Before continuing, I would like to introduce you to Li Hui, also known as, Annie (and hereafter, I’ll use her adopted name). Annie is my on-site volunteers’ coordinator. Most likely (and she’s not entirely sure), the task of putting up with the volunteers was given to her because of (1) Her knowledge of English, and (2) Her adaptability. She’s neither a Pollyanna nor a cynic, but nice balance between the two.
She was introduced to me my first day here, and has proven to be as hard to ignore as a broken leg (and I have some experience). Luckily, they assigned me to her office so we’ve gotten to know each other more than I got to know Wang Kai Jing. (Who was my coordinator in 2008, and now teaches in the Technical School.) My only regret on being Annie’s office mate is that the office is on the fourth floor. Toiling those steps 4 times a day takes a toll. (But my butt looks better.)
Annie teaches exclusively in the three high school grades exclusively this year. In past years, she’s taught Middle School and High School. The result, and she’s happy with it, is that she has more free time.
Annie graduated from Yantai’s Ludong University in 2005 with a BA in English Education. She taught in the public schools for two years before moving here to the Qing Quan School. She teaches English exclusively, and her long-term career plans include teaching in an English-speaking country sometime in the future. And that, I think, would cure one of the problems with English education here in China. Most of the English teachers (at least here at QQ) have never been to an English-speaking country. Moreover, most, if not all, were taught English by teachers who themselves have never been to an English-speaking country. It’s not that their English is bad; it’s just that it could be better.
Annie was born in 1983 in Shouguang (Chinese: 寿光), a suburb of Weifang, a city located in western Shandong. (Her parents and younger brother still live there.) Shouguang is a relatively large city with nearly one million people residing within the municipality and its surrounding towns and villages.
Weifang hosts an international kite festival every spring and Shougang hosts a vegetable fair every year around May 1st. Interestingly, artists use fruits, nuts, vegetables, flowers and potted plants to create numerous sculptures and murals. I’m trying to talk Annie and Tom into traveling to Weifang for one of the festivals.
Annie’s husband Tom (It was my pleasure to bestow his English name upon him – at his request.) or Wei Shan Yue and Annie were married in 2008. They have no children, but have told me there is a plan afoot to cure that shortcoming later this year. Tom, by the way, works for his uncle at the Beiyang Bookstore in the Zhifu District of Yantai (more or less the downtown area). They are saving so Tom can open his own bookstore in the future.
Tom and I just split the cost of a Canon printer that I’ll use while I’m here. He gets an all-in-one for 2/3ds of its cost, and I get a cheap rental for two months. Not a bad idea. I think Tom would have just bought the printer and let me use it, but I balked and we compromised. The reason: They have a 2004 Fiat sedan that may blow up at any time.
Annie instructed me to tell you that she loves spicy food and romantic English films. Whether or not she wanted me to, I can also tell you that’s she a diminutive 5′, and swears she only weighed 4.25 lbs at birth. I’m not sure how that correlates with her love of spicy food. But, I can vouch for the love of spicy food. The photo is for a fish dish that we shared the other night. Texans like to think we are aficionados of spicy food, but the Chinese have made it an art form. The peppers you see were what was left after two large ladles of pepper were removed from the oil. The remaining dishes are (clockwise from 2:00 O’Clock) chicken feet/toes in red pepper oil (never order this unless you’re trying impress someone with your gastronomic worldliness or your sense of adventure leads you to do dumb things), fried shrimp, deep-fried pumpkin, and celery slices steeped in garlic juice (really, really good).
Finally, I can sum up Annie Li with the observation that she’s a confident, vibrant, voluble, and vivacious young woman who will, with any luck, achieve her goals.