To live and enjoy every day to its fullest, use my gifts to help others, I travel to wherever passion finds me.

What Will She Paint?

So many friends I met here...!

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Starting a blog was the most uncharacteristic thing I had ever done in my life. when I finally started to get the hang of it, I went, "Phew, I'm glad I survived that!"
But then, my/our son wanted us to buy a webcam.

Oh no, we can't do that.
A webcam is a gadget. We don't buy gadgets!
It's just against my principle.
Which principle? I don't know which, but I am against it. And, I don't want to change. Why not? Just because.
But who has a webcam in her house now? The very same person, who said she was against gadgets.
What made me change my mind? Of course! Aaaaach, I can't even look at myself in the mirror. I'm such a weakling. Money made me change my principles!!!

So, why is that webcam so important? So we could converse with our son,and see him without the $200 bill the phone company sent us after Christmas, just alone for that call. With Skype we can talk for free via the computer and webcam, as long as we want to.

For the past few years my son has been living in China to teach English. After his first year we took the opportunity to visit him and travel together to 4 major cities in Pre-Olympic mainland China. (Some of my painting experience there is in my post "Bridges.")
A totally different world from Hong Kong, still called "the West" by mainlanders. Even the Chinese need a special visa to visit Hong Kong!
His next summer he spent a month with us.
He feels very much at home in China. Even to the point that he eats cold noodles for breakfast. When he was home for that month, I could tell he was going through a culture shock, because everything in China was better.

In this country they start teaching English in kindergarden. There are private schools, even remedial schools when students fall behind, and private tutors, if the child still is not able to keep up.

When a foreigner teaches English, the job mostly comes with a rent-free apartment. The school also takes care of the visa. Even without any experience the start-up salary is one and a half of what the average Chinese income is. Foreign teachers earnings are higher than that of Chinese. I know it's unfair, but in many countries it's like this.

Today, my son told on Skype that it is very confusing for the students. Their books are in British English, but the teachers most often teach American English.

In the beginning of our conversation I heard a loud hammering in the background. When I asked what that was, he told something that is unthinkable for a westerner.

"When they have to fix something in the building, they don't have a set schedule," he told me. In my previous apartment their schedule was to work at night."
"So what do you do then?, I asked dumbfounded.
"Stay away at night, as much as you can," was his response.
No wonder they call it the land of the rising sun.
Oh no...that's Japan...right?


The Finely Tuned Woman said...

I personally could not imagine myself living in China. It would be to different to my experience of my world. I think I would have major culture shock. Your son is a brave man for taking on the job and doing so well with it. Becoming one with the people even.

I used to have a webcam, but never really needed it and I don't know what's become of it. I don't yet skype with anybody, although I realize it's the cheap alternative to the telephone.

I'm not much of a gadget person either. My mobile phone is the very simple one. It doesn't take pictures and I don't want it to. That's why I have my camera, which is also a very easy to use digital one.

As they say, a child can do the laundry.

Gaston Studio said...

I visited China some years back and it was incredible seeing those things I had only previously seen in photos or on documentaries. The Great Wall, the palaces and the Terracotta Soldiers are even more awesome in real life. But I didn't care a whole lot for the food, no matter where we ate.
Your son is gaining great life experiences.

Patience-please said...

Oh that is so far away. The Skype must make him feel a little closer.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Isn't it wonderful how our children can go off to the other side of the world and we can go off and visit them? What would our grandparents think of it all, I wonder.

TheWritersPorch said...

I think that living in another country to teach
would be both rewarding and exciting!I'm with you on the phone bills, I have a granddaughter in Germany!

jeannette stgermain said...

He is courageous, but it was also out of desperation, because he was not happy here (even though he was 2y.old when we came). The more confining social structure in China fits him better. Also, he loves "different" kinds of people. He has had a Canadian-Russian guy as room mate and then one from Nepal.

On a different note - I don't even have a cell phone haha - rather spend my money on canvas and paint:) Have a good Sunday!

jeannette stgermain said...

