News for the Week


A Visit to the Big City


            It was a fun visit to Nanning, the capital city of Guangxi, which took place due to our Dragon Boat Festival 3-day holiday last week.

             Little Flower and I landed in the only hostel in town that will allow a dog  to stay with her owner. I found this place during the winter holidays, located next to the pet kennels which housed Little Flower for a few days during our Amity winter conference.

            We always have a small room on the 4th floor with Chinese squat toilet, TV and computer with Net access, all for just $11 a night.  The greatest was the air-conditioner, which kept us  comfortably cool in the heat of the city.  And it was hot, in the sweltering 90s.

            However, the storms blew in our last 2 days, sending torrential rain throughout the entire province.  If you’ve kept up on Asian news, you might have heard about the mudslides that have killed up to 175 people in southern China, with 107 still missing.  Also over 1 million people have been displaced, those whose farmlands and homes have been completely washed out by water and mudslides that have swooped down upon Guangxi with a vengeance.

            While the rain brought relief from the heat,  none of us are at all thankful for those who are suffering in the countryside at this time.  Floods haven’t hit souther China with such force in over 50 years, the news reports say.


The Fruits Nanning has to Offer


            The days in Nanning were spent swimming, shopping, walking the alleyways of our little hostel environment and enjoying the fruits Nanning has to offer . . . . literally.
            Yes, it’s fruit season that’s hit our border areas of Vietnam with rich papaya, juicy mango, and fat watermelons lining the sidewalks at every turn. Farmers coming in from the countryside were loaded down with the fruits of their labor during their harvest season.  Their produce came in trucks, on carts and bicycles, heaped high in boxes and laid carefully onto roadside tarps. 

            I’m a big fan of fruit but my favorite has been the lichee, which is something never seen in the States except in exotic food stores. 

            The lichee (lizi) is a tree fruit about the size of a huge, plump grape, small plum or a golf ball, depending on where they come from.

              Lichee have a thin, rough, tree-like bark skin that easily peals away to reveal juicy white meat.  There’s a pit in the middle so best not to just chomp down on it.  They are picked with the stem still attached, then tied into bundles to create sizes that customers prefer.

               Lichee are amazingly sweet and watery, very tasty.  I have seen them on Chinese restaurant buffets at times but those are the canned variety.  They have been pitted, soaked in sugary syrup and have not a single resemblance (taste-wise) to  fresh lichee. 

            So next time you go Chinese buffeting,  if you ever see those white, round, pitted things in the midst of the fruit and dessert trays, that’s your lichee.  And if it doesn’t taste like anything much, don’t dismiss it until you’ve had the real stuff.


Final Testing in the 2nd week


            It’s a good thing so much fruit is in season as it leaves me more healthy snack options while grading my final exam papers.

            Yes, it’s final exam time for my conversation classes and we’re in our 2nd week of testing already. 

            Students are tested in teams of 3 and have been preparing for 4 weeks.  Each student is required to lead his or her teammates in a discussion question, pulled from the testing question pile.  This year, I gave each group a choice of which questions they wanted in their testing picks:  my questions, which we’ve been doing all semester, or their own questions, which they wrote in class several weeks ago.

            The testing questions were not a surprise so students could easily prepare to make sure they could answer them and do well on the exam.  Each question leader makes sure the discussion stays on topic, everyone participates and everyone gives a lot of information about the question.  Grading for each student is on being a good leader and how well questions are answered.  I am the last leader and ask my own questions about the course.

            So far, half of the students have taken their test and no one has failed.

            I was especially pleased with Jeff, one of my hopeless cases from last semester.  He took the test 3 times in the Fall, and even then, he didn’t really pass.  Out of kindness for his efforts, I gave him a 60.

            But today, what a surprise when Jeff appeared ready to go.  His discussion leadership qualities were admirable and his answers to the questions quite prepared.   He managed a solid 76, which I’m sure he’ll be beaming about when he receives his scoring sheet next week in class.  I certainly was after his group finished.

            Well done, Jeff!


Our Testing Questions:  How well could you do?


            I’ll leave you with some discussion questions, written by my students, that are in the testing pile for our final exam.  See how well you’d do! 


1)      What do you think about shopping on the Internet?

2)      After 10 years, tell 3 things you hope to accomplish.

3)      Is it better to have a TV in the dormitory or not?

4)      Is it better to have a boy or girlfriend in college or not?

5)      What makes a good boyfriend or girlfriend?


6)      Tell us about your life’s dream.

7)       What is the most satisfying thing you have ever done?

8)        In your opinion, is losing weight healthy?

9)        If you could have a job, where would you choose:  America or China?

10)    If you could return to your childhood, what age do you want to be?


11)  If you could give me something, what would you give me?

12)  If you could be the school’s president, tell 1 thing you would change at our college.

13)    If you can choose to be any animal, what animal do you want to be?

14)   If you could choose, would you choose going to college or having a high-paying job?

15)   If you were a parent, how would you treat your child?



From Longzhou, Ping An (Peace) everyone!







About connieinchina

I have been in the Asia region for 30 years as an English language teacher. 28 of those have been spent with the Amity Foundation, a Chinese NGO that works in all areas of development for the Chinese people. Amity teachers are placed at small colleges throughout China as instructors of English language majors in the education field. In other words, my students will one day be English teachers themselves in their small villages or towns once they graduate. Currently, this is my 13th year in Luzhou Vocational and Technical College. The college is located in Luzhou city (loo-joe), Sichuan Province, a metropolis of 5 million people located next to the Yangtze River .
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