So once upon a time, in 2009, I went to China with my dad. I blogged about it on my now purged and defunct livejournal, but I saved the posts. I also semi blogged on photobucket and on facebook (link to viewable album)... (Please keep in mind that this was almost 9 years ago and I was 15) Because I tried to post daily, failed and then wrote a wrap up post, there may be repeated stories and pictures, or more detail in the next post. With minimal edits, here it is.
WARNING: IMAGE HEAVY
April 29, 2009:
So uh, I'm probably going to China in July. My dad found this like teacher admin conference thing in China in July for like Canadian Chinese relations or something and it's like really cheap and everything's included and you can bring friends and family and there's like tours and things. And so when he mentioned it, I was like, I wanna go to China, and uh, now it really looks like I might be. Me and my dad will go, no clue what I'll be doing while he's in meetings.
But I've never been anywhere that wasn't Europe or America, and seriously, China, that's a crazy culture shift, and as long as I don't like do that annoying thing where people pretend not to be tourists and integrate and end up REALLY obvious tourists, and also am not overly paranoid, it should be awesome. I'm sure it'll be life-changing anyway. I'm excited. Hanako went to Japan when she was 8, which is totally different, but meh, we shall chatterbox.
July 15th 2009
July 16, 2009
Second day in China. Shanghai is nice, Dirty though and lots of gross looking apartment buildings. The hotel is really really nice. And has free internet in the lobby and restaurant. After a brief scare where they'd put Dad in a room with some other guy and me in a room with some other woman, they fixed it so we were in the same room. We've been watching lots of Top Gear on the English speaking channel. We had dinner at Pizza Hut last night, spicy spaghetti and a drink for both of us, for 18 dollars. I bought some blotting pads and hairclips at the drug store. I'm VERY happy I cut off all my hair. It's SO incredibly humid and hot. I've had to pin my bangs back as well.
Breakfast is good, they had really good pancakes. We don't have anything to do until 2 pm. So we'll look around the shopping area connected to the hotels. You see lots of girls in really pretty day dresses. And you can understand why too, I'm SO glad I packed skirts. There's one other person here under 30, who's 14. She's on our bus but I haven't seen her very much. Her family has done two exchanges to England too! I figure I'll offer her one of my blotting pad packs (I got 3 packs or 300 sheets for $1.75) or something. I lost my mp3 player on the plane. We looked everywhere but I guess it must have ate it.
July 20th, 2009
Today we went to Running Tiger Springs in Hangzhou. Which was very pretty and is part of a Buddhist temple. And if you go up some stairs you can get to the top and see the temple and view.
Also Suzhou and the Lingering Garden yesterday.
Except... The stairs are all completely different shapes and textures and they go up forever and a half. So I got up about 5/8ths? of the way and I was just a wreck, I was panting and sore and about to cry. So we stopped. Dad got to the 3/4 part, took a picture and came back. When we started going down, my knee completely gave out. It was seizing up and shaking and I could barely stand. Like it was so bad, I've never had that happen before. It wasn't that it hurt it was just so unstable. So I got down slowly with help and crying. When I got down, one of the older teachers was very nice, she has bad knees too and told me to try Daoist Tai Chi. I got some ibuprofen from one lady and had aspirin back at the hotel, but all it really did was make me lightheaded
I haven't been eating much, other than noodles, because I just don't like or don't want to try the foods they have. So that was also making me lightheaded. Dad took me to McDonald's by the hotel after dinner just now and I got a double cheeseburger without the cheese and a peach flavoured float. (Another spoiler from the future. I didn't get as sick as everyone else. And despite being a dumb teenager, the tour guides really couldn't identify the foods, and we were in fancy restaurants being given fancy gourmet foods. I had a peasant's palate. Later we will go to a local's home for potstickers and it will be the greatest thing I eat the whole time. When I get back in Vancouver, all I will want to eat is Lasagna.)
Mystery Meat in a Mango
Potstickers 4 Life!
Inside Out deep fried fish...
Tomorrow we go to the tea farm. Green Tea here is nothing like green tea back home. For one thing, it's TERRIBLE. It tastes like hot grass. It's so so so bad. Other people love it but I can not stand it. The best thing they have in china is Honeydew ice cream. It tastes so good and is so refreshing. Whenever we see the Wally's heart we go to the box and get our honeydew cornettos. Off to bed now, to rest my knees and back. They hurt a lot. The engineer guy just came in to fix our TV, we were only getting one channel. I'll upload all my new pictures and update the info on the others tomorrow. We're getting some free time after the tea farm, so I think we'll go downtown in a cab, maybe with some others and go to the market or something. The traffic signs here are hilarious. I didn't get any pictures though. There was like this series. First this guy was in this totally overcrowded convertible and a baby flew out and then this very pissed off business guy was on the crosswalk handing the baby back to the guy and then there was some other that wasn't connected but was this guy apparently violating a tiger. I imagine he was supposed to be riding it or something, but the tiger was sitting down and the guy was pulling his head back and whacking him. It was a very disturbing cartoon sign. I can't imagine what it was supposed to represent. Bestiality this way or something? The chinglish on the signs has been so so funny. When I do all the pictures tomorrow you'll see them, ranging from the complete gibberish to the vaguely threatening (do not climb on the trees for sake of life!)
Seriously sleeping right now. Yesterday we went to a Silk factory and Embroidery factory. And the lingering gardens. GOING TO BED!
