Tomorrow morning we will take our bags, meet at the University (Sichuan Shifan Daxue Dongqu), and set off for a hotel. These next few days will be all about our final move to sites. Preparation for medical emergencies, setting up bank accounts and meeting for our final interviews will take place (not to mention finding out our language proficiency score). We are saying goodbye to our homestay families: saying goodbye to the great food, friendliness, comfort and safety we experienced while living with them. Then we will look ahead to our first months in China as Peace Corps Volunteers. This transition, trainee to volunteer, is already ominous. We will say goodbye to more than our wonderful host families. Our many friends are here together, and it is little consolation that we are ALL going off on our own. Plans for Halloween are already being developed. We are saying goodbye to Chengdu as well. In the morning I cross the narrow bridge, catch the 336 or the 885, yell at the driver to open the back door, and make my way to language class. Only now are the drivers beginning to understand my speech; the door opens every time. But we are going to new places. How long will it take to adjust? Will we be successful? How will it be when something funny happens and we cannot share it with the group? Is the winter as dark and cold as they say?
Despite the questions and the fears (we all have these) there is an excitement we all feel. We crave this change, this independence and freedom to make our colleges our own in whatever ways we can. We are thinking about secondary projects: about the environment, about communities and education and learning Chinese and playing ma jiang and eating in the cafeterias of our colleges. We are pondering syllabi and teaching English classes and talking with students at English Corner. We are thinking warmly of instant coffee and rice. I already know they will be my two new best friends. We are thinking of the people whom we have not yet met: our future friends. Who will they be? Where will we find them?
And so we have reached this point of transition. Our bags are packed - loaded with ESL resources and language learning materials (and that instant coffee I was talking about). We are ready. Here we go.