Gaston Studio,
I love Beijing, because of all the cultural things to see there. And the hutongs (the residential areas off the main roads) - wow, wow, wow - I could stay for a week there, just painting them.
Can't remember if I saw the terra cotta soldiers: was that in the Forbidden City?

Next time you go, you have to eat Peking (roasted) duck at a fancy restaurant in Beijing - I think you'ld like that, because it's not that different from the food in the US.
We ate at BIG restaurants, so we knew they would have a menu in English, and the food would be prepared more hygienically (if that is a word, LOL)

jeannette stgermain said...

Actually it's also for him, because there is always a turnover of teachers that he has befriended and then leave - then it's nice to see the faces of your family:)
Our other 2 kids live 7 hours away (by car), but I miss them just as much. Fortunately, one of them just was given a webcam, so I can see my youngest 2y.old grand child more often.

jeannette stgermain said...

Weaver of Grass,
I think it is also wonderful when your kids go of somewhere in the world, and that is a nice excuse to go to such a far place. I don't think we would ever gone to China if our son wouldn't have been there. thank you for your comment!

jeannette stgermain said...

Where is you grand daughter in Germany? We lived in Berlin (in the North) and our oldest daughter was born there.
The nice thing about webcam is that it is a one time cost(80 dollars) for each, and then it's free forever.
The Mac(apple) laptop has a built-in webcam (don't know if the stationary Mac has it).
Travel is rewarding, and teaching in another country is very interesting - you get to know the culture very quickly that way!

lovelyprism said...

The blog was very uncharacteristic for me too! And then, no joke, I bought a webcam. I wanted to be able to see my son everyday while I was in Paris. I understand exactly what you meant. My daughter paints and would like to live in Paris and teach English and paint. I See a lot of webcamming in my future!

Gary Rith Pottery Blog said...

Frankly, your son is a remarkable person, working like that!

jeannette stgermain said...

Uh-oh, it sounds like you are a family who likes to travel. What kind of painting does your daughter do? Yes, web-camming for you!

jeannette stgermain said...

thank you Gary, I think so too, but as a mom I'm prejudiced of course! The funny thing is that he never wanted to work with kids, like my daughters - haha -life has a way of maturing one, doesn't it?

DUTA said...

The great advantage for your son in China, would be if his pupils are well-disciplined. This would make his life more pleasant and his profession more rewarding.

In the Western world, discipline is unfortunately vanishing, and this marks its Decline. The present economic Tzunami is the first sign of the big upcoming Decline. Your son is probably now in the right place, at the right time.

Reader Wil said...

I think Skype would be something my daughters and I could use. My youngest daughter lives in Australia. And of course we e-mail and ring each other, but we don't see each other. Thanks for your visits to my blog. Have a great week.

neetzy said...

What a wonderful experience for your son! My oldest daughter is a junior in high school and I don't know where life will take her. She is just beginning to look at colleges. It's nice to know there is technology available to keep in touch.

jeannette stgermain said...

The young people seem more eager to learn. In many countries the word "fun" and relaxation is not as important as in the western world. That probably is in itself a sign of decline.

What I also noticed is that my son does not prepare himself or is anxious about parent's meetings as the teachers here are. Have a great week.

jeannette stgermain said...

Reader Wil,
It is definitely nice to be able to "see" the face of your adult child. Also, because you see some of the background(room, sun,rain), you have more of an idea about their life then and there.
Your blog is fun to visit and read! Groetjes!

jeannette stgermain said...

Junior year is so important, that is when most of the decisions are made. Senior year is more of saying goodbye to high school in different areas.
And you as a parent agononizes with your teen:) Skype would make it definitely easier on both of you if your daughter chooses a college in another state!

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Hello Jeanette. Sorry I was not able to get onto your blog this past weekens although I did try.

How wonderful todays technology is. But noodles for breakfast?? LOL!! ALmost as bad as ice cream!! :)

Lilly said...

I must admit I'm a bit like that around new technology.

jeannette stgermain said...

Lilly, I'm glad I'm not the only one! LOL
Thanks for the "Follow"

sparkyballet said...

I LOVED your blog post!! It made me miss being there so much. Everything you blogged about echoed my own experience. Your son is so very lucky to be where he is for such a long time.