Thursday, September 16, 2010

Exercise, Class, and Woodcarvings

Today has been an especially busy day.

It began early this morning, when I woke up at 6:00am.  Normally I don't wake up so early, but I wanted to try the Running Club that Josh and Jon-Michael started, and some of my students have urged me to go.  I ended up being the first one to arrive, and I got to watch a little bit of the flag-raising ceremony that the University puts on.  Before the ceremony, they were playing some inspiring music, and I happened to catch the theme to Pirates of the Caribbean playing in the speakers.  I had to chuckle a little.  That was the only song I could recognize though.

As I watched the soldiers preparing and some elder ladies exercising on the other side of the square, A few of the students started to arrive.  I didn't know anyone until Josh and JM arrived, and afterward some of my students arrived like Melody and Chad.  We ran for a total of 3.59km, leaving outside the West Gate, turning north and running around campus until we came back in the East Gate.  I think I finished with the amazing time of 30 minutes.

After the running, I went back and rested a little bit before my new classes started.  Today's classes were a group of freshmen from Minsheng College.  Each class had around forty students in it, and I was going to teach them all English Conversation.  At first, I was a little startled.  I brought in my book to show them, and I asked "Is this the class that we have?"  They all replied "No."  What the heck?  I wondered.  Could I possibly be in the wrong room?  Then I asked what class they were supposed to have.  "English Conversation" they responded, so it was the right class after all.  Then what was wrong with the book?

It turns out these students don't have their book yet.  Oh great, this will be a funn [sic] semester if they don't get their books.  Nonetheless, the classes were rather interesting, and I was able to end the second one about 30 minutes early.

After lunch, the foreign teachers played another round of Ultimate Frisbee (Josh, this link is if you want to buy more... they might even ship here!) with the students.  A lot are starting to show up.  Halfway through, a large group of students arrived and we were able to have a full competition, 7-on-7.   We enlarged the field and found it might be rather difficult, since it took us a while to score one point (and only one point).  I wonder what the legal field dimensions are?

My day ended with an amazing trip.  A few days ago, someone put me in touch with a guy named 朱雪 (Zhū Xuě).  Today, we met so he could take me out to dinner and discuss potential English lessons.  It turns out, he is a master woodcarver.  Here is a link to his website.  His carvings are absolutely amazing.  He started at the age of 11, when he took the unused chalk from his teachers, and carved little shoes out of them.  From then on, he moved to larger and larger "canvasses", and now even has to go out of the country to get the right wood for the carvings.  His website has a sample of his work.  Here is what I feel is his most amazing piece of art:

The Olympic Car of Harmony
This piece of work is called The Olympic Car of Harmony.  It is an olympic-themed car with everything from logos and dragons to even the four Fuwa pictured on it.  It's one thing that he is able to make a wood carving this big, but there's more than what meets the eye.  The car actually runs!  Here's a picture of 朱雪 and the car.  I was absolutely amazed!  He even started it for me in his shop, I couldn't believe my eyes when he turned the key and the car roared to life.  It's just hard to imagine how much work had to go into it.  There is another picture from his website about the amount of detail that you can see from the car.

Oh, and if you want to own this piece of work, you only have to pay 2008万 Renminbi (equivalent to about $3 million USD).

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