Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Fondness for the Students

Nearly two weeks have passed since my last post. What a blessing the last two weeks have been! There are too many sentences that could be composed, quite enough letters to fill up all the pixels on your screen. Time is moving fast, but it is moving with such purpose. Here, come to the window and gaze into my recent life.

On July 3rd, I headed off to Chung Chau Island (30 minutes off the cost of HK) to begin my time with ELIC (English Language Institute of China). We started off with a week of curriculum training, cultural relations education, and team building. I learned quite a lot at training. If I could perhaps use an analogy for training, it would be that of a car engine. Engines are complex machinery, with many mechanisms functioning in different ways towards one common mission: to move a car. Training was like this. Many "mechanisms" working towards a common goal of bringing glory to Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. Whether it was in how we teach curriculum, relate to Asian culture, or how my team relates to each other, the goal was to bring His character to light.

It was also scenic; a nice break from skyscrapers. Observe:

Here is what training looked like, along with a picture of my team:

Finally, after training, we returned to Hong Kong. We find ourselves stationed in a university dormitory in Kowloon. This means that I have had the opportunity to take my team across the city, showing them all the enjoyable spots that I discovered in this last month. Talk about a good time. This also means that we are now at the stage that we call teaching.

I thoroughly enjoy teaching, even more than I thought I would. This is my very first experience in a classroom and I am relishing in the joy of my students' smiles and comprehension. I am blessed by my experience. They are clever, they are bright, and they actually listen to me and share things with me. There is a deep desire in me to love them, teach them, and share hope with them. Here are a few snapshots of these beautiful people:

May they see the light of the world.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Fondness for the City

It seems that it has been a while since I wrote last. I suppose this is due to the fact that my exploration has become more sparse. Throughout these last two weeks, much more time has been dedicated to personal study (ok, and I am also making my way through Lord of the Rings). Waking up in Hong Kong is beginning to feel quite normal, so it seems that I am settled here. However, tomorrow I begin training and teaching with ELIC, which will be a relatively drastic change of pace from this past month; this also involves moving and living somewhere else in the city. The quiet life of waking up, reading, and running shall be replaced with training and teaching. I say this with joy, for this is what I came here for, to share English, yes, but also to share Hope.

As I begin the process of training and teaching, I will update and share about that experience.

Though explorations have been sparse, the few sights that I have seen in these past couple of weeks are well worth a few words and pictures.

Last week, I went to a rather large Buddhist temple in Wan Tai Sin. This was my first experience at a Buddhist temple and I must say that it was quite different then I had imagined. I suspect that all Buddhist temples are not like this one, but I felt that the temple reflects the religious posture of Hong Kong quite well. It was a strange blend of a supposed sacredness and obvious casualness. While an older Chinese woman offered incense, a young Chinese couple posed in front of the alter for an opportune photo shoot. Outside the worship complex, different shops competed to sell the worship articles that people left at the alters. It was a bizarre spectacle to witness. Observe:

Just today, I went to one of the places that I have been intending to visit all along, the Nan Lian Garden. In Hong Kong, gardens are the closest thing to a "park" that one can find. Large patches of green land are not common in this city, which is quite understandable when thinking about fitting 7.5 million people into this small country. It was quite lovely, though it would have been even better if it were had not been the temperature of a broiler. Even so, here are a few of the sites:

I shall cap off the last of these posts on the city rather appropriately. High above the city of Hong Kong there sits a mountain-top structure known as The Peak. This viewing center, in my opinion, is the best way to few the brilliance of the city, the dazzling structures that man has created here. I shall share these with you now as I close.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tuen Ng Festival Holiday

Now I have explained that Hong Kong people work and shop, and they do so quite a lot. What do you suppose happens when the work portion is taken out of the picture for a day, say a holiday?

They shop. All of them shop.

I could not find a way to communicate what this means, except for this video of a stroll through New Town yesterday. Observe:

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Green Line

I exit my apartment door and take the elevator down to the ground level. From there I proceed to the shuttle station, where I hitch a ride from The Castello (where I live) to New Town Plaza (the grossly over-sized mall I discussed earlier). After a stroll through the mall I find that I am at the MTR station (this particular one is called the Sha Tin station). Sha Tin is on the Light Blue Line of the MTR, I need to get to the Green Line.

I push my way through the masses, grab hold of a pole and on the train I am. Past Sha Tin and Tai Wai, Kowloon Tong approaches. I get off the Blue Line at Kowloon Tong, walk across the platform and climb aboard the Green Line. Two of the most enjoyable places that I have ventured to are along this track: Mong Kok and Yau Ma Tei.

I should mention that Mong Kok, according to the Guiness World Records, has the highest population density in the world! 340,000 people per square mile. That fact is staggering. So is walking around. Here is what the street looked like last evening:

Mong Kok means "prosperous corner" in Chinese. This is very appropriate. I have never witnessed more shops, markets, and restaurants anywhere in my short life. Those stereotypical silk Chinese gowns, purses, watches, headphones, jewelry, iPhone cases, etc. all with name brands, and yet a scent of something less than authentic.

Here is another view of Langham place, the central mall of Mong Kok:

Yau Ma Tei lies a couple of stops down from Mong Kok. There is plenty to gaze upon, but here is one of the main attractions of the area, the Jade Market:

A certain little lady that I know might just benefit from my visit here.

That is a taste of what the Green Line serves up on a daily basis.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Recent Explorations

I have done little but explore Hong Kong in the last 5 days. I am flying solo on the MTR (the rails) now, so this lends itself to me picking an MTR stop and exploring it. It seems to be that there are always things to do and see around the stops. Today, for instance, I went to Tsim Sha Tsui. Observe:

While there, I saw this walkway:

This walkway led to an Anglican Church called St. Andrews, where I sat and read for a while.

It was surely a most pleasant arbor, in the words of Bunyan.

I shall leave with what I did a few nights ago, which was visit the Harbor. The Harbor is, of course, one of the most scenic points in Hong Kong. One is able to see the whole skyline, which is quite unique and incredible.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Mechanics of Hong Kong

Hong Kong is home to a plethora of malls, this is one thing that I have become keenly aware of in the last day. The city is connected, as one might guess, by the enormous and efficient public transportation system, the MTR. Basically at every MTR stop there is a mall, period. These malls are massive. Observe:

The one I sit in right now, New Town Plaza, is pictured above. It is seven stories high. Just to confuse the unaware visitor, there are actually eight malls on this property, which are connected by walkways. I would prefer to think of all eight as just one, for this makes my time easier. I sit on floor one at--you guessed it--the Starbucks. Starbucks are everywhere that I look here in HK, I've seen three in this mall already. They serve interesting things such as Green Tea Sesame Lattes. I'll let you know how that is quite soon. Here is another mall called Langham Place:

The malls are sleek, clean, and beautiful. Most every large western brand has its own store here, in fact, I would say that most of the stores in the malls are western. Needless to say, it is a very western-friendly culture in general. In the parts of Hong Kong that I have seen, money flows freely. I would say that 90% of people are on some kind of portable electronic device (mostly Iphones actually). It is strange to observe the culture because I see such a mirror image of back home, only with a majority of Chinese faces and a different language.

People in Hong Kong work long and hard and they do so quite a lot. They work, they buy, they go from point A to B and they do all of this with a high degree of efficiency. There is much to learn from the culture in this respect, much practical functionality to observe. But I am left wanting to get to the heart of the matter, to know the people who are pushing the buttons and pulling the levers of this machine of a society. There are no simple mechanics among us, all have a story and all have innate, deep desires.

I thank Him for the beauty of this culture and my opportunity to get immersed in it.