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sept 1, 2006 china news from ric swenson, jingdezhen.

updated fri 1 sep 06


Ric Swenson on thu 31 aug 06

Hi ho from China,

Lots to report in last two weeks.

Main item was a trip to YU TIAN. Reservoir/lake, man-made 30 years ago,
about 30 minute drive from JCI (Jendezhen Ceramic Institute). Hiking around
the lake, fishing for a couple days, boating, swimming...yes I can still
butterfly. Stayed on one of the several islands in rustic cabin not unlike
what I remember at Crater Lake, OR when I turned 6, and cabins at Big Lake,
AK and more recently in the Adirondacks. Have only encountered one cobra
since I've been here...that was enough thank you very much. The paddle boats
were apparently made for folks with shorter legs and narrower feet. It was
easier with a canoe. :)

There is a cave on one of the islands. Buddhists dedicated the cave, Lion
Cave as a temple in 1098. Aside from the temple the area and the surrounding
mountains reminded me of Mt Jefferson wilderness area. Lots of nothing but
green trees. Bamboo and pine. Not Douglas Fir like in Oregon.

The Inn served excellent local foods. The lodging and all meals cost me
about $20 for three days. Ate wild grasses, eels, freshwater snails, tree fungi and the silver ear soup (white fungi), ate bamboo shoots
(yeah...eats shoots and leaves...I know I know...) ate Lotus root, steamed
and coated with sweet and sour sauce. Yum. Excellent fish each day of
course. The fishermen there row around..STANDING in wide row boats. Good

Eating in China is a cultural revolution. Scarf, chomp, munch, slurp,
enjoy, shovel rice in, yum. smacking of many lips at a meal....chew with
mouth open please. and by all means, talk with your mouth full of rice!

Everything Mom said NOT to do.
Spit fish bones on the table. I am used to all the above now. If you travel
here be aware that you can spit on the table, but do NOT eat anything with
your fingers! Even KFC is eaten with chopsticks. Try THAT sometime. Merry
music by mouth. Enjoying it all.

chairs and stool are shorter in China.

all men seem to wear the same belt style in Jingdezhen.

mobile (cell phone) costs about 300 yuan, ($25.00 USD) unless you want one
with LOTs of bells and whistles and cameras and MP4, etc Then you might pay
1000 Yuan (about$120.00 USD).

Internet cafe here has about 200 units, mostly full of college kids playing
games now before school starts. School starts here Sept 4, except for
Freshmen who do a month of all day military training.

I will teach 12 hours of oral english per week this term. Also will do some
moonlighting teaching Kindergarteners to sing english nursery rhymes and how
to say Good MORNING! I will have the opportunity to teach some ceramics and
hope to have my act together by October to have a show of winged works in
clay and other media at the Pottery Workshop. I have time to do lots of
stuff here. Walk a lot. Thinking about buying a bike...EVERYone has one.
But walking is probably more exercise and then there's that left knee ( Mt
Hood, skiing, 1967) and the right ankle (industrial fall 1985)

Herons are everywhere in the mountains and lakes around here. Beautiful
white graceful creatures.

Monsoons come and go. We have not had the drought or floods of West and SW
China. The thunderstorms are magnificent. Reminds me of Philmont Scout
Ranch in 1962...the Sangre de Cristo mountains....Lightening and thunder
rolled through the canyons like Thor himself were treading about.

Good lecture and discussion last Friday at the Pottery Workshop. Five
Chinese ceramists talked about tradition and today. The dichotomy in
today's world of clay design, art, sculpture, tablewares, art wares, etc.
Jingdezhen employs a LOT of ceramic workers. Everyone has a
specialty...developed over the past 1000 years. Amazing to walk the streets
and see the variety of works produced...traditional blue and white and new,
modern designs.

1800 photos so far.

bought an MP4 for 318 Yuan. One Gig. I want to download some language
lessons in Chinese and be able to listen to Beach Boys, Beatles and Beastie

Breakfast in the campus canteen is rice porridge with green(old) egg, and a
dumpling filled with veggies or Jo Ro (pork sausage) and maybe some milk
tea..... about 25 cents.

My favorite student, Larraby (named for my oldest daughter) made the
Singapore evaluation. She will study free in Singapore, one of only 4 from
China, for the next 8 years. We worked hard on her English skills and she
passed the interview with flying colors. One of my other students, who
teaches Math here at JCI took the ILETS (Cambridge) tests in Nanching last
week. We will find out how she did on Sept 9. Tough tests to qualify to
study abroad in US UK or Aus. Like the GRE test. Took that one in Dover
DE in 1970 on leave from the tug boat.

Now I should start to prepare for teaching Kindergarten tomorrow morning at

Take care and remember to "keep your stick on the ice"



"...then fiery expedition be my wing, ..."

Wm. Shakespeare, RICHARD III, Act IV Scene III

Richard H. ("Ric") Swenson, Teacher,
Office of International Cooperation and Exchange of Jingdezhen Ceramic
Institute, TaoYang Road, Eastern Suburb, Jingdezhen City
JiangXi Province, P.R. of China
Postal code 333001
Mobile/cellular phone :13767818872
Tel. +86-0798-8494257 (res.)
+86-0798-8499600 (ofc.)
+86-0798-8499012 (fax)
E-Mail: or

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