Reunited With An Old Friend
The past two weeks have been a whirlwind.
Immediately after our Halloween festivities, I was visited by a very good friend from America, Becky John.
Becky and I first met about 17 years ago when I was going off to China and she was working for the United Methodists in the New York offices. Later, in 1999, Becky and I met up in Taiwan where I was teaching at the Wesley Girls’ High School and she was studying Chinese. Our kindred spirits launched us on an immediate, long-lasting friendship.
Although we lost track of one another, we never forgot about our fun times in Taiwan which just recently were relived.
Yes, Becky managed to swing a vacation visit to China after years of being back in America, working for State Farm Insurance. Her first order of business was to find me, which she did, and arrange a visit to our little town of Longzhou.
For 6 days, Becky and I enjoyed the high-life of remembering our youthful 20’s and 30’s as well as being ushered about to visit this area’s scenic spots. We were able to enjoy the famous 2,500 year old cliff drawings by riverboat tour (courtesy of one of the tourism majors here at the college) and even the Detian Pubu (falls), the world’s second-largest transcontinental waterfalls. (Niagara being the first).
Becky, being the utterly delightful and friendly person that she is, also busied herself meeting the students both at our English Center and in the classroom. Everyone was not only impressed by her Chinese but also by her warm personality.
Having such a great guest at a new school has certainly stengthened my relationships among my colleagues and those in my community. And it’s also been wonderful to share my new life with an old friend.
A Campus Highlight: The Chinese Language Department’s Food Fair
While Becky’s classroom and English Center visits were a nice bonding experience for her, I’m going to have to say experiencing the campus Food Fair was probably what endeared the students to us the most.
I wasn’t aware of this annual event until Becky landed on Thursday. The students were already in an excited mode concerning what goodies they’d be cooking for Saturday night.
“What’s happening Saturday night?” I asked. “My friend Becky is coming. We should know.”
I was then inundated in news of the annual Food Fair, which was sponsored by the Chinese and Management Departments. Classes and student groups organized a small booth and prepared all their own foods, cooked or not, which they sold to the student population for a small amount. Those participating had already signed up and I was told there would be over 90 booths lining the student walkway on Saturday evening.
Teachers would be the judges to taste and decide what the winning foods would be.
Since there are no student cooking facilities on campus , participants had to be creative in borrowing equipment, such as gas burners and charcoal grills, or doing their own make-shift cooking areas for their booths.
I really had no idea what this all entailed until Becky and I finished our cliff-drawing riverboat tour and landed in the midst of the crowds on Saturday evening.
It was incredible how the students had so carefully made their booths, with huge signs and colorful drawings inviting hungry passers-by to try their wares. They shouted, grabbed, dragged, and shoved people in the direction of their enticing foods, hoping to make a 1 or 2 yuan sale (15 – 30 cents).
Becky and I managed to cruise the stalls first before returning to fill our empty stomachs with what the students had to offer. We saw a lot of local delicacies and then the normal Chinese fanfare. Such offerings included stuffed with meat tofu squares, fried donut and sesame seed balls, lamb, pork, chicken feet and chicken wing kabobs, pig feet soup, grilled vegetables and corn-on-the-cob, fruit cups, jelly tea, thick rice-noodle wraps,
stir-fried sliced potatoes, french fries and the list goes on.
Deciding whose to eat wasn’t quite as difficult as deciding whose not to eat. The students were over-enthusiastic in their drive to grab up the two foreigners and hustle them over to their booth. On several occasions, we wound up with free servings even though we tried to pay. Stuffing the Americans seemed to be the top priority on their “to do” list for the evening.
Did we mind?
Not in the least!
Still Keeping Busy
Becky left last Tuesday, leaving the apartment quiet once again aside from Little Flower’s playful antics with her toys. We certainly had a great time together and I look forward to having such a gracious guest again.
But the week didn’t slow down with Becky’s departure.
I still had visits to the English Center and then English Corner on Friday evening, from 8 to 10 p.m., where we all enjoyed outdoor free talk and games.
Saturday morning found me on the bus at 6:30 a.m., heading off to the capital city (Nanning) to meet up with our Amity teachers in this province for our regional meeting.
Every semester, the Amity teachers in our respective areas get together for fellowship, sharing and a relaxing weekend together. I spent only a day as I had to return for a student-planned evening activity that night but it was well worth it to catch up on all the latest from our new Amity folk.
In our province, we have 3 new comers, two who came accompanied by their spouses. Claire with her husband Martin from the UK, Ueli from Switzerland with his South American wife Johanna and Bob also from the UK. Then we have Lena (Sweden) and myself (America), who are pretty well-established long-term teachers, which brings us to a total of 5 teachers, 2 spouses.
Claire was unfortunately in Hospital (as the Brits say) and wasn’t able to join us. Martin, her husband, stayed behind to take care of her. Her high blood pressure has been a serious factor here in China and we are all a bit worried about her at the moment. Please keep her in your prayers.
Thanksgiving Day’s Coming!
Now it’s back to classes on Monday, which ushers us all into my Thanksgiving Day Unit. This week, we will concentrate on the history of the day and next week, we’ll be learning how to set tables and all the foods involved in the grand dinner.
Too bad there are no turkeys in China but I have plenty of family photos to give them a “taste” of Thanksgiving Day in America.
And on that last note, I wish you all Ping An (peace) for your upcoming week!