This blog does not, nor will it ever represent the views of the United States or Chinese government or the Peace Corps.. Because that's how I do what I do.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The day I hated being here

Disclaimer: this post is going to be a bit of a downer, sorry.

Today was the first day I truly hated being here. I've had my ups and downs, I've had days where all I have done is lay in bed watching movies because I didn't want to face the stares of everyone in town that are still fascinated by the fact that I don't look like them. But each time, I was able to realize that everyone needs time to adjust to living here. It's the same for every Peace Corps volunteer, regardless of location. Today was not one of those days.

When I woke up today I thought it would be a nice easy day coming back from our 5 day weekend. I checked my email saw one from my Mom asking me to call her, it was from earlier that night. I wrote back a cheerful reply that I had been asleep but that I would call her this afternoon. I then saw she had messaged me on every form of communication we had. I started to panic, all I could think was that something had happened to someone in my family. It was 2 in the morning her time. I called my Dad  who lives in Maryland, each time the phone rang my heart grew heavier, all I could think was if something happened to him,surely the Peace Corps would have called me. Finally he picked up, and told me to get on Skype so we could talk. At this point I could barely breathe, it was so hard because all I could think was if something happened, can I get the time off to go back to the States, why I am all the way in China, why am I not close to my family. Dad signed back on, and I called him immediately. He then told me he hated to have to tell me over the phone but that yesterday my Mom had to put our family cat to sleep. As I write this, I know some will think,come on Meg, it's a cat, it could have been worse. But that cat was family. We adopted him and his brother when they were so small you could fit both of them in the palms of your hands.He followed my brother and I around the house, and if you were sitting down, he was sitting on you. He slept in my bed every night for 10 years. He never bit or scratched anyone in anger, not even when he was scared. When my brother and I  left for our respective universities, Tora decided my dog was his new best friend and would sleep in the dog's bed with him. When he died he was fourteen years old and seemed to be in perfect health, a little on the chubby side, but I thought it gave him character. He apparently  woke up in the morning in extreme pain, Mom rushed him to the vet but there was nothing they could do, his heart had a valve that wasn't working, he was too old for surgery. The only humane thing she could do was put him to sleep. 

When I wrote this is the day I hated being here, I meant that I hated hearing my mother crying on the phone, I hated hearing how our other cat seems lost now that his brother is gone. I hated not being able to give my Mom a hug and tell her that it wasn't her fault and that she did the best thing for him. I hate having to hear news like that over the phone and know that I won't be home for months. I hate the fact that I came to China knowing something like this could happen, but praying that it never would. I hate the fact that I am here now with the knowledge that I am not immune to the world moving on around me, and that I cannot change whatever may happen. 

Days like today make me want to go home, hug my Mom and my Dad, go to my grandparents and the rest of my family and hug them  and make sure I never leave their sides. But that's not living. You cannot live your life waiting for the inevitable. This afternoon, after talking with my Mom, I've really started to think how I will choose to live my life post Peace Corps, whether I choose to join the Foreign Service, or if I find a job closer to home. So even though I really hated being in China today, I can appreciate it and the lessons I've learned from it. 

Family: I love you and miss you 
Mom: Stay strong, and I love you forever and always
Tora: the best snuggle cat a girl could ever ask for, you'll always be in my heart

Saturday, March 24, 2012

But why don't you want the feet?

