Listening?

Today officially began our last module here at CIT. Hard to believe these nine weeks are coming to a close!! I can’t even think about leaving or I get all teary. These classes have been phenomenal and the friendships alone were well worth the time spent down here. It’s hard to imagine going back to PA and “reality” and all that entails. So, for now, I’ll just focus on the present!

Our TESL class this weekend was informative, but to be honest, we probably could have covered the same amount of material in a 2-hour evening session. It was definitely more beneficial for me than for Brian and I am glad for the new resources. But, our weekend was much busier than we had planned on and we were both exhausted by yesterday evening.

Yesterday morning, we decided to go to church and then head out to a place called Chimney Rock, about 45 miles from here. It’s a beautiful overlook that somebody gave us the money to go see. It’s a park and it’s quite pricey to get into, but we thought since it was a beautiful day, it would be worth the day trip together. The view WAS beautiful…but it was a long afternoon. No one told us that North Carolina’s idea of “hiking” is just “let’s put 5 million stairs into the side of the mountain and watch people hyperventilate as they climb up them in the higher elevation than they’re used to.” On the plus side, we saw the waterfall that is used during the filming of the last scene in the movie “The Last of the Mohicans.” If you’ve seen that movie (which I highly recommend), you’ll remember the absolutely gorgeous scenery at the end. That’s all filmed right there and it really is that breathtaking in person. I have posted those pictures so you can see what I mean.

When we got back last night, we had to dive right into our first session of SYIS, though, so we were pretty exhausted by the time we hit the sack…early! We feel much better today and Brian even had the energy to go hang out with some guys, so I’m home alone…which is probably why I’m writing so much! 🙂

Our class this week has a totally new format and there are many more people than the last modules. Since it’s all “interpersonal skills”, we are doing mostly interacting and very little lecture. We get to “role play” (although so far, all our scenarios have been real life) the different skills we’re learning about, which helps solidify how they work in our minds and what we need to work on. Today, we touched on listening skills (silence, questions, drawing people out, helping them solve their own problems). I’m really not sure what we’re doing tomorrow. I do know we are going to cover this week more conflict resolution tactics, receiving confrontation, and dealing with stress (to name just a few; we basically cover four different topics a day, to give you an idea of how much we’re working through this week). We are both loving this course (even though we’re not allowed to sit together 😦 ) and again, are anxious to put these skills into practice!

Here’s the link to the new photos! Oh, and I’m still trying to get Brian to sit down long enough to type something into this blog…before we leave here! 🙂

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=36456&l=880d4&id=513368337

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MoRe PiCtUrEs!

I have posted some more recent pictures on facebook, just follow the link below, as usual. The new ones are first in this album. Just click to make them larger. They are of our time with the Winshape guys last week, just a few of our outdoor afternoon activities. The rest are just hanging out with the group that was here for the two week Teams module – barbecuing, bowling, enjoying OTHER peoples’ children. 🙂 The last few are of a meal Brian and I attempted for our friends, Julie and Paul. Brian made the beautiful apple bread for dessert. We both worked on the chicken basil twist that you see on the right. It was an attempt. It should’ve looked better than that, but hey, it tasted fine!

Hope all of you up north are having a good spring. We’re loving the fact that it’s 80 degrees out today. And yesterday. And possibly tomorrow. Not to rub it in or anything. 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend!

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=34708&l=3e14d&id=513368337

April! Well, close enough.

A new week begins tomorrow! I was wrong about about our class; we are starting “Teams and Team Leaders” tomorrow morning. It will last for two weeks. It’s going to be interesting because we’ve really managed to bond with the people that went through the last two modules with us…and only two are left from those twelve – and now, we have to work on “team building” with 12 NEW people that we haven’t met yet. It should be interesting!! We’re looking forward to the challenge; who knows what’s going to happen? We already know we’ll be doing “team building” challenges with some head honchos from the restaurant Chic-Fil-A. Trust me, I will keep you posted!

I’ve posted some pictures on Facebook from our bonfire on Wednesday, a cookout on Thursday, and our weekend with my friend from high school, Tim, and his wonderful wife, Joy. They live in Greenville, South Carolina, and are both grads of Bob Jones University. I never got to go to BJU to compete in the National AACS Fine Arts Competition, so Tim drove us around the campus so I could FINALLY say I’d been there! 🙂 Enjoy the pictures!

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=34708&l=3e14d&id=513368337

Weekend

Tomorrow begins Language Acquisition! The Equipping Class was so wonderful; we’re really looking forward to learning how to learn another language successfully. We can’t believe how hard it was to say goodbye to the four people that left after the Equipping Class. We can now say “hello” to a few more (though we haven’t met them all yet) – and hopefully enjoy our time just as much.

We had a really nice, relaxing weekend. Made up for the awful weekend last week with the “flu-from-hell” that apparently is ransacking the country. Next time that happens, could someone warn us so we could take cover? 🙂 Anyway…

We enjoyed coffee and games Thursday afternoon with almost everybody and then a goodbye dinner for the few that were leaving. Friday, Brian and I finally cleaned up our small apartment! It was amazing how little we felt like doing this week… Saturday, the eight of us that are left from the Equipping Class felt a little claustrophobic, so we piled into two cars..and went to the mall. The mall in Asheville is pretty nice, but, well, still not exactly “out”! But, it was a nice afternoon. We went out for dinner that evening as well. Again, not exactly quite as advertised, but it was food!

