Contracting a Contract and a Culture

Today is the day, the sun is shining, the tank is clean… Oh. Just kidding. Well, I did sign a contract for teaching, anyway. πŸ™‚ Today is the day!

Update: Good news! God has provided a job for me! Thank you for your prayers. Also, I now have 2 out of 5 of the people I am looking for who will support me with $25 a month for this year. Please think about being another one of those people! The monthly support I raise will go towards emergencies and unforeseen costs (like fixing something, or paying for a trip to the ER). I am donating any money left over at the end of the year to a ministry called Sew Hope, which gives jobs to women who have been in or are getting out of prostitution or homelessness. Please pray for generous hearts!

Contracting a Contract

Today after my weekly meeting with the other interns (led by Jesse–refer to the post In Photos: Elephant Mountain and the People of The Aroma for a face to the name, and btw, you can do that for anyone’s name), I headed off to Wenshan District (about 40 minutes SE of the Aroma) to meet my supervisor at Sunshine American School. The branch I am in is called An 1. It is a branch because there are chain schools here, like a chain fitness center for your mind. Here is the trip in photos:

The MRT doors open up a world of under-city fun! :) (cheese, extra cheese)
The MRT doors open up to a world of under-city fun! πŸ™‚ (cheese, extra cheese)

First I ride the subway (called the MRT) for about 10 minutes, which I catch in Ximen, a block from The Aroma Cafe. Then I switch modes of transportation and ride a bus (236 is the fastest) 2o more minutes, continuing south and east from The Aroma. Then I get off at Mammington Station and see my school, Sunshine American School.

Sunshine has two floors and six classrooms - two of which will soon be mine. :)
Sunshine has two floors and six classrooms – two of which will soon be mine. πŸ™‚

Today I went to a cafe close by the school called “But Best Cafe,” which I decided to affectionately call the But Cafe, and scarfed down a sandwich and a cold mocha before my meeting. Then I got done and the supervisor ended up saying we needed to meet somewhere outside of the school. Since the school’s doors were closed at the moment, guess where she wanted to go? Yup, straight back to the cafe. I laughed to myself and politely declined an offer of food or drink “on the school,” and smiled sweetly at the barista.

My supervisor’s name is Diana, and she was very friendly and encouraging, and shared about her journey from being a bank teller to doing what she enjoys at Sunshine. It seems that she will be a good ally and friend. She was very willing to answer all my questions, helped me get copies of all the books I will be using, and thoroughly explained my schedule to me.

So, I signed my life away for a year.

Contracting a contract
Contracting a contract


Smile in the cafe
Smiles in the cafe

Afterward, I thanked Diana and made my way back to Ximen. But, before I left, I could not pass up this shirt:

The shirt reads, "UNIQUE... Hepplness ferris whee!" It's unique, alright...
The shirt reads, “UNIQUE… Hepplness ferris whee!” It’s unique, alright…

I love that happiness now has an ‘l’ in it.

As I was looking at the curriculum for the 6th grade class, a strange little thrill came up inside me, and I began to be excited to teach. I get to teach these kids how to write! And communicate well! That is exciting! Never did I think I would be using my love for English in this way, and now, with God’s help, I can be an English teacher. For the first time, I was hopeful instead of wary or worried about the year. This year is going to be great, I declare, with Jesus’ help!

Please Pray!

  • Praise God with me! πŸ™‚

Tonight I had dinner with Justin and his daughter, Kennedy, and then studied Chinese with Justin, his wife, Brittany, Andrea, and our Taiwanese teacher, Howard.


Kennedy joined us in learning 'table, cup, phone, paper, pen, paper, book, and head'
Kennedy joined us in learning ‘table,’ ‘cup,’ ‘phone,’ ‘paper,’ ‘pen,’ ‘paper,’ ‘book,’ and ‘head’
Waiting for dinner
Waiting for dinner



I like learning Chinese. It is very complicated, but a fun challenge at the same time. Our group is doing it in a program similar to Rosetta Stone, except with a real-life teacher to learn pronunciation from and ask questions to.

Please Pray!

