Welcome to Trick-or-Treating in My Hometown

The final installment of my Halloween video clips for next year’s lessons will be the following:

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

For my Students in China: Choosing the Right Costume

Planning my China Halloween lessons for a year from now took some thought.

I have numerous costumes from my childhood, many of which my mom sewed herself, but few still fit. Her best creation, the Zorro costume with silky satiny black pants and blouse, plus bandana and glittery cape, won me a 1st place $25 prize in junior high. That actually does fit but at present, it is packed and sealed in a box which I had planned to mail back to China 2 years ago.

It is still waiting in a closet for that to happen.

The Story of My Swiss Miss Outfit

For my selected costume, I turned instead to my dirndl (a traditional German dress), here in America where I’d kept it for years. I bought it in 1981 in Germany, where I spent the summer as an exchange student. My host mother had a fit when we went to the mall and I chose this for $75. It was the cheapest one offered and the only one I could afford. Her greatest concern was that my mother would criticize her for allowing me to buy such an expensive item, which seemed to her a frivolous purchase. At that time in Germany, such “costumes” were not at all popular or wanted. But I was determined, despite her efforts to dissuade me, so back to America it came.

Interestingly enough, a few years later, my host sister Ulrike told me that the dirndl was becoming quite fashionable among the young people. In fact, she and her sister both talked their mom into buying one for each of them and they sent me a picture of all three women in the family, Mom and daughters, posing proudly in their native dress.

The Dutch Bonnet Added

The Dutch cap or bonnet I am wearing here is called the Volendam hat because it came from the village of Volendam, located in North Holland in th Netherlands. It’s made of white cotton or lace, and is characterized by triangular flaps or wings that turn up on either side. 

This particular Dutch hat belonged to an elderly Dutch immigrant who gave it to my mother when she lived in Holland, Michigan during WW 2. An area of Michigan was settled by those from Holland, thus the name of the town, Holland. My mother’s paternal grandparents lived there and while her father was overseas in the Pacific, her mother brought the family to Holland to live until the war’s end. Holland was famous for the Tulip Festival and having the only working authentic windmill, brought from Holland and assembled in the town’s park. During the festival’s week, the children dressed in Dutch clothes and joined parades or just walked the streets for the tourists to enjoy an authentic feel of the Netherlands.

My mom and her brother not only wore Dutch costumes but had wooden shoes, along with all their classmates, which they clogged around in throughout not only the week but on a daily basis. She said they were the most comfortable shoes she’s ever worn.

While my mom’s outfit was not authentic to Holland, her cap was. When it was given to her, it was already a vintage piece. At present, we are guessing it’s well over 100 years old.

It certainly made for a fitting top-off to my costume: An authentic dirndl with an authentic Dutch cap.


Now all that was needed to complete my Halloween evening were the trick-or-treaters. (Coming next!)

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

For my Students in China: Halloween Lesson Planning from Home

Once again, Halloween Activity Night did not take place this year at my school in China. My absence made it a bit difficult to organize the event. I’m the one to fully get our English Association members signed up for all the different rooms, work closely with the club president to supervise volunteers, make the list of supplies, loan out my costume wardrobe and pull together all the permission that’s needed to do this on the campus. For 5 years, Halloween Activity Night was a hit among students, teachers and their families . . . .

. . . . until Covid stranded me here in January, 2020.

Last year, Covid restrictions in China didn’t allow such large gatherings and this year, I haven’t been present to get the ball rolling.

Also a shame is that my freshmen will not be getting those first lessons of introduction to the many traditions found in my American small-town culture surrounding October 31st. Nor will the second and third years be receiving more instruction about activities, vocabulary games and history points to share with their future students. October was always Halloween month in my classroom, with my graduated students often sending me pictures of what they were doing as novice teachers in their own schools to introduce Halloween culture to their pupils. Seeing them use some of my lesson ideas, then creatively add their own, was such a rewarding feeling.

So what’s a teacher stuck in America to do?

Lesson plan and prepare for next year!

Yes, I took full advantage of our Trick-or-Treat traditions here in my small town, which went into full swing on October 30th after last year’s community night was canceled due to Covid spreading concerns.

