Apple Educator’s Conference

This past weekend was my first time in Hong Kong. Wow. To me it seems like Manhattan — even more people on the streets than Shanghai. Everyone young. Everyone Asian. Everyone sheik [except me].


Well I was in Hong Kong for Apple’s Education Leadership Summit. Apple brought together some of the best and brightest teachers from all over the world to share best practices in K-12 education. I was amazed listening to the trends and observations about today’s youth — they are described as “digital natives” (having been born into the internet age) while my own generation are called “digital immigrants”. And I agree.Think about it: immigrants are uncomfortable in their new, strange culture. But natives are totally comfortable, because they were born into this new techno-culture. My friends who are my age think I’m a technophile, but I can see that Michael (my son) is the real technophile!We have entered an age where common teaching methods are outdated and counterproductive because the learning context has changed. The learning context was books, newspapers, 30-channel TV, pen-and-paper. The new learning context is e-books, RSS-news, youTube, and weblogs. People are not learning and communicating the same way they did 30 years ago!At this conference, a key take-away for me is if I’m going to be relevant to the young people who now outnumber me in this new world (including my own kids) I must give up the idea of becoming a “teacher,” instead I must try to see what they see and learn alongside them. Only then I may have an opportunity introduce some wisdom from the past.

People watching in Chengdu

Thursday was a “free day” in Chengdu. I slept in till 6:30 and took my time getting ready while watching BBC World News (the only channel I could understand.) Ate some great Chinese food on the breakfast buffet: a hot peanut/tofu dish, fried noodles, steamed dumplings, bread pudding, and the coffee was excellent. After catching up on email in my room, decided I wasn’t going to be a super-tourist; I’m not going 4 hrs away to see the panda research center (something most people would consider a “must do”). Instead I went to JinLi, one of the most ancient commercial streets in the history of the Sichuan province.



JinLi was crowded with Chinese tourists eating and shopping, snapping pictures. I felt it was analogous to Alexandria’s Old Town, except that JinLi is older by two millenniums. I think you can understand my thoughts: a historical place that has become a tourist trap.


Anyway, I only saw two Westerner’s briefly — everyone else Asian. I wasn’t surprised by the Starbucks [I don’t like going to Starbucks in China — it seems so expensive and unnecessary], TCBY, and Dairy Queen. There were several yummy-smelling Sichuan food stands, mainly noodles. I tried some kind of meat wrapped in a flat bread with fresh veggies (so good). And here I will admit that I did stop and get a DQ Blizzard. After watching people for a long time, I went to the city square with it’s huge statue of Chairman Mao Zedong.



After a day of being on my own, observing Chinese people and places… I’m thinking that the cultural differences are not as significant as I thought. The young people are joking/laughing, the children are curious about the fish in the pond, the old people are relaxed and observant, the buyers envy the same luxury brands, the couples are in love, the workers are busy… It is not hard for me to imagine that we have some relatives in common.

Tech Meetings


This week my parent company held a technology meeting in Chengdu (central China) bringing together the tech staff from each of five international schools. It was a small group, about 9 of us altogether.


We spent two days reviewing next year’s budget and technology plans. The last day was given to community service in the Sichuan Earthquake zone.


This entailed repairing some older computers and network equipment. We then installed them at a middle school in the countryside and at community center for earthquake survivors.



Guilin, China – Spring break trip


Over spring break we traveled to Guangxi Province to visit Guilin, Yangshuo, and Longsheng, China. The trip was hosted by individuals from our Chinese language organization, and included about 25 individuals from our team. We Headrick’s left two days earlier than the group in order to enjoy some much needed family time. Michael was in “camera heaven” with all the beautiful scenery.  We  saw blooming azalea bushes, pansies, and green tree-lined streets in Guilin City.   We also celebrated Maddie’s 11th birthday and our 18th wedding anniversary at the Pizza Hut restaurant in Guilin.   Although most of the pizzas on the menu had interesting ingredients, like squid, shrimp, and others.  We did find a traditional Cheese and Pepperoni pizzas that tasted pretty close to our American brand.


