It's been awhile since I've written about something that's going on in my life. A more typical blog post seems to be about some strange event at the grocery store. Actually, today I was walking on the sidewalk and a man was laying on his back. This was right in the middle of the sidewalk. His eyes were closed and he seemed to be foaming at the mouth just a little bit. I looked up at the storefronts to see if there was perhaps some window from which he had fallen or jumped, but it was boarded up. Everyone was keeping their distance and staring at him. In China, it's pretty common for arguments and thefts and, well, any event to be surrounded by passive onlookers who will not intervene. Sometimes I find myself drawn to these scenes, staring along with everyone else. I feel that I have integrated. Honestly, though, don't hold this against me in America. I need someone to volunteer as my cultural liaison so that I don't spit on the floor of a Pizza Hut or knock somebody down because they looked like they were about to cut in line.
Back to the story: Actually, the story is happening now more than it was happening at the time. I'm recalling all of these details about the man only now that I think back to this afternoon. At the time of the incident, I took in the scene and evaluated possibilities within 5 seconds before completely ignoring the man except to note that I had to step a little higher to clear his left leg. I won't go into the details of how I knew to keep walking, but if you ask me in person I will happily share.
Lately my students have been preparing for their final exams. I'm giving Oral English/Listening interviews (15 minutes per student) in which the students are graded according to a rubric including fluency, pronunciation, sentence structure use (from what we learned in class) and overall understanding. Reading and Literature tests will also be given. This entire show begins today, Wednesday, and ends next Friday.
On July 15th I will be going to the countryside with two other PCVs to teach English to rural teachers for two weeks. More on this in a future post. Promise.
August heralds the beginning of a 1 week countdown to a 3-week visit to the lovely America: land of high-speed highways and other methods of organization, sanitation, and efficiency.
I'll tell you a secret. I don't really feel like I've been here nearly a year. Another secret? America feels like it isn't real anymore. I only remember about 3 things: family, friends, and stuffed crust cheese pizza. The third became a less-than-fond memory during my last visit to Guiyang when I ate so much cheese that I got sick. I guess my body was not accustomed to dairy after it was deprived for so long.
Despite all of that water between China and America, I talk to my parents enough that it feels a little more like a Seattle-Portland separation sometimes.
During the one-week countdown is a flurry of activity in Chengdu: Medical Exam, Dental Exam, Presentation to the new PCVs about how to teach without technology (or, making more with less), and watching the new PCVs teach lessons during their model school experience.
And after all that? Finals, Teaching in the countryside, Medical exams, Presentations and returning to America? Return to China for year 2.