Apologies, yet again I have failed to keep my blog updated in a timely manner. However, for once I actually was posting things, just to a different site. All Peace Corps volunteers are required to complete a secondary project, and I have decided that I would create a cooking club, complete with blog site recording our attempts and recipes that other cooking clubs can use in the future. I'm getting a lot of help from fellow PCVs that are contributing recipes, and hopefully they can continue to do so/ send in stories and pictures from their cooking clubs.
If you want to check it out it's at:

Anyways, updates:

School- all my classes are back in session now, and as adorable as ever. I'm actually sad I only teach freshmen because I won't be able to teach them next semester. Classes this semester are focused on American culture, however I changed that to Western, since I find I am often ill-equipped to tell them about solely American cultural aspects. I'm trying to find as many ways as possible to get them out of the classroom, from dodgeball to an Easter egg hunt during Easter week. So far the best lessons were the dating lessons and the music lesson. It's really great how much more engaged the students are this semester, and how their levels have risen since we first started working together. Movie nights are still a roaring success, especially since I got lectured about showing too many children's movies. Now we are watching action movies and a comedy thrown in here and there. One student came in with a list of movies he wants to see, so I've been working on getting them for him.
Cooking club is going great, I've been learning a lot more about Chinese cuisine, and about my students. Hopefully they are retaining some of the information given during the club, but I think the main draw right now is  being able to look around my apartment and tell their friends they can cook western food.

Peace Corps- quite a bit actually. Post IST we had to finish writing up our VRFs (volunteer reporting forms) which detail everything we do at site, then start preparing for summer project. Summer project is a unique PC China objective,  where volunteers train English teachers for two weeks in their provinces. Most PCVs in the different provinces break up into small groups of 3-5 and are spread all over. Chongqing is  awesome in that we are all together, and will train all of the primary, junior high and high school English teachers of one county in Chongqing. Because I have a disease where I have to plan/organize everything, I applied to be one of the 3 summer project coordinators. Ashley F (China BFF), Alex (PCRV) and myself were selected to be the coordinators, Ashley is in charge of the primary school group, Alex is in charge of the high school, and I am in charge of the junior high group. This last week, the three of us plus our Program manager Sandy, the country Director Bonnie and the municipal leader of education Mr. Hu were going to head out to the training site to check out the facilities and develop the plan for July. But, we were China'd.  The last leg of the journey is by a small road on the side of a mountain with ravines and a river below, and the PC heard about landslides in the area. So, due to safety concerns we postponed the trip. See family, they do take care of us!  We are still looking at going there this summer, but just in case, at other sites that are not as remote.
I'm getting ready to head back to Chengdu for my in-service medical check up, but so far I've stayed pretty healthy minus my allergies going berserk.

Chongqing- it's SPRING! The week before last the weather was glorious, sunny as Chongqing could be, warm, it was amazing. The cherry on top of the cake was about 40 volunteers came to CQ for Patty's Day, and the international marathon/ half marathon. Friday night was birthday celebrations for Cynthia, ATL's finest, then Saturday morning 6am sharp most of the PCVs headed out to the marathon. Some of us were not so chipper, so we kept sleeping and had a lazy morning complete with a good old American brunch of french toast, home-fries, scrambled eggs, fruit salad and iced coffee. We spent the afternoon relaxing, watching Animal planet documentaries, playing Temple Run, and just catching up. That evening was St. Patty's day and we were able to go all out with an all you can eat pizza buffet, beer and 40 volunteers possibly putting Big Pizza restaurant out of business.

