Exhausted, slightly disoriented, we arrive in Chengdu just in time for me to check into the hotel room Peace Corps has saved for me, grab lunch, and get to a meeting. Post meeting, I discover that I have checked into the wrong hotel, and must take all my stuff to a completely different hotel. No worries. After a good night’s sleep, I, along with Wendy, another volunteer, give a talk to the newest Peace Corps China volunteers about a subgroup within Peace Corps China called PPS (professional peer support), which focuses on giving teaching assistance to volunteers (by way of lesson plan ideas, activity ideas, Power Points, assessment, and other items associated with teaching). It went fine. The best part of this was that I got to meet my site mate. This year another Peace Corps volunteer will join me in Jiangyou. I was curious to meet her and find out about her. We ended up having a quick lunch and we mainly discussed Jiangyou and the school, so I don’t know much about her yet. Here is what I do know. Her name is Mary. She is 50 years old, and was an English teacher in Korea for 8 years. She has her degrees in elementary education, early childhood education, and special education. She enjoys cooking and baking. She is from the Tampa area and is Catholic. So already we have a lot in common. She seemed nice and a bit spunky. She wants to help me with the English Resource Center I plan to develop further this year, and help me host potlucks and dinners that I did last year for the teachers that live on campus. So I am sure this year I will mention more about Mary in my blog, but for now that’s all I know.
Leo also joined me in Chengdu, and during this time he was able to attend a speech/gathering with Vice President Joe Biden. Did you know that Joe Biden went to China recently? Apparently Joe Biden is doing an Asian circuit. He was in Beijing meeting with Chinese officials and decided to stop off in Chengdu for a day or two before leaving for Mongolia. All of the new China 17 volunteers were able to attend, but only 3 volunteers from my group. Leo was one of the lucky 3 chosen. Leo said the speech was good, but almost entirely directed at the Chinese officials that were there. In case you aren’t aware, China isn’t very happy with America right now, mainly due to the debt crisis we are in. America being in economic crisis affects the rest of the world, especially China (who has the 2nd largest economy in the world right now). Anyways, Biden did say thanks for the volunteers and what we are doing over here, but it is too bad that he couldn’t spend more time with the volunteers. After the speech most of the volunteers were able to shake his hand, but that’s about it. Apparently security was really tight. Nobody knew where it was going to be located until right before, no one could bring their cell phones or cameras, and you weren’t allowed to leave the room once you’d entered. But Leo thought the Vice President did a nice job with his speech, which is good.
So now I am back in Jiangyou, and trying to catch up on work and readjust to life here. My first evening back was good because I got together immediately with my two friends Sharon and Vivi plus I was exhausted. But Monday and Tuesday were difficult. It was so quiet and lonely. I had to keep music or a TV show on to block out the silence. After 2 months of being with someone constantly it was weird to be by myself again. Now it is Thursday and I have been busy responding to emails, lesson planning, posting pictures, writing this blog, and other things, so I think I have adjusted myself to life here again. Once classes start I will be busy again and probably will miss these moments alone that I am having now, but that time will come. Classes begin on September 5th. I have no idea who or what I am teaching, but I have a general idea, and I think my lesson plans should fit in well with what and who I think I will be teaching, but I shall know soon enough.
Wow, over a year has passed. Looking back on it I feel I have done so much, grown so much, and seen so much. I am curious and excitedly awaiting to see what this second year will bring. I am sure some days will go slowly and seem monotonous, but most days will probably go by too quickly and will seem all new and fascinating. I am excited to meet my new students, see my old students and friends again, and to introduce Mary to this warm and inviting community. I am anticipating the secondary projects I plan to start this year (a Woman’s club, Culture Club, English Resource Center, and English Corner). I am hoping that I can improve as a teacher, learn and grow from the mistakes I made last year and will inevitably make this year. And I am interested to see where life takes me. What things will I experience? What will I see, taste, feel? What struggles will I face? What will the future hold? I guess we will all have to wait and see.