Thanks Todd!!!

This post is dedicated to Todd Moore (Class 4). I think I’ve mentioned him before in my blog, but maybe not with as much gratitude as I will here. This weekend we went on a rafting trip to Hongzhou. This trip was made possible by the connections that Todd made when he was in Shanghai last summer. Now those of you who are familiar with my blog are probably saying, “she’s already been to Hongzhou so what’s the big deal?” While the last trip to Hongzhou was pretty amazing, this one topped the charts for several reasons. First, it was free! That’s right, two nights in a hotel, six meals, a rafting excursion, a hiking adventure, and transportation was provided at no charge to us. Next, we were able to see the countryside of Hongzhou, complete with beautiful mountains, lakes, hiking trails and wide open spaces. It was truly incredible, and we owe it all to Todd!

Now for the third benefit of this trip. After loading the bus and making our way out of the city we did introductions, stating our names and where we were from. We quickly learned that there were people from all over the world on the bus. To be more specific, Columbia, India, Peru, Latvia, Kenya, China, U.S., Brazil, Ecuador were all represented (and I left off a few). What a mix! We were then told to pick teams because we would be participating in a “Drifting Competition.” Little did we know that not only would we be rivaling our bus (the red group) but we would also be competing againt two other groups (the yellow and blue groups) in bamboo and rubber raft races. Becca and I joined three Latvians and a Kenyan to form “The Dominators.” I am pleased to report that we held up to our name and dominated the entire competition, taking the number 1 spot over all groups! We were given some pretty awesome all-weather jackets to mark our victory.

Trenia’s Finale
I’ve mentioned before that Shanghai is a “concrete jungle”, and one must take on a bit of a concrete exterior in order to survive various aspects of this fast-paced city. I do love living in the city because there is always something going on, but this trip to Hongzhou made me realize how much I missed nature. As a southerner, I’ve taken trees and fresh air for granted because they’ve always been a part of my life. After this summer, I don’t think that will ever happen again!

Despite the mosquito attacks, I really appreciated being in the great outdoors. For two days, my life stood still and I was able to enjoy God’s creation. No to do lists or computers, just birds chirping, butterflies fluttering, water flowing, and trees swaying to the command of the wind. Connecting with nature is such a relaxing experience and tends to create an inner peace that can be difficult to find in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. My point is that we should all take the time to appreciate nature. Go for a walk, do some fishing, take a weekend hike, golf, or even sign up for a rafting adventure. Whatever you do, your body, mind, and soul will thank you.

Thanks again Todd!!!

Welcome to my world…expo-sure!!!

Did You Know...

I know I’m a bit behind with my posts, but please just bear with me. I hope all of you had a wonderful 4th of July. I have to admit that this year’s celebrations, although entertaining, just weren’t the same as being at home. I digress. This post is going to be pretty random, as I’m going to use it to throw out random facts that I’ve learned since arriving in China. Here goes!

Did you know…

  • That there are over forty car manufacturers in China?
  • That cars cost twice as much in China as they do in the U.S.? (Those car manufacturers are sticking together!)
  • That the majority of Chinese households are made up of at least three generations?
  • That it is usually the husband that moves in with his in-laws?
  • That there is a one-child-per-family rule in China?
  • That if a family is “caught” with more than one child they will be fined?
  • That Shanghai has a different rule? It goes something like this: if you and your spouse were only children, you can have two children. If either of you had siblings, you can only have one child.
  • That toddlers here wear what are called “crack pants”? These are regular pants that have been split open at the crotch. Why? So the little ones can use the restroom anytime, anyplace.
  • That this year’s World Expo site here in Shanghai is home to the highest number of eco-friendly structures in one place ever?
  • That just about all of these structures will be destroyed in October? So, so sad.
  • That you have to pay to go to high school in China?
  • That generally you can only rent (not own) property in China?
  • That you can get up to a 99 year lease on your home?