This weekend: Molly is coming in for the night, we're going to celebrate the spring weather with some slow cooked BBQ chicken, baked potatoes and salad. And we finally get to the name of this post. For a long time, my sitemate and I both thought the largest grocery store nearby was the Wal-mart which is  25-30 minutes away by bus. There is a store called Yonghui only 10 minutes away by bus, but we had thought it was just a small market that didn't have the same variety of items, like flour and yeast that Wal-mart had. Basically we thought all it had was fruit, vegetables and meat, which is nice, but a girl needs to bake. Not so, turns out there is a tiny little entrance to the downstairs part of the store that is glorious. Yonghui has not only the same things as Wal-mart, it had the benefit of not being Walmart, but it even has popcorn and BACON. Anyone that knows me, knows I love bacon. I nearly prostrated myself in front of the shelf that held those nice little packs of "ELABORATE BACON", which in reality is a poor excuse for bacon, but beggars can't be choosers.. Anyways,  I'm at Yonghui (my now favorite store) picking up the ingredients for tonight, and I think to myself, hey Chinese butchers suck, why don't you just buy a whole chicken and cut it up yourself so there aren't shards of bone in every bite tonight? So, I find a nice fat carcass in the meat bin. Yes, that's right meat bin. I grab him, and I'm staring at a full chicken. head, beak, feet and all. Meh, I figure I can ask the butcher to chop off the head and feet. I turn, and I ask her if she can do it. For a good minute she just gawks at me. I chalk this down to being the only foreigner in town, plus one ballsy enough to root through the meat bin. I repeat the question, she peers at me, points at the feet and goes, "Zhege hao chi"- this is delicious. I try not to laugh at her. I tell her, yes  they are, but today I don't want them, or the head. She stares at me, stares at the chicken and tells me, no, they are delicious, otherwise I should just go grab a few leg/thigh combos from the other meat bin. I look down at my nice plump chicken and realize I am not going to win this war. I sadly rest el plumpo deliciousness back in the bin and go pick out some thighs and breast meat. Yes, I could have bought the whole damn thing and just cut off the head and feet myself, but I am weird and I would have been consumed with the thought that the stupid chicken head was looking at me from my trash bin.
As I left the store I ran into one of my favorite things here- pineapple carts, literally these carts just filled with pineapples, you can buy a slice of pineapple on a stick, a whole pineapple that's been cored and cut, or just a pineapple. I ended up making friends with the pineapple man, bought one, then stopped by the fruit lady at my school to pick up some more fruit so I can make a fruit salad tomorrow.

Other updates:
Still looking at grad schools, and jobs for next year. It's preemptive, but eh, it's that or you know doing something productive like studying Chinese or lesson planning. I found my ideal job with the State department, so now I know what I'm working for!

I miss you all and I love you! I will see some of you in August!!!!
Here's some pictures of around my school, it looks really great now with everything blooming:
 The courtyard of my apartment building and the building to the left is my office building.
 View from my living room window, the big glass building is the library. I think it's just now starting to get books into it, they didn't finish building it until like last month.
 The most awesome fruit of them all- dragon fruit. Doesn't it look like a dragon egg?
 Our apartment building, my site-mate and I have the corner apartments
 The main entrance to our teaching building
 The school "pond"- I am still trying to figure out games my students can play there that don't have the risk of someone falling in (as hysterical as that would be)
 The hill behind our teaching building. I shall be hiding the Easter eggs there, muhahahahaha
 I take the side entrance to our teaching building so I can see the farms to the side of our campus

 The side entrance to the teaching building
 It's so GREEN! And a hint of blue sky makes me a happy girl!
 The entrance to our school
Students lounging on the field soaking up the sun like little lizards

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Hi, I'm Megan and I suck at writing at blog posts. I really should just make that part of my disclaimer.
Anyways, either blogger or my proxy isn't working that well, so I am writing this via email. Yay for working around the system!  This blog will cover the Spring Festival holiday/ IST and upcoming plans. 

Spring Festival: Pretty uneventful. Like I said before, I missed out on travelling, and that sucked, like really really sucked. Being one of two people on campus was not my idea of a fun time. But I have some pretty awesome friends and family- so thank you for the long Skype sessions, thus keeping me sane and fairly positive. You may ask: why didn't you work with your community, building ties and all that lovely Peace Corps goodiness? Well, the fact that there was no one here. Literally not a single person. The three bodega/noodle shop/ nai cha shops in the vicinity are here because they are supported by the student population. They close when the students are gone. But I learned my lesson, and will hopefully be on a beach somewhere next winter or maybe with some student's at their house. But never again will I sit around this giant campus by myself. Or for whatever reason I am stuck here, I will not watch all 3 paranormal activities in one sitting. 

