Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"A yute? What is a yute?"

posted by Alan
click on pictures to see them full size

A free pat on the back for anyone that can tell me what movie that quote is from.

Just five days after we got back from our NY trip, we left Shanghai for the Shanghai Community Fellowship Youth retreat for the second year in a row. Over two hundred international middle and high school students, one weekend, ICBC Bank corporate retreat site and guest speaker, Pastor Jeff Pratt. I served again as a counselor and workshop leader, while Daisy was mostly there for support and Janie duty.

There is a term for kids who are born and grew up overseas. They're called Third Culture Kids (TCK's). They're citizens of one culture, but grew up in another, sometimes leaving them not feeling like they belong to either, thus forming their own. It's not good or bad, it's just different (cue ABC afterschool special music.) It can lead to some identity and social struggles, especially as TCK's are in their high school/college years and try to assimilate to one culture. But it also takes away the sense of entitlement and self-centered thinking that you see in many American teens today. These kids seem to understand that the world doesn't exist to cater to them.

Nobody knows the future, but there is a real chance that Janie will be a TCK. While I do think about the adjustments and challenges that she might have to deal with, part of me is kind of glad she won't be bombarded with the Jersey Shore, the Kardashians and the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Either way, if she grows up with the maturity, passion and broad view of the world of these teens we spent the weekend with, I'll be a happy daddy.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

American Football

posted by Alan
click on pictures to see them full size

Yes, outside of the USA, it must be referred to as "American football," with "football" actually meaning "soccer." Why couldn't we have just called our version of football "soccer" and avoided this entire mess?

Semantics aside, a friend asked me to be a coach for an American football clinic last month sponsored by NFL China and Under Armour. The main draw was Ed Wang, rookie offensive lineman for the Buffalo Bills and the first NFL player of full Chinese descent. His parents were both Chinese Olympic athletes before moving to Virginia, where Ed grew up and became an All-American at Virginia Tech. If you don't know American football, the offensive line is made up of giant freaks of nature, whose job is to protect the quarterback and make room for running backs. Ed is about 6'5 315lbs and has hands the size of baseball gloves.

The clinics themselves were alot of fun. It was with the first full-pad, full-contact peewee league Chinese football team in the country. They were put together and coached by an American guy and they play against the other international teams in Shanghai. The Chinese parents really like that it makes their kids tougher and it was fun being around that little league atmosphere again. And the kids love it as well. Especially during the Oklahoma drill. One kid with the ball, one kid tries to tackle him head on. They totally went at each other and it was awesome.

Click here to see the full album: NFL China Clinic with Ed Wang

I don't know if any of those kids are going to be the Yao Ming of the NFL one day, but it's definitely a start and was alot of fun to be a part of.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


posted by Alan
click on pictures to see them full size

What a crazy past month it's been for our little family. As mentioned last post, we made a last second decision to visit home for almost the whole month of March. There was just too much going on during April/May, which is when we originally planned to bring Janie back for her first visit to New York. That's the real reason, not because the NCAA Tournament was going on. Honest...

It was an awesome trip. I'll sum it up in a few words: food, family, friends, football, basketball, food. But as always, pictures say much more:

Click here to see the full album: Janie in NY

Thanks to everyone for making the effort and time to visit and arrange get-togethers. Especially to the Grandparents for hosting us and taking such good care of Janie. It took a little effort to un-spoil her, but I'm sure she's looking forward to more of it soon. It was a joy to see how much everyone loved her.

P.S. Baby jetlag sucks.