Getting Ready for Halloween:  Carving a Pumpkin

Let me share with you all my Youtube postings and WeChat send-offs to my Chinese friends, colleagues and students. There are several topics so let’s start with the first one: Carving a pumpkin, or Making the Jack-o-Lantern.

The Results?  A former Student Shares

One of my former students, Angel, made full use of the above videos by showing them to her class.   After that, they tried their skill at making Jack-o-Lanterns on their own.   The results are fantastic, as you can see. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The highlight of the night, of course, is Trick-or-Treating. Watch this space for what video offerings I posted this year and will be showing my students in Luzhou next year. There are a lot of them, so be ready to enjoy what’s coming next!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

My College Celebrates its 120th Year Anniversary

During this wait to return to China, I’ve done fairly well not to wallow in a depressive state at still not being at my school.

I was doing fairly well, that is, until recently, when my students and colleagues began sending pictures of the 120th anniversary celebrations of the founding of the college.

First, I was sent the link from the newly created write-up on a website for hiring new teachers.

At present, I am the only foreign teacher and it most likely will stay that way for some time, even though we are now at about 15,000 students. LVTC (Luzhou Vocational and Technical College) pays a very low salary, only 4,200 yuan (roughly $660 a month) whereas private elementary schools, public junior high and high schools pay anywhere from 12,000-15,000 ($1,900 – $2,380 per month), with free housing included. Granted, the work load is quite challenging compared to teaching college courses but it’s a great way for foreigners to either pay off student debts or save for that future return to his/her own country.

As an Amity Foundation Teacher, money to me is not important. My students are, and being able to help China’s English Education majors become the best they can in their future classroom is my goal, not making a lot of money.

This commitment over the years has paid off in numerous ways.

One is that my school nominated me for the highest honor of foreigners in the province, the Jin Ding Award. This was in 2008. The paperwork involved to do this was quite extensive and time-consuming. Most colleges wouldn’t have bothered but my school did. How very humbled I was to receive this in the education division. There were 5 others chosen, all males who were experts in various other fields (medicine, factory technology, science). We had a wonderful weekend together where we were wined and dined, then had the ceremony where top officials presented us with our prestigious awards.

This photo was taken at the presentation and now is displayed on the campus on the newly erected Distinguished Faculty Honor board.

The Jin Ding Award

The translation of the text reads something like this: “Connie Wieck, An American English teacher. She has been engaged in teaching at the school for more than 20 years, making the school her home and having a love of teaching. She has won the honor of Sichuan’s Excellent Foreign Teacher, the top Jin Din award.”

And I know exactly where my plaque is located, too, in my China apartment. It’s a treasured item, one which I definitely want to carry with me when it’s time to retire from my China home and return to the States for good.

Other Pictures Sent

Also included in photos sent by students and colleagues were these, the celebration performances on the sports field. I imagine it must have taken days to get this set up and weeks of practices by students and teachers to create the best show possible. What a spectacular event!

If you want the full feeling of “being there”, see the video below, with the playing of a well-known pop song of a young man’s love for his girlfriend, “The Brightest star in the Night Sky”

The lyrics during the video clip: “I would rather leave all the pain in my heart, than forget your eyes; Give me the courage to believe again and go beyond the lies to embrace you; Whenever I can’t find the meaning of your existence, whenever I lose myself in the dark night, you are the brightest star in the night sky.”

Getting Teary-eyed, But Not Losing Hope

Like I said, I was doing very well staying positive and upbeat here in the States until this came my way.  Darn!!!  I really wanted to be there in person.  

Despite my downcast spirits during those moments of viewing the above, my college’s International Affairs Office director, Mr. Chen, recently sent me a note.  He said, “I have reported your situation to the leaders and relevant provincial and city officials.  We can’t yet authorize your invitation letter but please be patient.”

The fact that I am still wanted, that the college is willing to jump through as many Covid hoops as possible to get me back into the classroom, is very touching.  At present, I know of several foreign English teachers from overseas who have been given their invitation letters by several private schools in Shenzhen.  Another teacher has also been approved for  Shanghai employment.

