The Return to China Draws Near
Time goes so quickly during vacation.
Monday, I’ll be flying off to China to join the Amity Foundation’s orientation for newcomers. As mentioned before, I will be leading workshops for the new teachers. We have 15 young Germans, teaching English at the junior high level in Gansu Province, for one year, and 5 adults (USA and Britain) teaching English for 2 years at colleges in Inner Mongolia. I’m in charge of the Germans while my colleague, Amity teacher Lena Aspers from Sweden, takes care of the 5 adults. After the orientation, which ends August 26, everyone flies off to their placements to begin the school year. For myself, it’s back to Sichuan Province at Luzhou Vocational and Technical College where I hope to remain for several years.
Our Local Gathering of United Methodist Women (UMW)
It’s always fun to be able to participate in any United Methodist Women’s event while I’m in the States. Last summer, during my church itineration, I had quite a lot of UMW contact at different churches throughout Illinois. And even during the winter, I was able to sit in on a circle meeting at my local hometown church. This time around, we had a great gathering in celebration of United Methodist Women with our vibrant speaker being Rhonda Whitiker. (She gave an uplifting history of UMW as well as all the wonderful projects UMW currently supports.) The Marshall First UMW (my home church unit) hosted and organized everything. This included my mom, who did the publicity leading up to the event, then introductions and hymn sing during our time together. It was a good turn-out of about 40 women, as you can see from the photos.
The County Fair Arrives!
Our local newspaper last week was filled with the arrival of the Clark County Fair at our fairgrounds, July 29 to Aug. 4. Horse racing took place yesterday and today with livestock being brought several days before for showing. Also on the agenda are the canned goods, baked goods and art exhibitions. The winners of different categories will go on to the Illinois State Fair, held this year from Aug. 9-19 in Springfield, the state capital. The amusement rides have been up and running all week with whirring speeds with game booths sprinkled in between. Naturally, most people go for the food but I noticed it’s quite expensive, more so than when I was a kid 35 years ago. I used to think $4.00 at the fair was an ample amount to enjoy yourself. Now, it’s more like $40 or $50.
Still Ongoing: Hospital, Dog Walks, Swimming and Friendly Visits
My father is still in the hospital, in the therapy wing of Terre Haute’s Union Hospital. Evaluations take place every Monday, giving him a hoped-for discharge date of perhaps 2 or 3 more weeks. I’ll be back in China by then so any more updates will come from my mom via email.
Yesterday was my day to spend with my dad in the hospital on my own. My mom had errands to run around our hometown so I was on duty. For the first time since I’ve been home, he was feeling more hopeful about returning home. We were able to joke a bit about past events and cheer on our Olympians while watching the Games TV coverage. During dinner in the dining hall, I entertained those at our table by reading a travel magazine’s international hotel listing. The prices ranged from $60 to an astounding $4,000 a night. The $4,000 a night was located in Kenya, in the bush with elephants wandering up to your well-appointed veranda. The photo spread was amazing. Included in the decore was a tiger skin laid out at full length on the polished wooden floors. One does wonder if that was a fake skin or the real thing, especially as wild tigers, I believe, are on the endangered species list.
We all had a discussion concerning interaction with the wildlife. If you didn’t get the full treatment of an elephant or giraffe visit, did you get your money back?
“Yeah, right!” my dad said sarcastically. We pretty much all agreed with that sentiment.
Lao-lao (our Chinese immigrant canine) and I continue on our early morning walks. The kitties along our route are coming out from under bushes, around trees, off porch steps and down from perches to stalk after us. Lao-lao pays them no attention until they pounce. To put them in their place, he gives a short lunge and his fiercest squeak (not very fierce) to send them jumping backwards. It works for awhile but if he could bark, I’m sure he’d have a more adequte fright impact. He seems to be quite proud of himself, though, so I guess that’s the important thing.
I’ve been enjoying swims in my childhood pool along with other adults in town. We’ve had quite a good turn-out for 6 a.m. (early bird) and 8 a.m. for the later swims, averaging about 8 to 10 of us. The Olympics seem to have spurred many of us on to swim a bit faster than last week. Our snatches of chit-chat right before diving into the water are often of Phelps and Lochte, both rivals and our two best male US swimmers. I notice that the Chinese are doing a phenomenal job as well. Years ago, Chinese were never able to keep up due to their short size and stature. Over the years, changes in diet (lots of dairy and meat, probably enhanced by growth hormones like our products are) have been producing very big athletes in Asia. The Chinese men and women are keeping right up there on medal counts with the best swimmers from Europe, Australia and North America.
And I’ve even managed to squeeze in visits with relatives and friends these past 3 weeks. Quite an accomplishment considering all that’s been going on in this household.
In other words, I’ve been making the most of my time in the States, which is how it should be for vacation.
Until next time, here’s wishing you Ping An (peace) for your week.