Jiao

 

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Jiao

Mandarin Language Assistant.
In 2011 Newmarket School joined the Confucius Mandarin Language Assistant Programme, through Auckland University. This means we have a Chinese Language Teacher who teaches language and culture at our school. Our school is dominantly Asian and as such we believe in the importance of first language maintenance for our Chinese students and that our other students  can benefit from learning another language in addition to Te Reo and English.
In 2011 we had Mengmeng and then last year I agreed to host Jiao.
The first time I saw her I thought, whoa she is tall and skinny as, like about a size O,
However after the first few weeks, I mentioned to my principal that I was a fairly large eater and yet she could match me and then some. She was always hungry. My principal advised me to purchase a rice cooker and that was an excellent suggestion.
Jiao was only supposed to stay with me for a few weeks. However because we were such a good fit, she ended staying with me for the whole year and I am so glad that she did. I am a mother of grown up sons and never had a daughter, so Jiao is like my adopted daughter.
I have so many memories of her
EG: like within the first month, I asked her to clean the bathroom, which was a task that she would do each week.
After her first time, doing the task unaided without me,
She said to me. “Do you know what the day is?”
I replied that it was Saturday and that it was the day for cleaning the bath room.
She said, “I know that but it is also my birthday. This is the year of the dragon and I am a dragon baby so this year is as significant as a 21st birthday.”
I think this major event broke the ice between us because I laughed and said, “Oh my, you will never forget this birthday. You have no cake, no special event, and I made you clean the bathroom. Come on I will take you to the movies.”
And so we attended the first of many.
However, she proceeded to hold me accountable to this event by telling my parents the next day, my sisters and then at school the following week, how I had made her clean the bathroom on her special dragon birthday. So my parents and sisters teased me about what a dreadful host mother I was.
Jiao taught me heaps, like how to make dumpling, introduce myself in Mandarin and the Game of Thrones.
Me I introduced her to bacon and taught her how to cook and bake.
She took to baking like duck to water and made many muffins and cakes to fill up the lunchbox and to share with friends.
Once a week, she would hurry home from school to prepare the evening meal. She used the internet to search out recipes and experimented continuously.
Her favourite meal of the week was Sunday cooked breakfast. She got to sleep in and rose later for the event.
We had a lot in common. A love of science fiction, to a love of our communication devices. She introduced me to the Chinese Social media that she used to keep in contact such as QQ and wechat. I haven’t yet understood QQ but definitely know wechat.
I watched this quite shy quiet, young girl blossom into a confident and organising young woman.
Her first major task was introducing herself in front of Confucius and later on in the year she also gave her experience of being hosted. Both major events made my heart swell with motherly pride.
She organised her travels around New Zealand each holidays and I loved the fact that she did not rely on me to entertain her. She sometimes had friends over to stay.
She had no hesitation at letting me know how she was feeling and her dry sense of humour continuous to have me in stitches.
When she was told that as part of her teaching programme that she would be teaching Chinese dance, I think this was one of the major challenges that she had. She said to me, “I can’t dance Sonya, how on earth am I supposed to teach a Chinese dance.”
I told her, “You must think in patterns and it is easy. Anyway, you have access to youtube so do your  research and you will be fine. “
 
The fan dance she taught our children was stunning.
Jiao ended up thinking that she was quite an expert and that the dance she picked out for the next MLA was so advanced and intricate that I still laugh at the memory.
In 2013 I was selected as a TeachNZ Sabbatical and I toured the world. I told Jiao that I would come and visit her in Shanghai.
This I did. By then she had a boyfriend and was excited for us to meet.
When I arrived in Shanghai I could not believe how beautiful she had become. Her confidence had continued and she had developed into a lovely young woman.
Gone were the trousers and replaced with skirts and pretty sandals.
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She introduced me to her young man Chao and I observed how her treated her. She had chosen well. He was delightful and obviously adored her. He was clever like her and could match her for intelligent conversation. He was very kind to me too. They spoilt me rotten with their time.
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Jiao was very proud of the univeristy she attended and she took me especially to meet Professsor Li and a chance to tour the university. She organised for me to catch up with Mengmeng and I was able to meet her husband to be.
One fabulous memory I have is when they took me to visit the ancient town of Xitang in Jiashang county, Zhejiang Province.
Because of the vastness of China, I got to meet her mum and his parents via Skype. They were wanting to meet me in person but because I had a short time, I said I would come back for the wedding.