  • Please pray for Howard to see the love and reality in our relationships with Jesus. Pray that his heart is softened to God’s love and that we can be good witnesses to him of how the Gospel changes lives.
  • Please pray for all the interns as we learn Chinese: Andrea, Justin and Brittany, me; and soon coming, Rachel and Michael.
  • Please pray for the people who will soon be my coworkers and colleagues. Pray for me to be a light to them and for them to see the difference in my life.
  • Please pray for my future students, that they would also see this difference. Pray that I can teach them the gifts of the Spirit.
  • Please pray for me as I face making lesson plans and discipline plans and classroom management plans! Pray for great ideas and efficiency with understanding and discernment.

Contracting a Culture

Until you are faced with another culture, you do not realize that you have one of your own. I have noticed some things that are very American or very Asian about my experience.

  1. American
    1. being loud… on the bus, in the store, in normal conversation
    2. not using a hairdryer. (I know, kind of weird, but I have had two people this week tell me “that’s such a typical American thing”)
    3. using a drying machine for laundry. they just do not have those here
    4. talking to people on public transit
    5. immediately accepting something that is being offered, or immediately turning something down. usually, the polite thing to do here is to accept something after turning it down at least once. if you like it, keep it. if you do not like it, only say so after the third or fourth ‘no thank you,’ or ‘are you sure?’
    6. deep conversations upon first meeting someone. you have to wait a little more here. i.e. do not expect someone to say they want to become a Christian after you tell them Jesus loves them and praying for them. they need time, more than even Americans do
  2. Chinese/Taiwanese
    1. nose in the cell phone at meal times
    2. generosity is built into their character
    3. using a spoon to eat anything you cannot eat with chopsticks
    4. having only one large portion of a single dish for a meal, every meal
    5. late-night mindset
    6. very tight-knit communities, and a hunger for a loving family, esp. fathers
  3. Things that are changing and things that I want to keep:
    1. I am learning to offer my food first to friends and share pretty much everything reasonable
    2. I cannot give up my mornings of peace. it’s morning person time for me now
    3. I love eating with chopsticks!
    4. I want to keep my style of clothing, but it has been a little hard finding things I like to wear
    5. I am going to learn Spanish and Chinese, even if my Spanish goes much slower
    6. I get to use almost all of my skills here
    7. I am an English teacher now

Take some time today to think about your culture and how you play a part in it! It can be fun noticing things that apply only in certain situations or regions!

Also learning some guitar! :)
Also learning some guitar! πŸ™‚

Have a good day! God loves you!

Keep the Faith!




5 thoughts on “Contracting a Contract and a Culture

  1. This was fun to read πŸ™‚ Love the way you write with such humor but also honesty. Keep it up! Congrats on the teaching job and have loads of fun as you startΒ… give yourself plenty of grace and patience! The learning curve will be steep! Tell everyone hi! And I canΒ’t WAIT to be there in December!!!!!!!


    From: SkyeBirdOnTheFly <> Reply-To: SkyeBirdOnTheFly <> Date: Thursday, August 20, 2015 at 11:58 AM To: Sarah Bourns <> Subject: [New post] Contracting a Contract and a Culture

    skyebirdonthefly posted: “Today is the day, the sun is shining, the tank is clean… Oh. Just kidding. Well, I did sign a contract for teaching, anyway. πŸ™‚ Today is the day! Update: Good news! God has provided a job for me! Thank you for your prayers. Also, I now have 2 out of “


  2. What an encouraging blog! Thank You Jesus for Your help for Skye and excitement to teach!! Thank God! what a shirt!? lol! Trying to find someone to go with me to see Inside Out, but not successful. Talked to Beth today it’s her birthday πŸ™‚ Bless you Skye! Wish I could see your life. Oh well. Love you! So glad all is turning out so wonderful Skye! Jesus is SO GOOOOOD!!


    1. Inside Out was really funny. We went to see it as a group a couple weeks ago, and I loved it. It was the perfect movie for me to watch as I transitioned into living here–what a coincidence that the family is from MN, right? haha. Loved it–maybe someday we can watch it together πŸ™‚



  3. So fun to read your updates and see a little piece of the world you are now living in! Congratulations on the contract for the job-you will do great as you use your God-given gifts!
    Lots of love and hugs from the Plemel household!


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