'cause seriously, these 52 kids are the best thing that's ever happened to me.

and how is there a proper way to say goodbye to that?

today i stood on daguanghua's stage with confetti raining down on me, in front of my cheering kids, and i've probably never felt more complete.
they're beautiful and every second with them was worth it, even the seconds where i was yelling or frustrated or tired. because of the "i love you twenty hundred"s and biggest hugs i've ever gotten,
"good morning teacha hannnnnnah"s, funky chickens, nose beeps, & gangnam style.
because i can guarantee that gangnam style means nothing to you unless you lived in china during it's height. unless you've heard the young and old alike sing "heeeeyyyyyy sesssy layday!"
the people--the kids--are the reason i love china so much. 
i <3 eu, "oh teacher, you are not going to america. you are just going to beijing, okay?", hatin' on japan, baby & party in the u.s.a.
china and my children have given me more unconditional love, purpose, and joy then any other place or group i've been with. on thursday i'm going to wake up in america and i will be so happy to be there, but i will not be their teacher anymore. who will i be then?
i guess i'll always be teacher hannah. 

"do you still want to be a magician when you grow up?"
"no, when i grow up i want to be an american."

wo ai ni.
i'll love you long after you're gone.


what's up?

john & phillip made my day today.
after days and possibly weeks of drilling,
they came up to me and said, "hey teacher, what's up? NOT MUCH!"

i am so proud.



i am going to be home in 23 days,
or so says my christmas advent calendar
and i couldn't be more terrified.
because this is home, too.
every second of every day i'm thinking about what i'm going to miss and i'm trying to soak it in
but if i think too hard i get so scared, because i can never come back.
because all i want to be for the rest of my life is their teacher,
and their friend, and this is the best thing i have ever done.
you know how things sometimes feel fuzzy, like dreams, like they never happened? college feels like that.
this doesn't. every second of it seems real. more real than anything i've ever experienced. 
i have been totally present for every second of this crazy adventure.
i'm so grateful for here. i'm so much better because of here.
because i'm not here for me. i am, but it's not about me--it's about every single other person i've met. 
my heart is 1000x bigger.
so you know, i'm hoping that means that the heart-distance between me and here will never be too big.

happy holidays from weihai first and second grade!

see you soon.


the one with the ocarina & my body weight in skewered dishes

this weekend was a winner.
not only did we get to view the school assembly, which was a big ocarina concert (yeah shelb you'd love it),
bethany and i got to hang out with one of our cutest students, teddy, and his friends and family.
we got to go to teddy's grandma's apple farm where we were each given a bag of 30 apples by grandma, 
who was sorting apples on the ground with a red hat sideways on her head.
other highlights were the fact that teddy, a seven year old, has his own pocketful of tiny fireworks and lighters. we lit those off.
i also ate my body weight in chinese food for lunch and dinner with them, as well as a big barbeque the next day at another family's house.
huge, head-on shrimp? check.
oysters and a whole fish? check.
an array of unknown meats on skewers? check.
dumplings half the size of my head, italian meat flavored potato chips, persimmons, and for REAL chinese orange chicken (it exists!)? check check check check.
also, they had cheesecake. cheesecake!!
after we left the restaurant we saw a dalmatian wiener dog. 
and i found a chicken foot in my lunch today at the cafeteria.
china can be weird.
love it.



alex walked into class this morning and said, "tee-cha, you are beautiful!"
i said, "thank you, alex!!!" what kind of sweet six year old says that? let alone in a second langauge?
he said, "teacher, i lub you too! i lub you too!"
(we tell each other how much we love each other all the time)
and annie ran up to me and said, with big eyes, 
"teacher! i love you ELEVEN!"

oh. how will i ever leave them?


my chinese family

chinese people are very generous. and they seem to like allie & i, which means that we get to go on lots of real authentic chinese adventure with them.
may is the second grade teacher whose classroom i teach in. monica is her daughter, who is also one of allie's students. they are the sweetest family and they take us to do things at least once a week. 
i could give you a million stories about our times with them, but to keep it short here's some photos and explanations.
1. me fishing at the beach on national day with doug (another second grader)
2. that one time when allie and i biked may, monica, and the father of the family (who speaks no english which means he has a name we cannot pronounce) up a seaside mountain on the tandem bike car thing.
3. beautiful little monica on the swings we rode at the beach carnival.
4. kevin. the most adorable little boy. he is my buddy when we go to do things with the chinese families, but he is too shy to talk to me.
5. me with alex, doug, and their mothers from when we went fishing.
6. classic treats at linhai park: dates on a stick & cotton candy.