As soon as I left Chongqing, it got a lot better. Even the immense Spring Festival crowds at the train station were a welcome alternative to the empty campus I had fled from. I spent about 3 days with my host family in Chengdu, which was amazing. They are so wonderful and welcoming, and hysterical (although I don't think that's their aim). The first day we spent the afternoon and evening with Baba's family enjoying a massive typical New Year's dinner. It was great, I got shoved to the kid's table, which I am perfectly happy with since my language level is equal to that of about a 6 year old. 
Every time I have a big family dinner with them I always meet someone who just blows my mind. This time was no different, Baba's sister in-law works for Intel, she travels regularly to the States to work on a collaborative science fair project. Here was an incredibly well educated woman, who was not only a world traveler, but eloquent and open to discussing the current issues plaguing China and America. Before it was a business man who regularly traveled between the US and the new economic centers of China for work; he and I spent several hours discussing the trading futures between China and America and the importance of the development of cities like Chongqing. These are the people that I know will influence my thoughts and work if I continue down the policy/ strategic studies path. 

The next day Bao Ma, Abao and myself went to Huang Long Xi- Yellow Dragon Creek. This was explained to me as such: "It is a very old village on a small river. You must smell something very old before you can start the New Year". Perfectly valid reasoning. Actually it was this awesome old town, where we wandered around the streets, found an ancient tea house and chilled on the deck drinking tea, and Abao kicked my ass for a good 2 hours during different kid's games. Who knew Chinese rock, paper scissors could be so hard? 
Then, my Bao Ma showed off her true dodginess. The center of the town was blocked off for the New Year's festivities, and you had to buy tickets to get in. Tickets were a bit pricey, but bear in mind, my host family is loaded. Like just came back from a vacation to Macau and Hong Kong where they stayed at the Venetian, then HK Disneyland resort. Rather than buy the tickets, she said a few swift words to the tea house laoban. We were suddenly following a guy through an alley, inside a kitchen, then through a back room where we paid him 20 kuai and stepped out the back door into the center of town. We spent another hour or so walking around and taking pictures, then headed back.That evening we went to the Sichuan opera with Bao Ma's parents (who I adore, they are my Chinese grandparents). 

The next day early in the morning we piled into the car and drove up to Emei Shan  (mountain). Bao Ma had hurt her ankle so it was just Baba, Abao and myself hiking up the mountain. Let me paint a word picture for you: Baba smokes a pack a day, and Abao pitches a fit after she has to walk for more than 10 minutes or if anyone walks ahead of her.. and it was drizzling and freezing cold. And we were supposed to hike up the mountain for like 5 hours.  I was not super excited by this prospect, but then having nature surrounding me made me giddy. Turns out yet again that hiking in the host family's mind is not hiking in my mind. We took a bus up for like 30 minutes, then went on a slightly sloped path up to the monkey center. And it. was. gorgeous. Seriously not even Abao's whinging about her feet or whatever could detract from how beautiful it was up there. I've posted pictures on Facebook, but they really can't illustrate how beautiful and quiet it was. In a country of a couple billion, quietness and trees are a rarity. I am definitely going to make my way back there this fall. 
That evening we went to this restaurant which had a very special famous dish. What was that dish? Eels. Well, I think they were eels, they were about the size of an earthworm, but I'm going to just say they were eels. Baba and I also drank the local "field grass" wine, which was actually really tasty and reminded me of something I had in Switzerland. After dinner was the best part, the hotel we stayed at was reknowned for its hot springs. And good god, were they awesome. My family was wonderful and like,' hey you are being stared at enough, let's find a pool with not so many people in it.' It was a nice reprieve from the usual pointing and staring. By the way if any future 18s are (still) reading this post, when you are pointed at, and some one makes the brilliant observation that you are laowai or waiguoren (foreigner) I've found pointing back and saying zhongguoren (Chinese) back usually gets some chuckles, and sometimes even sparks a conversation.
Monday morning we drove to Leshan and checked out the massive Buddha there, he was a biggun. Apparently the biggest in the world.. or maybe Asia, I can't remember at the moment. 