Many of us are guessing that China will open up more after hosting the Beijing Winter Olympics.  That has been the rumor so I will continue to wait until May of 2022 which was set as one possible date by Chinese officials for the country to allow more people to enter.  

In the meantime, China continues to tout their  Zero-tolerance Covid stance.  As of today, only 300 cases have been reported in total (out of 1.4 billion people) with many lockdowns taking place, contact tracing and officials fired who let those few infiltrate their cities and areas.  I understand why Luzhou government authorities are very unwilling to have any overseas person come into their midst.  Despite the required 3 weeks of hotel quarantine, and then being monitored daily for another 2 weeks in an apartment home, there is still a risk.  I’m just hoping the risk factor will dissipate a bit more in May.

Until then, I continue to connect with my students and friends via WeChat, create cultural videos and  photo lessons to share with anyone who wants them, treasure this time with my mom (she turns 88 in November!) and keep that positive outlook of a China return high on my list of goals and hopes.


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A Former 小朋友 (Little Friend, i.e. Child): A Tale of “Never Give Up”

My teaching placement in the far south of China (2009-2011) had me teaching in a very small town called Longzhou at Guangxi Normal University for Nationalities. A majority of my students were of one of the ethnic minority groups in China, of which there are 56. Those in my area included Zhuang, Yi and Miao. This likewise composed those living in the small city itself.

Longzhou, a population of around 600,000, was just 45 minutes from the Vietnam border. This small, rural town was walkable from one end to the other in any direction, which landed you in a rustic landscape of skyrocketing tall, lush mountains with plains of sugarcane or pineapple fields.

Longzhou’s sizzling temperatures had me taking 3-4 showers a day during the most miserably hot time of year, which pretty much started in March and continued to November. Winter’s coldest was 50 degrees.

My bedroom had an air-conditioner but the other 5 rooms in my campus apartment (very large and spacious) did not. My first purchase was a fan which I kept going 24-7 in my outer sitting room, especially when guests came over for a visit.

When I first arrived, I learned how to stay as cool as possible. Like a majority of my apartment neighbors, all teachers with their families, we left our doors wide open into the stairwell to get a good breeze blowing through. Granted, it was mostly hot air but at least it was moving and not stagnant.

I was the only foreigner within 50 miles of the area, and the only foreigner on the campus.

Becky John's Visit 028

Solidifying My Reputation as the Welcoming Foreigner

With my door wide open those first few weeks, I had quite a few come up the stairs to linger outside of my doorway, trying to catch a glimpse of the foreigner in her new environment. Everyone was curious about how I’d decorate, the things I brought with me (they were shocked by the 100 boxes that arrived in the truck from Inner Mongolia, my previous Amity Foundation teaching placement) and dying to know just what kind of a person I was, if I spoke Chinese, if I had family coming, how old I was and all the usual inquisitive ponderings that come with a newcomer to your neighborhood.

As soon as anyone slowed down to peer in, I made it a point to invite them in to take a look. I’d chat about myself, sigh over all the stuff I had, tour them through the rooms (no matter how unorganized or messy they were), invite them to sit for a drink or, if they refused, insisted they return for my open house in a few weeks. This open transparency immediately gave me the reputation of being a kind, friendly, social person who was happy to have visitors.

Becoming Auntie Connie

I’m not quite sure how it happened but there was one girl, age 10, who lived in a shop connected to the school. I remember her standing at my doorway, perhaps coming back from visiting a friend upstairs, and looking in as so many others had done. I quickly waved her in, toured her around, filled her pockets with candy and sent her on her way after welcoming her back whenever she had time.

She appeared the next day, a Saturday, with 2 friends in tow. One of those was an older boy (14) who was keen to practice his English. He called himself Joe and announced his friend would be called Amy, since she said she wanted an English name.

Playdate 004

And so it came about that every Saturday morning, from 10 – 12, Auntie Connie’s home was open to fun and games with Amy’s entourage, all my 小朋友 (Little Friends). Joe was always present. (Amy, center, brings two friends. Joe is to her right.)

