Tomorrow, a new adventure in China is about to begin for me.
At 12:30, at the Nanning airport, my colleague from Longzhou will be greeting me and seeing me off in the school van to my new placement, a 3-hour drive from the big city.
I’ve already been back in China for over a week, first in Chengdu and then a return to Luzhou to say a few final farewells.
I was truly taken back when I walked through our quiet campus, still absent of all student life, to find a new 7-story dormitory had gone up in just 7 weeks. Luzhou Vocational and Technical College was in great need of more housing for students so this is really a blessing.
The office spaces of 2 years ago that were being used for dormitory rooms last year were likewise under renovation. The workers were creating walls and making smaller rooms while I was there.
In the English departmental office, everyone was busy at work getting ready for the new arrivals on the 20th. I heard 130 spaces were open for our English major freshmen but 200 had been accepted. In these small colleges, no one is turned away as more students mean more tuition money. Our poor English teachers will be once again overwhelmed and have overloaded schedules. There will be no foreign teacher to help them out, either.
Recruiting for small schools in non-capital city areas is always a problem. Whether Chinese or foreigner, no one wants to go due to low pay and "out there" locations. I’ve been trying to help them out for possible foreign teachers by announcing in EFL professional websites but still no takers, I’m afraid.
The music department, through the gossip grapevine, has greater woes. Last year, 30 music students were enrolled but this year, only 4. The administrators are now scrambling to figure out what to do with them. Most likely, there will be some mergers between departments to take care of the 4 who are here.
While in Luzhou, I enjoyed swimming in our park’s outdoor pool and meeting new employees I’d never met before. Despite the hot and muggy weather, when August hits, the number of swimmers always decreases. I noticed this happens in America as well. The kids start to think about school and the desire to do recreational activities starts to diminish. However, I did have a small following of children at the pool who wanted to learn how to swim.
For 4 days, after I finished my own work-out, I joined them in the shallow end where we had some time together. As I instructed the boys and girls how to breath and properly use their arms, their moms walked alongside the pool and shouted instructions.
"Listen to the foreign teacher!"
"Do like she says. Don’t turn your head so much!"
"Stretch out your arms! Watch Teacher!"
How very familiar was that experience. I still remember years ago, when teaching swimming in my hometown pool, how the parents were likewise encouraging their own kids from alongside the pool in a similar manner.
It must be some kind of universal.
Little Flower and I arrived back in Chengdu on Friday and she will be sent off to her babysitter’s home this evening. I’ll then go to Guangxi on my own to settle into my flat, have my working visa processed and explore the town.
The Amity Nanjing conference, from Aug. 23 – 26, is my next trip from Guangxi. After that, I’ll return to pick up LF in Chengdu for our journey via plane to my new placement.
I’m hoping to eventually have Internet hook-up in my new home but it might be awhile.
For now, I wish you all a great weekend. I know mine will certainly be a special one. New school. New friends. New surroundings.
Now that’s definitely the start of an exciting adventure in China!
Here’s Ping An (peace) coming your way, as always.