Saturday, July 18, 2009

Xiamen - Dinner with Wining Team

In addition to lectures, hands-on labs, discussions, quizzes, and tests, and to foster active learning, I organized a competition. The topic was Stenography which is the process of hiding secrets. In Stenography, secrets are hidden using several techniques - the original form of the secrets are untouched. In contrast, encryption employs mathematical algorithms to scramble the secrets making it unreadable without a key.

Breaking up the class into teams of 3, each group is given a set of similar clues to uncover secrets embedded in files - the first team that successfully uncovers all the hidden messages wins a prize - dinner with the professor and his family. The following pictures and videos highlight our evening at Pizza Hut - now this is not 'your father's pizza hut' - this establishment is considered high-end in Xiamen and the one we went to is located on the top of a prime office/retail building located on the waterfront facing Gulang Yu.

The Dinner Party. I asked each group to name their team - it so happened that they called themselves the "Hungry Group" - no wonder they won the competition!

We had to wait in line - about 30 minutes - when was the last time you had to wait just to get into a Pizza Hut in the States?

The elevator ride up - 24 floors - no stop except at the top.

Seafood Pizza - doesn't that look good to you? - for whatever reason, the pizza is not at all greasy like those we have in the States.

I think they liked the pizza - two thumbs up from this crew....

Video clip of dinner discussion - click on it - these are the future leaders of China.

Boy, it was worth all the work I put into the competition - no pain no gain!

Pizza and Star and Strips - how appropriate!

The Mastermind of the Team

Certainly a happy group.....

Friday, July 17, 2009

Xiamen - Awesome Field Trip - Knight Saddlery

We asked Hannah what she wanted for her birthday and of course she mentioned horseback riding. While she did not get to do that, she also asked to visit a factory that manufactures horse-related equipment. Little did we know that Ms. Shirley Lee, a friend who grew up in Singapore and now lives and works in Xiamen, is a director at one of two such factories in China and she invited us to visit it on Hannah's birthday. Hannah flipped when she heard where we were going! She benefited a great deal from the experience and learned a bit more about riding - the following shows how a Chinese company manufactures goods and gadgets that riders need and want!

Hear from Hannah what the company makes.....

Imagine, there are hundreds of thousand of manufacturing facilities/factories in China - how can we, the US, compete with the Chinese??? We won't....

The nature of the work is mundane and repetative. Few in developed countries want to do this, or at least that is what the media tells us. Globalization has resulted in jobs being outsourced overseas. There is nothing wrong with putting in an honest day's work - in fact God ordained work and we should be as productive as we can, using the talents He gave us.

Every conceivable gadget a horse lover would want and need....

Christmas came early - Hannah in 'hog-heaven'....

Office Manager originally from Malaysia - she knows everything about the products....

The design team routinely uses this horse to test prototypes before mass producing them...

A horse blanket about to be completed.

This German-made machine receives attention from a technician.

Make sure you double-check your work before turning on the switch.

This shop foreman gave Hannah and David several samples - of course they were thrilled.

There are millions of him willing to work very hard - 7 days a work - 10-12 hours per shift.

Him too....

Thank you Shirley, for arranging this wonderful field trip....

Electric stamp - Made in China. Chinese goods are still often under par, but over time, they will continue to improve - what happened to the Japanese and South Koreans testifies to that - and the US must resurrect and expand its manufacturing base, not dismantle it by shipping the capability overseas - this is unwise.

And the Oscar goes to......

Finished products ready for shipment.

Ready to be shipped - next stop, the United States and Europe - the Chinese make them, we consume and then they make more - is there an end to this cycle?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Xiamen University - Invited Guest Speakers

Gerda, Hannah and David were invited guests in Ellen Tan's English class. Both she and her husband Larry will be leaving for Saudi Arabia to teach English - we will miss them...

We hope to have touched some lives as a result of this engagement....

Homeschooling is a foreign concept in China; so some explanations are needed. Click on the video to hear what they have to say.