1. us at the buddhist temple on weihai's holy mountain, with monica and mary.
2. classic picture. a) the random asian who asked for pictures with us b) allie in her grass skiing gear c) me getting my helmet strapped on by the employee of the grass skiing place, who is either excited enough about me to want to help me with everything, or thinks i'm one of those dumb americans who doesn't know how to do anything.
3. me and my dumpling. we went to the beach with may and a few other families, and the women taught us how to make dumplings.
4. favorite chinese treats: dark chocolate and coconut milk. may knows me so well.
5. kevin & i on our toboggan.
6. my chinese friend whose name sounds like "john wayne" ducking out of the picture of me riding the conveyor belt up the gradual incline which i was about to grass ski down. yeah it's a thing. i could literally be a professional athlete here. and you know how coordinated i am.

china. as good as ever.

i love chinese families. there is so much love for everyone within them. the marriages seem so solid and both parents are completely devoted to their child. of course there's problems here, but aside from everything wrong, they have the most loving, solid, supportive families i've ever seen. the entire society revolves around family. it is the core. so wonderful to see.


red and orange and blue

i wish that i could show you or make you feel
the things i see and the way i feel them.
one of the happiest days of my life consisted of 24 first graders and one parachute,
a yard sale in china that felt exactly like a pumpkin festival in the united states,
cupcakes i made that sold for 5 kuai each,
down by the banks of the hanky panky,
and a thousand blown kisses from this little boy.
i know it's bad to have favorite students, but he is unquestionably mine. 
something about his light reminds me of my little brother's.
china feels like home now, because it is.
this is my city.

fun fact for you, to put weihai in perspective:
if it was in the states, it would be the third largest city, behind new york and la. 
we are in china, however, where it doesn't even make it on the map.

well, i'm off to go fishing at the beach with a second grade teacher and her family. wish me luck!


tee-cha hannah

and when i'm walking through the cafeteria

or into their classrooms,
and they yell "tee-cha hannah!" at the top of their lungs,
or they run to give me the hardest high-fives they can,
show me how well they can do the macarena,
teach me words in chinese,
or blow me kisses,
that's when i'm pretty sure there's nothing better i could be doing with my life at this very moment.
i'm exactly where i'm supposed to be.


great wall

on friday i climbed the great wall of china.

repeat: on friday i climbed the great wall of china.
how crazy is that?
it's this place that i've seen hundreds of pictures and videos of.
heard stories of and imagined.
it exists in real life though, 
just as real as anything.
and it's just as beautiful as they make it look.
stunning, actually. i couldn't believe my eyes.
i took a cable car up and i hiked down, 
and it was one of the coolest things i have ever done in my life. 
i don't know if there's anything deep i can say about it,
but i set foot on one of the seven wonders of the world.

life is big. you are big. you are capable of getting yourself just about anywhere.


a weekend in beijing

a few days ago i watched the sunrise over china
from the middle bunk of a sleeper train to beijing.
the sun rose red, like a sunset in reverse.
maybe that's the pollution--but at least it's beautiful.
it rose over countless apartment buildings, factories, and green green fields, 
just like it rises over mount timpanogos.
i thought about the mother and daughter beneath me. 
last night they had conversed with jesse and i for hours without either of us understanding the other's language.
the tiny three year old girl taught me how to say frog,
and i folded her one out of a gum wrapper.
the mother taught me how to count to ten.
language is a big barrier here but not so much when you both have open hearts.
i ate a fig for the first time, 
out of a shoebox, offered to me by this chinese mother,
and i thought about love and how universal it is.
i thought about how god loves them equally as he loves me,
and is still very present in their lives, even if they don't know it.

china is beautiful.


savoir & connaitre

have you ever thought about what it means to know somebody?

the french have two words for "know":
je sais,
i know as in i know what that is.
je connais, 
as in i know him.
the difference between these is simple.
to know something,
or to know someone; to be familiar with something.
my point is this:
there is a difference between knowing facts and knowing people. 
you can know with your head, or you can know with your heart.
heart-knowing doesn't happen as often.
i mean, 
how many people do you know like you know the headlines of the newspaper, 
and how many people do you know like you know the lyrics to your favorite song?
i think a lot of people need to be heart-known these days
because there's a big difference.
a big, distance-crossing difference.


