Dear Miss Swift

in Asia for the Speak Now Tour –

Dear Miss Swift,

My name is Daniel Scott, and I am an English teacher in China. I teach 5th and 6th grade, which seems to be a prime time for students to start listening to music in our language. (By the way, do you speak any other languages?) A majority of the boys listen to and recite Michael Jackson and Maroon 5 while the girls mention your name or lyrics often either in the classroom or on Chinese social media. Some of them went berserk when they heard you’d be coming to China, even if Shanghai is a two-hour plane ride from where we are in Qingdao.

Now, I work in a private Chinese school, and these children I speak of are almost all Chinese students with a few being Korean. Let that sink in, if it hasn’t already. I see you have 60 million+ Twitter followers (I’m not ashamed to be one of them). You have been nominated and won numerous awards while crossing genres. And there is a new line of clothing coming out on a couple shopping sites here in China (Smart move since much on those sites can definitely be fake). More important than all of these matters is the fact that you are impacting my students’ lives in what they say, how they feel, and what they will believe during their short times on Earth.

An article from the LA Times in 2011 quotes you from a “60 Minutes” interview where you said:

I definitely think about a million people when I’m getting dressed in the morning, and that’s just part of my life now. I think it’s my responsibility to know it and to be conscious of it. It would be really easy to say, ‘I’m 21 now, I do what I want. You raise your kids,’ but it’s not the truth of it. The truth of it is that every singer out there with songs on the radio is raising the next generation, so make your words count.

Four years later, how do you think you are doing? I am not calling you out. As a teacher (Shoot, even when I was in elementary), I was guided in how to reflect, journal, and change who I was for the better. Why? John Maxwell says, “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.” Today’s world is quite different from the past. What I want for my students are updates somehow about what you are learning and how you are growing as a person, written by none other then you but not in songs or tweets (though I have agreed with my students that you are a master with lyrics). What do you think?

Being a teacher for only five years, one thing has stuck in my mind since year one. Relationships are the most important factor for any learning to take place. My students listen to your songs, watch the music videos or concert snippets, and share them with whoever they are connected with on the outlets here. What they do not see or hear is how your heart has transformed over time. What if the students could learn more from you? What deeper impacts could you make from your platform? Though I know you do not make political statements because of your influence, you would not have to. Your actions have shown some of who you are, but what we want to hear are more learning experiences that happen. Because, Miss Swift, you are important. You are impacting future generations worldwide. You matter.

I hope you do not take this letter lightly because I have put my heart into it. Why? Because I am in China for the students, no matter where they come from. They matter, and I love them.

Thank you for any time or thoughts you may have. I hope the best for you and your future.

Daniel Scott

P.S.- If you find any time after your November 12th show to visit Qingdao, please let me know. My students and I would be more than willing to guide you through the city, culture, and people.


A Hardened Heart

“We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise we harden.”
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

As mentioned in the previous post, a few weeks before making our change in decision, it dawned on me how much of a hardened heart that I had had for at least a few months. The negative impact from this was realized more and more when I actually took the time to stop, examine my heart, and pinpoint the reasons for struggles I was having in my work and my personal life.

Not only did my heart harden toward people, but I was not right in my assessment of particular issues. Therefore, I thought, said or did many things that were not me or the person I was created to be. These instances have been reminders to me quite often as of late and have helped me start to move in the right direction from a past where I misconstrued many things.

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is that of Moses and the events it took for the exodus to happen. It is not surprising that this has come to the forefront of my mind at this time. Why? Because of the heart that Pharaoh had while Moses asked for the Jews, his people, to be released from slavery. Several times in Exodus it is somehow stated, “But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart…” or “Pharaoh’s heart is still hardened.”

Things weren’t going Pharaoh’s way, and he wasn’t happy about it one bit. This is exactly how I felt many times these past six months. My way is best! Or so I thought. Little did I remember what inevitably happened to Pharaoh and his heart. Like him, I was blinded. I now know of at least a few more areas in my life that need to be surrendered, and it is time to deal with them.

Moving On

Some will find this hard to believe while others won’t be surprised. My family and I will be returning to America. And not just for the summer. Starting late June/early July 2015, we will be back for a while. We found moving back a necessary decision for several reasons, some of which I don’t need to go into detail.

1) My work: I work at a private Chinese school, and I don’t mind it. I used to really enjoy it, but some things have changed. Some haven’t. If you’d like to know more about it, just ask. 🙂

2) Caleb: Our son will be going through some pivotal years being almost 6 months old now. Thus, numerous questions have come to mind regarding his future, education, friends, influences, environment, and the list goes on, though I know there will not be a “perfect” scenario for him.

On To Solids!

3) Our future: I will teach at another school. My wife will care for our firstborn (and maybe another in the next couple years), continue to guide our son and learn what we should do to best care for him, and finally support me. She’s such a blessing, and it’s been amazing to see how she has developed as a person in so many ways since becoming a mother.

