Sunday, November 17, 2013


Moving to China has brought on many many changes. Of course there are the language differences, the food differences, and the weather differences, but one thing I didn't think much of when setting out on my journey to the Mainland was my living situation. My apartment is G.H.E.T.T.O. With a ghetto apartment comes along a ghetto lifestyle, and to prove my point, I will let you know that as I write this post, I am consuming a peach cobbler that I made in a RICE COOKER, yes a rice cooker... and yes, I am eating it with chopsticks. A lack of kitchen appliances will do that to you.

Here is a sneak peak into my daily life in China, along with the many "ghetto" things that I have had to adapt to. I know that I'm making a joke out of all this right now, but I also very much realize how insanely blessed I am. I've seen some very very tough situations here, ones that I never would have imagined, and I am so greatful for those things that I do have that others only dream of having. I have a family at home giving me 100% support, an apartment with heat during these fall months, and a knowledge of the gospel. I am so blessed, I very much realize that. With that said, here is a typical day in China for Julie Dumas...

I arise from my bed that is litterally a board. I'm not just saying that because it's a hard bed that is difficult to catch a good night's rest on, it really is a board. No mattress, just some nice, solid wood :) Then I pick out a teaching outfit for the day! 

After I have my outfit picked out and eat my daily dose of oatmeal, I head off to teach these kiddos...

If you're not an English teacher however, you might spend your Chinese morning working out at the "gym"...

Then it's time for lunch! Chicken feet, tofu, or pig's blood anyone? And I thought American cafeteria food was interesting...
After lunch is nap time. Everyone at the school takes a nap! It's glorious, I don't know why America hasn't picked up on that vital part of education yet...

After nap time, I might do some laundry and hang it on my TV to dry...

Or I might catch a lizard in my room. (Notice the bars on my door. Um....) 

Or I might survive a typhoon.

Now it's time for dinner in my "kitchen." You'll usually find me eating some beloved dumplings and drinking banana milk because it really doesn't get much better than that! 
The kitchen...

I'm not going to lie, it's going to be way nice to return home to a normal kitchen where I can drink out of the tap and not worry about cockroaches getting into my food. Or to return home where I know that I will have a mattress to sleep on or a western toilet (ya, didn't include a picture of my squater toilet but you better believe I have one!) Oh China, what an adventure you have been! From lizards to typhoons to rice cookers and squaters, this is definitely one of those "experiences of a lifetime."

Thursday, November 14, 2013


I awoke suddenly yesterday as I distinctly felt a pit drop in my stomach. I was confused as to what it could be from, but I have come to a conclusion as I have analyzed my discomfort. Since yesterday I have been struggling with the fact that China has soooooo much to offer ME. Every day is a new experience handed to me to bless me, to help me grow and change, to show me love. And yet, everyday, I come up empty handed with nothing to give back. Before I came to China, I had imagined it as a sort of humanitarian project where I could bless children and this rapidly changing country, but as I have been living here for the last few months, I have seen how extremely wrong I was.  Oh silly me! I was SO wrong! China has changed ME, China has blessed ME, China has taught ME and loved Me and inspired ME. I feel like China has offered ME everything, and I have offered it nothing. As always, words will always fall short of what I am truly feeling, but I hope you can catch a glimpse of the sadness that I am experiencing from this thought. I look into my student's smiling eyes everyday, feasting on the endless amount of love that they so happily and easily give me. I see their childish bodies wiggle with excitement, or watch as their tiny hands make their way up to their lips in order to blow me a kiss, or feel as my entire body gets wrapped up in a mass of Asian children hugging me, and I can barely hold back tears as I realize how much I have learned to love. Why am I the teacher here? These kids are the true teachers as they teach me amazing lessons of how easy it is to love so genuinely, so organically. Somehow these kids have unlocked a chamber of my heart that I never even knew was there. I hope all of you realize the position I am in. I am sitting anxiously on the edge of my chair, trying to grab the passion that is so filling inside of my body, but struggle to do so as it is too large to pull out. The passionate love that I have for these perfect souls is unexplainable. I really just can't do it, I can't tell you. I'm sorry, I have tried, but I really just can't do it. I can't tell you. 