adventure is out there

is it possible to put into words my first week in weihai?
these nine days have stretched into what feels like years.
from 33 hours on planes and in airports, 
to landing in the greenest, lushest place i have ever seen.
i had my fair share of culture shock for the first few days,
hating my life & wishing for a mattress and AC more than anything.
today, i'm used to the weather and i don't mind sleeping on wood too much.
i love china 100x more than i did nine days ago.
i love what it's already given me:
the chance to feel like a celebrity everywhere i go,
and to dance the macarena on a stage in the town square, for a crowd of picture-snapping chinese people.
to eat things and have no idea what they are, and to discover a love i have for pigeon.
& to eat pounds of rice every single day, and enhance my chopstick skills.
i have found the best fried chicken in weihai,
been to the beautiful beach,
climbed thousands of stairs (quite literally: every time we go home, we climb 237 steps),
and played with baby white tigers.
i've touched turtles, giraffes, tigers, and elephants at the zoo,
i've climbed to the roof to watch the sun set,
stood in awe of a pagoda,
become terribly frustrated at internet censorship,
and laughed my face off at chinese t-shirts that try to have english sayings on them. (i.e.: "ya got no acne").
i've become a teacher,
and fallen in absolute love with 48 first and second graders.
i've listened to 7 year old asians sing "baby" by justin bieber.
and i've named 9 chinese children: dean, mack, milo, tasha, poppy, liz, sam, jones, and teddy.
they own my heart.

man, all i can say is that it's true.
adventure is out there.

testing testing.

well, you know,
i'm in china. 

let's see if this blogging works.


a.f., provo, china.

all i want to do is be in three places at once.
growing up is hard; i wish there was a way to keep your entire heart with you all the time.

i'll miss you.



do you think it means something that i've never seen a smile quite like yours?
how in the world do you get so much sunshine to come out of your face, even in pictures?
can everybody see it as well as i do?

i hope so. i hope they can where you are now.


lessons learned

how sweet it is to have friends like these.

this summer has taught me a lot.
a lot about how to enjoy my own company,
to use time wisely
(and how not to),
how to keep loving new people and not ever closing my heart,
how to work hard and endure,
how to find joy in places you thought you'd hate (food 2 go anyone?)
but most importantly,
a lot about how beautiful & sacred the temple is.
i appreciate it now more than i ever have in my life,
and it has brought me so much peace and comfort.
it has truly become my most important sanctuary.

i would never have guessed where this summer would have taken me,
but i've grown a lot and have enjoyed it so much.

next up, weihai in 11 days!!



19 years old is a funny age, i think.
you're really not quite anything.
not a teenager, not grown up.
a college student, but not really certain what you're doing.
if you're like me,
you're juggling several different groups of friends--
home friends,
freshman friends,
new provo ones, too.
moving every four months
and sifting through opportunities that only come in this college window.
which to take?
where to be?
who to be with?
i can't say that i really belong anywhere,
but i can say that i think i love that.
to belong in one place...
that can be so confining.
i think i'll keep living as a nomad.
so much of my heart is with american fork and the girls i stayed with at the cabin,
but so much of it is in heritage halls
and so much of it is on university avenue.
some of it got taken to new york city, some to florida, and some to winnipeg.
some stayed in paris and seattle and even a little part is in the morris center.
a lot is about to be taken across the world to weihai,
and you'd think that'd mean that my heart would be spread pretty thin by now,
in my close-to-nineteen years.
but everywhere i try to put it just makes it grow,
and i feel like my heart is pretty huge,
just bursting with love for every place i've ever been.
i'm in-between,
but i think i like it here.


i'm trying to write you a letter

but i don't know how to make
"i'd trade the whole night i spent with him for that 5 minute motorcycle ride you took me on
or one of your hugs on the crosswalk"
sound like
"i'm doing great and i'm definitely not still hung up on you, how's it goin?"
and i don't know how exactly to craft a compliment to you out of:
the way your eyes light up when you say hello to someone,
your orange sunglasses, the way your hip reaches my ribcage,
how i don't know who to ask questions about "good" pop culture anymore,
"could you argue with me about outer space one more time?"

i'm trying to write you a letter,
and the other problem is i don't know where to send it.



this summer hasn't been what i planned by any means.
i'm out of this apartment in about three weeks,
and i gotta tell ya,
i'm kind of sad.
i've come to love these roommates so much
& i don't want to say goodbye and miss all the giggling and embarrassing stories.
that really is a testament to the fact that you can learn to love wherever you're at.
because i did not want to be in provo for another four months
and i did not want to be working at food 2 go for those four months.
but i really do love where i'm at and that's completely due to my lovely aubrey and julia.
we laugh a lot and we take a lot of embarrassing pictures and videos and we watch a lot of episodes of friends,
and it's real real good.

