Friday, October 9th, saw all of China back to normal.
The holidays were officially over. Classrooms filled with students, the overburdened airports, train and bus stations cleared of vacationing millions, and stores cleared their shelves of mooncakes and 60th anniversary discounts. TV stations are no longer featuring flamboyant celebratory programs of dancers and singers, and the newspaper headlines are back to the usual mundane affairs of the country.
For Here, Not Yet Back to Normal
But here in Longzhou, my new placement at Guangxi Normal University for Nationalities, we are still in the upheaval mode.
Although I was told to return for October 9th classes, once I arrived on the 5th, I learned that most likely we’d still be waiting to begin the new semester due to the opening of the new campus.
Just as a recap, there are 3 campuses to this school. The oldest campus is in Longzhou (where I am). The second campus is in central Chongzuo, the county capital city 1 1/2 hours away. The 3rd and brand new campus, which is the one now opening to new students, is located in the outskirts of Chongzuo, in the middle of sugarcane fields and dirt roads.
The Longzhou campus will eventually be closed in 2 or 3 years because it’s just too small to accommodate the growing number of students that have been enrolled. In the meantime, different departments are moving to the new school. The English Department, for now, is remaining in Longzhou thus all the English major students and faculty will be here. A few other departments are here as well. Of course, we stay but a vaste number of others are leaving.
All freshmen students have been at this Longzhou campus, doing their mandatory military training, for a month while the brand new campus was being completed. I had assumed the students would leave us before the National Day holidays to move into their new school dormitories 1 1/2 hours away but I guess the final touches on the buildings there hadn’t been made yet. Thus everyone stayed put here in Longzhou, including the faculty who were moving as well, and waited for the big move ahead.
And that move is taking place this weekend, with classes hopefully beginning on Monday.
We are having 3 days of thousands of students packing up their small belongings into huge plastic carrying bags with zippers or small suitcases, dragging their things to truck pick-up points and seeing them off to their new home in Chongzuo.
The administrators have done an excellent job of organizing the student move. The pick-up point is in the covered sports’ building where everyone receives a colored ribbon to tie on their things. The colors are by departments. Then their bags get a bag check sticker and the owners receive the receipt number so they can get the right luggage back at the other campus.
All bags and suitcases are all lined up in neat, tidy rows for loading onto the truck. The loading is done by workers who carefully pile the things into the truck, stacking them clear to the vehicle’s compartment roof to get as many as possible inside.
There are 3 pick-ups a day: one at 9 a.m., one at 12:00 and one at 3:30 p.m. It’s just enough time for the truck to be unloaded at one end and make the return journey to Longzhou for yet another shipment of thousands to be packed onto the truck yet again.
A Difficult Move for Faculty
As for faculty, many have waited until the last minute to leave. Our campus is now filling with small moving trucks parked outside of apartment builings. Neighbors stand outside, watching loads of boxes and furniture being hauled downstairs by movers who will begin placing them onto the vans. Grandmothers with the grandbabies and grandchildren stand about, helping parents keep toddlers from getting in the way of the bustling traffic of the movers.
In many ways, it’s a rather sad scene. Some of these elderly, who live with and are now following their children (faculty employees) to a new location, have been here for years. This is their home. These are familiar surroundings. They have their community here and their nearby shopping places. The new Chongzuo campus is far from having a friendly neighborhood feel yet. The landscaping is nowhere near finished, meaning no pretty parks, walkways and grassy sitting areas as we have here. Also, the school is located in such a distant location,perhaps 20 minutes by bus from the city itself. I wonder how these people will feel after years of Longzhou living.
It will be quite an adjustment and I’m sure it won’t come easy.
In the Meantime . . .
For myself, the cooler temperatures here (in the 80s daytime, pleasant 70s at night) are proving quite a relief from the 90s and 100s that I experienced before in August. All my lessons are in order for the first week of classes where I will be teaching English Education, Business English and Practical English majors. Usually, Amity teachers only teach educataion majors. Business English and Practical English will be a bit new for me. I even had to ask what a Practical English major is. I was told it’s a major that is for any English field (teaching, business or tourism) a student wants to go into. So rather than concentrate only on being an English teacher (English Education major) or working in the business field (Business English major), Practical English majors have the foundations for both as well as other English language-related jobs.
Classes I learned will be much smaller than in Luzhou, where I had 50 – 60 crammed into the room. Here there are between 35 – 40 students, which is quite a luxury for me. That I certainly am looking forward to.
News of the Animals
As for Little Flower, she is still feeling unsettled and not exactly at ease in her new surroundings. The apartment is huge compared to Luzhou. LF has been wandering about most of the day trying to find places to crash in that feel normal. She’s flopped on the spare bed but that wasn’t right. She’s moved from her bassinet to her carrier and back again numerous times. That also doesn’t feel right. She’s curled up on the two cushy couches in the living room. Again, not to her liking. She’s even tried hiding in the wardrobe among my clothes and positioning herself on top of a huge plastic bag of unshelved books I still have to put away. All good efforst to feel at home but likewise, disappointing bedding places.
I always knew it takes time for one to feel settled and comfortable in a new environment. I just didn’t figure it would be that way for a dog.
Perhaps yet another taking time to feel at home is Kitty, who was dropped off at Dr. Q’s veterinarian clinic last Sunday. He was a bit confused as to why he was in such a strange place when I left him. Dr. Q’s huge, fat and sassy cat came to take a look at the new arrival. She was more interested in eatting Kitty’s food I carefully set out for him than she was in really caring that another feline might be sharing her space.
A phonecall to Dr. Q’s clinic yesterday had me reassured that the kitten is finding his way around by himself. He enjoys playing with the staff and chasing things around the many cubicles. Dr. Q has given him full run of the clinic. I’m sure within a short amount of time, he’ll be parading around as if it were his own.
News ends here at present until next week’s accounts of students and school teaching life. In the meantime, I hope your weekend is a pleasant and happy one. Ping an (Peace), everyone!