Why China?

I’ve been asked a lot of questions lately about my current plans, most common: why China?

This is not an easily answered question as there are many factors involved in my decision. For one, Asia is a continent I have never stepped foot on and I have a goal of visiting every continent in my lifetime; this would bring me to my third. I live in North America and have traveled on two different occasions to Europe.

Experiencing life in a third world country would be a brand new experience as well and another factor. Aside from the aforementioned places, I’ve been on numerous family cruises to various islands in the Caribbean. These experiences were all luxury type vacations which is not what I am looking for at this time in my life. I would like to live in a place where I can experience a life with different challenges than my own. Where my services can be opening doors into the futures of those I encounter.

All the places I have lived for extended times have been either a democracy, monarch, or a combination of the two. I’ve never visited a communist country let alone lived in one for a year. I find this to be an intriguing factor in my adventure because I am learning what it is like to be a human all across our world.

During my college years, I took a few history classes with Dr. Parssinen who taught me a bit about Chinese history. There is a vast amount of it, but we focused on the Opium Wars for our Narcotic Drugs in Modern Society class. From the Opium Wars to the Silk Road and Marco Polo to the number of dynasties – it is all fascinating. Living on this side of the world will give me the opportunity to learn so much more.

So you see, there are a lot of things that draw me to China; the history, language, culture, political standings, and geographical location in Asia. Just like a cherry on top of the metaphorical sundae, China also pays well and holds teachers in high social regard.

Teaching in China

There are so many things to consider while realizing my need to teach english in China. I’ve always wanted to be a teacher and plan on homeschooling my own children until they reach high school. In fact, while abroad I will be studying for the GRE to apply to grad school when I return for my MFA in Creative Writing – which is what I need to become a college professor.  I love the look in a person’s eyes when a concept clicks and they get that light that says they genuinely understand. It gets me fired up.

The thing about China is that I have never been to Asia or a communist country which poses completely different cultural norms and hopefully a huge shock. I’m ready for it and I need it. I yearn to make a difference in other human lives, this opportunity would definitely help bring that credo to life. The experiences of everything from Shanghai to the Himalayans makes me tingle inside. I want to know what life is like on the other side of the world.

What makes me nervous about China the most is that I’m a vegetarian and I don’t know any Chinese. Not even hello. I’m a pleasant individual overall so I think I will get along just fine and I plan on taking some kind of basic mandarin or something. Finding food I can eat to survive while I’m there is very frightening because I can’t say ‘I am a vegetarian, I do not eat meat. Dairy and eggs are okay.’

For a bit that was a deal breaker. Then I came to the realization that while living in the Netherlands I did most of my eating from a grocery store which meant visceral stimulation. As long as I can see it is a fruit or vegetable I am okay. I can cook rice and meals for myself at a lower expense as well.

Once that got me over the major hump, I stumbled upon a few youtube videos that shed some light on the experience for people who eat like me by people who eat like me. This one in particular I found exceptionally helpful:

So this is something I will be practicing for the next few months and am certain I will be referring back to once I get abroad. Now to think about how much I actually plan to bring with me and what to pack in. I was thinking of investing in a 60L pack or something and staying minimal. Perhaps a small checked bag for hygiene products to get me by the first  few weeks and a picture or two of my family.

xxx Sam

Teaching English Abroad

Good afternoon travelers! Have any of you taught english abroad? What countries have you worked in? What was it like? I’m very interested in participating in an opportunity of this nature and need some real information, not just some website that could or could not be a scam. I’m looking for people that have been through the TEFL course and interview process and have already taught abroad or are teaching abroad now. Is that you? Do you have any advice or suggestions?

I’m curious about the cost of the TEFL course, what countries are the best, and where you found the jobs that ultimately hired you. Also, how much money did you leave your home country with and how much did you return with? What kinds of things did you learn?

You Are Worth It

While driving around town today I couldn’t help but notice the amount of homeless on the streets. It hurts my heart to see so much pain. Recently I have been in pain myself as next week will be the anniversary of my father’s passing – again. Now I know everyone asks for money but I couldn’t help but think about how that can be ill spent so I decided to make some care packages. I had a jar of coins that were just waiting to be utilized so I found a purpose for them – and a great way to celebrate my father’s life. Eventually I decided to call it my You Are Worth It campaign.

IMG_1724

You see my father taught me very young not to judge a man by his appearance or current lifestyle because you never know what they have been through. In fact, my father was homeless himself for the last ten years of his life which is why I feel such a strong calling to help those in similar situations. See my dad was an addict and anytime I would give him money he would buy something he shouldn’t with it so instead I would go buy him some clothes and food and personal hygiene items. I took this into consideration after I exchanged the coins and made my list.

IMG_1714 IMG_1717

With fifty dollars of what I like to call found money I went to the store and checked out the sales. I decided that I could easily make six nice packages with the deals I found and was impressed at how far I was able to spread my money.

IMG_1721

Each item was carefully selected.

  1. Toothbrush – Hygiene
  2. Toothpaste – Hygiene
  3. bar soap – Hygiene
  4. 2 in 1 Shampoo & Conditioner – Hygiene/Convenience
  5. Water – Hydration in Florida Summer is imperative
  6. Emergen-C – Staying healthy is key to finding a job
  7. Slim Jim – protein/snacks
  8. Kashi Granola Bars – protein/snacks
  9. Mott’s Gummy Snacks – Morale Booster
  10. Double Bubble – Oral Fixation (helps keep the mind occupied)
  11. Mints – Oral Fixation (helps minimize hunger)

All six bags got one hygiene item a piece, one bottle of water, three packets of Emergen-C, two Slim Jims, two Mott’s, one pack of granola bars, four mints, and six pieces of gum.