I hurt as I analyze the love that these kids have planted and nourished inside of me, nourished so well that the roots have buried themselves into the deepest parts of me that there is no way to ever dig them out. I hurt as I see how much they have done for me, and realize that I have come up so short in offering them equal amounts of what they have given me. I love them so much, and yet, I feel incapable of giving them the love that they deserve. It makes me hurt. I feel like I am just here in China teaching kids pointless phrases such as "how are you" and "thank you" of which they already know. I feel like I am here to just give them 45 minutes of free time from their strenuous school day. 

What am I even doing here? Why did I move to China for half a year if I have nothing to give? What was I thinking?
I really had no idea what I was getting myself into when I came here. My perception was so wrong. China has been the hardest thing I have ever done. I have experience true fear and had my eyes opened in ways I never imagined or ever thought that I wanted. I have had so many experiences where I had to put my pride aside and just learn to move on. Along with extreme hardships however, come enormous rewards. I can testify of this everyday as I walk through the hallways and feel the energy from these children. These children make everything worth it- the sacrifices of leaving everything familiar at home, the hardships of coming here by yourself without a friend to fall back upon, the fear that presents itself in a foreign land. These kids are WORTH IT. I just hope with everything that I have that I can return the love that they so freely give me everyday. I don't want China to be so full of ME ME ME. My goal for these last 2 months is to make it about the love between US, the love that I can give THEM, and the love that I can show them from GOD.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

overexcitement burst.

So I've started to realize something about myself while I've been here in China. I'm not sure if I've gained it here, or if it has always been a part of me and China is just now showing it to me, but I have realized that I have this bizarre case of overexcitement. Like, if you thought I got excited about things before, you should see how I am now. I just get so excited about the simplest things and then my whole world gets rocked by its' own excitement. I am so weird. But really, like I'll eat something yummy, or see some cool architecture, or hear music in the street, and all my insides get wacked out because they are so excited. I'll eat a big plate of pulled noodles and jump around for an hour with how happy my world is because my stomach is so happy. I'll jump for joy when I see sweet potatoes being baked by a street vendor, or when I open my 15 foot high curtains to let the morning China sunlight flood my room. I find myself saying that everyday, is the best day ever. I guess that's a good thing though, to have everyday be the best day ever, right? I seriously love it here so much. So so so so so so so so so so so so so so so much. Like I just think about how much, and then I love it even more.

So this past weekend I tagged along with Sadie and Sarah (two sisters that are teaching in my city) on their weekend getaway to Shanghai. So here's where my explanation of overexcitement comes in- the BEST part about this trip, the part that added to my strange case of excitement more than what is probably healthy, was where we stayed…. We stayed in this youth hostel that was seriously, PERFECT. The vibe, the colors, the wood, the lighting, all of the foreign people, the design, the music, the flowers, the book exchange, the breakfast nook in our room, the bike parked so perfectly in the hallway that made you believe that it was just part of the decor… I am in love! The way that I get excited about these things just more fully shows to myself that interior design is what I want to do. I want to move people with their surroundings the way that I was moved by staying in that hostel. I want to develop strange cases of excitement in the world as a whole. It's amazing how powerful our surroundings can be, how much they can make or break you. Usually our hotels are just somewhere to sleep, but this hostel, for 50 yuan (so about 8 US dollars) was the best part of my trip. Take a look, but be aware that my camera doesn't do it justice. I wish everyday that my mind and eyes were a camera, so that I could share my world with the world.

 I forgot my passport...oops! So the clerk upgraded us to the "Luxury Room" for the first night in order to sneak me in. Super nice of him, and super glad that I forgot my passport because this room was amazing! If you know me, then you will know that I have an obsession with wood. This room fed my love quite nicely. 