We don’t know what else the future holds. What we do know is this next move, wherever it may be to, needs to last more than two years. We have sought out God’s wisdom in this matter. We originally thought God had called us to China long-term, but plans have changed for the time being.

What’s more important in this life is purpose. I believe that God created me and has made me for purposes, most unbeknownst to me. In the meanwhile, I am striving to discover the life He has intended for me and how I can be intentional with it for Him and with people.

Therefore, this will be the last blog written on the dscottinchina website. Thank you all for reading and discussing Chinese life and culture. If you’d like to read more of my professional/teaching blog, simply check out:

Thank you! 谢谢你!

Color Day in Qingdao

Yesterday was our school’s Color Day, and let me just be frank. I really really enjoy spending this kind of time with the students. The interactions they have with each other and the staff are priceless because they are quite different from the daily norm and grind of the semester.

I had two classes in the morning that went well, and I saw several students who really put effort into their color costume, face paint or whatever it would take to show the pride they have in their color. As I mentioned briefly on Instagram before, our school has this day where five colors represent certain values that we hold dear as a body. The colors are as follows:

Red: 精 (Excellence)

The young ones on the Red Team line up to move locations.
Time outside together while the colors walk across the stage.

Blue: 德 (Virtuous) – I just realized I have no Blue pics. Yikes…

Orange: 智 (Wisdom)

The Orange Team represent!

Yellow: 爱 (Love)

On my way to hang out with the yellow students…
The Yellow Team showing off. 😀

Green: 新 (Modern)

The Green Team! No Hulk this year… :\

Classes were normal in the morning, but after lunch the activities set in. From 1:30 – 2:15pm, the groups split into their colors and did team-building games at various locations on the campus. I took this time to just walk around, admire and take in the connections and memories being made among the collection of grades 1-12. The high school students came up the ideas for the activities and had to lead each group. The younger ones followed through and did their best to reach the goals.

I saw leadership, teamwork, laughs, focus, intensity, teachers, students, staff and excitement build as the time flew by. That’s what happens when you have fun, right?

The Best Dressed!

And when 2:30pm rolled around, it came time for the first round of “Best Dressed” of every color to walk across the stage (see above). As the staff and students walked by in their own individual fashions, much smaller groups from every color were chosen based on their costumes. It was such a good forty-five minutes to an hour of just natural bonding time with students that I know as well as others that I just met. But it didn’t stop there. The next ten minutes or so were when the colors took group pictures followed by a school-wide one. It may or may not have been a little toasty when so many gathered in one spot. As they say, 人山人海. 😉

Getting ready for the school-wide pics

While we walked away from all of the festivities, I reflected with the other elementary foreign teachers about the afternoon. One could immediately and totally learn so much more about students days like this. A prime example would be one of my 2nd graders. A boy, *Jason, at the outset of our time outside for stage-walking he clung to my arm and gave me several hugs throughout. Instantly I learned that this child needs physical affection. (Gary Chapman always comes back to me in moments like these.) Obviously I cannot fill the void that his parents should give, but I can be a source that he can daily reciprocate with in appropriate ways.

Students like Jason emphasize the reason why I am a teacher. We can guide students in their intellect all we want, but their hearts are what truly matter.

Ready to Re-enter China

My wife and I fly back to Qingdao early this Friday morning and will arrive Saturday evening (Beijing time). We’ve been in America the past two months, and it’s time to go! If we had more things to do or people to see, it might be a different picture. Let’s just say we’ve had some time on our hands. And since doing the Culture Shocks in China Series earlier this summer, I read a little more up on it. To my eyes came this heart-twisting quote.

Let’s not make an overly big thing of culture shock. Yes, it’s real, and for some it causes real problems. But for the great majority of missionaries it is but a temporary phenomenon. We said earlier that culture shock was basically disorientation. The solution to it, then, is to get oriented.
-Thomas Hale, On Being A Missionary

an insightful documentary
an insightful documentary

One way I’ve started recently getting more acquainted with the Chinese before re-entry is to know better their history. I decided to focus on the last century since their history spans for thousands of years, but I’m not too enthusiastic when it comes to this subject because it’s been hard for me to wrap my head around the whys of events. Nevertheless, this week has been groundbreaking. I completed a book last night called The People’s Republic of Amnesia by Louisa Lim. (Here is my review of it) Then, this afternoon we watched the first two hours of the China in Revolution documentary series. I won’t ever completely understand Chinese people because of obviously being quite opposite, American, but I started to grasp the reasoning why a few nationals think or feel the way they do. I intend to learn more about this in the future, but with a baby coming the end of September it might happen in a slightly slower fashion. Especially since I told my wife that I’d start reading a couple baby books upon our return this weekend.

That said, I feel like this summer has been quite personal. I’ve become more conscious of new ways that I can relate to Chinese as well as conversations that could turn out strange and/or extraordinary. Either way, I can do this, and it feels good to be where I am in relation to a group of people thankfully less foreign to me.

Now, being an English teacher and a fan of puns I recall a couple articles with lines that I put together in a couple ways using differing punctuation. Let them sink in.

I can get oriented.

I can. Get oriented.