Short Stories: Table Setting, New Names, English Moochers


I put together an entertaining lesson on American dining etiquette – the highlight was asking students to come to the chalkboard and fill in a “Formal Table Setting”, drawing and labeling each item as requested.FullSizeRender (1).jpg

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Labrang Monastery བླ་བྲང་བཀྲ་ཤིས་འཁྱིལ and more: the Chengs reunite in Lanzhou!

Mid-September my mom visited Lanzhou to check I was alive, 15 months into my Peace Corps service. In addition to cleaning my apartment from corner to corner (“its so dirty! Its so so dirty!”) we took a short weekend trip down to Xiahe, which is home to Labrang Monastery and the Sangke GrasslandsFullscreen capture 1092017 80638 PM.bmp.jpg Continue reading


I made the request to teach freshman this Fall semester- I wanted the experience of being their first foreign English teacher in college (and in life, most likely). The previous year, I taught sophomore students who had already survived a semester of Bobby, or Marni the year before.

So what happened the first day of class with the freshman? Well, the kids were generally intimidated and horrified that there was an obnoxious, native English speaker in the classroom, forcing them to do obnoxious, native English activities. They stood there, frozen in fear, when asked to do a basic self-introduction exercise. Continue reading

Supermarket Sweeps: Mooncake (月饼) and Hairy Crab (大闸蟹)!


Autumn beckons a peculiar lineup of edibles in Chinese supermarkets. The cool weather is quickly followed by boxes of mooncakes piled high into looming towers throughout the central aisles of every grocery store, to ensure no child is left mooncake-less during the Mid-Autumn Festival

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Pingliang: Full Circle!

At the end of August I headed to Pingliang, Gansu for a short trip. It is a small town (by Chinese standards – population around 300,000) five hours east of Lanzhou by bus. I was going there to visit my other half-aunt and her family for the first time.

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