Guilin City is famous for it’s beautiful parks, one known as Elephant Hill, below, me and the girls at popular photo spot


Stop for a lunch at a floating snack bar…fried miniature crabs on a stick


Have a  taste, Maddie!!


Sean and the girls at the top of Elephant Hill


Green, beautiful green…it’s been a while.


Below, Jessie at Pagoda Park, which reminded me of the Tidal Basin in Washington DC, a beautiful walking path along a small lake with these two large pagodas arising from the lake.


On the first day of the group tour, we took boats down the Li Jiang River from Guilin to Yangshuo, visiting fishing villages along the way. (We even toured a village that is famous now for President Clinton’s visit during his presidency).   Traveling on a large ferry type boat and smaller, six-seater, bamboo boats, we spent about four hours on the water.  The picture at the top of the page gives you a idea of the views we had.  Michael captured that picture of us, and the ones below, since he was riding in a separate boat. 


Here’s a lady in one of the villages we visited…I’m not quite sure how their clothes get dry, hanging out in the damp air?


In Yangshuo, we stayed at a lodge overlooking the river, and spent the next day on mountain bikes through small farming villages.  As you see below, we spent most of the time riding in the rain…sort of a bummer, but we made lots of memories anyway, including mine and Megan’s crash into some briar bushes.  Megan was fine, but my legs got pretty scratched up…sorry, no pictures of that.


We made it!!!


How best to get the mud off…Michael, Jessie and Sean jump in the freezing river!!


Relaxing at breakfast before getting on the road again…


Sean…my wonderful husband of 18 years, helps with my bags.


The last day of our trip took us to Longsheng, famous for its mountain rice terraces. To get there we rode in our tour bus up, up, up the mountain roads to a small transfer stop. Then we loaded onto smaller vans to climb further up the mountain.  At the final point, we hiked up, up, up stone steps in the dark (at least a 30 minute hike) to the reach the rice terraces at the top of the mountain. Our motel was in the midst of some spectacular views.


To get an idea of the magnitude…see the people on the path at the bottom of the picture above


The clouds rolled in and out, we did see peeks of sunshine, too.  The leader for our devotion that day directed us to James 4:13-15 [Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”]   I was challenged to treasure each day the Lord gives me and to remember to keep an eternal focus.


Shopping during the hike down, Maddie with one of our Pre-Kindergarten teachers, Ms. Ackerman


Me and the girls


Rachel finds some bargains


wierd named stores

When we first came to China we were told of the two most popular stores near by. They were named E Mart, Good Friend store, and the Best store! E Mart is like a mall it has about 4-5 levels. The basement Is a place where you get mechanical things. The rest of the floors are filled with food, clothes, everyday cleaning stuff, and little stores. My mom goes there to get food and other things like toilet paper. The Good Friend Store is a store with mostly all imported foods from America. This store is a pretty small store. Me and my friend walks there to get candy from America a lot. A walk to the Good Friend Store isn’t more than 2 minutes. The Best Store is a also small store but a little bigger than the Good Friend Store. The Best Store carries all kinds of food. It sells milk, toiletries, ice cream, and much more. Normally we go there to get ice cream or snacks. It took us a while to get used to the wierd names of stores but now we think of them as any normal stores name.


Service Day

On the last day of school before Spring Break my class went to an autism class of 23 children! I had so much fun playing with the little children. One little girl there I fell in love with! She was one of the two girls out of 23 children the rest were boys. We did some Easter things with the children like dying eggs and doing an Easter egg hunt!


It was one of the best days of my life.