Ok, so IST: so much training. I was pretty stressed going, because I was part of the planning committee, essentially we designed the IST conference from the wants/ expectations given from the feedback forms and the guidelines the PC China put out for us. We represented the training manager if anyone had issues or concerns, or complaints. I was not looking forward to the complaints. But typical PC shocker, IST went off really well. People respected the hotel (ie no giant parties in our rooms), and came to sessions. And the sessions went really really well, almost all of them were a great collaboration between China 16s and 17s sharing ideas, going over issues and coming up with new teaching strategies. I led a session on teaching speaking, and co-led a session on teaching low/ multi level classes with a 16 Katie (who is a wonderful teacher by the sounds of it and a great resource). Both sessions went really well, so this week I need to work getting up the information we collected on Skydrive. 
Sessions were great, language was interesting but probably the greatest part of IST was catching up with friends, and making some new ones. During pre-service training you are rarely with the whole group. IST- you are together. All the time. We went out, danced, ate Western food and just relished in the fact that we could talk about our semesters without completely running out of phone credit. 

Post IST- Rachael (a fellow SU ren, current Gansu ren) came back to CQ with me, we chilled here for a few days, explored Chongqing, hung out with Angel and then she headed off to Wulong to visit our fellow SUren Molly. 
I spent the past two weeks cleaning the house, restocking the fridge, doing lots of laundry, preparing my classroom, writing my syllabus for this semester and doing lesson planning. I've also been working on RELO grants for my cooking club, finishing up VRF reports,  and working on a grad school application. I know it's early, but I've talked with the school and they are cool with me applying early and just holding my acceptance till 2013 (which will be a nice relief for me for the next year and a half). 

Coming up: going to Wal-Mart and buying balls. Oh so many  bouncy balls. My little students are all ADD (and the majority of morning classes are almost all male) so I am going to teach them how to play dodgeball, and we are going to have a dodgeball tournament. That's peace corps second goal (teaching the host country about America) right there; teaching my students how to pelt each other with balls. 

Oh and exciting news; since I didn't travel during the winter holidays I have lots of leave days to use up. So, I AM COMING HOME! Where is home? La mia citta di cuore- ROMA! I will be back in Rome from July 31- August 30. Fun fact: host family will be joining me from August 3rd-9th (I told you they are loaded). Mum and I will hopefully be heading up to Hallstatt for a bit to do some hiking and relaxing. Even better, my Dad and brother might join us! So, that is my super happy exciting news! 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Living in a ghost town

I am a horrible blogger, yet another month has passed without an update, for that I apologize. December ended up being pretty crazy, and it finally slowed to a screeching halt this week. 
December/ early January went as follows: 

School events: we went for lunch for my birthday and got an hour long massage. It was amazing except for the moment where I realized massage lady had basically removed my shirt and my (male) waiban director was in the room with us. Made note to self: learn how to say awwwkwwwaard in Chinese. Watched one of the end of the year student variety shows. It was hysterical. Luckily, was not asked to sing. give a speech or act like a dancing monkey in any way- my school rules.  

Classes: classes wrapped up the year with Christmas parties and review for the final exams. I learned that my students are incredibly competitive when it comes to musical chairs and jeopardy. I will exploit this in future classes. Exams.. that's a different story. All of my classes had 5-8 minute oral interviews. They all had different questions (and yes that was a stupid decision on my part, pretty much how to ruin your weekend 101: creating over 200 different questions so your students can't cheat). Some of my students absolutely rocked their exams, I couldn't have been prouder. Others...not so much. I wasn't too fussed because I designed the syllabus that their final exam was only worth 15%. That was, until my counter part told me as I was creating their final grades that for half of my classes, their exam was supposed to be worth 50%. I flipped out, and explained that if that was the case a lot of students were about to fail the class. She asked if I could fib their final results and add in some participation points to boost their grades. I not so kindly replied that's what I'm doing by making it worth 15%. Lucky for me, she is awesome and has my back, so she went to the dean of the English department and got her to talk to the dean of my classes (who are not in the English department), who agreed that they would trust my judgement and just accept the final grades. 