sitting on the curb eating otter pops and talking about what we've learned from dysfunctional relationships...
yeah, i'm gonna miss this.



this weekend left me feeling pretty free.
i'm not exactly sure what it was.
it was probably the combination of everything.
but i drove back to provo listening to on top of the world by imagine dragons,
over and over because i feel so happy when i listen to it.
and i realized just how wonderful china is going to be for me. 
my life started to disintegrate three years ago from the day i'll be leaving for china,
and don't get me wrong, i've had thousands of happy moments and huge blessings
and countless full hearts.
but i'm not sure i've 100% recovered yet. i'm not all the way back.
it takes a long time to recover.
it's a long way down. it's a long way up.
and i think i'm going to get there in china.
it's exactly what i need:
no drama, no family messes, no job hunting, no essays, and no boys for heavens sakes. 
just three of my best friends, a bunch of adorable kids, and a million adventures.
and i'll have no time to think about myself. just others.
that's some major heart-distance diminishing there. some major comfort-zone expanding, too.
isn't that lovely?

and i also realized that i can do whatever i want.
i can set my mind to it, and i can do it.

i'm on top of the world, ay,
i'm on top of the world, ay,
been waiting on this for a while now
paying my dues to the dirt
i've been waiting to smile, ay,
been holding it in for a while, ay,
take it with me if i can
been dreaming of this since a child
i'm on top of the world.

and i know it's hard when you're falling down
and it's a long way up when you hit the ground
so get up now, get up now, get up now.


i'm way more into bingley

and if i was mia thermopolis i would choose andrew jacoby,
and just like lizzie, i'd choose gordo.
i'd pick jacob, i'd pick gale,
and in the holiday i'd rather be with jack black than jude law,
i think living the notebook would be the most excruciatingly painful thing ever,
and i couldn't be a bigger fan of the nerdy comic book guy in jane austen book club.

because the movies make love look so hard.
like such a battle.
and i've seen that,
i've seen the battles. but it's not so romantic in real life.
and bonfires burn out
and hot guys get old.
and ya know,
all i really want is a best friend,
someone who can laugh, laugh a lot,
who is unselfish and straightforward
and hates the game of love as much as i do.
i want it to be simple when i fall in love,
no mystery.
just yes.
i won't hate him before i love him and i won't change myself to fit him and i won't make him do that, either,
and we'll be in big, huge, heart bursting love,
but the joyful kind. the clean kind,
not the messy kind.
and there won't be fireworks every time i touch him,
i don't want that, geez, wouldn't that hurt my retinas?
i think i'd rather spend a lot more time holding hands than kissing,
and you know, as much as i love adventures,
i'd really rather be in a little white house with lots of trees and slippers on my feet
than jet-setting around europe in louboutins.


front seat

a sat in the front seat of a boy's car the other day
you know, he's a rather ridiculous boy, actually
and i felt so out of place
because it's been so long since i've sat in the front seat of a boy's car.

actually, it's just been so long
since i've sat in the front seat of yours.



today, in the middle of a crazy shift at work, i got to take a turn sitting outside and waiting for customers to pick up their orders.
it was 7 o'clock and the sun was up but it hadn't broken over the mountain yet. it kept inching up, lighting the hill and making the trees look like they were glowing from the inside out. the mountains had that fuzzy yellow quality to them, and it was warm. and i just sat, and thought, and cherished the beauty.
i watched people walk by and i said hello to them from behind our makeshift desk constructed of a metal cart and two very large navy tablecloths. & there were a lot of couples, and they were in love, the real kind that leads to rings on fingers. and the sun made her green dress bright, and he kissed her, and then she went to work.
the sun came up over the mountain, and i ignored the buzz of thousands of efy kids behind me, and i enjoyed my 30 minutes of peace.

today, i came home to a letter addressed to hannah "sundrop" kroes,
but i still got discouraged
(money + being a college student can do that to you)
and a few tears came out of my eyes,
but then i decided to open my scriptures
and they opened to alma 32, just like they always do.

so i'll just keep nourishing that seed.


flying squirrels

the guy who is a break the fast co-chair with me keeps two flying squirrels in the hood of his sweatshirt at all times.
ask me if i held one today.
i did.
welcome to my ward, where this is not at all unusual.

freshman year, come back please?


brand new

sometimes it feels great to have a clean, new place to be,
whether it's a new apartment
or a new city
or a new country
or even just a new blog.

so let's get ready for some more adventure,

shall we?