Misconception cleared up. While you may get the impression that the summer is all fun and leisure, hear what David has to say about their work. Truly to their credit, they continued their learning and education - albeit more hands-0n, more experiential, and certainly more than just learning from the textbook.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Spend Spend Spend

Being here in China this summer has given us new perspectives. One of which is looking back at our beloved country from here. On the Fourth of July, we wanted to celebrate - but there were no fireworks, parades or cookouts! We did make it a point to dress ourselves in Red, White and Blue even though nobody got it. We miss home!

As a family, we try to live within our means - but as a country, we are not doing such a good job, as this video will show .

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Xiamen - All Day Outing with Rabin and Lucky

Rabin and Lucky were so kind! They insisted we set aside a day to spend with them (we came on the 4th of July-can you tell?!) because they wanted to share their lives with us. They live about 40 minutes away from the University, in the heart of Xiamen. As a result of this all day outing, we experienced what life is like for a typical Chinese family on their only full day off...Sunday. Here are some of the highlights....

Mountain top with Lucky and her son Teddy

We hiked all the way to the top of the mountain near their home and at the summit, we were presented with a nice view of Xiamen.

There were several temple buildings on top of the mountain - not all completed - apparently some wealthy Taiwanese 'invested' their money to get this project going.

More temples....

We were most impressed with the collection of Bonsai Trees

To read a Chinese Book: You start from the extreme right column and begin to read from the top and then down (North to South) upon which you work your way from right to extreme left (East to West).

After taking in the sights, we went back to their home where Rabin's mom prepared a feast for us. She is certainly an excellent cook and we were completely satisfied and content. Now that is REAL Chinese food! See the video below....

After lunch, we had desserts - look at those delicious, succulent and sweet lychees (far right)...

We had such a great time at their home that we stayed for dinner!!!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Xiamen - English Corners

In addition to my teaching, we contribute to the local communities by serving as tutors in English Corners.

This is also a great way for us to meet locals, share a word of encouragement and help them with their English.

The Chinese have a great thirst to learn English - so they come and spent a couple of hours, sometimes twice weekly to hear, speak and practice English.

Peace - the universal language - and who do we call the Prince of Peace?

Xiamen - June 28 - A Very Special Day for My Hannah

Well, Gerda and I can't believe it - Hannah turns 13 - in Xiamen, China.

We are VERY BLESSED to have her. We thank God she is part of our family.

Yes, capitalism is alive and well here - Walmart Supercenter. Here they sell live seafood of all kinds, and glazed donuts as well! A family traditional for us is enjoying fresh donuts in bed on the morning of one's birthday. With Hannah's birthday coming up, Gerda looked unsuccessfully for donuts. An unexpected trip to Walmart with a friend produced the elusive treats. Now all Gerda had to do was sneek those donuts past Hannah so she would indeed be surprised on her birthday.

Very nice photo of Hannah wearing a traditional Vietnamese hat (taken at Ho Chi Minh Post Office, built by the French in colonial Vietnam).

She is certainly maturing and officially a teenager. Yet Hannah is also caring, astute, sociable, easy to get along with, blessed with a sharp palette (a budding food critic), adventurous when it comes to eating food of all kinds, loves to travel and see places, has a tender heart for little children and animals, especially for horses, is an accomplished and strong rider and swims like a fish.

Like fish to water

She gets along so well with her younger brother - they both share a love for nature and the outdoors - both of them spend hours exploring the woods and the streams in Montreat.

Sweet Wisconsin corn - enjoying it with lots of butter when she was 2 years oldan
But above all, we pray that she will grow up to be a woman after God's own heart. As it is written in Samuel 13:13-14: "I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will." As parents, we desire that she live her life to the fullest, using the talents God gave her to glorify His Name. So we give thanks as we journey with her, guide and comfort her, and act as stewards of this precious resource - her childhood - as we pray her into maturity.