Teenagers

A high school senior sitting in my writing workshop asked me today if teenagers in the United States are very different from teenagers in China. She represented most of the Chinese teachers and students I’ve talked with when she said, “I think American teenagers are free and do not feel stress.” I explained that most teenagers in my country work hard to get good grades and to perform well in extracurricular activities in order to get scholarships because college is absurdly expensive. There are some teenagers who are lazy; however, their future opportunities are limited.

I was taking pictures of the people shopping in the streets last week when I heard these boys shouting that they wanted me to take their picture. When I look at this image, I see teens who could live anywhere in the United States.

IMG_8902We are more alike than different.

I’m back in China.

Feicheng after dinner, when the people leave their televisions and join their friends in the park to dance, play games, watch movies, or just share the day.

I’m training teachers in Feicheng City, in the Shandong Province, China. Although it’s a small city of nearly a million people, it has a small-town feel, which I love.

IMG_9717-2

Sunday Post: Unforgettable

DSC_0122Unforgettable? I’m 62 years old, and I have a lifetime of unforgettable moments; I had not truly appreciated that fact until I started to look for images to post for Jakes’s Sunday Post.

I now realize that I am blessed to have had far too may unforgettable moments to post on this blog.

Unforgettable: the first time I opened the blanket to touch Baby Elle’s little toes three years ago. (“Image by Mona” … nope my son/her daddy took this shot.)

Unforgettable: All of the incredible moments I am fortunate enough to spend with her as she grows into a remarkable little girl.

Unforgettable: If you’ve followed my blog for any time at all, you know that I spent the past two summers working and playing in China, part of it trekking about by myself. The first summer, when I was 60, I took a night-train from Shanghai to Beijing alone and toured the major sites with an English-speaking tour group. The second summer, I spent a week alone in Shanghai. This might not be that remarkable to those of you who are seasoned travelers, but it is quite UNFORGETTABLE and remarkable for me because this was my first time out of the United States.

Unforgettable: An invitation to dinner in a private home in Feicheng, Shandong Province, China. What’s even better is that we were allowed to “help” in making the dumplings.

New to Word press? Whether you’re a beginner or a professional, you’re invited to get involved in my Weekly Competition to help you meet your blogging goals and give you another way to take part in 2013 Lucky Snake Event. (It’s the Year of the Snake!) Everyone is welcome to participate, if your blog is about photography,Video, Graphic Artwork Or Writing.

1. Each week, Jake provides a theme for creative inspiration. Show the world based on your interpretation what you have in mind for the theme, and post them on your blog anytime before the following Sunday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. Subscribe to jakesprinter so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements. Sign up via the email subscription link in the sidebar or RSS. GET THE BADGE FOR YOUR IMAGE WIDGET….

 

Make sure to have the image link to http://jakesprinters.wordpress.com/ so that others can learn about the challenge, too.

Posted in: Sunday Post

Travel Theme: Walls

How could I pass this one up? I was fortunate to walk on THE WALL two years ago on my solo trek to Beijing.

The Great Wall at Mutianyu was rebuilt during the Ming Dynasty in the 16th century upon the foundations of the wall built during the Northern Qi Dynasty (AD 550-77).

The Great Wall at Mutianyu was rebuilt during the Ming Dynasty in the 16th century upon the foundations of the wall built during the Northern Qi Dynasty (AD 550-77).

Before my once-in-a-lifetime visit to this testament to the determination of man, I did a lot of research and saw images of breath-taking vistas and panoramas of the wall snaking across the mountain ridges. However, that was not my wall. My wall was shrouded in mist…a mist that turned into the most awesome thunder and lightning storm I’ve ever experienced. At 3 PM, the black sky was punctuated with flashes of brilliant light that revealed torrents of rain.

An hour before the skies opened and Zeus let loose with his thunderbolts, I was lost on top of the wall. YES! I was alone and lost, standing at a Y in the wall, not recognizing a single brick or stone. To my relief, I was saved by young tourists from Northern Europe who pointed the way to the tram. Oddly enough, I was not afraid, only bemused, thinking, well, if I die, at least I’ve had this incredible adventure. I did not, however, welcome the idea of spending the night alone, huddled against the cold on the top of the wall.

Click on any image for a better view and description. 

As I am putting together this post, Billy Joel’s song toys with my memory. Why not? Here, for your enjoyment, is one of my favorite artists:

We could have gone all the way to the Great Wall of China if you’d only had a little more faith in me

Weekly Photo Challenge: Beyond

Do you have a photo which invites the viewer to look beyond? Are there hidden depths in the background? Is the focal point just a framing for the rest of the picture? If it’s not clear why we should look beyond, tell us! “

Hutong Doorway

Hutong Doorway

Last summer, I traveled from Shanghai to Beijing by myself and spent five days visiting the ancient sites. My favorite tour was in the Hutong area, the ancient neighborhoods of narrow streets and courtyard residences. Stop for a moment with me and look beyond the worn threshold.

Sunday Post: Peaceful

I took this shot July 3, at a city park where I worked in Feicheng, Shandong Province, China. I’ve returned to this image frequently, trying to attach a story to the woman.  At first look, this might appear to be peaceful scene, but the more I look at it, I don’t think it is.

Resting After Supper

Resting After Supper

The reflection of trees at the top of the image give us a feeling of peace, and the woman is resting in the peace of the evening. However, the lotus leaves cut across the shot, right in the center, creating a feeling of unease and unrest. Look closely; there is a discarded paper cup littering the lotus leaves. A metaphor?

The woman, herself, appears to be more troubled than peaceful. Her brow is raised; her posture is not relaxed. She has carried her portable stool down the hill to the lotus pond, possibly searching for a quiet rest,  for a moment of peace. Is she praying for someone? Her husband? Her child? Herself?

You can find other posts in response to Jake’s Sunday Challenge at his link:  http://jakesprinters.wordpress.com

 

Ancient Homes Amidst Progress

When we were walking after dinner one evening, we came upon this small street that seems out of place amidst the new construction in Feicheng. The street reminds me, in part, of the Hutong Area in Beijing.

At first I thought that many of the apartments were empty, but I’m not so sure. An old woman who came out of one of the doors eyed us suspiciously and returned to her home behind the wall. Oh I wanted her picture, yet felt as if I would be imposing.

I wonder if these homes will remain or if they will fall in the path of progress and high-rise apartment buildings. Why allow 20 families to live in a space that could house 200 or more?

Click on an image to see it full size.

Old Door in Shanghai

It seems that this tattered door with peeling paint leads into people’s lives. Do you see the mail boxes? Someone must be living here. Who?

Are they as worn as the door? As broken as the door knob?

Does the door hide a lonely woman who is waiting for her son to call? Does an old man check the rusted mailbox each day, hoping for a letter from his daughter? Does it lead to an apartment filled with a happy, noisy family? Does it open to an artist pouring his soul into his music? 

Does the door open to lives of despair…or hope?

I wonder.

Shanghai, China