Tuesday, July 24

Normal Life Post

It's been the most fascinating year!

* April 29/May 1: danio and Lillian get married
This was the biggest single event of my life, eclipsing turning 15 in 1995, moving to the US in 1997, producing "The Peach" in 2002, and moving to China in 2006 (excluding maybe being conceived).

* June 1: Shanghai Wedding reception
Some 60+ family members and friends came and celebrated on a boat

Mark visited Lillian and I in Shanghai a couple weeks ago, and he and I had a great conversation about how getting married makes a man... As Shawn would say - "that'll put some hair on your chest!"

I spent whole school semester teaching Chinese primary school children through my work at NewBeat Jazz English Training Institute. I was the first teacher to hold a regular position teaching kids outside of kindergarten. It was a pioneering post, and the biggest job challenge of my life, even affecting my personality. I learned a lot really fast, through the sheer amount of mistakes I made. I am stronger for it, but this position, along with some other events, lead me to decide to leave NewBeat before the elapse of my second contract, which would have lasted until January 2008.

* August 2008: a new life
I got a dream job, teaching English at the Ecole Francaise de Shanghai (French School of Shanghai). Bonuses include:
- I can actually speak the children's mother tongue
- I will be given a curriculum - rather than having to make up everything myself
- The class size remain below 20 students
- The students are arranged in classes according to their level of English, with certain periods in the year where they learn other students of their own grade.
- Higher salary
- Free French/European lunch
- All weekends off
- Lots of vacation time
Lillian and I got a new apartment, into which we will move in some ten days. From this place, I can bike to EFS in 15 minutes, and Lillian will work four days per week instead of six, giving her more time to work on her degree (she got a three-year degree in tourism, and is working on acquiring the BA/four-year equivalent).


Thanks for all the loving thoughts from our friends - Lillian and I are very moved by your support and encouragement. We will not visit the US this summer, and we're working on the next plan.

Some reasons the US Embassy officer mentioned for not granting the visa:

(Note: the main things they're trying to determine during the tourist visa application is whether or not the applicant is likely to overstay her visa.)

- Lillian was born in Xingjiang, studied in Guilin, and now works in Shanghai, respectively the far Northwest, the far South and the far East of China - so there's every reason to believe she would have any difficulty moving to yet another place, namely the US.

- Lillian and I have been married less than three months, which is the typical scenario of an American who wants to bring his Chinese wife back with him to the US.

- Lillian did not present an official letter of invitation from me. None out of all the websites through which I browsed mentioned that I was supposed to supply this.

Lillian and I send all our love our love to our family and friends, and remind you that we are always with you in spirit.
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Wednesday, July 18

The Golden Rule Challenge

"Do unto others..." we always say. There are different versions, but in short, if I wish something for myself, I should also wish it for others. (This rule may exclude the weird things we wish for, like wishing for more awkward pauses, for spiders to welcome you home, or for Fantastic Four 3 to come out.)

How well do we really follow this rule? I challenge you, reader, to amp up your observance of the Golden rule!

A few years ago, when I played hours on end of combat video games (mostly Tekken and Capcom vs. SNK), I found myself only having fun half the time, while the other half was spent complaining that my controller didn't function properly. Then it dawned on me that it should be perpetually fun, so I started watching what attacks and move my opponent was performing. In general, if I lost, it was by virtue of good, commendable play on his part. So I would praise him, "Whoa! nice move! you got me good!" I was wishing for him what I wished for myself.

I was job-searching recently, when my friend's sister said to me that her friend in Britain was looking for a job here in Shanghai. I wished for her what I wished for myself, and gave her the contact information for the schools I was applying for, knowing that her degree in education gave her a better chance to get the position than I had. (Incidentally, I got a dream job starting next month, teaching English to French primary school students who reside in Shanghai!)

Imagine watching a soccer game, where you don't choose sides, but enjoy the game and cheer for both teams. Imagine playing on a team, and being as excited when the opposing team gets a goal as you would if you scored yourself!

Imagine if everyone started to understand the golden rule on a deeper level. What would this life be like?

Competition is a vicious beast, which is not necessary, as you may think. The world, or part of it, is moving towards becoming more civilized, more powerful, evolving. Be a part of the change - take the Golden Rule Challenge!

Sunday, July 8

Four Long Days

For the first time since we've been married, Lillian and I had to be a long time away from each other: 4 grueling days :(

The good news is that I got to spend those days with nine kids, keep them safe, and help them practice some English

Lillian and I also had the immense pleasure of seeing Eric Jensen and Mark Eghrari, who both came through Shanghai around the same time - but somehow missed each other. It's so great to see good friends and share joy and news with them!