The search has been on: Jelly Beans in Longzhou


            The question for the week:  How do you say “jelly bean” in Chinese?

            For Christmas, the search was for Christmas lights.  Living in such a small town, I had little hopes of finding them but managed to do so in a tiny, over-burdened with products, knick-knack store right in the middle of the business district.

            Well, it’s March now and we’ve moved on to jelly beans, which in my books are a must for the Easter unit with the students.  Not only are they needed for visual (and tasting) aids but also for our count-the-number-of-jelly -beans-in-the-jar contest. 

            It’s a tradition for me to fill jars (or bottles) with jelly beans and have every class of students guess how many are inside.  The student in each class who is closest to the number without going over wins the contest. . . . and the filled bottle.

            In Luzhou, jelly beans were easily found in small mom-and-pop stores around the city.  But once again, in Longzhou, I found myself sadly disappointed.

            Every store, large or small, I came up empty-handed.

            Yet is seems that the Easter Bunny was on my side today when Little Flower and I ventured out for yet another downtown search for America’s infamous Easter candy.           

           As soon as we left the back gate, I found my eyes wandering to a popular student goodie shop.  Huge bags of shelled peanuts, sunflower seeds, dried fruit, and other dormitory late-night snackies weighed down the inside shelves.   

            What do I see, right there on the table next to the scales, but a huge bag of jelly beans, unopened and ready for purchase.

            I couldn’t believe it.
            “How much?” I asked the owner.

            “How much do you want?” she asked.

            “The whole bag,” I answered.

            How much?” she asked incredulously.

            I’m sure she thought  I made a mistake with my Chinese.  Why in the world would anyone want to buy a 5-pound bag of jelly beans?

            “The bag,” I repeated.

            She went to pick it up as I added,  “And do you have three?”

            “Three?” she stared at me.  “You want three?  Three bags?”

            “Yes, three bags.  But fresh jelly beans, though.  This bag looks old. Can you order them?”

            There was a thoughtful pause. She picked up the phone to call her supplier.

            Yes, three new bags were possible.  They’d be in on Sunday.

            Oh, happy day!
            With 15 pounds of jelly beans to fill the contest bottles, and a generous 120 yuan ($17.50) happily placed in the owner’s pocket, I think everyone will be having a very joyful and uplifting Easter this year.

            Along with the jelly beans will be egg coloring in my home but all these traditional American events will be taking place after a week. 

            Starting Monday, my students will be discovering the religious significance of  复活节(fu huo jie, the literal translation meaning “return life holiday” along with new vocabulary such as lily, Palm Sunday, crucifixion, the cross and Easter Sunday.   While I’d love to give each one a lily, they’ll have to settle for an Easter seal lily instead, courtesy of all those Easter Seal stickers sent to me over the years.


            From China, here’s wishing you a blessed weekend and Ping An (peace).      









About connieinchina

I have been in the Asia region for 30 years as an English language teacher. 28 of those have been spent with the Amity Foundation, a Chinese NGO that works in all areas of development for the Chinese people. Amity teachers are placed at small colleges throughout China as instructors of English language majors in the education field. In other words, my students will one day be English teachers themselves in their small villages or towns once they graduate. Currently, this is my 13th year in Luzhou Vocational and Technical College. The college is located in Luzhou city (loo-joe), Sichuan Province, a metropolis of 5 million people located next to the Yangtze River .
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