In the midst of all the mounting, uncompleted tasks and stress came a little bright spot yesterday evening: My team of volunteers from English Education Class 111 (the freshmen) came to help put my boxes together.
4 weeks ago, I ordered 90 large boxes from our little post office in Longzhou. I knew it would take some time for them to arrive since they had to be ordered from Nanning, the capital city. Sure enough, two weeks later, the phone call came from the post office that I could come pick them up. Mr. Luo, my foreign affairs director, kindly drove me over in his van and we loaded them all in. Of course, they were flattened for transportation purposes. Aside from filling them, the biggest task would be to assemble them.
Can one person really have that much stuff?!
Do I really need 90 boxes? Well, I came with 92 so I figured I’d just scale down 2 more and have it made. Naturally, the Chinese here at school think I’m crazy. They can’t believe one person can own so many things.
Chinese don’t collect like Americans do, or rather, like this American does.
Chinese have no decorations for the home, just the basics and one of everything. Where I have festive hangings and painted pictures up all over my rooms, they have bare walls. Where I have numerous different skirts, jackets, pants, shorts, shirts, coats, shoes and what-not, the Chinese just have a few clothes items to choose from. Where I have tons of books, all topics and all language levels, they have a very limited number if any at all. Where I have a million DVDs in my collection, they have none. And where I have teaching materials and props galore, all truly needed to make my classes interesting and exciting, Chinese teachers have only their classroom textbooks. Teaching in China is still very basic with most instructors sticking to the book. That’s probably why foreign teachers are such a hit in the classroom. We really do bring more to lessons than our books, meaning that for me, the holiday boxes take up a lot of space.
So, yeah, I do have enough stuff to fill 90 boxes!
Students Hard at Work
At 7 p.m. yesterday evening, my class monitor, Radium, came with 9 classmates in tow.
After their initial shock at the stacks of boxes in their midst, I instructed them how to tape them together, then set them to work. Pairing off, they got busy with tape and scissors while I was the box stacker after they finished. My spare bedroom was the place to house the 90 once they were put together. I figured they’d be up to the ceiling by the time we were through and that certainly was true.
Working hard, my team of 10 spent the next 50 minutes (non-stop) assembling the piles of cardboard.
By the time they finished at 8 p.m., they really had something to be proud of. Everyone crowded into the spare bedroom to have a look at all their efforts.
“Wah!” was the surprised and astonished cry when they saw the finished products. Naturally, a picture was in order.
After that, it was time for their just rewards. We sat around drinking coke, eating candy and talking about the end of the school year, their summer plans and the upcoming move to Chongzuo. For an hour, we had some very special time together which we all enjoyed and everyone will treasure.
At 9 p.m., it as time for them to go. They had early morning classes the next day and I was ready to call it quits for the night.
The Packing Begins!
Today is Wednesday and the packing begins. Now that the boxes are ready to go, it’s just a matter of filling them. I’ve been washing clothes for several days, allowing them to dry in this hot weather, and have just about finished with the last load.
Today will be clothes-packing day. After that, I’ll be working my way through all the rooms, one by one, and see what interesting, long-forgotten things I’ll find to either toss, give away or send off to Sichuan.
From Longzhou, China, here’s wishing you Ping An (peace) for your day.