A Weekend Reunion
Last weekend was one of catching up and fun times with old friends. As mentioned in the last entry, our small group of Guangxi Amity teachers was meeting up for a small reunion in Nanning. I was in charge of our accommodations at my Jiang Nan Hotel hang-out, which Lena, Diane and Daniel were happy to know about.
The area is one which is quite flavorful in its array of Chinese community lifestyle. The park is especially spectacular on weekends. It serenaded us late evenings in song with portable loudspeakers blaring folksongs (many times with voices clearly off-key) by enthusiastic residents entertaining one another.
In the mornings, we had a more pleasant performance by the many bamboo caged birds brought on an outing by their owners. These lined the park walkways while their chaperones (all men) stood about, admiring their pets and talking to one another. Another nearby group of retired folk gave us their best renditions of Chinese music played on traditional instruments.
For myself, the biggest news to share dealt with the final decision of the school’s closing and move to the campus in Chongzuo, 1 ½ hours away. This had just taken place last Friday, the day climbed aboard the bus to Nanning.
A Re-cap of the Longzhou School’s Move
Last mention of the school’s move had been in an earlier blog report. It had been announced that one more year might be added to the moving schedule, and perhaps even another 3 years. This was due to numerous reasons: the new campus didn’t have enough dorms yet to accommodate the Longzhou students, this campus hadn’t yet been sold and the county government (owning the land) didn’t want it standing empty for too many years, and the local city government was worried about the economy due to the move (no students to spend their money in the town and no draw for anyone to come here without a college).
A tentative decision was made that 1 more year would be added to the schedule, meaning everyone would leave in July, 2013, but that possibility was only made among school leaders. The provincial education bureau was responsible for the final decision and they were stalling.
“The beginning of May, there will be a final decision!” we were all told, but May 1st came and went still without any news.
My Decision Finally Made
In the meantime, my Amity director (Liu Ruhong) and I had been discussing placements. Amity needed to know where I’d be going so the new school could prepare for my arrival, including visa application. There was also a choice of staying in Longzhou for one more year, but since the official announcement had not yet been made, this was becoming a problem. If I chose to stay, and then the government forced us to move, where would I go? Amity had to know and I needed to make a decision.
After much discussion, thought and prayer on my part, I made the choice to move. Amity and my sending agency, The United Methodist GBGM, accepted my proposal for a return to Luzhou inSichuan, which was my former placement before coming to Longzhou.
Luzhou (loo-joe) has always been my Chinese home, from the church to my friends and Chinese colleagues. I’ve kept in touch with everyone over the past 3 years so I knew the school was still in need of qualified teachers. They were also thrilled to have me back. Thus it’s off to Luzhou!
Wise Move on My Part
I had really struggled with moving or staying, mostly because I didn’t want to desert the students for an entire year if they remained here. The word had come down from Chongzuo that no native speaker would be sent to Longzhou to teach, even though the Chongzuo campus would have 6 new Americans to take over their English classes.
Leaving my students without any hope of having another native speaker in their midst was very hard. I felt quite the traitor.
As it turned out, this was a very wise move on my part. After months of debate, the provincial government finally gave their final decision 4 days ago: Only one more semester at this campus. In January, 2013, everyone must move and this campus closes down. If I had opted to stay, I would have been forced to move to Chongzuo (not a very pleasant place to teach) for only one semester and then have to move again in the summer to another placement, most likely far to the north in Inner Mongolia. Amity has already designated no Amity teachers for Chongzuo. The Chongzuo campus will have 6 foreign teachers so there is no need for an Amity teacher to be placed among them.
The Schedule for Me
Naturally, there’s a lot to do and prepare for this return to Luzhou. The schedule for my move will take place as follows.
June 22: last day of teaching to end the school year.
June 23 – 27: packing up everything to go onto the moving truck headed for Luzhou
June 29: I fly to Chengdu (capital of Sichuan), then take the bus to Luzhou.
July 1 – 8: moving back into my Luzhou apartment; 1 week processing for my new work visa.
July 12 – August 7: visit to the US as my father is not in good health
August 9 – 25: Return to China where Lena and I will lead the orientation workshops for the new teachers with our organization, The Amity Foundation. (There will be 5 adult teachers in the 2-year program, teaching English in colleges; 15 young adults fromGermanyin the 1-year program, teaching English in junior high schools.)
August 25: Return to Luzhou to start up the school year.
Those wishing for the address beginning July 1 is as follows:
Luzhou Vocational and Technical College
35 Wa Yao Ba Road
Luzhou, Sichuan 646005
P.R. of CHINA
Only Regret and Sadness
My only regret and sadness in a return to the place I love so much is that Little Flower will not be accompanying me. Our Luzhou campus was her true home, the place where she grew up and knew so well. She would have been overjoyed to race across the campus once again, visit our administrative offices to say “hello” to everyone and land in our old apartment which was so familiar to her. I’m sure her little spirit will follow along with me, with lots of warm remembrances of our special time together always surrounding me.
From Longzhou, here’s wishing you Ping An (peace) for your day.