An 11-Year Friendship: Following a Young Man’s Life Struggles

Christmas open house 033

The story of Amy I will save for another day but let’s talk a bit about Joe. (Seen here in my home, to the left, here with Tom, his classmate and best friend.)

My 3 years in Longzhou had dedicated visits by Joe, sometimes with invites for his classmates to join him and sometimes just by himself. When I left Longhou in 2012 for my new placement in Luzhou (my current one), Joe and I stayed in touch via WeChat.

I’ve been following his journey through his high school and college years, with his graduation from the university having just taken place last May.

For Joe, the last 9 years have been a frustrating, seemingly unfair life struggle.

His senior year in high school had him taking the gaokao, the 2-day nationwide college entrance exam, along with all his other classmates. For two years, Chinese students prepare for this test in. Weekend classroom study hours are mandatory, as are late night and early morning in-school sessions. The scores of the gaokao determine which university a student can enter or even if a student can enter a university.

Joe failed miserably.

His score was so low, 340 out of 750, that there was no hope of him ever getting into a 4-year institution. The best he could hope for was a 2-year trade school which would not make him very marketable in the outside world.

The heartbreak was that Tom, his best friend, did extremely well and would be enrolled in a medical college to prepare for his future as a doctor.

Joe’s only other option was to try again, with a repeat of his senior year since that is the only way to take the test a second time.

There was no guarantee he would do better but with advice from his teachers and his parents, he decided to go for it.

Another year, another excruciating study regime, another chance at reaching his goal.

His second score? A tad over 400, which placed him once again in a desperately low category.

I can’t tell you how devastating this was, not only for Joe but his teachers, parents and even me. When I received his text message, sent 2 weeks after he discovered his test score due to his low spirits, I called to console him.

Rarely do students take on a repeated 3rd year of high school study that senior year to once again take the gaokao. It is almost unheard of. And Joe was now 20 years old. How embarrassing as a young adult to be living at home, no work, studying with 17-year-olds while all his former classmates were enjoying their junior year of college.

A 2016 Decision Made, With 2021 Rewards Now being Reaped

After a good amount of moping, with dubious family members and teachers wondering about his future,  Joe enrolled in his 6th year of high school.  He became a role model to those who were not great in their studies or whose test scores were low no matter how much they tried.  His teachers and school leaders often pointed to his commitment to never give up, to keep trying, to strive forward and not look back at past failures.

In 2018, Joe’s gaokao score gave him the ability to finally enter the university. He chose to study accounting, and last May, 2021, with half of his senior year being virtual due to Covid, he graduated.

Joe was recently hired as an accountant near his hometown area. Just this month, he traveled to visit his classmate in the big city of Chongqing, which is actually just 2 hours from where I live!  What a shame that I was not in Luzhou and able to join him for a day.  I would have been able to do so, too, because Oct. 1- 7 was China’s National Holiday week,  a yearly public celebration which all can enjoy.

He filled his WeChat messages to me with happy notes and pictures of city tourist sites, delicious food, his hotel accommodations and shopping items he bought. Of course, there were poses of him and his friend as they enjoyed their first holiday as working gentlemen and not poor college students. (Joe is on the right in picture 1; left in picture 2). 


Receiving his messages, and seeing his obvious joy after so many setbacks and disappointments, made my heart sing.

Well done, Joe!! You are an inspiration to so very, very many.

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” ―Thomas Edison

And this one from Confucius:

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” ―Confucius

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Rare Occasion


“How many rainbows have you seen in your lifetime?”
“Do you remember your first rainbow? Can you tell us the story?”

Yesterday, I placed these questions, along with two pictures, in a new WeChat group I now belong to.

A former teacher at my school, “Marty” Li, now teaches English at Northwest Medical University which is right next to my campus. I know that campus well because I often would walk there to pick up carry-out dinner items from the many mom-and-pop stalls lining what I called Food Court Alley. My college had, and still has, no such offerings. Independent homemade food sellers have been considered unsanitary by my college authorities so only cafeteria food is served on the school campus. But quite often, the students and faculty where I teach trek the 10-minute walk out our main entrance gate to nearby Food Court Alley at the neighboring college. There we can get the familiar traditional Sichuan cuisine which no bland school cafeteria in all of China can duplicate.

