Okay so the last week has been one of the most exciting and fun weeks of my life. First of all on Tuesday I invited my host brother to play ultimate Frisbee with me and a few other volunteers. It was so much and a great time to get outside and run around. My host brother loved it! Maybe we can spread the awesome game into China (if you are unfamiliar with ultimate Frisbee, it is best to ask someone who plays in the States because it can be difficult to describe over the computer). Anyways, he wanted to know when would be the next time we would play and that his dad might come too. His parents came to watch us play and they were so cute. They were the stereotypical soccer parents in America, with their umbrella in the rain and jumping up and down whenever their son got the Frisbee or their son’s team scored. It was wonderful. All of the volunteers love my host family, and if you met them you would love them too. They are such wonderful people- China and America alike. Oh and I think we tied.
I forgot to mention last Friday that I went out to eat with my host family and friends. We went to this restaurant kind of far away. Of the many things we enjoyed there, included were frog and snail. I actually liked the frog, although there wasn’t much meat on it, and the snail was interesting. I can’t say I will be enjoying snail anytime soon. It was also difficult to eat and my host dad helped me a couple of times. It was fun, but very hot. Oh that reminds me that it had been very hot here in Chengdu (even hotter in Chongqing-those poor people) and so the electricity was going out all over the city because people were running their air conditioning more. You cannot run your air conditioning all day here because it uses up too much electricity. Btw the temperature in Chengdu is about the same as Florida, and Chongqing the same as a really hot day in Tallahassee (107 a lot of days).
Okay so the big news this week was my site placement! I am going to… (insert drum roll) Jiangyou in Sichuan Province. It is about 2.45 hours by train away from where I am now in Chengdu. It is apparently the site of where the most famous poet in China lived (will find out the name later) and is a vacation spot for many Sichuan people. It is a new site for Peace Corps (in other words there has never been a volunteer there before). I will also be the only volunteer at the site. But no worries, the next closest volunteer is 30-40 minutes away by bus in Miangyou. There are also 3 other foreign teachers at the university I will be teaching at (a Canadian and two Mennonites. I know, Mennonites. Strange.) I will be teaching at Sichuan Preschool Educators College. My students will all be future primary and kindergarten teachers. How cool is that? I am just super excited. I will be leaving Monday for a site visit and will stay until Friday or early Saturday morning. I am hoping to get back a little early because my host family wants me to go to the wedding of an extended family member with them on Saturday. Luckily I am not too far away. I am looking into taking the bus back which is a little more expensive but an hour faster. I need to talk with my wai ban (foreign affairs office at the university which deals with foreign teachers only) to see about getting back earlier than expected. We shall see. I leave Monday at 11.11 am by train.
Oh one thing I forgot to mention. There are about 23 other China 16 (my year) volunteers that will also be in Sichuan for service. Every province needs someone called a warden that is in charge in case something serious happens and the volunteers need to be evacuated from the region. The only two evacuation procedures that have ever occurred in Peace Corps China that I can think of are: the 2008 earthquake and the SARS outbreak. Why am I telling you this? Because yours truly is deputy warden or the assistant warden. The main warden is Angel, a transfer volunteer from Bulgaria who is also my nearest site mate. So Angel and I have decided that we are going to be the best of friends by the end of Peace Corps. He has already asked me if I play tennis. I told him I would certainly try. So anyways, this means that Angel is in charge in the case of an emergency, and I am there to assist, or if need be to take over in the instance that Angel cannot fulfill his duty as warden. Angel was the warden in Bulgaria, so I have no worries. Our job is to call everyone in our province to make sure they are safe and to be the communication between headquarters and our volunteers. Also in the circumstance of an evacuation, we are to ensure that the plan laid out by Peace Corps is followed out, or in case the Peace Corps cannot be notified in time, to be sure that everyone gets out safely.
Other exciting things: we had a banquet practice session with our language teachers. What does this mean you ask? Well banquets in China are a big deal. Many times we might be pressured to drink, commit to something, or make an unplanned speech or toast. This was a time for us to practice so that we do not offend our colleagues, dean, or the president of the university that we will be teaching at, and also to allow us a comfortable environment to practice so that we do not make a full out of ourselves. It was fun, and hey, a good free lunch.
Also a group of volunteers as I tried our hand at KTV, the craze among adults in China. It is basically a karaoke bar. The cool thing about karaoke in China is that you get your own room for you and your friends, so you are not making a full out of yourself in front of strangers, but just your good friends. I sang Avril Lavigne (a much loved icon in China among students) and A Whole New World from Aladdin. I also tried my hand at some Lady Gaga, although I don’t really listen to her (much to the dismay, I am sure, from some of my fellow volunteers), and well since I didn’t know the song very well it was difficult to sing to, but everyone joined in to sing it. It was awesome, and I hope there is KTV in Jiangyou, and me and my new Chinese friends there can go visit. If not, Chengdu is not too far away with many volunteers who might be willing to let out a tune and have a nice cold Chinese Snow beer (one of the few really cold beverages in China).
I have added pictures from my trip to beautiful Leshan, and will be adding some more pictures soon of my language class, a trip to a famous street in Chengdu that I can’t remember right now, and a few others.
I will be without a computer for the week I am in Jiangyou, but will be sure to fill everyone in on my week long adventure when I get back, both in words and pictures.
Once again, if there is something you are dying to know about China or have some preconceived notions about life in China, shoot me an email and I will be more than happy to locate the answer for you.
And last, but certainly not least, I now have access to my blog!!! Thank you China 15 Micah for your awesomeness!