What I'm doing now: well, last week was my last week of exams/ handing in final grades. I finished everything Thursday morning.. Friday I went to visit LT, one of my closest friends here, who sadly is ET'ing. I respect her courage to realize that this was not working out for her, and to pursue a different path in life. I'm glad I got to spend this weekend with her, even if it did entail 6 hours of KTV (which was by no means her fault). We got to relax, hang out, talk about what she wants to do post-PC China, and go to a wedding Sunday morning.  You know, the typical PC weekend. :)  Hopefully I will get to see her this summer if I travel back home.

Yesterday (Monday) really started my winter holiday. All of my friends in China are travelling at the moment to fabulous places: Hong Kong, Bali, Thailand, Malaysia, etc. I, on the other hand, am stuck in Chongqing. I was supposed to travel after IST, but that has fallen though. IST (or in- service training) goes from jan, 31- feb. 10, there all of the 17's and quite a few of the 16's will have language, tefl, cultural, security and secondary project training. I'm actually one of the organizers of IST, so the next week or so I'll be putting the finishing touches on sessions. 
In the meanwhile, I am stuck at my ghost campus. Why is it a ghost campus? Well, last Friday everyone left. Literally, there are 2 of us (minus the security staff) here. All of the 4 restaurants/ shops next to our campus are closed. Luckily the shao kao (grilled street food) vendors still open up so if I don't feel like cooking I can wander over there for a cheap dinner. 
When you join the Peace Corps you are asked how you can deal with the isolation and loneliness for weeks on end, and in my interview I replied well, I would work to integrate myself in my community. The problem here is my  campus was my community. And now my community is gone. The school is literally at the end of the road, it's a 20 minute bus ride to any form of civilization, and most things are closed due to the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year).There are advantages, like I was able to run/ walk on the track for an hour without anyone screaming HAAALLLOOOO at me. No line at the shao kao or ATM. Simultaneously, it feels like I'm in some sort of post apocalyptic work where everyone is dead, and it's just me with the Japanese exchange student left to fend off the zombies. 
My hope is that during the next month I'll be able to catch up on paperwork, work out, fill out grad school applications and practice my Chinese. Who knows, I may even become best friends with the shao kao lady, she looks like she can definitely fight off the zombie hordes. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Brief recap of November

I apologize this is a bit of an overdue update. I have been informed by a certain family member (cough cough DAD) that people actually do read this and want to hear what is going on. Plus, the 17's just passed our 5 month anniversary.
Teaching: the students continue to be the highlight of my experience here. Granted there are days when I am convinced I am teaching 5th graders (cricket in the face), there are 5 more when I know I am making an impact on their lives. I have one student, who for 2 months I was convinced he did not understand a word I was saying. Then last week, it was like a light bulb came on, he just clicked. He has been actively participating, contributing and reacting to what I say. Students like him make me seriously consider ditching the diplomacy dreams and continuing to teach after the PC.
Travelling: Not so much this month, went to Chengdu a few weeks ago for a work session, and  yesterday, the school took E and myself to the Chongqing Garden Exhibition. That place is huge. And not very garden-y, I would call it strategic placement of potted plants. As in flowers that really should be in the ground were just plopped on top. I don't think gardens are a very big thing here. But it turned out to be a beautiful day; a rare one here in CQ in that we could see the sky. The clear blue sky, sunshine, with cool weather, it was a nice start to the winter season. If only it would last. Next week the school is taking us to the hot springs which should be amaaaazing. The temperature dropped about 15 degrees (celsius), so a nice soak in the hot springs is just what the doctor ordered.
Thanksgiving: I think it is a requisite for PCVs to have a Thanksgiving post. Thanksgivings are weird for me, we always celebrated it at home, but it was never the "typical" Thanksgiving, this may be due to the fact that we were almost always overseas. But being with my family always made it special, and in Brisbane it was with my awesome friends (who are pretty much my family).  This year was no different, one of my closest friends here, Ashley, hosted Thanksgiving at her house. It was a smaller gathering, but very relaxing and filled with amazing food and friends. I am so grateful for the friends I have made here, they are quickly becoming like family. This I think is hugely important, in that everyone needs a support system, but for the most part our friends and family back home can never truly understand some of the issues we face every day.
The coming weeks: Next week is a little bit crazy, on Monday I am teaching my Chinese tutor how to make pizza, on Thursday we have the PC site visit, on Friday we head to the hot springs and on Saturday it's my birthday!
I miss  and love y'all! 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A very Chinese Halloween

