Friday, November 28, 2008


The Yangzi River begins in Tibet and flows East through China emptying into the East China Sea in Shanghai. After about 200 miles from it's origination point in Tibet, it takes a sharp bend and passes through two snow mountains (Haba and Jade Dragon) forming the Tiger Leaping Gorge just West of Lijiang in Yunnan Province.

This is where we began our 5 day journey. We combined hiking and driving in order to include everything we wanted to see. We hiked the upper trail through the Gorge then passed through several mountain villages ending up near the Tibetan border. We stayed in local "homestays" which were small guest houses where we shared meals prepared with vegetables that were picked less than an hour before we ate them. These were the best meals we have had since arriving in China nearly 3 months ago. Some of our favorites were radishes, cabbage, water lily, various roots, beans and red chili peppers prepared with rice as a side dish. We also enjoyed the Baba bread and local walnuts. Our least favorite was the "Yak Butter Tea" which tasted like we were drinking pure melted butter.

These villages were made up of several different cultures (Naxi - pronounced Nashi, Yi - ( "E"), Hui (Who A) or Muslim, Tibetan, Han and Lisu (LeeSue), living and farming peacefully together in their mountain homes. One day while hiking through several small villages, I am sure we were invited for lunch at least 5 different times.

Near the Haba Village we visited the White Water Terraces where the Naxi culture originated. It is said that these natural white rock formations shaped like small terraces were a message to the farmers on how to terrace the land. From the looks of all the beautifully terraced fields, the farmers received the message.

I am certain this journey will be among the most memorable adventures during our stay in China.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Teaching at UIC

I am about half way through my teaching experience at UIC and thought this might be a good time to tell everyone a little bit about teaching Chinese college students. For the most part I find my students at UIC very similar to my students at Augsburg. It took longer for us to get to know each other but the students in my 2 fitness classes are finally beginning to open up a bit and all of us are enjoying the classes more. Some are even beginning to understand my humor and much to my surprise and excitement some are even asking what they can do outside of class to help improve their individual fitness and overall health. One gal asked me if I would have a special session for students who may have questions about nutrition. They are going to write down questions in advance and we are going to discuss them. Although I am very interested in nutrition, I am not sure I have a clue about the ingredients of most Chinese meals....but I'm willing to give it a try. It should be fun.

I am running my classes pretty much the same as I did at Augsburg but at a slower pace. Most of my students are female and my 2 classes are 22 and 24 students so they are a nice size. UIC
has purchased a lot of fitness equipment so I am hoping my Chinese Teaching Assistant, Jack will be able to teach this class after I leave. For the most part I am finding the students less fit than the students in the US (if you can imagine that). Most of them are not overweight, but they have never had any instruction in what it means to be a physically fit person. Most of their physical education experience has been playing a particular sport or game.

Our time here has been going by very quickly and we continue to enjoy the experience. Doug has been coordinating the Faculty/Staff Fitness program and has 125 members who are exercising on a regular basis and seem to enjoy doing it.

We are going on a hiking adventure to the Tiger Leaping Gorge over Thanksgiving so expect to see a report on this experience in the next blog.