Food has always been my connection with Northwest Medical University, but not anymore.

Two weeks ago, Marty invited me to join with his 30 freshmen English majors in a special group chat. Just like on my campus, there is no foreign language teacher at the Medical University due to Covid restrictions still in place, blocking overseas teachers from coming back to their positions. His school leaders, like mine, are waiting for the ban to be lifted so educators such as myself can return. In the meantime, Marty thought his students’ connection with me would help improve the language skills, and interest of English, among his first years. Thus I’ve been engaging Marty’s 18-19 year olds in numerous Q & As for sharing time. The most recent one had to do with a huge storm that hit my area 3 days ago, and then the spectacular result that came afterwards.

Look at this!! Have you ever in your lifetime seen a double rainbow? What a sight! Hope you enjoy this captured-in-time moment as much as I did seeing it in person. So, so very special.


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Hopeful News of China’s Relaxing Entry of Foreigners into the Country

As always, my days are spent trolling the Internet for signs that China will start moving away from their Zero-Covid policies and enter into a resignation that opening up to us “regular” foreigners (returning overseas teachers and students, even tourists) is needed.

And today, I found it!

Read the below and join me in welcoming that tiny ray of hope and sunshine into my day. May it grow and radiate, speeding into 2022 with visa application approvals and a flight booking to send me closer to getting back into my Luzhou classroom.


Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

An Earthquake Security Check

“Hey, Bruce!” I typed into my WeChat message to my Chinese colleague, “Bruce” Liu, yesterday. “Sorry to bother you again but have you checked on my apartment yet? I just want to make sure the recent earthquake didn’t do any damage or cut off my electricity to the refrigerator.”

The reply was almost immediate.

” I am so sorry. I forgot but I’ll do it now. Wait a minute.”

“And can you take a picture?” I added. “I really miss my home.”

“Will do!” Bruce replied.

How fortunate I am to have Bruce helping me out with apartment worries.

Bruce (one of the English Department teachers) and his family live on the 4th floor of my campus home in China while I live on the 9th. He has always been the one that I leave my key with during my vacation absences. In the past, he has kindly watered my plants and done a walk-through to make sure things were in order until I returned. To show my appreciation, I brought him goodies or small gifts back from my travels as a thank you.

But as my planned 1-month absence ballooned into 2 months, then 4, then 6 and now 1 1/2 years (!), I dismissed him from watering duties and told him not to bother entering my home unless there was something he needed to borrow. This he has done on several occasions, such as my plastic stools to use for his visiting friends or my collapsable table when he had extra dinner guests.

The last earthquake that shook the building, however, was quite severe and I was concerned about my refrigerator. While no perishable items were in it, the defrosting with electricity cut-off would pool water all over the floor. That was something I certainly didn’t want to happen.

And I was curious as to how dirty and dusty it was, plus the longing just to see my Chinese home.

Bruce didn’t disappoint.


He reported that all was well, but the plants once again caused him great distress.

“I am so sorry. They are all dead,” he texted with a sobbing emoji afterwards. “Maybe you will have to replace them.”

You think?!

After seeing his photo of my once-lovely, green-leafed beauties, collected in the bathroom where I had placed them for Bruce’s easy watering, I couldn’t agree more. Definitely all need replacing.


Yep. That’ll be the first thing on my ” to do” list when I return: Buy new plants!

From Marshall, here’s wishing you 平安 (Ping An, Peace) for your day.

Posted in China, From Along the Yangtze, Luzhou, Luzhou Vocational and Technical College, Luzhou: Yangtze Rivertown Stories, Tales from Sichuan's Yangtze Rivertown, Travel | Leave a comment

“We’ve created a monster!” My Mom’s Latest Newspaper Column


Walk With Me—October 2021 by Priscilla Wieck

I had planned to resume this column in September but somehow September slipped away. I am writing this at the end of that month and you will be reading it in October so maybe editor Gary will not give me detention for starting later than the promised time. That’s the way life goes sometimes.