Last year was the first time I had celebrated Halloween in the United States since I was about 12, so around ten years ago. I was filled with all these hopes and dreams of terrifying trick or treaters  and helping them down that slippery slope towards childhood obesity and diabetes. However, I didn't take into account that my neighborhood had about 3 kids. Hopes and dreams were dashed, then replaced by the sugar coma of diving into 1 lb of neglected Halloween candy.
So, with that memory fresh in my mind I didn't have very high hopes for celebrating Halloween in China. Boy was I wrong.
I spent the weekend in downtown Chongqing keeping the Halloween spirit alive with some of my favorite volunteers, we spent Saturday educating the Chinese public what costumes are and how adults interpret the concept of Trick or Treat. Sunday was a day of recovery, Suzie's Pizza Home and being back in my own bed and sound asleep by 6:30 pm.
This week all of my classes are learning about Halloween, and for some students, for the first time. The first lesson is centered around learning the vocabulary, watching Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and the Simpson's Tree-house of Horror. This is all in preparation for lesson 2: write and tell your own scary story, and if there is time remaining watching Goosebumps. I plan on having them say it campfire style with a flashlight and everything. The highlight so far has been practicing howling and screaming in horror. I pity the adjacent classrooms.
I hope everyone had a very spooky Halloween! I love you and miss you all

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Hi I'm Megan and I'm auditioning for the role of teacher

It's been over a month in at site, and I have finally started teaching. I have a nice mix of students, my morning classes are all 4 year students and my night classes are 3 year students. Prior to classes starting, the 3 year students had to be handpicked by me. I wish I had taken a video of those interviews, it was like Chinese X-Factor. I had students singing, rapping, beat boxing, mimicking their military training, and giving 3 minute long prepared speeches. Simultaneously to being hysterical, some of the interviews were downright heartbreaking. Some students refused to accept the concept of going on holiday, insisting that they had to go home and take care of their family. Another student told me of her hobby, spending time with her father, because a year ago her mother went to paradise and now her father is lonely. That one was tough to respond to.
But ultimately selections had to be made, and I had my night classes narrowed down to 25 students per class.

Class started last Saturday, which has now completely thrown the schedule. This, however, is a common fact of life here so I am rolling with it. The students are all proving themselves to be enthusiastic and hardworking. I'm trying to emphasize creativity and original thought, and sometimes it works and sometimes it bombs. But that is life in classroom. :)

I have class monitors, they are students picked by the staff to help out the teacher and keep the classroom clean. It's insane, as soon as class is over, they go around, collect name cards, sweep the classroom, wipe down the boards and mop if it's been raining. It's almost disconcerting how efficient they are.

Life outside the classroom has been going well, I have been visiting fellow PCVs and getting to know the town closest to me, Yubei.
Shout out to the greatest family in the world, they have sent several loving care packs. I'm now stocked in spices, winter clothes and face wash. The face wash is exciting because almost all of the face care items here contain whitening products. :S When the boxes full of western food goodness, I think I may have more than one happy dance. One can only eat so much Hot Pot.

I miss you all and I love you!