Um, YES. Look at this little nook on the side of our room! If this isn't perfection then I don't know what is. I spent the morning writing postcards here as I watched Shanghai wake up through my window.

Our location couldn't have been more perfect either. Street food, fruit stands, and street entertainers galore! 

 I love this world. I love what it has to teach me as I realize how much I have to learn. I've decided that traveling is maybe a risky thing to get yourself into because if you try it once, you need to try it twice, then three times, and on and on and on. Traveling is addicting. This world is addicting. I'm obsessed with the music of languages that I can't understand and with foods that I've never seen. I'm amazed at the way that each corner of the world is painted with colors that make it unique to itself. Seriously, out of every place that I've been just in China, each has a feel of its' own. Just thinking about all of the places that I could go next gets my excitement meter shooting through the roof. It's bad, it really is. Maybe someday I will learn to control my excitement, but as of now, I'm choosing to let it be free as I fall more deeply in love with this planet each day.  

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

surrender yourself to the beats.

As I clasped the tiny, tan hand of a small Chinese girl with jet-black hair, and skipped clumsily through the overused sand of Shengsi Island just off the coast of Mainland China, my smile experienced a growth spurt that would go down in History. Accompanied by the other 7 foreign English teachers and the hundreds of Chinese just getting away for the long weekend, that night the beach was a celebration of new friends and surrendering ourselves to the beats of “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by Wham! The joy that was bursting from my insides can only be explained by a higher language than the many that currently reside on this planet. As I joined in dancing, I felt as if I were joining in something bigger than just an evening. I was joining in a gathering of the world, a gathering of happiness between cultures, a gathering of growth, and a gathering of everything in my past that had lead me to that exact moment of joy.  Whenever we started a new move, everyone joined along with the most sincere sense of curiosity and excitement. Whenever we took a new breath to energize our next skip or twirl, a photo was snapped by one of the many exuberant onlookers. The moment was perfect- barefoot, sun setting, lanterns creeping into the sky, 90’s music following the lead of the lanterns, a cool breeze, and dancing after a full day of beach play. The greatest feature of the night however was the communion of two completely different cultures, surrendering themselves to the beats of not only the music, but the beats of joyous life. It was perfect. Everything was perfect.

As I have gotten older, finding myself taking the expected steps of moving out, heading off to college, struggling to copy my mother’s homemade meals in an apartment of my own and so on, I have realized how much of a party life is. Not a YOLO, BYOB kind of party, but a dance party. It’s the kind of dance party where there is no RSVP because everyone is invited. It’s the kind of dance party where timid boys are forced to go by their concerned mothers, but end up asking the pretty girls to dance by the end of the night. It’s the kind of dance party where the shy girls finally build up the courage to wear their favorite spinny dress to match the bow in their hair, and somehow find themselves in the center of the dance circle, only to be the star of the show along with her well-spun dress. It’s the kind of dance party where everyone gets to leave with one of the many balloons left over from the decorations, giving them vivid nostalgia of when they were younger.

In life we have two choices; to surrender yourself to the beats, or to refrain from letting the music carry you. When you have the opportunity to dance, dance. When you have the opportunity to return a smile, smile. When you don’t get accepted into your dream school, embrace it. When you get the opportunity to teach English in China, teach! When a tune is turned up on the beach of Shengsi Island, surrender yourself to the beats in a movement of cultural union. If you don’t surrender to the natural rhythm that life possesses, you will miss out on amazing experiences, unimaginable growth, and memories that will change your life. I have learned to not get frustrated when a song comes on that I don’t like, but to find the few notes in it that I can enjoy. This is what I believe. I believe that the only way we can be happy in our life, the only way we can feel accomplished, the only way to feel true peace, is to surrender yourself to the beats- the beats of life. 

Some pictures of our trip to Shengsi Island...