Monday, July 28, 2008

You're what????? Going to China?!

For all you cousins out there that doesn't know her,…..let me introduce you to Stephanie Lynn Hess. She is the oldest grandchild of Clyde and Nadine Spencer, the oldest daughter of Steven Hess and Cheryl Young. She was my first niece and the one out of two of my nieces that I got to spoil a lot before going with my husband Dave in the Army. She is the one responsible for all the other nieces and nephews calling me “Aunt Nanna” besides herself. So for all those out there that thought Grandmas were the only ones called Nanna, it just isn’t true! One of the good things about my “Nanna” name (that means the world to me, by the way) is that there are a lot of Nanna greeting cards out there that I got a few of over the years. Anyway, I’d like for you all to get to know a little bit about Stephanie and what she is going to be doing for at least the next year.

In 1991-1993 she went on an LDS mission to Finland. I don’t know how many of you know this, but I heard at the time she went that Finnish is one of the harder languages to learn. But she did it and could speak beautiful Finnish. I was so impressed with the way she spoke it. She sent a tape home during her mission where she was giving a talk in sacrament meeting in the Finnish language. I did not have a clue of what she was talking about, but it gave me goose bumps when I heard it! The words she was speaking just flowed out of her mouth perfectly (what ever they were) and even though we back home couldn’t understand it, you can bet that everybody in sacrament meeting that day could.

After coming home from her mission she was invited back to Finland to help a young family out whose mother had a virus that attacked her neck and head and was doing very poorly. She went there to help the family while the wife and mother got better. She was there for three months during the summer of 1994 before returning back home to Utah. You would have thought that would be it for Finland, right???? WRONG! She returned to Finland in December of 1995 and taught English through March when she decided to continue her education while over there. She earned a Bachelors Degree in English Literature and a Masters Degree in English Linguistics. She returned home again in 1998.

She can now speak at least five different languages other than English. She speaks Finnish (of course), along with Russian, Swedish, German and some Latin. Also she knows some sign language.

She moved to Alabama a while ago and bought a home in Fayette. She thought that moving to a lower altitude may help with her very bad headaches she still gets that were the result of a couple of rear end collisions. She said that the headaches aren‘t as bad but she has other health issues she is dealing with because of the accidents.

Wanting to try something new and different just recently, she was browsing the Education Website and saw a teaching position available that she was very much interested in and therefore submitted her resume. And now the BIG news folks! (if you didn't catch it in the title of this post). Stephanie has accepted a teaching position in Shanghai, China teaching fourth grade to Foreign National students that will primarily be Korean, Japanese and some American children. She is not new to teaching and besides teaching in Finland, she has also taught in Utah, California and Alabama. She submitted her resume which was very appealing to the folks at the Livingston-American School, which is a very large school in Shanghai. Stephanie said if you were interested in checking the school out, just GOOGLE the name and you’ll be able to see where she will be teaching for at least the next school year. Who knows, maybe we’ll be able to go to the website and see a picture of her as one of the newest staff members in a couple of months. The curriculum of the school is based on the California school system and the focus at this school is Language Arts. She will be in China during the Olympics, however Beijing is about 3 hours away from Shanghai.

While in China teaching, she will not only celebrate the American holidays but also the Chinese national holidays. She mentioned she will have a three week holiday for Christmas and a one week holiday for the Chinese New Year among others. Stephanie said that she’ll take that free time she will have off and travel the country. She said China is the number one place on her list of “places she wanted to go” along with Egypt and Greece. She has been somewhat of a “world traveler” in the past. She has been to France (after graduating from high school) along with Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Scotland, England, Norway, Sweden, Russia, Estonia and of course Finland. WOW! The only foreign countries her Aunt Nanna has been in is Canada and for a brief five minutes in to Mexico and after a quick “U” turn, right back out again. I did get to go on an eastern Carribean cruise, so I guess that counts too. But am I jealous at all Stephanie? You bet I am! Dave has been to Korea and England, so I got to see lots of pictures from those countries, but it just isn’t quite the same. Stephanie said being exposed to different cultures and ways of doing things gives people wonderful experiences and opportunities that they may never have a chance to enjoy and that going to China will probably be a once in a lifetime opportunity for her.

Stephanie plans on leaving Utah around the 5th or 6th of August, heading to San Francisco and will be leaving from there to fly to Shanghai, getting there around the 11th. She will start out with a week of school preparations the 14th and says school will start around the 23rd. The school will be providing her a place to live (apartment) which will be close to the school and is very excited to go and even happier they are paying for her travels there to a country she has been wanting to see for a long time.
We want to wish you the best while doing your “once in a lifetime” travels to China Stephanie. I have no doubt you will be a wonderful teacher to these students. (And oh,….by the way, I don’t want to see a bunch of red check marks on my post after you read this and say,…..“oh Aunt Nanna, did you not learn anything in any of your English classes during your years in school?”).

Seriously Steph, we are very proud of you (and a little bit worried too, I might add) but we know that this is going to be just one more great opportunity for you. So be happy and do us proud! Stay safe,…….your Aunt Nanna loves you along with your parents, sisters and all the rest of your family. We expect a lot of pictures and information while you are over there.

Love you!


  1. The story on Steph looks great; she has really had a wonderful life with her travels and experiences - only to be added upon in the next year. We wish you all the luck and love as you pursue your teaching and travels, and pray for your safety and good health!

  2. She is so lucky to be able to go and have this experience. I am so jealous. We wish her the best!

  3. I remember when Stephanie was born, a year after my oldest. And look what she has done....WOW!!! What an incredible and totally impressive resume. She makes all of us women jealous.

    Enjoy Asia, Stephanie.