Washing Monkey Chocolate

What’s that supposed to mean? A wolf’s head on a stick. Big wolf barbecue tonight? Bring your own wolf?”
― Eoin Colfer, Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony

I am a compulsive reader. I will read the bulletin board at the elevator every day, if I don’t stop myself. So I was delighted to meet an applied linguist once that had chosen Signage as her area of research. Maybe there is a scholarly legitimacy to my interest in how people communicate under the constraints of space, materials, costs, short attention span, and illiteracy. (No shame on illiterates, I am illiterate in all but a few languages of this planet.)

Today on the way to Zhejiang University I saw a T-shirt emblazoned Washing Monkey Chocolate. Yeah. It was the Chocolate that swiveled my head. Nonetheless, that whole cluster of concepts will entertain you indefinitely if you are having trouble falling asleep tonight.

See my video on signage “SIGNS:Washing Monkey Chocolate Days” http://youtu.be/TEyOLCKgA98

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Hangzhou Post #1

This post marks a new direction in my career beginning this academic year (Sept 1 to July 15).

With over ten years experience teaching in intensive English language immersion programs at the university level, I was delighted to accept a short-term position this past summer teaching ESL at Western Michigan University in the Center for English Language and Culture for International Students.

Mid way through the summer I received some exciting news about a prospect for the academic year. I had already been exploring overseas teaching opportunities in the last year or so and had previously accepted a position to teach in China. However, there were many more stages to the process before I could say, “I’m going to China.” In early July, I was able to consider the offer finalized when the Chinese government approved my work visa to teach English as a foreign language at Zhenjiang University in Hangzhou China. http://www.zju.edu.cn/english/.

After completing the summer semester at WMU, I was able to catch up with my husband, Fred, and my children scattered about the Eastern US and the San Francisco Bay Area. I flew out of LA to Shanghai in late August.

Classes start next week. I’m quickly filling a notebook about the unique sights and experiences of showing up in a country known by many of us only through the Disney movie Mulan and the ubiquitous “made in” labels in Wal-Marts and Dollar stores around the US. Oh yeah, and those ominous reports about how much US debt is owned by China.

So many have inspired me, enabled me, and cheered me on. Any advice about international travel, cross-cultural communication, or Chinese culture is welcome! Now that I’m in Hangzhou, I am like an infant that needs to eat every few hours just to survive. Except that my “food” is information and strategies to manage in such a novel existence.

Fred is staying stateside (continuing at his job and saving for his travel expenses) to make sure that things are working out for me before he joins me in Hangzhou. Hopefully this way we can ensure that we don’t find ourselves both unemployed at the same time.

Checking in from Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, People’s Republic of China.

Recession Gypsy

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