RSCON 4

2013 Reform Symposium E-Conference (RSCON)
Around the World in Nearly 80 days


This Saturday I will be presenting at #RSCON4. The date and time of my session is Saturday, October 12, 2013 12:00 PM (Pacific/Auckland). However you can access the site and locate when this is in your time zone. I will have just returned to Auckland after having presented #TeachMeetNZ at the National ICT conference #Ulearn in Hamilton.

I recently returned to New Zealand on the 2nd of October after having been away for 77 days. In that time I travelled on 15 Flights, 44 trains, countless hours on buses and in cars visiting 13 Countries on 3 Continents and meeting  28 amazing educators educators and visited  18 learning institutions and schools and attended some face 2 face professional development. I kept in contact with my colleagues via Instagram, Twitter and email. I also kept a blog and an off line journal and took over 4,500 photos.
My presentation will focus on my TeachNZ13 Sabbatical, which allowed me to establish connections with educators around the world. Schools in Europe and then in Asia were visited and different learning environments observed. The educators who allowed access to their domain were educators who have had a history of sharing professional practice and some use Technology in Transformative Ways.
The Flat Classroom conference in Hawaii
The brand new Billunds School near Legoland in Denmark
School Design from an educator in Roskilde Denmark
Jyvaskula the Educational Centre of Finland
The Goldau School Project in Switzerland
The Hole in the Wall, the Granny Skype project and now the school in the cloud in Delhi, India
The Slideshare Headquarters in Delhi.
The Confucius Mandarin Language Programme in Shanghai, China
A nursery and an elementary school that are beginning to learn English in Osaka, Japan
The annual Google Apps for Education Summit in Seoul, Korea and a visit with a school running 1:1 iPads with Grades 3 & 4 children.
Take away from this session some ideas that could be used in your own schools, details for where you can read more about the different projects and make connections with the educators involved.

I look forward to you joining me virtually as I share my Face2face journey of my round the world experience.

My learning in London

I used my ipad to navigate the massive unknown city easily. I felt like I was learning on my feet. I was continually adjusting my expectations and flowing with whatever happened.
I had a goal of meeting some London tweachers and one in Essex but unfortunately to circumstance meeting them did not eventuate. Not to worry as I will catch up another way.
However the greatest learning happened with me. I have booked to be in China for 6 days but if I organised my visa too early, it would no longer be valid when I got there.
So via the Internet I managed to schedule a meeting with the London Chinese Visa Office. I needed a letter of invitation from a contact in China and copies of variety of papers. This was all achieved and I needed to return a few days later to collect my visa and my passport.
I took the opportunity of visiting my dad’s family in Essex and it was exciting to visit the area that his father came from. Using technology I put the cousins together using facetime and to watch the pair chat excitedly to each other was priceless. Face to face communication via video chat is becoming easier to use than a phone and a lot cheaper too.
The closest that I got to a local school was staying right behind one in the town of Maldon.
Maldon is world know for Maldon salt. My second cousin whom I had never met put me up for two nights and spoilt me rotten with her time and hospitality. It was such a lovely experience to meet family and its as though I have known her all my life.
To get to Maldon, I took the National Rail to Chelmsford and then caught the bus to Maldon. On the bus I had a lot of help for some locals who directed me when to disembark. I loved hearing the almost cockney accents.
After doing the reverse trip, I was soon back in London and spent the afternoon travelling to Twickenham and discovered it as the centre place for English rugby. I popped there to visit a brother of an old friend.
The following day I took a full days tour to visit Kensington Palace, Stonehenge and then Bath. All were amazing places of history. I particularly loved Stonehenge and could have easily spent more time in Bath for its fascinating history.
During the trip, I was exhausted and as soon as I got on the bus, I was asleep and only woke to get off and visit these amazing places. My biggest learning is pacing myself and not to stress if things do not eventuate. Use every challenge as learning and try and eat properly and drink my water. Plan time to write and to catch up with family and friends back home. I love using instagram and twitter as a way of micro blogging and sharing photos with my friends and family back home. I have also started to use viddy more with short snippets of video to help visualise my journey. I am challenged with using facebook and think I would like to create a slideshare next from Denmark and include audio to share with the children at Newmarket School.

