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.

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. 

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