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Chinese etiquette

Maria Niechwiadowicz


Funny enough, after teaching about Western etiquette all week, I got a crash-course in Chinese banquet etiquette today. At noon we were informed that the English department would be holding a (very-late) “welcome” banquet that night for us. Not knowing how formal or informal it would be, our supervisor laid all the rules on us. First, lets set the scene … image a large room with a round table inside, a table big enough to fit 10-12 people, or even more! The table is adorned with a table cloth ...

Western etiquette

Maria Niechwiadowicz


his week we have continued in our food unit discussing etiquette and ordering at Western restaurants. To prepare for class, I asked my students to research Western etiquette. Much of what they found was quite accurate: -Keep all non-food items (purses, phones, etc) off the table. -Place your napkin on your lap and keeps elbow off the table. -Ask for items across the table and pass them counterclockwise. -Don’t talk with your mouth full. -Excuse yourself if you need to leave the table. But some ...

Gift of giving

Maria Niechwiadowicz


The opportunity to serve as a Global Mission Fellow of the United Methodist Church would not be possible without gifts from generous donors from the world community. The United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries is hosting a unique event on December 2nd (two weeks from today!) called UMC #GivingTuesday. This is a worldwide day of giving in which all gifts made online through The Advance will be matched up to $1 million! As a young adult missionary, my Advance fund (#3021976) is ...

Let’s cook! (in class??)

Maria Niechwiadowicz


I have to admit, I have been in a bit of a rut with my teaching. I have found it incredibly easy to whip out lesson plans, implement them in class, and move on…which also makes it very easy to go into auto-pilot. So with midterm exams out of the way, I was excited for new material and units to present…most importantly, beginning our unit on Food! Those of you who know me well, know that food and cooking are a passion of mine! I love to cook new recipes and experiment in the kitchen. I love to ...

Midterm reflections

Maria Niechwiadowicz


This week my students and I celebrated the completion their Midterm exams by climbing Guyuan Mountain, the park right next to the University. Pagoda from afar Ready to tackle these stairs! We made it! Totally rockin’ the selfies Facing West from the top of the stairs, I took a photo of campus! Click here to see a map of campus that I have labeled. The circled building is the English Building. The school bus conveniently drops me off right there, at the South Gate, every day. The arrow ...

Winding paths

Maria Niechwiadowicz


I set off into the warm afternoon and into the Sunday bustle. Walking down the dusty street, I pass by dozens of vendors (eyeing their produce carefully), past the corner where old men play cards, and down to the bridge. It is much quieter here and I quickly find the paved pathway that winds along the river. I had remembered spying this path a few weeks earlier and was excited to explore it on this beautiful autumn day. My feet wandered down winding paths through the woods, discovering hidden ...

A call to coach

Maria Niechwiadowicz


Last week I was approached by fellow (Chinese) teacher in the English department asking me if I would be willing to help with an “English song competition” that the department holds every fall. I responded with enthusiasm, explaining that I had majored in theatre and loved to sing and dance. She continued to explain that 8 students had been chosen to be contestants after an initial round of auditions and each one would perform a solo. Additionally, the group would be split in two and each would...

Seasons of change

Maria Niechwiadowicz


There are not many places where you can experience a rainy day, a sunny-70 degree day, and receive 3 inches of snow all in one week. Sound familiar? Yes, all you Midwesterners out there, I did not escape moody and spontaneous weather in moving to China. Just days ago I was climbing mountains and marveling at the autumn preamble and suddenly the temperature has dropped 40 degrees and snow is falling. Wait…what season is it? I have been struck by thoughts of other Global Mission Fellows with the ...

Climbing mountains

Maria Niechwiadowicz


Hiking is one of my favorite ways to interact with nature. I love exploring paths in the midst of wooded forests or navigating over rocky slopes, but mostly the aspect of being in nature for an adventurous walk. In Chinese, the idea of hiking doesn’t translate as well. I have been asked by my students, “Would you like to go climb the mountain?” In my mind, climbing a mountain means you are using both your hands and feet to ascend up a rock, normally harnessed by ropes. But what my students ...

Is being a resident enough?

Maria Niechwiadowicz


I can now say I have official residency in Guyuan and find it comical that I have moved from a Tourist Visa to a Work Visa to a Residency Visa within a month of being in China. With this official document in my passport, one should feel a sense of purpose and identity, but as I have moved about the city this week, I realize that residency doesn’t come close to the purpose that I long for here in Guyuan. To reside in a city is to inhabit it, to physically be working and occupying a space. ...

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