Tips for London

In London, I rode the buses, the trains and the tube to get around
One great idea is to get the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station and from there, you can literally get anywhere in London. The journey takes 15 minutes so well worth the extra. To get to my accommodation I booked a prepaid Heathrow Express online, but this is not really necessary as there are kiosks for buying tickets. The journey took 15 minutes and it was in air-conditioned cabins.
Again Viatorwas most useful for tours. Here are the current deals for London. One tour I took was visiting the Eye. I took this one so that I get a Birdseye view of London. One recommendation is not to visit in the late afternoon and the position of the sun made it challenging to get any decent photos. And get the fast track ticket. The normal queue was a 3 hour wait.
I visited family in Essex and took the National Rail line to get to them. The Train line,  and City Planner and National Rail are great apps to download. It is probably a good idea to zoom out on google and identify the area you choose for accommodation. Most have a local rail link that easily connects to the main tube systems.
For dinner, I recommend finding La Fiama a little Italian restaurant that makes the most amazing and reasonable authentic Italian food. I got to meet Fanco Manco the pizza Chef.
My accommodations included the Crown Plaza and the Best Western to be close to the Chinese visa application. Both I got through last minute deals. If you use any website for cheap accommodation do pop onto Trip Advisor and see what the latest feedback is.
The Crown Plaza was most luxurious but they were going through renovations. Fortunately I was waking really early so construction sounds did not bother me from 8.00am. The Best Western, was great and suited me fine and I think that it is time for New Zealand to consider selling single rooms in stead of just doubles. After returning from Essex I stayed at the Hyde Park Boutique. They put me in a basement room. Again I was happy with the accommodation.
To get around I used the fantastic Oyster Card system.  For ENG 2.50 you can hop on a tube and for Eng 1.50 you can get around on the busses. This was a tip that I received from a coupe of friends who had recently been through London.
So in all using the buses are a cheaper way to getting around the centre, but the tube is definitely faster. Without the oyster card, the trips would be double in price. . There were times too that I used the black cab, but that was usually if I was a little lost. The cabs are constructed in a way that there is heaps of space near seating for luggage. They were always clean and again I felt really safe. The drivers were generally helpful and polite. I only had one cabbie offer to help me with my bags.
Both hotels had free wifi, but both sucked and I was lucky to have purchased a simm card at Paddington station with 2 GB of data. I used 1.5 KB of data during my total time so was able to see that I need about 2 KB per week.
In total I spent six days in London. Having access to the WiFi allowed me to move around easily and flexibly. Two of those e days included visiting Essex and Twickenham. It was a pain sorting out my Chinese visa but yet at the same time the challenge all added up to the adventure.
Being conscious of weight, I off loaded a few clothes and put all the extra books in my back bag. At the airport I came in at 22 Kg and they let me through.
London was fascinating. I loved the massive mix of cultures and languages. There were lots of free stuff to do and by riding the transport system you can get around many places easily.
I sometimes tipped for services or if I was helped with my bag. London highlights included the day tour that visited Kensington Palace, Stonehenge, and Bath. I really wished I could have had extra time, as I was also keen on getting to Dover. I loved people watching, riding the transport systems and eating amazing Fish and Chips at the local pub.
I was fortunate to meet a Finnish girt and her mother and we had an interesting discussion about her schooling. She was 12 years old and fluent in 3x languages. I watched them get online and access all the information they needed in Finnish so again, the children we teach must be digitally literate.  She helped her mum navigate the tourist information and the transport system in Finnish.
It was good to have all my food served on normal plates and to eat with a real knife and fork. I felt safe wherever I went. Maybe next time, I would come back for a longer time and get out of London faster. 

