Sorry about the lapse in posting, but I have been meandering through Chinese culture. I am a healthy 67 kg.
I got sick after eating too much Fanqie Jidan Mian (Egg and Tomato noodle soup) and this prompted my family to show me a restaurant which was "very clean, very cheap." It has been an interesting week because we began teaching on Monday. I shared a poem by Raymond Carver and we talked about how tangible items define culture. I also taught them Puff the Magic Dragon. It was a blast; I really love the teaching aspect of this experience.
Language has been difficult lately - mostly because it is slow to enter my brain. I get incredibly frustrated when I want to speak to people and find myself running into a dark field of mysterious, unknown vocabulary. Even simply pronouncing words correctly or using the correct emphasis has been a problem. On the buses here the back door sometimes will not open, meaning one should yell to the bus driver 'Please open the back door' (Qing ba hou men da kai). The dialect here requires emphasis (in this situation) to be placed on the 'hou' (back), but the Mandarin emphasis is on 'kai' (open). Needless to say, there have been experiences where I am standing at the back of the bus, squashed in the middle of countless people, trying to yell the phrase to a driver who probably hears something like "Pud opra peopla big." Sometimes people around me will take pity, yelling for me to the bus driver. Sometimes they will not and I will yell "KAI MEN" (OPEN THE DOOR!) to avoid being taken to the next stop.
The other PC volunteers are a wonderful blessing. We have been very supportive of one another, and we get together about once a week outside of our typical duties. We are all lost in this forest of responsibility together and that helps.
I have wanted to really explain this experience to everyone, but it is difficult to do in words. The best way to understand would be to walk through the neighborhoods here and see what people are doing, to eat dinner with with a chinese family, to attend a chinese banquet, to visit my Chinese class, to visit my English class. To understand the value of a dollar here you need to spend the Kuai in different locations and convert in your head. To eat lunch costs about 1/7 of what it does in the US, but to buy electronics it's about the same.
Yesterday my host grandmother taught me how to make egg fried rice! My host mother is going to teach me to Zuo Zhong Guo Cai right now, so I am going to go and learn!