Rain + Bike Ride = Muddy Jessie

Well actually, Gui Lin’s bike trails + 1 hour bike ride + rain = muddy Jessie, but I think my title is a good summery.  Wednesday we all woke up and were given a choice to bike ride to an ancient bridge or take the bus.  Though it was drizzling out side the bike ride through the mountains was too much to turn down.  So our whole family pulled on our raincoats and set off.  When we got to the bridge we took some pics and a jump in the river to wash off the mud on my legs was too much to resist 🙂 .  After lunch and all, it was time to head home, but because of an unfortunate turn of events the bike riders (which was our whole family, excepting Mom, Maddie, Rachel, and Megan who fit their bike in the bus, and some friends) had to wait.  By the time it was time to go we new it would be dark before we reached our hotel again.  Because of the bike ride here my raincoat got mud inside so I decided not to wear one on the way back. The way back… ughhhhh!!!  Well, the group that I was biking with kind of got lost a little so that added more time for mud to splating on my (well Rachel’s) sweat shirt.    It had been raining all day so there were HUGE potholes and puddles every where… you can imagine what the bike seat did to me after that! Also I was COVERED in mud when I got home because the bikes we used had no tire guards.  Well as tiring and a bit frustrating that the bike ride back was, it was a GREAT adventure and a memory that I will remember forever!This is the front of me after the bike ride… maybe it’s not as muddy as I made it out to be…


This is my back.


Big Bike Ride

For Spring Break my family decided to go to Guilin China. Guilin is a very pretty place in China it’s so green and nice. One of the things we did there was a big bike ride. The bike ride was around 1-2 hours! Also that day it was raining on and off. We went across dirt roads, paved roads, and little villages. By the end of that day everyone who went on the bike ride were so muddy and wet. It was really fun me and Micheal went on a Tandem bike! It was hard to ride at first but then we got the hang of it.


Guilin Show

Yesterday we really shopped around mostly for Maddie’s B-day, but at 7pm Dad had booked us for an acrobatic kind of show. Yesterday we had walked (it seemed like) EVERYWHERE! So when we finally got back to lay Megan down for her nap we were all ready for one! So we were thinking that maybe we should just cancel the show and walk around the city more because of all the beautiful lights at night, but we just resorted to go to the show any way, though some of us were reluctant. When we got there we found our seats; there were quite a few people there! So the show started! Before we left for the theater mom gave us 2 York Peppermint Patties to eat at the show, I was so consumed that I forgot to eat them! The show was the most amazing live performance I’ve EVER been to!!! There was awesome acrobatics, graceful but difficult ballet, and perfectly maneuvered dances! There was one acrobat couple that caught my interest. I will try to describe their performance, but it will be hard, it’s only truly amazing in person. They had one rope that they climbed up and then the man would hold onto the rope. Then the lady would intertwine her legs with the man’s and let go! Only hanging from his legs they would spin around and around!!! They did a lot of tricks like this. All the ballerinas had toe shoes and would do beautiful plies! Then there were also these men that did triple back flips, cartwheels and jumped from one pole to another! The show was spectacular and I’d be so disappointed if I had missed it!!!

These are the acrobats and ballerinas! We were not permitted to take pics in the theater 🙁 .


Coconut Milk

For our long awaited spring break Dad and Mom decided that we’d go to Guilin a city in the Southwestern part of China, in the province that borders Vietnam. Our school put together a tour trip lead by some of our Chinese language teachers. If we signed up to go with them then they’d prepare everything, the hotels, schedules, meals, etc. But my Dad thought it might be nice to go early so that we could spend a few days together as a family. A lot of people told us it was the most beautiful place in China; now that I’m here I totally agree! There are tree-lined streets and azalea bushes in bloom everywhere then there are the big foliage covered mountains in the background! Oh it’s gorgeous!!! Yesterday we were casually shopping around and we saw a coconut stand! The stand was selling whole coconuts with straws in them to drink the milk. Now when I was little I always wanted to buy a coconut at a grocery store and drink the milk, but mom always said I wouldn’t like it because it’s not sweet. Well when we bought some and I tried it, it was VERY different then I expected. And though it was a little sour I have to say I liked it! Then I really wanted to crack it open so I could eat the meat inside, but everyone was telling me I couldn’t because they were to hard. Well I did get it open! The meat was SO delicious!!! Coconut must be a one of their specialties because we saw quite a few people with them. I will always remember Guilin for the first time I had a taste of fresh coconut milk!



Coconuts up close.


The Vendor’s coconut stand.