December was a busy month of finishing teaching, visiting with friends, and celebrating Christmas.
Students organize an English Corner on Friday evenings, and we have gone once a month -- they always appreciate the foreign teachers, and most of the students are non-English majors, so don't see us in the classroom.
We had open house each Sunday afternoon, with different groups of friends. We couldn't invite all our students, just the monitors from each class, and they cleaned up the Western-style food we had prepared.
We did a short play of the Christmas story with each class, students taking the roles of Mary, Joseph, innkeepers, shepherds, angels, the star, and wisemen. With 18 roles, there were often fewer left in the audience, and with little time to rehearse everyone read from the script.
Many stores decorate for Christmas, like this supermarket downtown. The commercial opportunity of the season is not lost on business here, and Christmas launches shopping for the Chinese Lunar New Year in February, much as Thanksgiving launches the season in the US.
We were very happy with our tree, for which we paid less than $5 including ornaments, although we spent more on lights.
All our guests enjoyed our tree and decorations, especially the children of the Chinese teachers who came.
Christmas Eve at the church was unlike any Christmas service at home, and was a variety talent show with singing and dancing.
The Technical English Corner that Daniel organized with a couple of the Chinese teachers met every Friday afternoon and included teachers from different departments as well as business people and others from the community. We wrapped up with a banquet in one of our university's dining rooms. Now our teaching and entertaining is behind us, and we'll be off to Hong Kong at New Year for a short vacation before exams. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!