Picture this: somewhere a girl has over 50 unread emails in her inbox and her bags need unpacked from a four day trip cross-country last weekend. Meanwhile, a large stack of grading is sitting on the corner of her desk and she is vaguely aware that grades are due on Friday… Yet, she somehow finds the will and motivation to not work on any of those things and instead post a blog. That girl is crazy!
Whether this post is the result of said “productive procrastination”, I’ll leave that up to you to decide. I hope you enjoy all the same!
Educator's Conference Reflections
Over 400 individuals from around the world gathered in Wuhan, Mainland China last Wednesday through Saturday for the annual educator’s conference sponsored by our international organization. Not only were there teachers from international schools across China, there were educators and speakers visiting from all over the globe in order to take part in this time of professional development and community bonding. Our organization's theme for this school year is “GROWING TOGETHER”. This view of “Growing Together”, in life and labor, was presented at its fullest during every moment of the conference. It is such a comfort to be reminded that we do not walk through life in darkness alone. The word "together" is powerful.
At the conference, attendees could attend up to six sessions a day, with at least 10-15 options during any given time-slot. I had such a hard time picking! Session subjects included everything from classroom management strategies to financial guidance for living abroad.
Some of my favorite sessions to attend included:
- “The World in our Classroom: Teaching in the Multicultural Setting”
- “Faithful Integration”
- “Attitudes that Affect Academic Success”
- “C.S. Lewis and the Challenge of Modern Learning”
- “Reason to Believe: Introducing International Students to an Authentic Truth-Centered Life"
I was heartened by the conviction and message of the speakers at this conference. One idea that resonated with me this past week, I will share here. I am sharing this because I have many educator friends, but also because I believe this truth can translate into ANY profession or walk of life.
Truth-centered integration (education based around THE WORD) is something that has been so important to me since the moment I became a teacher. The thing I’ve found in these past three months is that I was better at spiritual integration when I worked in a public school. Why? Well, living in Bib—belt South Carolina probably helped, for one (haha). Yet, I think I found sharing truths about My Father easier because I knew it wasn't the norm for a public school teacher. Sharing My Father was the core of my calling within the classroom. Don't get me wrong, that definitely still is my calling, but perhaps, I felt like sharing those truths set me apart from others in my profession. Now, every staff member in my school are known for having that same vision and purpose… So, now my issue is, how do I ensure my message [HIS message] isn’t just another “tagline” for a f@ith-founded school? Another check mark in my daily to-do list.
A speaker by the name of Chris Browne from Wheaton Press said, “The goal of integration is NOT aligning f@ith and learning. If we believe what the Bib—says, f@ith is not separated from learning. Or anything else for that matter. The L—D created everything, therefore, I don’t need to ‘add’ HIM to anything. He is already IN ALL. OF. IT.”
Too often, in our world, the natural inclination to share The Father is through trying to make Him "relevant". That is a laughable concept.
Literature, history, science, mathematics… all of these things were created through and for His glory. What a comfort to recognize I don’t need to 'find' ways to ‘incorporate’ G—D ideals into everything I teach. He is THERE; my job is to give my students the opportunity to discover where He already is. This truth goes beyond the classroom and into any and every moment where I can tell people the Good News.
Week 12 and city #7!
Wuhan, the capital of the Hubei province in central China, is the furthest south I have ever traveled in China. I honestly didn't expect much from this giant tier two city, but I must admit, after visiting, I can't wait to get back!
On the banks of the Yangtze River, Wuhan has over 10 million residents and is sometimes referred to as “the Chicago of China”. One of the reasons why: it boasts the best street food in all of China.
"Hu Bu Xiang" aka SNACK STREET
Hu Bu Xiang (hoo-boo-shang), also known as SNACK STREET was one of the best decisions I made during my visit to Wuhan. Some friends and I traveled over an hour by taxi (in the rain) to this famous network of streets in Wuhan where you will find hundreds of little shops selling the freshest and most classic Wuhan delicacies! My personal favorite? Wuhan is famous for it’s HOT DRY NOODLES. Don’t ask me why they are so delicious, but I honestly could have eaten that stuff for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (I might have actually done that and it was wonderful, haha). We also had some amazing pork kebabs, duck, and some delectable desserts like fresh mangoes and ice cream!
