Archives For friends in China

Can you imagine how tired someone with over 60 years of age would be, after 24 years of providing care for as many as 33 special needs orphans in her 3-bedroom apartment? Wow, I know that is a lot to take in, but that is the case for our friend who leads the special needs orphanage in China supported by Global Partners in Life.  Would you like to meet her?

Care Provider at Chinese Orphanage

The photograph above shows one of the few times I have seen the director of the special needs orphanage sitting down. As you can see, bunk beds are a big help to her and the children, because they can hold many children and they save space. These bunk beds were actually donated to the orphanage after the leader played a huge role in a successful Special Needs Olympic event held in the city. The event grows annually as more and more people volunteer and participate! I am very thankful for all of the assistance she can receive! 

If my words about her being over 60 years old made you think she had some limitations on her due to her age, nothing could be farther from the truth. This photo was taken during my last trip to China in the first week of December — but during several of my warm weather trips, I have seen her jumping rope with the best of the rope-jumping children! Also, I have to give her credit for keeping her energy level up with not much sleep. She gets up several times during the night to check on the children.

To me, it is an honor to be affiliated with this loving special needs orphanage, and I am extremely thankful for everyone that contributes to Global Partners in Life, so we can meet the needs of these children that can’t provide for themselves! 

Friends are a good thing to have!  Anytime and anyplace, having friends you can count on is a wonderful feeling. Who knows, they may even help you from time to time — that is what my airport buddy does in China.

Over the years, I have had many interactions with a man in the Beijing airport.  I don’t know his name, and he doesn’t know my name, but we recognize each other when we see one another. He solves a problem for me, and I appreciate that very much!

How My Airport Buddy Helps Me Out

To exchange American currency into Chinese currency when I go to China, I like to go to the Bank of China in the Beijing airport. Other money exchange booths charge unwanted fees, and I am sure the Bank of China has the correct exchange rate. The bad thing about using the Bank of China at the airport is you have to wait a long time in line. They do personal banking and business accounts at the bank, so the line can sometimes be quite long. Also, it can be quite hot waiting at the bank in the summer.

My friend in the picture above not only does the transaction right away, but he also doesn’t charge any fees, doesn’t record your passport information, and gives me a slightly better rate than the bank. Additionally, there are no forms to fill out when dealing with him. For the life of me, I don’t know why the bank lets him hang out around their lobby and take clients away from them, but they do. They even let him use their money counter, which sifts through the bills and counts them quickly. All you have to do is give him your American dollars and he will give you Chinese currency. He is must faster than the bank, and that is wonderful when you have a connecting flight.

I always feel safer on the streets in China than I do on the streets of America. To show you how safe it is there, he walks around with a satchel of money and a suitcase full of money.  I used him on my last trip, and he even let me take a picture of his “vault!”

My Airport Buddy's "Vault"

Have you ever needed to exchange currencies in a foreign country? Did you find someone as helpful as my airport buddy?


At the special needs orphanage in China (supported by Global Partners in Life), there are several children that can go to school. The leader of the orphanage had told me on multiple occasions that transportation was an issue for the children. On days when it rained or snowed, it took a long time standing out in the weather with the children to catch a taxi, and that was expensive. Also, she told me that when a child had a medical emergency, she didn’t have a vehicle for transporting a sick child. Additionally, if they needed to go to a store or take something to be repaired, they needed a vehicle for that as well.

vanAfter being made aware of the need and doing some fundraising, I am thankful to say that Global Partners in Life was able to purchase the van so desperately needed at the orphanage! I went with the leader of the orphanage to shop for the van, and you can see the one she chose on the right. The only feature she wanted that wasn’t installed was a DVD player for the children. She said she really wanted the children to be entertained while riding in the van, and I can understand her emphasis on having the children relaxed and quiet while sitting in traffic. Through some lengthy negotiating, we were able to save enough money on the van to have money left for insurance, gas, and maintenance. The salesperson was very nice, and she paid for the DVD player herself after she learned this van would be used for the orphanage!

van2I asked the leader about buying some child seats, and she told me that she knew what they were, but they weren’t used often in China, so she didn’t want to buy any. I also learned that in China you can’t test drive a vehicle. I was told that if we break it, then the dealership can’t sell it. OK, that makes sense, so I used it in negotiating the price. I didn’t see how could they ask us to pay so much for the vehicle without knowing if it worked or not! It was an educational experience for me to say the least.

Working From Home

July 22, 2014 — Leave a comment

The picture below shows one of my favorite little mom and pop stores selling drinks, cigarettes and snacks. As you enter the store, you will be impressed by the amount of merchandise that is displayed in a small amount of space. This building has a triangular shape, so the entrance is more narrow than the back of the store.


