May 10

Jinan in springtime

After an overnight in Beijing and the half day tour of the Summer Palace, we caught an afternoon train to Jinan. It is such a comfortable way to travel. Traveling 90 minutes with seating that allows relaxed leg-space usually results in at least 40 minutes of snooze time for me. Judging by the trees I would say that Jinan is about 3 weeks ahead of my growing season. The trees at home are not yet in full green. They are in the beginning stage when greenery is just apparent on the bare trees. By contrast, the trees in Jinan are displaying vegetative growth in full green. Temperatures are a bit warmer too, though quite pleasant and not too warm.

Returning to Jinan (my second city) I am always pleased to meet with some of the many friends and students I have come to know. This was my 5th visit to China. You may read about other trips by following this link. At the end of that article there are several links to read about many of the places I have visited in China.

Team Q engaged a in a game of Scrabble.

Members of “Team Q” have become like my extended family. I want to express my deep gratitude for their friendship. It is also a tremendous reward for me to see how well each of these long term students have progressed over the past couple of years. Many from the team have now exceeded 100 lessons with me! When we first began lessons together, some of the team were quite shy and self conscious about their level of proficiency. But through continued study and encouragement each member of the group has made significant improvement in comprehension and use of the English language.

Whenever I visit Jinan, one of our favorite activities is to play a game or two of Scrabble with the team. Follow this link to learn more about the game of Scrabble. On this visit I brought a couple of vocabulary books to further their language studies. One book is the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary and the other is an excellent study manual for improving vocabulary.

I have observed that Chinese students can be very competitive and the prizes were one way to make the game more interesting and fun! However, when we play Scrabble we usually play as teams. The idea of one person receiving a book, as the winner, would leave other team members feeling a bit cheated. Instead I decided to just give them the books to use as they see fit.

Always a good time.

Maggie’s team won this game, but May’s team played exceptionally well.

Additionally, there are several members of Team Q who have young babies. Their moms and dads have all expressed an interest in tutoring their little ones in English when the time comes. Parents can play an important role with the development of their children’s reading skills. Reading to children is really important.

With that in mind, I gave a big, hard-cover Dr. Seuss book to the team in order for these new parents to begin reading aloud to their young children. I also brought a handful of paperbacks to encourage them all to read more in English.

Andy after dinner with the fat guy.I also had several delightful meals with some of my other students; It is always fun to meet with Messi and on this visit I also met her nephew, Andy.




It was a pleasure to meet Messi’s nephew, Andy. We enjoyed a nice meal and good conversation.


Jennifer and her friend Cynthia and family. Cynthia’s daughter Cami is the newest student to engage in lessons. I was pleased to meet the entire family and to learn about their interests in art collecting, Cami’s piano playing, wine and their son Michael’s Tai Chi lessons. Cami also challenged young Mr. Pie to see who could solve the Rubik’s Cube in the shortest amount of time.


Cami won 3 for 3.



After watching Pie play with the Rubik’s Cube, I didn’t think anyone could beat him. Mr Pie has met a worthy adversary!













Before returning home Echo and I spent the night at Vivian’s home in Beijing. Vivian is a good friend, long-term student and a very gracious host. In the morning we went out for a traditional breakfast at a local spot. We shared batches of Bao Zi, with some dumpling soup and a bit of pickled cabbage. The cabbage was delicious, but the soup had cilantro and that spurred an interesting discussion about cilantro haters! Regular readers may recall that I loath cilantro… and apparently there is a club in Beijing for those of us who hate this herb. Funny. After breakfast we strolled briefly through the DaGao Art District.

Before leaving for the airport, Vivian insisted on ordering some take-out food to be delivered to her home. We had a small feast with Peking Duck, Kung Pao Chicken and something I had never had before – pickled bamboo. Everything was delicious.

The pickled bamboo is in the center of the picture.

The flight home is always tough for me and I need a couple of days to unpack, decompress and reorganize things around the house. Everything is greening up in the Poconos now and I have plenty of chores to attend in the garden. It is planting time and I am a week or so behind schedule.

After a couple of days in Jinan, we had plans to take a weekend trip to Hong Kong. Our three day visit included some terrific food and you can read about our tour in the next article.

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    • Judy Zhao on May 24, 2017 at 9:54 am
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    As I read this article, I’m full of happiness and gratitude in my heart. Thank you Kevin, because of your encouragement, I have made improvement of English language and have become self-confident. I learned many things from your lessons. It is helpful for me. Thanks for your books, scrabble and everything you do for students. Jinan is always your second city and Team Q is always your extended family.

    1. Judy dear, I am touched by your lovely comment. So happy that you recognize how much you have improved over the past couple of years.
      Keep up the good work.

    • Summer on June 3, 2017 at 11:58 pm
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    I really like the game “Scrabble”. It’s funny when you rack your brains to spell the words, try your best to get a high score and play strategy against the other teams. Meanwhile, you can learn a lot of new words.
    You are so sweet for bringing the books to us. I will read it and learn more skills of Scrabble.

    1. It is with great delight that I have watched Team Q play this game. I am so pleased it has worked as a learning aid and bit of fun time. I would like to suggest that you initiate a monthly or perhaps weekly scrabble game with as many team members as you can. What do you think, Summer?

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