Being a tourist in Hawaii

In Hawaii, I rode the Waikiki Trolleys around Waikiki and Oahu.
There was the Pink Trolley that covered the central area of Waikiki. Then there was the red trolley that covered the historic sights of Waikiki. Next there was the green trolley that covered tourist highlights around Waikiki and finally there was the blue trolley that covered the sights on the Eastern side of Oahu.
One of the best apps I found was Viator. This came via my hairdresser Tim, who is the font of all knowledge and teaches me heaps about mobile technology. Here are the current deals for Hawaii. One tour recommended was a 6.30am sunrise tour to the top of diamond head. I took this one so that I could complete the climb before the heat of the day. I climbed Diamond Head however it made little difference as it was hot as when we got there and the sun was already up. In the afternoon, I booked and took the Polynesian Centre tour which included a luau, and Al’ii entertainment.
Another evening, I travelled on the Star of Honolulu which took us out to see and came back just before nightfall. We had dinner and Hawaiian entertainment. I think next time I would take the evening cruise on a stylised Hawaiian vaka
My accommodations included Stay Waikiki on Koa avenue. I booked this online through Hotels.com. This was a 3 star hotel and after reading suggestions on Trip Advisor, I took sleeping eye pads and ear plugs. I also had booked in the Atherton YMCA for a week, but the heat got to me and I returned to the hotel.
The hotel was clean and adequate and you get what you pay for so be prepared. If you want the flasher rooms then book in the more expensive rooms. The bonus was it was one block back from the beach, cheap and I felt safe. The staff are really friendly. If you choose to stay here, then ask for a fridge because they do not come with the rooms and ask for a room above the 5th floor. On my last day, I found out that there was also laundry facilities in the basement. I had been washing my clothes by hand and hanging them out on the balcony. They were usually dry by the time I came back in the afternoon. Remember to get a stretchy camping line for washing. Be prepared for the SLOW as lifts.
To get around I used the amazing Honolulu The Bus system.  For US$2.50 you can hop on a bus and get a transfer bus pass that allowed continuation of a second trip. So in all using the buses is a cheap way of getting around the Island. There were times too that I used Eco Cabs and I cannot recommend them highly enough. They were always prompt, cabs are clean and again I felt really safe. The drivers were really helpful and polite. To get to my accommodation I booked a prepaid shuttle through viator and that was such a good idea. When I got off the plane, my pick up was waiting with my name on an A4 Card so no problems.
Stay Wikiki had free WIFI and included Island wide WiFi but the speed was too slow for me so I ended up purchasing a Go to Simmand unlimited plan for the 10 days I was here. This allowed me to see that I would not be needing my cell phone much longer. Just an ipad and a data simm. I wonder how long before the telecommunications would see the importance of just offering data. The costs worked out at about $5.00US per day for unlimited access. I used this to face time family and friends back home and to upload videos and photos to my picassa and youtube channels. Mobile internet access allowed me to be totally independent.
For eating, I often had dinner at Blazing steaks on the corner  of Koa Road and loved their steak and shrimp special with salad. I also bought bananas and sometimes cut up pineapple from the ABC store. In addition I tried out Bubba Shrimps at Ala Moana restaurants.
Breakfast was part of my hotel and it was good to have just toast and coffee each morning. But you do pay extra for this via the amenities charge that you pay when signing out at $10.00 extra a day US.
I took some coffee sachets but in reality I have not missed having coffee.
In total I spent nine days in Hawaii. Having access to the WiFi allowed me to move around easily and flexibly. Some of the apps I used included The Bus, Viator, Trip Advisor, Maps.
Now when I left New Zealand my suitcase came in just on 23 Kilos. When I left Hawaii this had incread to 53 lbs and at the aiport I needed to take off the children’s books and put them in my hand luggage or this was going to cost an extra $200.00 US. So whether the humidity had expanded my clothing, I don’t know. I did not buy anything extra. I can already see that I bought far too many clothes. Within 4x days, I lost a towel, two sunhats and a pair of glasses.
I loved my time in Hawaii. The people were really friendly and generally helpful. There are lots of free stuff to do and you do not have to spend a fortune to have a good time. I was not quite used to tipping but got better at it by the time I left. Some of my tourist highlights included the Ukulele Festival at Kapiolani Park, walking to the top of Diamond Head, visiting Hanauma Bay, just seeing trees laden with mangoes. I also loved watching the Hula on the beach and hearing the Hawaiian language making a comeback.

On reflecting, I was a tourist in this beautiful place and was acutely aware of my own contribution to the demise of the environment. Plastic was used everywhere. Even at the school where our lunches were served on polystyrene plates and we used plastic cutlery. In the hotel I stayed at, it was the same. The huge amount of waste. Eg: there was no recycling bin for scrap foods. One local said ‘But time is important and it costs to get someone to wash dishes.’ Yet waste was heavy on my mind. Buying fresh mangoes or other fruit was not as easy as I thought. Except for apps, oranges and bananas, everything was precut in plastic containers.

Travel Map

Today I began my 100 day Project. It is thanks to Justine Driver that I first learnt about the project. I am using this opportunity to write a little everyday. For me the real focus of my 100 day project is about making connections. Ideally it should be face to face connections. But it could also be digital connections in preparing for face to face connections. For example meeting Justine face to face after following her on twitter. 
The second part of my 100daysproject is to get into the habit of daily writing for when I take a TEACHNZ sabbatical. I will add one photo or a video clip and write about the event.
So my first entry and photo is about the places that I have booked to visit. My first face to face will be with Julie Lindsay from the Flat Classroom project. We will be meeting in Honolulu at the Flat Classroom conferenceand I am really excited to be meeting her. I have scheduled my travels to take in the conference so that I may meet global educators and leaders.