The next thing you may notice on your right is a couple of ice chest model coolers for drinks complete with a sliding top. I have noticed that in China it is very rare to find a drink as chilled as we have grown accustomed to them being in America, so keep that in mind when you receive a cool beverage.

About two thirds of the way into the store, there is a glass counter, which contains cigarettes and lighters. It is where you place the merchandise you want, and the store owner will bag it for you if necessary, and you pay for your items. By the way, there is no cash register, just a small box, so don’t ask for a receipt!

There is a man and his wife that own the store and work and live there. They both always have a huge smile when they see me, and they are very patient as I try to understand what they are communicating to me. In the back left corner, he has a small TV mounted, and he loves to watch the NBA. In fact, I believe Kobe Bryant is his favorite player, because he always says Kobe to me and give me a thumbs up!

There is a doorway behind the glass counter, which leads to a poorly illuminated room. If you look closely, you can see that they have their bed there and that is where they live and work. Now that is an easy commute to work!

If you have a chance, please go to China and get to know the people. I trust your experience will be as enjoyable as all of mine have been!

Green Thumbs


In my recent post, Heaven on Earth, I mentioned how the gardeners on the university campus where I had the honor of teaching didn’t have many modern tools or vehicles to carry their tools. I was very impressed with how well these workers kept the grounds looking, and knowing the resources they used made it even more impressive. Regrettably, I didn’t speak Chinese well enough to tell these workers how impressed I was with their work, nevertheless I will show you some of the fruit of their labor.


Roses in China_BeauSides


The Director of Foreign Affairs at the university was a wonderful man; however, one thing in particular made my trips to his office so enjoyable: An area behind his office had beautiful roses and a long hedge going the length of the next building.


One day, I was surprised to see a man with manual hedge clippers trimming the row of hedges. I couldn’t imagine how long it would take him, but he was doing a great job with the tool he had.


Trimming hedges_Beau Sides_Lessons from China


The gardeners did have a lawn mower, which they used to cut to cut grass in large open areas. But on more than one occasion, I saw people using hedge clippers to cut smaller sections of grass. Even though the hand-clipped areas of grass were smaller, I couldn’t imagine how long it would take to complete that task.


One project that was reported to be completed on time and under budget for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing was the planting of trees. One million trees were planted! I have noticed that when many trees are planted in China, they are kept in a very straight line.


Beautiful trees in a row_BeauSides

To learn more, check out my book Lessons From China




To learn more, check out my book Lessons from China: A Westerner’s Cultural Education!

Everyone, I am so excited to share with you the news of my new book Lessons from China: A Westerner’s Cultural Education. It’s being published on Monday, April 7th! That’s just five short days from today.

Lessons from China is a fun, easy-to-read story that provides unique insights to current Chinese culture, business and personal etiquette, and economic development. This fictional travelogue is also delicately sprinkled with bits of historical background. I hope that you will love the book.

So far, Lessons from China has been getting some great book reviews and attention from the press! When I taught in China, I would tell my students to listen to the VOA broadcast to improve their English skills. So it is amazing that I get to be interviewed on the VOA. So, to kick-start this month of April, I’d like to share with you my radio interview from Voice of America Asia aired on March 26.

VOA Interview: Lessons from China

Click to read or listen to Beau’s Interview on VOA

Over the next few weeks, I’ll keep you informed on some of the fun things that are happening with the book, but I’ll continue with my regular posts of what it’s all about: my lessons from China.

Celebrate with me, share the posts, and the news about my book Lessons from China (by Beau Sides). Look me up on Facebook (Beau Sides Author) or Twitter (Beau Sides) and have a blast with me and all my friends.



Click to go to

I remember my first trip to China about fourteen years ago. Although I was there for only two weeks, I made friends, real friends. I still communicate with those same friends today!  Some of them were college students at the time, and some were professionals at the university I visited.  When I returned to the university the following year to teach, I was stunned by how easily I made friends with the local shop owners―and I didn’t speak Chinese―and how quickly I made friends with the students on campus, the ones I taught or met at the English Corner.

Chinese and American_ Acceptance

The guys would allow me to play basketball with them. We had a group that always played on Thursday afternoon at 3:30. We’d go out to eat or hang out in my apartment watching movies in English. The girls would translate for me, tell me where to shop, and show me how to do some of my everyday chores. They were so kind to show me where the laundry room was on campus and to take me to a seamstress to repair a torn pocket on my coat.

What was incredible about my spending time with these students is that I was probably twenty-two years older than they were; yet they accepted me and let me be their friend. They received me with my lack of knowledge of their culture, geography, and language, and they taught me. To this day, I am still amazed by how well an old bald guy was accepted and befriended by college-aged students from another culture.  So, if you want to make some new friends, may I suggest China!

Learn more by reading my book Lessons from China: A Westerner’s Cultural Education.