Our Haven for Misfits is Closing Up Shop

             In a past blog, I explained how our tiny English Center  has proven a haven for misfits.  Students such as strange Isaac, bullied Godfrey or shy Elise found a home in our Center, high above the campus on the 6th floor of Teaching Building 1.   Others came to quietly browse through U.S. fashion magazines, watch numerous movies from our outstanding DVD collection, play games (Chinese checkers, Scrabble, Uno) or just to talk to one another in English. 

            Cool breezes blew through the open windows, fluttering the curtains about.  Amazing mountain views caught many of us gazing thoughtfully out over the distant landscape.  Our Christmas decorations dazzled and brought festive cheer to everyone who entered in December.

          And now it’s time to close up shop, to begin packing books into boxes, to empty this room and its contents soon to be headed for a new home.

          This is the last week our  English  Center  will be open.  Most likely, not many will be visiting.  Students have other things to do, from sports to part-time jobs to studying  for next months’ final exams. The weather is hot and sticky so climbing the 6 floors to the top is rather tedious.

As predicted, this week has our English Center pretty vacant of visitors.

           The school wants as many students as possible to help with moving so they are scheduling packing early.  Already, the school librarians have begun hustling volunteer students in and out of their doors.  They struggle to carry heavy boxes and stack these in empty ground floor rooms.  Trucks will arrive at some point and off everything will go.

           And for our Center, the volunteers have collected used boxes from nearby shops to get ready for packing up.  They’re starting June 15, I was told.  I’m not involved in that but I might pop over (or rather, up) to lend a hand if I’m free.

Used boxes in our English Center, awaiting to be filled

Two Center volunteers, getting ready for the move

 

            I can’t help but feel a little sad this week while visiting our Center.   Past foreign teachers have neatly painted the walls with educational quotes and fun figures to brighten the atmosphere. 

Brightening up the room, former teachers helped add a little flavor to the Center with wall decorations.

                We have pictures hanging on the walls and decorations taped to the entrance windows.  It’s a cozy place, worthy of the climb.  Soon it will be deserted with only past photos to remind anyone of our quaint little campus in distant Longzhou.

            I’m so glad that Sky, one of the Center volunteers, has taken on a special remembrance project.  She is putting together a photo album to take to the new school and has asked me to go through all my digital pictures, copying those dealing with our special room onto her USB. 

            So here I sit, reminiscing as I go through all the many photo albums on my computer, the English  Center my top priority at the moment.  There are pictures of my first visit to our 6th floor Center, group volunteer snapshots with my American friend, Becky, Amity’s sending agency reps (positioned on our low stools) who appeared for Amity’s 25th anniversary celebrations, and Little Flower, standing near the door, waiting anxiously to leave for our campus walks.  There’s Isaac, grinning behind his hand of Uno cards, and Eric, a 23-year-old young man from outside the school who often came to practice his English with us.

           We certainly made good use of that room over the past 3 years.

           I’m sure the new  English  Center  on the Chongzuo campus will provide just as many meaningful moments as ours has.  There will be 6 foreign teachers at that school starting their teaching careers in  China.  It’s time to turn the Center over into new hands which I’m sure will be just as eager to help out as I have been.

           From Longzhou,  China, here’s wishing you  Ping  An (peace) for your day.

About connieinchina

I have been in the Asia region for 18 years as an English language teacher. 13 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 second year in Guangxi Province at the 3-year college, Guangxi Normal University for Nationalities. The college is located in smalltown longzhou, 1 hour from the Vietnam border.
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