I forgot to mention one thing about the Thanksgiving weekend. I travelled with Angel from Mianyang to Neijiang. This was quite the experience and I am surprised I had forgotten it until now. The bus we were taking is supposed to leave at 9am, so we get there about 8:40. Angel asked an attendant where the bus to Neijiang is, since we didn’t know the characters for Neijiang. The attendant told us to wait a bit since the bus wasn’t there yet. We wait and then it is 8:50 and we get a bit nervous thinking the bus should definitely be there by now. Then all of a sudden we hear that the bus to Neijiang is leaving, so Angel runs over to see what is going on and they tell him the bus that has been in front of us this whole time is in fact the bus we should be on! So we load our things and get on, but the bus is packed and there is only one seat. Angel tells me to sit and I said that we can switch at the half-way mark of this 5 hour bus trip. But then this lady gets on and tells Angel to follow her off the bus. When he gets off, the bus I am on starts pulling out! I start to say wait but it doesn’t look as if they are going to wait for me. I sit back down and Angel has sent me a text to stay on the bus because they are putting him on a different bus and if things get too weird try and meet up in Chengdu at the North Bus Station—I say okay but am really hoping this doesn’t happen because I always get a bit lost in Chengdu. We travel for a bit on the bus and then the bus pulls off on the side of the road and the driver tells me to get out. I was starting to get really nervous but then I saw Angel was standing on the side of the road too. As long as we are stuck in the same boat together I figured things couldn’t be too bad. So what happens is this- lady that first took Angel off of the bus flagged down a bus for us and three Chinese people and we all got on and made it to Neijiang. Just have to have fairht and trust. That is one thing I have learned about China. If you let someone know where you want to go you will make it there, even if it’s not the way you originally thought.
For example I took the train to Mianyang the day before leaving for Neijiang and I mentioned to these nice Hunan people sitting next to me that I was getting off in Mianyang and they told me when to get off the train. They were also trying to force this teenage girl to practice her English with me which completely appalled her. Instead I practiced my Chinese with them.
Back at school there was a hip-hop dance competition between our school and 9 other colleges. It was quite interesting. I had a few laughs watching it as the boys were trying to be gangsta and the girls were trying to be sexy—with ripping their shirts off and pretending to fire guns. Some of the dancing was actually impressive—though far short of So You Think You Can Dance. Our school got first and second place, which wasn’t surprising considering how much time is spent dancing here.
One evening I was asked to teach a group of students to make fruit salad. I said it wasn’t difficult—just cut up some fruit and put it in a bowl. But the main reason was that the students wanted to communicate with a foreigner. And also they meant Waldorf salad. I came and said that I think Waldorf salad isn’t eaten that much by westerners I know, and that I didn’t think it was tasty; so we should just cut the fruit and put it in the bowl, but if the students want to try waldorf later I would write the recipe on the board. When I first came into the classroom I was slightly overwhelmed because it was a large group and they were just waiting for me to "do something". Finally the students settled on me singing a song to start. The Chinese have this bad habit of treating foreigners like they are circus performers. Anyway I taught them two children’s songs (head shoulders knees and toes and If you’re happy and you know it). Then I let them ask me questions. At one point Janice came into the back and I made her join me at the front, but she left as soon as we started making the fruit salad. I showed them but said it really doesn’t matter what fruit you include and how it is cut up. Afterwards we played some games. The first game was that you were asked some questions by a ‘host’ and you had to answer quickly without using pronouns or saying um. It was rather difficult. It was all in Chinese but I still participated but they had to ask me the questions slowly and I responded even slower. If you used one of the pronouns you had to do a performance of some sort—song, dance or something else. Then we played another game that was a mixture of hot potato and truth or dare. If the ‘potato’ stopped on you then you must answer a question without using any pronouns and if you did then you must choose truth or dare. I used a pronoun on my turn and I chose dare and they made me do a dance, so I did the I’m a little teapot dance. When it was time to go back I discovered that I had been spending my evening with the English Club. I had no idea that there was an English Club. It is a student-led group that is interested in English and improving their English skills and knowledge of English speaking countries.
The next week there were several sports competitions, including ping pong and volleyball. I was asked to participate in the volleyball match. I am terrible at volleyball but it seemed I wasn’t the only one and anyways I was filling a space. It wasn’t very much fun since I don’t like volleyball but I was being apart of the department which was good. Our department won, but we won out of the losers. It was just for fun, though. In the middle of the game Kerry asks me if I am going to watch a movie that evening at Janice and Marks. Since I had made Skype plans with someone I said no. He said oh well then I should tell you now that the leaders said that you must be finished teaching this week and have exams next week and turn your grades in before Christmas. Well last I had heard we were to finish at the end of December and I had already made plans for exams taking two weeks and told my classes that day this. So I had to change my plans and track down the students I had already told my original plans to and give them the new plans. Apparently this happens every year and every semester. I can’t understand why they cannot figure out the dates earlier than they do. Oh well. I will make a mental note of this for next semester.
Lunch can sometimes be quite interesting. This time Kerry turns to me and starts asking me all these questions about Christmas trees. Is it true that you put real trees in your house? What kind of trees do you use? What do you do with the tree after Christmas? Do the trees in the school or the trees at the mountain we went to (more than a month ago) look more like Christmas trees? It turned out that Kerry had this crazy idea to go to the nearby mountain and cut down a tree to bring to his house for Christmas and then to keep it on his porch for the rest of the year. This is not a good idea—so us three foreigners thought. Luckily it didn’t work as he hoped and he bought an artificial tree. Actually his home was