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.

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

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