I will first answer an often asked question: Yes, daughter Connie is still here in Marshall. China’s doors remain closed to returning teachers due to Covid-19. Her apartment, her students, her colleagues and friends all await her return. She is, meanwhile, working stateside, mostly by Zoom and occasionally making in-person presentations. 

Now that the weather has cooled a bit, dog Bridget and I are walking a bit later in the morning. Last year, when it appeared that Connie would be here for an extended time, she and I decided it was time to try to correct a couple of Bridget’s bad habits so as to make her a more agreeable walking partner for me. As sometimes happens, our efforts backfired and ended up sorely hampering my morning walks instead of enhancing them.

You know how it is. We’ve all been there. We get a great idea. We think it will absolutely solve the problem we have but it doesn’t work out the way we envisioned.

And that’s what happened with Bridget.

Bridget arrived at my home in 2019 as a rescue dog brought from China by Connie. She loved people and wanted lots of attention. When we met people on our walks, she had the habit of jumping at them to get that attention and often appeared to them to be attacking. When a bicycle or baby carriage neared us as we walked, she would lunge at it. Any dog we encountered, in the yard or on leash, was met by her fierce barks and more lunges. We thought she would eventually adapt to a more civilized way of being in our world but it didn’t happen. So we set out to make her over into a better behaved pet.

A suggestion Connie found in “how to get your dog to behave as you want it to” manual was to distract the dog with a treat every time it started to exhibit undesirable actions. After it eventually learned to modify its behavior, it would receive a treat.

We followed the manual’s advice.

Bridget, being a savvy dog, soon took to the treat-training big time, and that is where we are today. However, Bridget has outsmarted us. We have created a treat monster.

This is a brief synopsis of my morning walks.

I pick up Bridget’s water bottle, tuck the treat bag (minute pieces of dog biscuits) into one pocket, the empty poop bag into another, pick up Bridget and exit the house. Bridget, being an extremely laid back animal, stands in front of the house motionless, yawning and looking completely uninterested in starting our travels.

A neighbor walks by.

Bridget perks up but does not lunge so a treat is given. Lesson learned.

We cross the street and begin our walk.

A dog barks from afar and Bridget balks until another treat is given.

We pass a barker inside a fence. Another balk, another treat.

Half a block later we meet a jogger. The same pattern occurs: A balk and then a treat.

It appears our dog training has replaced lunging and barking with balking and treating. 

City workers –a treat; A mom and dad with a baby carriage — a treat; a guy with a big black dog — a treat.

And so it goes.

Dogs seen or even heard from inside a house are deserving in Bridget’s eyes and ears. Sometimes it takes half an hour and much patience on my part for us to reach the post office, only four city blocks away. Bridget has even decided that trucks and cars are deserving of goodies. People are in them, aren’t they? A stroll down Archer Avenue is greeted with great enthusiasm: More people, more balks, more treats.

Here’s the kicker: On our return journey, our otherwise laid back, lazy pet hustles as fast as her small legs can carry her. She knows she is headed for home for a pleasant snooze in the sun on a nice soft blanket.

So here’s the question: Who has had the behavior modified? The dog or the owner? You decide about that one!

“If you think dogs can’t count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and giving the dog only two.” –anonymous


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 1 Comment

Our China Rescue, Bridget, Is At it Again!

Awhile back, China rescue Bridget entered People Magazine’s World’s Cutest Dog Contest. Some of you helped select her photo to send in as my mom and I couldn’t decide. It was a long shot as over 10,000 entries were received and, sadly, Bridget didn’t make the cut.

Well, we’re at it again!

An area paper, The Terre Haute Tribune Star (Terre Haute, Indiana) is holding its yearly Pet Madness contest, looking for the cutest pets in the Wabash Valley. Mom, Bridget and I are trying again, with odds a tad better. Our little dog is among 142 entries of dogs, cats, 2 rabbits, a cow, a pig, a hamster, a squirrel, a mouse and one surprisingly exotic entry, an African Pygmy hedgehog.

Today began the first round of voting (Sept. 28 – Oct.. 3, Sunday) with pictures of all participants in the paper and on the paper’s website.

Here is what we selected for our Chinese immigrant.

