2017 was an absolutely amazing year! I scratched five more countries off my map and experienced more of China. I met some amazing people, some of whom have become very good friends. I got to spend some quality time with family both here in China and with them in the states. I continue to teach some wonderful kids who teach me a lot. And, I’ve had a chance to develop curriculum that will affect countless students of the years.
I had some great adventures in 2017, both domestically in China and overseas. It started with an New Year’s trip to Datong to complete two bucket list items—explore the World Heritage Buddhist grottoes of China and the hanging temple of Hengshan. Both are outstanding works of art and architecture.
Then, for Spring Festival, the Chinese New Year, I traveled with some friends through Turkey with a couple of days in Greece and a long layover in Kiev. Turkey is a remarkable place. It is the crossroads of history and culture. Everyone must visit and experience Turkey! The food is delicious, the people hospitable, and the sights spectacular. The Acropolis in Athens was a dream come true, and a day wondering Kiev was a day well spent.
The year took me to the fabulous city of Hong Kong twice. The first time I visited this favorite city to accompany a friend to the temple for the first time. It was a wonderful experience. The second time was for Christmas when I finally made it up to the top of Hong Kong’s tallest building.
With a good friend leaving China, he wanted to visit a few places he hadn’t seen yet, so I accompanied him to the magical natural scenery of Zhangjiajie and the fantastic architecture of Fujian Province. The Tulou were everything I hoped they would be; while Piano Island left something to be desired. Zhangjiajie and its surrounding landscapes are mesmerizing in misty rain and fog and on sunny days.
Time with Family
Living so far from family means not seeing them that often. However, I have been very blessed with lots of family time in the last year. I made one visit back to the states and spent time with family in three corners of the country. My newest niece received a baby blessing in Utah and a cousin was married on a lovely Hilton Head beach. Two weeks really wasn’t enough.
Family also came to visit me! A cousin and her husband came in the spring for a week, which introduced me to a new section of the Great Wall. My parents came in the summer accompanying the Texas Boys Choir on a performance tour. I got to spend time with the choir and my parents. Then my brother came for a week in December. I’m always open to more visitors from home and can’t wait for my next trip to the states in February for my oldest nephew’s baptism.
Exploring my City
With the many family visits I got to see some of the traditional Beijing tourist sites once again. We also got to see some new places. However, even without them, I got to know my city of residence on a more intimate level including leading several tours of the Summer Palace.
My job continues to be rewarding. There are good days and bad, but I love teaching my students. I have also been leading our curriculum development, which includes writing and illustrating children’s stories. I’ve gotten to retell several classic fairy tales and folktales and to write my own originals. I’ve even illustrated a few of my own and had the chance to work with some very talented artists on several other books.
Our training school continues to grow, and we continue to make these even better. As always, we continually need new teachers to help us affect the lives of more and more students by teaching English through literature and culture. If you know anyone who may be interested in an amazing, life-changing experience teaching English in China, please pass on my contact details.
Looking Forward to 2018
This new year brings so much opportunity and hope. I plan to travel a lot and strengthen relationships with people who are important to me. My first trip is to Utah in February followed by a few days in Spain. I will continue to serve my local church congregation and visit the temple as often as I can. I hope to learn more about the people who warmly accept me as a guest in their land, and pray I can pick up more of their language.
May the new year be good to you, and may you be happy and prosperous in all your endeavors. Always remember, adventure is out there, so go have one!