So my mother, and everyone else has been on me to write a blog about my upcoming move to Tuktoyaktuk NWT. I was like, I'll just facebook and Instagram, but then I was like... fine, I don't want all the family on my facebook, so I'll just piggyback on my mom's blog.
This whole story starts long long ago. I can't 100% remember how I stumbled upon an article about the community greenhouse in Inuvik or something. According to google, the first time I searched Inuvik was June 2013. So probably around then. (myactivity.google.com is a terrifying wonderful tool)
I read as much as I could and fell in love with the spirit of the North. As I read about the greenhouses and the Hay River Northern Farm Training Institute, how these people who are neglected and forgotten about by the rest of Canada are tired and done with waiting for government support and are doing things for themselves, partnering with private business and corporations like Hellmanns. How they honour their culture and traditions in a way not really possible in the rest of Canada. (Inuit weren't subjugated under the Indian act until the 1930s, and even after that it was hard to enforce in the northern remote arctic) I apparently (according to google) looked at moving there pretty much immediately. When I realized I was supposed to be a teacher (called my mother and said WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE TELL ME PLEASE) I knew I wanted to teach up there. I went to the University of Alberta and fast tracked my degree. I just graduated. I figured no one but me would be willing to move to the Arctic in January. (I was right) I saw a job posting for a Kindergarten teacher in Tuktoyaktuk starting January 3rd and I was like, Karma and hard work are paying off so hard right now. It was my ideal job and location. And then a month later I interviewed and got it.
When people ask me, why the hell I'm moving to the North Pole, I break it down into 4 "C's". Curriculum, Community, Culture and Cash.
The Kindergarten curriculum of the NWT is holistic and amazing. Every time I read it, I feel like it's the Reynolds Pamphlet and I should break into song like, "HAVE YOU READ THIS?!" (I greatly enjoy Hamilton) When I first read it, I was like, well there's my educational philosophy sorted. I'll just copy this and be like, yup, this is what I believe and am passionate about! It's holistic and cultural and follows how children learn through play and inquiry and are developing their independence and identity. Literacy and Numeracy are important and much of it is localized where possible.
My big thing is localization of materials and resources. I think teaching kids general information as citizens of the world does them a disservice. I'm really passionate about community involvement and I think that especially in small communities, all people should feel like they have a stake in their community. That they matter in their community and that it is a living organism that can change and adapt to their needs if they're willing to participate. I think that knowing where you come from and where you are is so important. As someone who's lived in small towns and big cities, I know that no matter where you live, people complain that there's nothing to do. These people don't feel any sense of belonging to their community. In Edmonton, everyone seems like they're just in Edmonton until something better comes along. In Vancouver, they think they're the best, but they all want to move to Toronto. And in small towns, all the youth regurgitate what they hear on TV about moving to the big city and making something of themselves.
I LOVE small towns. Cities have their charms, and they have malls to shop at and good hospitals, but I'm someone who loves when I get to chat in the grocery store, when kids wave at me from the window of their dads trucks or I get a surprise hug in a Walmart from a former student.
When I was little, growing up in Golden, I remember reading comics in the grocery store while my mom talked to EVERYONE. It was super annoying when you're a kid. As an adult, when that happens to me, I love it. When I was little I could walk around Golden and knew everyone and what was going on. In Drayton Valley, I know a decent amount of people and when I worked at the Library, I felt connected to my community. I was involved, I started a program where children read to the elderly, the infirm and to shelter animals, I had the town planner show them the plans for the future of the town and had the kids give her their hopes and dreams for the town. (It was mostly for a Wendy's. 2 years later, we're getting a Wendy's, so civic participation works!)
In Tuk, I want to get involved with the community as much as I can. During my interview for the job, they said this was expected of all the teachers. So we'll see what this means. I'm really passionate about food security (living in a food desert in the US got me learning and passionate) so I hope to get involved with the group fundraising for a community greenhouse. I want to try and learn Inuvialuktun, I've learned the basics of Gwich'in, and hopefully the pronunciation tricks carry over! I want to eat country foods and go hunting. I want a picture of me with an adorable animal and then of me eating and wearing it. I'm so excited to be rid of Edmonton University hipsters. My friends describe my Garneau enemy as a Vegan with a man-bun cycling on the sidewalk and vaping bubblegum juice. If I ever encounter one of these types in the North I will be furious...
I leave on Wednesday. The moving van comes tomorrow. Mom is the master packer to an insane degree. I fly from Edmonton to Yellowknife to Norman Wells to Inuvik and then take a cab on the Ice Road to Tuktoyaktuk, where a volunteer from the Anglican Church will show me to my new home (The former rectory). I'm bringing 2 suitcases, a cooler and 3 buckets of stuff on the plane. The rest of my stuff in the moving truck won't arrive for a month. The ice road needs to harden...
This is the last winter of the Ice Road, before the all season road is finished. I can't wait to see the transformation of Tuk as it's opened up to the world. It's the furthest north mainland community in Canada, tourism is going to increase.
I start teaching Kindergarten on the 3rd. I'm SO EXCITED. Everyone keeps saying, "It's going to be an adventure, you're going to change lives." Pfft, my blog's going to turn into what I'm watching on netflix far too soon. I'll try to put pictures up. Oh and changing lives? I'm not going up to be all white saviour bullshit. My life will probably be changed, but that's how life works, everything changes your life somehow. I'm going up for the curriculum, the community and the culture. (And the cash is a nice benefit) Oh and the climate. NO MORE HOT WEATHER!!!! YAY.