Bridget, Rescue from China (Wieck)

Her Write-up

When my mom lost her husband of 60 years, and her canine companion of 9 years, it was a heartbreaking adjustment. As a teacher in China, I was determined to find a little overseas’ somebody for her to come home to. Through CAR (Chengdu Animal Rescue), in Chengdu, China, I learned about Bridget. The 5-pound Chihuahua mix was found under a bridge, thus the name Bridget. She was emaciated, her brown coat spotted with mange, and discovered shivering, huddled on a dirt pile in a tight ball. When her rescuer contacted me, I traveled 4 hours by bus from my small Chinese city to meet her. From that first pet, I knew: She and my mom were meant for each other. It’s been two years since my mom scooped up our little Chinese immigrant and gave her that first welcoming embrace on US soil. Since then, Bridget has reached celebrity status in my smalltown community. My mom often mentions her in her weekly newspaper column. Bridget attends all local events, from summer band concerts, where she gets free popcorn from the popcorn wagon, to numerous holiday parades where attention is abundantly lavished upon her. Whether perched like an empress in her favorite armchair, racing about the house with a beloved toy, or snuggling next to my mom in bed, one thing’s for certain: She’s found forever love in her forever home.

Voting Does Require a donation BUT ……

Naturally, this helps as a fundraiser for the paper BUT a portion does go toward the Terre Haute Humane Society. I had a talk on the phone with Doug Dixon, the Tribune Star advertising director, who mentioned that last year, more pets were featured than this year, and $750 was the amount sent to the rescue group. He explained that, for paper-sponsored contests, after costs of the vender and other expenses are accounted for, 20-25% of the portion left is sent to a local community project, which for the Pet Madness Contest is the local humane society. The rest is kept as a fundraiser for the paper.

I will also add the Terre Haute Tribune Star is one of the few newspapers that continues onward for a smaller city. It was a daily paper until within the past few years when it moved to 5 days a week, skipping Tuesday and Sunday publications. The staff writers have been very generous in their coverage of me and my time in China, publishing numerous articles about my students and overseas experiences. (See this one, as an example: https://www.tribstar.com/news/local_news/from-my-end-of-the-world-the-sichuan-earthquake/article_e33f7755-6ad3-590c-b2a8-6db619714d03.html)

This newspaper publication also gives so much back to the community.

A few weeks ago, the Cutest Kid Contest (similar to the Pet Madness Contest) brought in $1,500 for the Vigo County School’s Backpack Program, which sustains food-insecure children throughout weekends and breaks, and families by sending food parcels.

I furthermore remember donating through the paper to the 2020 Thanksgiving Day food baskets for those in need. The Terre Haute Tribune Star is an excellent small-city paper whose reporters (I’m sure) are not paid much and which deserves to thrive. So I will say it is a worthy cause to support.

Here is the Contest write-up

2021 Pet Madness Contest Entries

*Vote totals for each round will transfer to the next voting round (3 rounds total).

*A portion of the voting proceeds will be donated to the Terre Haute Humane Society.

*At the end of voting for the entire contest: 1st Place $200 prize package; 2nd Place $100 prize package; 3rd Place $50 prize package

If You’re Interested  . . .

If you’re interested in adding to Bridget’s chances of a win, go to the below for the contest page to see all the contestants:


Type in Bridget’s name to go to her special page.

Donations online require a vote of 50 at 10 cents per vote which is a minimum of $5.00 US. Credit card information is asked as well. If online is not your preference, checks can be mailed to (or dropped off at): Pet Madness Contest, Tribune-Star PO Box 149. Terre Haute, IN. 47808. Don’t forget to earmark your donation for Bridget!

Rather not the $$?  

Of course, “Good Luck” thoughts are always appreciated.  I know there are so many worthy organizations, programs and local community projects in need of our help and donations.  I  always like to spread the love around and this is one way of doing so for my area.

Hope you’ll consider joining me, my mom, and Bridget, giving a little back to The Terre Haute Tribune Star and the Terre Haute Humane Society.

As always, here’s wishing you Peace (平安), Ping Ahn, for your week! 


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment