25 Memories for Turning 25

Surprise I’m 25! On my birthday, my coworkers totally surprised and pranked me! They had a decoy cake on the morning followed by a prank in the afternoon where they told me our December holiday was canceled. I actually was fine and said I would be gone no matter what. Ha! Needless to say, I had a great day and wonderful dinners with friends. 25 feels so good and I’ve had an amazing year. Here are 25 memories that I have loved and will cherish forever. And I truly believe the best is yet to come! Cheers to 25.

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The Rainbow Mountains of China in Zhangye, Gansu Province (and Xi’an)

I took an incredible three day trip to see the Rainbow Mountains which are a geological phenomenon! I planned this trip Sunday night and left Tuesday morning. I’ve had this past week off post-summer camp and pre-school year. My passport is currently at the bureau to transfer my work visas which means I can only travel within China! If I had my passport I would’ve left the country, but I’m so glad I had this opportunity to visit another corner of China! I stayed in a yurt for two nights, gazed at stars and decompressed from the insanity of city life in Shanghai. Currently I am in Xi’an for the day before I head back to Shanghai.

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Summer Camp Creativity!

Whew! Our six weeks of summer camp is over and I am on vacation mode for a week before we have some preparation before the school year starts! I’ve had so much fun getting to know amazing kids. Some of them will be in my class next year which I am so excited for. Summer camp sessions were in 2 week increments. Some students were there for the whole 6 weeks while others came for 2 weeks. I did the theme “Travel Agency” twice and “School Cafe” once. The best and difficult part of summer camp is that the curriculum is so flexible and you can be really creative! I thought I would share some of my ideas for other teachers out there or families who want to craft with their kids!

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Zhangjiajie: 48 Hours and The Avatar Mountains

When I say 48 hours I really mean it! It was a blitz creek trip to one of the most amazing and beautiful places I have ever been. I had just completed my first week of my new job and was exhausted, but had planned this trip before I signed my new contract. I decided to go with a group as I wanted to take a break from planning and let someone else do it! There are pros and cons to group travel, but overall I am happy I decided to this time as the park is massive and I was able to make the most of my time with a guide. Not to mention the group I went with was a laugh and a half and we had a good time!

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Kaila in Kunming: A Visit to My Orphanage

(Touching the Dragon Gate for Prosperity)

I took a few days off from work and headed back to the province I was born in, Kunming! It was a busy few days where I didn’t get much rest and was busy from sun up to down. I was able to do a lot, met up with some connections and friends and went back to my orphanage. The night before and the whole drive going to my orphanage I was quite nervous which really surprised me.

China is such a diverse and beautiful place and I was excited to go back and explore. Yunnan has stunning nature, views and I already want to go back to spend more time hiking away from the borders of the cities.

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An Adopted Chinese American in Shanghai

You would think and Chinese in China would blend in. Think again! Not everyday, but whenever I meet new people or a stranger strikes up a conversation, it is naturally brought up that I was adopted. Despite my face as they point out, I am American and don’t speak Chinese. I wasn’t an American Born Chinese (ABC) yet I look and am Chinese. Next week I will be heading back to the province, Kunming where I was born to travel and visit my orphanage and wanted to write this post about living in China as an adult adoptee.

Everyone’s reaction has been very positive and it explains why my face is Chinese but the rest of me isn’t quite. From taxi drivers where I have explained it over a translation app, most reactions are understanding or saying something like “very good” and that “I’m lucky.” A new coworker even thought I was joking at first when I said I didn’t speak Chinese and complimented me on my English accent. Shanghai is such a metropolitan city where people from all over China come to work and live.

As the hundreds of thousands of girls adopted from China grow up, I have a feeling that more will want to live in the country they were born in. Shanghai is its own world compared to the rest of China and for me the perfect hub and home base. I will be here at least two more years and there is so much more to discover.

I love China and am looking forward to exploring more of it. It is such a diverse country rich in history and stunning landscapes. I love the contrasts between polite/direct, modern/history, tradition and so on. I am nervous but mostly excited for my trip next week! I haven’t been back since I was 10 and looking forward to it a lot. I have no idea what will happen, how I will feel or what I will learn. It’s going to be an adventure and I look forward to sharing it with you when I’m back πŸ™‚

-Kaila

The Shanghai Kid

Fabulous, expectation, advanced, pressure and lovely. These are all words I would associate with the “Shanghai Kid.” These past nine months teaching have given me incredible close insight into the world of kids growing up in Shanghai. There are so many sub-cultures that my anthropology degree has me constantly dissecting and categorizing daily observations. Education in Shanghai is constantly changing at a rate that I would bet is one of the highest in the world. There are shifts I have already seen in only eight months. It is an exciting industry to work in and I’m constantly looking at the differences/similarities to America and what additions I would make to strengthen different curriculums.

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The Calm Before the Mom

(Excerpts from an essay I wrote in 2010. While I’ve changed a lot, it shows I’m still fundamentally the same person).

“Life is the greatest gift and the only one who can change and live it is you. This has always been a philosophy of mine and I truly believe it. Life is a journey that throws many adventures, challenges and lessons and other emotions and events at you. It is how you react, adapt and move forward that determines the person you are. The smallest moments in my life have often made the largest impacts on my philosophy and who I am…I also believe and know that my actions each day define who I am, the person I am the next day and forever on. Life is going to get rocky and tough, but if you sail through it win a fearless attitude and supportive people, the water will eventually calm and become clear.

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Beijing Part III

So much happened on our second day that I didn’t include so this is filling in the blanks and summing up the trip! We were at a mall doing as the Chinese do, which is shopping when we heard the sounds of the dragon dance! I have grown up listening to this tune and it somewhat is a traumatic sound given that I was scared of them when I was little. This dance was the best one I’ve ever seen and so intricate!

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