IMG_1720

Now my wheels were really turning and I thought it would be great if I could send out a little inspiration to each person, after all the ultimate goal is to change lives. As I was setting everything up in my office, I posted a picture to social media and got some great response. It was touching because this is an issue I am passionate about. It was also interesting because it made me wonder how many lives we could all touch together. I created these little index cards to go in each bag and be the slogan of the project:

IMG_1725

My goal is to spread humanity and pay it forward by reminding everyone that You Are Worth It – no matter how bad the situation may be at the moment. Remind them that there are people out there that care about what becomes of them and give them the tools to succeed. The final product looks like this and will be handed out in my local community throughout the weekend:

IMG_1727

Interested in paying it forward?

Here is what I suggest: Save your change to change the world. Think necessities. Nonperishable food only. NO MOUTHWASH OR SANITIZER(these often have small amounts of alcohol in them)

If you want to contribute but don’t have the time to go through the coin exchange, shopping and  creation of the bags then shoot me a message. I’m glad to do all the hard work and hand out the bags, although it would be great to have people doing this all across the world. If enough people are interested I am thinking about creating a crowdfunding campaign or something so people could donate their spare change. Eventually I hope to make 100 bags a month but for now, 6 is a good start.

Also tag everything #YouAreWorthIt because every human life is worth it.

From Dystopia To Utopia… Or Theaters 9 to 19

It was a double header to remember, we grabbed the refillable popcorn and soda and settled in for Mad Max for a reality check in destroying resources and turning our sustainable world into a dangerous dystopia where the cruelty of men is evident in their drive to survive. The shots were beautiful and the composition helped tell the story in a very evocative way. Starting with close shots and then cutting to a wider frame told the story more than the dialogue for some parts. What really caught my attention is where they used Max as a car hood ornament and were stealing his blood via pipeline in pursuit of a war vehicle.

With a five minute break between show times we hurried across the cinema to see Tomorrowland, another story of depleting our resources here on earth. This film takes the converse approach and creates a riff in the time space continuum to create a utopian city to provide refuge for humans. Created by the most intelligent and artistic men and women, the inventions were stellar and you could see the way using a pin or a space ship inside the Eiffel Tower- whichever you prefer. This film had a great look back at the World’s Fair in the 60s and glided through time with such ease that I for one left the theater excited and inspired for the future that I will be a part of creating.

I think movies based around the basic concept of change and depletion of resources are important especially for today’s generation because they aren’t thinking about these things inside their technological bubbles. We still have yet to learn how to control technology instead of letting it control us and our lives. It is so important to teach the younger generation about living with nature and how to allow nature to thrive while embracing positive change not just for the earth but for mankind. Challenging the way we think and act as a community of men (and women) is the ultimate goal of any filmmaker in my opinion. You want to get butts in seats so that you can morph their thinking by the time those same butts get out of the seats.

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things: Tampa

Tampa is a place I have loved, fell out of love with, and am learning to love again. Some of my favorite things about this growing  city are simple yet perfect. There are other things that are not included that keep me here such as the film festival and concert seasons, but those deserve their own posts.

  1. Treasure Island Drum Circle
    1. Better than church, every time I attend I feel more centered and at one with myself and the world around me.
  2. Flatwoods
    1. Best place to go for a nice long trek with the dogs, they love the trails and the smells of this park.
  3. Oxford Exchange
    1. Designed like a tudor mansion study, this coffee shop also sells books and other artifacts. They also hold events for all sorts of interesting things. Recently I went to a Book Fair for local authors as well as a Tampa Type event. You can read about that here.
  4. Indian Rocks Beach
    1. This beach reminds me of my hometown, I get a spoonful of nostalgia every time I park (for free) and walk across the quiet street to the beach access. This beach is much more residential than most in the Tampa Bay Area and thus much more relaxing.
  5. Felicitous
    1. Locally owned, purple building, has a yard with monthly open mic nights, and amazing coffee & tea. What more do you need to know?
  6. Thai Temple Sunday Market
    1. I didn’t expect to find this gem, the experience alone takes you to a far away place. Nestled along the Hillsborough River bed with temple services running while authentic Thai food is being served until it runs out – and it will run out so get there early.
  7. University of Tampa
    1. Albeit cheesy, my alma matter is hands down the most beautiful sight in downtown Tampa. The history that lines the halls and the grounds is an inspiration to students and visitors alike. I still enjoy a nice stroll in Plant Park and my breath still catches when my eyes take in Fletcher Lounge.
  8. Morris Bridge Road
    1. A quiet country road in north Tampa, lined by some of the most beautiful trees I’ve ever seen and pastures of heifers and horses. Something about this drive from Cross Creek to SR 54 captivates me. Perhaps it is the memory of a simpler time, driving down that old country road. Perhaps it is just my new found appreciation for country music.
  9. Gandy Bridge
    1. Bridges are beautiful for many reasons past merely the water it crosses. This particular bridge is lovely because  on the Pinellas side there are inlets on the bay where you can go and launch kayaks and paddle boards – even fireworks on the fourth of July. My favorite time to be here is on New Years Eve where we have made it our tradition to go build a fire out there and stargaze.
  10. Ella’s Folk Art Cafe
    1. If you like delicious food paired with amazing folk art, this is the place to go. Seminole Heights is an up and coming Tampa neighborhood, but this gem has been here for a while and has a fabulous reputation among the locals. Their veggie burger is heaven for your taste buds!