Zhangjiajie: 48 Hours and The Avatar Mountains

When I say 48 hours I really mean it! It was a blitz creek trip to one of the most amazing and beautiful places I have ever been. I had just completed my first week of my new job and was exhausted, but had planned this trip before I signed my new contract. I decided to go with a group as I wanted to take a break from planning and let someone else do it! There are pros and cons to group travel, but overall I am happy I decided to this time as the park is massive and I was able to make the most of my time with a guide. Not to mention the group I went with was a laugh and a half and we had a good time!

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Kaila in Kunming: A Visit to My Orphanage

(Touching the Dragon Gate for Prosperity)

I took a few days off from work and headed back to the province I was born in, Kunming! It was a busy few days where I didn’t get much rest and was busy from sun up to down. I was able to do a lot, met up with some connections and friends and went back to my orphanage. The night before and the whole drive going to my orphanage I was quite nervous which really surprised me.

China is such a diverse and beautiful place and I was excited to go back and explore. Yunnan has stunning nature, views and I already want to go back to spend more time hiking away from the borders of the cities.

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An Adopted Chinese American in Shanghai

You would think and Chinese in China would blend in. Think again! Not everyday, but whenever I meet new people or a stranger strikes up a conversation, it is naturally brought up that I was adopted. Despite my face as they point out, I am American and don’t speak Chinese. I wasn’t an American Born Chinese (ABC) yet I look and am Chinese. Next week I will be heading back to the province, Kunming where I was born to travel and visit my orphanage and wanted to write this post about living in China as an adult adoptee.

Everyone’s reaction has been very positive and it explains why my face is Chinese but the rest of me isn’t quite. From taxi drivers where I have explained it over a translation app, most reactions are understanding or saying something like “very good” and that “I’m lucky.” A new coworker even thought I was joking at first when I said I didn’t speak Chinese and complimented me on my English accent. Shanghai is such a metropolitan city where people from all over China come to work and live.

As the hundreds of thousands of girls adopted from China grow up, I have a feeling that more will want to live in the country they were born in. Shanghai is its own world compared to the rest of China and for me the perfect hub and home base. I will be here at least two more years and there is so much more to discover.

I love China and am looking forward to exploring more of it. It is such a diverse country rich in history and stunning landscapes. I love the contrasts between polite/direct, modern/history, tradition and so on. I am nervous but mostly excited for my trip next week! I haven’t been back since I was 10 and looking forward to it a lot. I have no idea what will happen, how I will feel or what I will learn. It’s going to be an adventure and I look forward to sharing it with you when I’m back πŸ™‚

-Kaila

The Shanghai Kid

Fabulous, expectation, advanced, pressure and lovely. These are all words I would associate with the “Shanghai Kid.” These past nine months teaching have given me incredible close insight into the world of kids growing up in Shanghai. There are so many sub-cultures that my anthropology degree has me constantly dissecting and categorizing daily observations. Education in Shanghai is constantly changing at a rate that I would bet is one of the highest in the world. There are shifts I have already seen in only eight months. It is an exciting industry to work in and I’m constantly looking at the differences/similarities to America and what additions I would make to strengthen different curriculums.

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The Calm Before the Mom

(Excerpts from an essay I wrote in 2010. While I’ve changed a lot, it shows I’m still fundamentally the same person).

“Life is the greatest gift and the only one who can change and live it is you. This has always been a philosophy of mine and I truly believe it. Life is a journey that throws many adventures, challenges and lessons and other emotions and events at you. It is how you react, adapt and move forward that determines the person you are. The smallest moments in my life have often made the largest impacts on my philosophy and who I am…I also believe and know that my actions each day define who I am, the person I am the next day and forever on. Life is going to get rocky and tough, but if you sail through it win a fearless attitude and supportive people, the water will eventually calm and become clear.

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Beijing Part III

So much happened on our second day that I didn’t include so this is filling in the blanks and summing up the trip! We were at a mall doing as the Chinese do, which is shopping when we heard the sounds of the dragon dance! I have grown up listening to this tune and it somewhat is a traumatic sound given that I was scared of them when I was little. This dance was the best one I’ve ever seen and so intricate!

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Beautiful Beijing Part II

This was by far my favorite part of the trip and an experience I will treasure for some time to come! It was so special! I’ve been to other parts of the Great Wall and this one was the most special. Not to mention that it was lightly snowing with ominous clouds that added to the beautiful morning. You take the cable car up the wall and can walk the section before either taking a chairlift down or as we opted, a toboggan! I really enjoyed this day so much and it’s part of what makes Beijing and China so special.

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Beautiful Beijing Part I

Happy Chinese New Year! For three days of my break, I went to Beijing with two friends and had a great time in the freezing cold! We visited all the tourist spots, had delicious food and the highlight was going to the Great Wall! I have been to different sections of the wall and this without doubt the best one so far! Loved it. This post is broken into three parts because even though I was only there for three days, a lot happened!

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Twas’ The Night Before Chinese New Year

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Chinese New Year in Shanghai feels like Christmas back in the States. The spirit is in the air with decorations everywhere, little pig souvenirs and gold charms being sold in all the little shops. Chinese New Year is THE holiday of the year in China where almost the entire country has time off and goes back to their hometowns to visit family and celebrate. Shanghai is about to be a ghost town and the kids are officially all on their holidays either traveling outside of China or within. I officially kicked off the holidays by going to the famous Yuyuan Gardens with two friends to look at the beautiful lights, eat some yummy food and soak in the holiday spirit.

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End of Semester and Welcoming Chinese New Year!

(Gave all my students red packets full of chocolate)

The semester is drawing to an end before we welcome and the whole country goes on holiday for Chinese New Year. There is something so special about β€œfirsts” and my first semester of teaching in China is something I foresee as always being incredibly meaningful in my life. My students, ages 4-11, have put in so much hard work this semester between the rolling of the eyes and β€œteacher no homework” complaints. My littles have learned to write the alphabet, blend sounds and read while my older students have learned to crank out five page essays like it’s nothing. I have been told dolphins look like me, pictures have been drawn of me dying by shark attack or explosion and I have gotten all the little squishy hugs. I have learned the art of bribing by stickers, taught them various high-five games to keep them focused and can shut their β€œbad behavior” with my famous glare. I have assured all the parents that their kids are wonderful and making progress (except that one kid who never does his homework….just kidding. He’s a doll). And most of all I have absolutely LOVED this first semester. I decided to write reflect and write a note to all my students.

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