This morning, Brian and I attended a teeny, tiny Presbyterian church down the street from school. We were planning on going last week, but that just did not happen! The church is absolutely the picture perfect small country church – I’ll have to get a picture of it. There were 10 other people there (all over 60 except for 3); us being there made 12! And we thought our church in South Dakota was small! 🙂 The people were incredibly welcoming! The pianist is actually a receptionist at CIT and retired from United World Mission (the mission that CIT is a part of). The people were so excited that we came and made us feel so welcome. We enjoyed the service and are looking forward to going back the rest of the time we’re here. We found out there’s a community sunrise service next week (my own personal favorite part of Easter). It’s being held at the Union Hills African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (did that just make you go “huh?” It did us!) and apparently all the churches in this vicinity are invited. Should be totally different than what we’re used to – and we’re so excited. Should be fun!

Well – if you’d like to look at more pictures, there’s a few new ones on the facebook site:

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=30333&l=54b64&id=513368337

Thanks for keeping in touch! Have a wonderful week…

The Weekend!

It’s finally the weekend! And here we are…doing research. Well…supposed to be doing research. That’s kind of the plan for this afternoon.

Yesterday in class, we went over different “tools” for ethnography. We really can’t use most of it until we actually get to our countries. The premise of the day was to be ready to intentionally study the culture once we get there. We have lots of ideas on how to go about that and we’re excited about the process. To help us get started, we have an assignment that some are really, really nervous about. We are supposed to interview three people who were not born in the US. Everyone wanted to know if I counted, but apparently I don’t. Bummer. Anyway – we’re to go in teams (so Brian and I can do it together) and just approach people that are obviously not American and find out different information about their home country and the culture. It’s supposed to be very informal, not pressuring them at all. Our instructor said that some students have even been invited over to people’s houses for dinner after this project! The goal is actually to get us used to going out of our comfort zone and talking to people we don’t know. See, one of the steps to figuring out how things work in another country is by asking several nationals about what’s going on. We need to get used to it now, at home, or it’s going to be ten times more difficult overseas. Brian and I are actually very excited. We had to approach people during Bible school about their worldviews and that seemed harder. People generally like to talk about themselves and they love it when they’re asked questions about their home. I loved sitting down with people from our church in Montreal and just drilling them with questions. It’s fascinating what you learn just by listening! Hopefully this will go well. I think we’re going to try to interview people next week since we have a longer weekend.

Tomorrow, we are going to go to a Catholic church and get that assignment done. We need to do a “physical map” of the building and take notes of how they conduct the service, dress, decorate, etc. Should be interesting!

Last night, we all went to Old Fort, North Carolina, to attend the Old Fort Mountain Music. Here’s the link: http://www.oldfort.org/music/  It was so fun! It starts around 7 and goes til around 11. All different bands come in and play a set for about a half hour. There’s clogging and line dancing and it’s so cool to see the mix of ages all mingled together. Brian and I had a great time just observing and seeing how everyone interacted. There was a whole group of what we would’ve called punk kids that had a blast clogging and dancing with the older folks that had come. There were even little girls up there clogging! The bands mostly consisted of a fiddle, a guitar, a bass, a banjo, a mandolin and singers, or some combination of the above. One group had all guys – 3 were brothers. The youngest was 14 and holy cow, could they sing! It was such fun. We left around 10:30. Check out the website – it was really a neat experience. We may have to go back. 🙂

I’m going to add just a couple more pictures to Facebook. I did not get a chance to get a picture of the nursery area, but I will get that done. We didn’t take pictures in Old Fort because we really felt that would be inappropriate. We were the only tourists, as far as we could tell, and we didn’t want to offend anybody. But, take a look at the website; some of the bands they have pictured we actually got to see. If you search “North Carolina clogging” on www.youtube.com, you can see short video clips of stuff similar to what we saw last night.

Hope you all have a nice weekend! Drop us an email, send us a letter (or a package filled with cookies…), give us a call, or comment on our website. We enjoy hearing from all of you!!

Click for Pictures! The new ones are first:

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=30333&l=54b64&id=513368337

Pictures…Take 2

So, yesterday, I tried posting a blog about the pictures I put on facebook, but when I checked back today, I noticed that it must have mysteriously disappeared into cyberworld. So, I shall try again. If somebody finds the aforementioned stolen blog, please let me know where it is and how I shall retrieve it back.

Anywho. If you’d like to see pictures, click on this link:

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=30333&l=54b64&id=513368337

Even if you don’t have facebook, you can still view the pictures. Just click on each one and it’ll enlarge and you can look through the album. I will continue to post pictures in this album and just repost this link each time so you can know when I’ve added new pictures. Sound nice and confusing? Good. Mission accomplished.

Happy Sunday…Let me know if you find my missing blog…