I could not get enough of all the deliciousness!
"The Han Show"
The artistic director of this show is a man by the name of Franco Dragone. Dragone was for many years behind much of the design of Cirque du Soleil and Celine Dion’s show “A New Day” in Las Vegas (both shows spanning years of success).
The show’s designer is a man by the name of Mark Fisher. Mark Fisher also worked on Cirque du Soleil, but more famously, he was on the design team for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics in both Beijing (2008) and London (2012).
The show is called “The Han Show” after the over 90% of China’s national population that is descended from the Han people group. It is a show featuring a rich history, a deep-rooted and beautiful culture, as well as, a story of hope for China’s future.
It’s so hard to describe the show, but I’ll do my best. The entire theatre is made up of thousands of audience seats that MOVE. The entire center stage can convert from a gigantic stage, to a full size Olympic swimming pole. Aerial stunts, divers, dancers, elaborate costumes, jet skis, water jets that shoot hundreds of feet high, brilliant lights… I could list on and on the amazing qualities of this show, but you really have to see it to believe it.
First, the music was incredible. I would buy that score in a heartbeat (apparently theatrical soundtracks are not a thing in China, but boy do I wish they were). One minute your heart is pounding with the actors flying on ropes in the air, the next you feel almost in tears at the beautiful dance gracing the stage in front of you. The music takes you, not only into China, but into the story.
That’s the other thing I loved about the show, the story. It is the tale of a young couple, one of them representing China’s heritage, the other representing modern China. Together this couple seeks to work together to rescue and restore the scroll of wisdom to China. Of course, they face separation, temptation, and distraction along the journey, but in the end, they reunite in wisdom and harmony. I found this theme very symbolic and eye-opening. This story depicts China as a country searching for wisdom. Perhaps, part of the Body’s calling here in China is to work to complete exactly what the story presented… a calling to introduce China to The WISDOM it so desperately desires.
Growing with Friends
It was so wonderful to see familiar faces, get some REAL friend hugs, and share our experiences and observations about our past three months in China. It is such a comfort to know I am not alone in my journey abroad. These are friends I feel comfortable revealing my greatest successes and darkest struggles related to living in China. We were able to discuss our unexpected blessings, in addition to, our disappointed and unfulfilled expectations. I am so thankful to have this conference to look forward to every year to see friends and share in this path we (and our Father) are walking together.
Fellowshipping with these friends was a tangible moment of understanding for our conference theme of “Growing Together”.
Praise Reports and PRs
- Thank you to those of you who prayed about the bank account! Tomorrow the school is taking all the new staff to finally get local accounts! I am learning a lot about the power of p—y—r while being here. Thank you for helping the Father remind me of this!
- Please ask that the lessons learned and ideas that were sparked whilst I attended the Educator’s conference would not be abandoned on a page in my notebook; forgotten until the next conference when I pull that notebook back out. I desire to be intentional and dedicated to becoming a better, more Truth-centered educator daily.
- My family is grieving the loss of my maternal grandmother’s sister, our Aunt Evelyn. She was a fun and hilarious woman, who had a way of bringing out the best of even my sister (:P Love you, Kelly). She will be deeply missed by her children and grandchildren, along with the extended family including my grandmother. I ask that you lift everyone in the family up to the Father as they cope with the tragedy of loss.
- As always, health is a big concern. I have been extremely busy these past twelve weeks and I am beginning to feel burnt out.
- Flight arrangements for my trip back to the states for two weeks during the December holidays.
"There is nothing more Bib--al than making hard decisions for the right reasons."
Cairn University President, Dr. Todd Williams
*she begins to wonder if you can even get cranberry sauce in China?*