, Work...

About what I do here, I haven't written a whole heck of a lot, have I?  The past 2 months have been filled with 12 hour days and major changes. While foreign teachers seem to come and go quickly, the curriculum team members are the ones I spend most of my time with and they're amazing. I prefer teaching just a couple classes online a day, because there's so much to do in curriculum.  I need the teaching to keep my mind in what it's like for those who are teaching, but it's not my "thing."  Not this kind of teaching anyway, which has filled my head with ideas of how to improve...

This blog (sorry--I've mostly been posting on Google and Facebook) is dedicated to work and those I work with.  Where would any of us be w/o underpaid, overworked Amy and "Money?"  Teacher Trainers, by title, go-to people who continually put out fires and rescue hapless helpless types like me, in practice.
Images of the stacks of lessons I proof read wouldn't be interesting or appropriate to post. Have discovered I enjoy doing it, tho.  They're like puzzles (that I LIKE, since I don't care for puzzles) to figure out what is supposed to be communicated and what's actually in the lesson.  What matters and what doesn't.  It's not easy and I rely heavily on the internet to double check my thinking on terminology and spelling, especially since TAL uses curriculum based on the U.K.'s version of English.  Words like "lorry" and "lift," can stump an American like me.  I have friends here from the U.K., though, and Google has that gap covered, too.

Creating Mind Maps is really fun! It's an attempt to help the kids to catagorize words into sections--to see, at a glance, how they fit under a collective theme.  I'm used to seeing mind maps that look like kind of overwhelming spiderwebs of color and words.  To create something, using 20+ years of sign painting experience, that's more visually appealing, less dizzyingly complex, is the goal.
It's exciting to begin to understand what possibilities exist in
merging what I draw (but mostly find--not enough time to draw at the moment, 
always deadlines and I'm learning more useful stuff than I ever learned in college)
 with computer generated text and imagery. 
Google access is officially banned by China, but, 
coworkers have helped me bypass that.  
Can't do my job w/o it. Can't stay sane w/o it.   
The whole country is run on pirated software anyway.  True story.  
The creation of cultural lessons for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas are on my to-do list.  Here's a page from Halloween:
When I finish the Mind Maps (there'll be around 30-40 pages of them, in total) and this round of cultural lessons, I've been asked to (insert drum roll here) 
create 10 story lessons, based on MY STORIES!
SO, life is VERY, VERY full and there's never enough time...I bring work home with me sometimes and will continue to do so.  This job is like an internship--I'm discovering and learning something new all of the time and, just as it was necessary to put in 16 hour days to complete a painting project on time and at the quality I'd feel good about, or write a paper for BYU, long hours aren't a burden when they're part of something you really want to do.

There won't be as many travelogues from here as I had time for in Sacheon, South Korea. But, that's ok, because I came here to work and that's what I'm doing. 

When you think of the hard-working, polite, and understated qualities you normally associate with people from Asia, they all work on curriculum developing.  It's an honor to work with them! I'm making a list of stuff I love here.  Someone said I could do the same for what I don't love.  Nope.  Too easy to see that stuff since by and large the people have been programmed to distrust foreigners.  Being glared at and cheated is more common than a smile.  I can't get my nails done in the colors I prefer or w/o being charged double unless I bring tall, strong-willed, Chinese co-worker "Hannah," who won't allow it.  Here's Hannah (who'd getting married this weekend!), "Cheng," & my nails:
China is DIVERSE. It bares very little resemblance to what people think of when they think of Asia. Many of the people here are as tall or taller than I am.  The geography is reflected in the people.  They'll yell, chastise, laugh, spit, and cut in line.  Others are more demure and keep their thoughts to themselves until they really trust you.  They're all "traditional" Chinese, just as there's no "typical" American. I realize that now.  Pearl S. Buck novels are an excellent insight into that fact, since Chinese was her first written language, I believe, and she wrote from a lifetime of experience, not hearsay. So, here are some more of the people who make stuff happen here:
Nancy, in the middle, the boss and head of festivities for TAL's 14th Birthday party a week ago.
Pamela is heading up our new Junior High lessons.  I'm a huge admirer of hers.  Brilliant lady.
Ran Wang, got me this job and I need another blog to write about her.  
But, let's end with images from her wedding yesterday, 
to her sweetheart and best friend since Junior High.
Me with my favorite Teacher Trainer, just before heading home!
Ran with new hubby and buddies from work, after the ceremony.
Queen for a day, Ran the bride, who was drop-dead gorgeous, despite herself! 
She hated all the fuss and did not want a big wedding, but BIG is what she got and 
she pulled it off like a royal.  Love her so much, I cried.
A romantic at heart, I love happy endings and have every confidence that the
ending of the crazy wedding day is the beginning
of happiness for Ran and Nan!


  1. What a fabulous time you're having, Joanna, and how fun to be part of a wedding! I'm heading to your neck of the woods on Tuesday--wish Beijing and Tokyo were closer. ;-)