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.
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.
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.
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.