Thursday, May 29, 2008

The coming days

Even though I don't have much class left, I feel like I've got a billion things to do and no time to do any of it. Of course, when that happens to me I often sit back and do things even more slowly. Not the best reaction, I know. So why do things feel so hectic? Why am I so rushed? Well I don't know if I announced this before, but I'm not coming back to Shiyan after this semester. That's right, that wasn't a typo. So even when I don't really have anything to do, I feel like there's something I'm forgetting. That always happens when we're leaving a place, though.

In the past when people asked me how long I would be here, I would always answer "until I don't want to be here anymore." That was the only answer I knew to give. I didn't really plan to come to China for long before I actually came. I had some friends introduce the idea to me, I called them crazy, they pressured me into going to a meeting about it, and then it just sort of hit me and stuck. If you had told me a year before I graduated that I'd be in China, I would have laughed in your face. It just shows how quickly a path can be revealed in your life. Well, after coming here I always figured I'd stay until I felt like I should go home. I've been told by others who've come and gone that sometimes you just suddenly know that this is your last year. Last semester I fully planned to stay here another year. I really like a lot about being here. I also really dislike a lot about being here. I don't want to make any lists or anything, I'm just saying that suddenly it just makes more sense for me to go than to stay.

I will leave Shiyan on July 7. I'll be at the Nashville airport on July 9. At this point I have no idea what I'll be doing in terms of a job or anything like that. I don't know if I'll be spending the rest of my days in the States or what. I've considered the idea of coming back for language school. Increase my skill set, that sort of thing. At this point all I know for sure is that I hate teaching English here. I'm not going to miss it. I'm not going to miss having 23 hours of free time every day. But I'm going to miss my friends. And I might even miss the 11pm false alarms when my friends think there's a prowler.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Breaking the silence

I haven't blogged in about a month (I'm sure I didn't need to point that out), and it's not for lack of things to say. A few very interesting things have happened in the last month. I'm not sure why, but it seems the more I have going on the less I blog. So when I go for a month without blogging anything, you can probably assume that I'm mulling over a lot of things in my head. Anyhoo, I'll try to let you in on just a few things and get back on track here.

First thing first. I'm not trying to toot my own horn here, but if you'd like to read an exciting story involving me, prowlers, a folding chair, and intention to make a daring leap from the fourth floor balcony to the third floor, just click here. For a little background, you should know that about a month ago, while Michael was here visiting, someone broke into the third floor apartments in the middle of the night and stole some money from Trip and Jessica.

Now, on to other news. Of course you know about the May 12th earthquake in Sichuan province. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you need to get out of your bubble. I wrote a brief blog entry the day of the earthquake just to let everyone know I'm okay. At the time I didn't realize the extent of the devastation and for some reason I haven't come back to comment more on it until now. It's been an incredible experience to see the reactions of the people here. The sorrow and despair, the patriotism and unity, the surge to donate anything including blood, supplies, and money. On the 19th, exactly one week after the earthquake, the country began a three day mourning period. It began at 2:28pm, the time of the earthquake, with 1 minute of silence. That's how I was told it would begin. Actually, when the clock struck 2:28, every train, truck, and taxi in the country blew its horn. That's a lot of noise. My first thought was "that's a strange way to have a minute of silence." Then I learned that it was meant as a wail of grief. A nation wide wail of despair after so many tens of thousands of people were killed. That's intense. For the next three days, all places of entertainment were closed, color was removed Chinese language websites, online entertainment was blocked, the only available media online, on the radio, and on TV was about the earthquake. For 72 straight hours. It seems strange to a foreigner like me to have such an enforced period of mourning, but if you know the culture here it seems fitting that they would honor the people of Sichuan as one big family and in such an all-encompassing way. There's still so much happening in Sichuan and so much work to be done there in the months ahead.

Now it's time for me to go. I actually have to go to class. Boo. On the upside, I've only got three more days of class over the next two weeks, so I can't really complain. Anyhoo, I'll write more later. I know that my own blogging doesn't quite cover all the events that take place here, so I'd suggest that everyone check out the links I've provided to other Shiyan blogs. Angelyn and Jessica's blogs will probably provide insight into any events at my school, while the others may or may not mention me but should still be interesting and thought provoking.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Earthquake Mania

Seems like every time I turn around there's another earthquake around here. No, I haven't gained weight! Let's see, there was the earthquake on the border of Xinjiang and Tibet that everyone thought was in my backyard, then a week later there was the one in my backyard that no one apparently knew or cared about. Now there's been a rather large earthquake near Chengdu that was felt near and far. I'm sure you've probably read or heard about it, so I'll spare you the scientific details. I will let you know that we felt it here but we're all okie dokie. Around 2:30 when we were leaving for our afternoon classes, Angelyn and Jessica asked me "Can you feel that?" I just kind of looked at them like they were crazy for a second. Once I stopped moving, though, I felt like I'd been drugged or something. Everything was swaying ever so slowly. It was a weird, trippy feeling. We realized it was an earthquake and though "Cool!" then left for class. Of course we got outside and all the buildings had streams of students coming out, afraid that everything including the trees were about to collapse into piles of rubble. If anything fell off of anyone's shelf in town, I'd be very very surprised. We couldn't even feel it unless we stopped moving! Anyhoo, we survived, don't worry about us in Shiyan. Don't forget to pray for those closer to the actual quake, though. It seems there was quite a bit of damage and they're pulling a lot of kids from under piles of rubble at some schools. No one's better at rolling out the masses of emergency workers than China, though. It'll be cleaned up within a week.