Trenia’s Finale:
Since I’ve been in China, I’ve grown accustomed to stares and requests for photos. It really doesn’t bother me. Overall, people have been fairly nice to me (save the older lady who tried to push me through the exit gate at the metro station). But the other day I experienced something that I’m pretty sure might be one of the most amazing acts of kindness I’ve ever experienced. Let me explain.

The metro is a pretty popular mode of transportation here in Shanghai, and there seems to be a general consensus that you enter the stations at your own risk. You have to fend for yourself when entering or exiting the train, finding a seat, and protecting your belongings. I have seen it all from little old ladies push and be pushed to middle aged men struggling to get through the doors of the train. I’ll put it this way: remember how intense the game musical chairs was when there was just one chair left? That’s what it’s like on the train. If someone gets up out of a seat on the train, people literally move like the wind to secure their seat and only the strong survive. Needless to say, it can be a very unpleasant experience.

So back to me (that’s what it’s all about anyway, right?). I entered the train and because there were no seats, I found some standing room and braced myself for what seemed like a normal ride on the train. Then it happened. The train stopped, a few people got off and a seat near where I was standing opened. There was a middle-aged Chinese man sitting next to the open seat and he literally shooed (and by shooed I mean took his hand and swatted at them) two other people away from the open seat and motioned for me to come sit next to him. I paused for a second to soak it all in and then sat next to the man who was wearing a genuinely warm smile that had spilled over into his eyes. After thanking him as I sat down, I couldn’t help but reflect on the kindness of this one man, one day on the train. Wow! Who knew that this small gesture would mean so much to me? Living in this “concrete jungle” for almost three months can cause you to lose some of your warmth in an attempt to survive (get it? jungle, survival of the fittest). This gentleman left me with the desire to “pay-it-forward” with at least one small act of kindness and reminded me that I have the power to create a wave of positive interactions that can ultimately lead to positive change. I challenge each of you to do the same.

Welcome to my world…expo-sure!!!

Noodles Anyone?

Let me begin by saying that I love noodles. They have always had a special place in my heart-along with potatoes (I'm a true Southerner, and proud of it!). I felt this way before coming to China. I mean, I’ve had Ramen for dinner and it’s not because I’m too poor for anything else. It’s because I like to drain the water off of the cooked noodles and add my own seasoning and enjoy. Don’t judge me! Anyway, it was fitting for me that China has a wealth of noodles. Long, short, thick, thin, flat or round, you want’em…you got’em. And what’s even better is that they’re always close by and cheap!!!

I cannot tell you how many times I have uttered "mein" (noodle in Chinese) to a waiter or waitress or the guy that Becca and I have lovingly named “Noodle Guy” that’s just around the corner from our apartment. Why is this important? Because I have stopped saying “mein.” (Insert sad face here). I have grown weary of noodles, and so I made a decision: I am officially off noodles for a while. The noodles and I have come to the end of our road for now. I know some of you may be asking, “what is she going to eat now?” Don’t fret! I’m on rice full-time now, hence the great picture!!!

Trenia’s Finale:
Love. That is his first name. My cousin, who we all call by his middle name Terrell, is an officer in the Navy. He is currently stationed in Japan, at the Yokosuka Naval Base. He’s an amazing person, and I thought I would share something he said to me the other day when I was chatting with him. Let me explain that I don’t always get to talk to him because he has a wife and kids, he’s busy protecting our country, and I’m in school (big deal Trenia-I know). So after missing him for the last year (they just moved to Japan), he caught me on Yahoo! and we resumed conversation as usual. In the midst of our chat, he said something that has stuck with me, “You are perfect with your imperfections.” Back off ladies, he’s married!

Although I would love to say that this is true because I’m so great, that’s not the case. It’s true because it just is. So if you find yourself secretly hating your nose because it’s a little crooked or hating the fact that you’re not over six feet tall or wishing that you had Martha Stewart’s homemaking abilities, just let it go and remember: your “imperfections” make you perfect.

Welcome to my world…expo-sure!!!