It’s been a tough 24 months away from “my” China, for numerous reasons: No in-person contact with beloved students, colleagues and friends; missing my campus apartment with all the homey comforts (and really neat clothes that always dazzled my students!); greatly increasing the teaching load my Chinese colleagues, who are taking over my courses since there’s no one to sub for me ; not being able to sing with my Chinese church choir; putting on hold, yet again, all my holiday activity events (including Easter egg hunts, which were everyone’s favorite Spring activity); Plus not being able to fully utilize the English Language Resource Center for movie night, student lesson planning sessions, useful classroom arts-and-crafts demonstrations, Tuesday and Thursday game time and hoisting down boxes from shelves to pull out seasonal decorating items. (See below an evening game night.)
A Die-hard Swimmer Bemoans her Current Fate
But most distressing has been the opening of the school’s first natatorium. I’m a die-hard swimmer, and have been all my life. I tell people I’ve spent more time in the water than on land. I started splashing about at our local summer pool when I was 3, joined teams all the way through college and continued onward to keep in shape even to my current age of 57. (Ah, those years of summer swimming team!) I’m Age 6, 1971, in the first picture, then moving on in years from there through to high school.
When the indoor pool finally opened, without me, on the school’s campus in May of 2020, I was devastated.
Anticipating the Grand Opening
For 3 years, I’d watched it being built along with the basketball stadium. Every day, I’d walk to the sports field to take a look at the progress of our college’s 50-meter pool complex. I marveled at the workers’ 2-story temporary housing go up, watched with anticipation the empty expanse of land being dug out, witnessed bulldozers, flatbeds of iron girders and other equipment come and go, marveled at the rise of the impressive criss-crossing steel frame of the building itself and reveled in the eventual completion of the spectators’ stands as well as the actual filling of the pool.
When I left for my Chinese New Year holiday in January of 2020, there were leaking issues the workers were dealing with so it continued to be closed, much to my disappointment. But I figured by my return after just a month in America, I’d alight on February 14, 2020, to a grand opening. I was determined to be the first in. I wanted to wow the lifeguards, my students and administrators with my swimming prowess. I was especially looking forward to our school’s 3-day Sports Day in April, a yearly campus-wide mini-Olympics, where I promised students I’d coach those who wanted to enter the swimming competitions. As for myself, the teachers in our Foreign Language Department already had me down to enter the faculty competitions, where we all knew I’d give us a glorious outcome over the other departments. Finally, the first time in our school’s history, the PE teachers wouldn’t stand a chance against the College of International Studies’ foreign teacher, Connie. They might be able to defeat us in basketball, ping-pong, badminton, volleyball, and track & field but in the water, that was the foreign teacher’s domain.
How I was looking to walking 5 minutes to the pool from my campus apartment home rather than spending 30-minutes to taxi across town for my daily workout at the city’s new natatorium, where I had a year pass. There I met with the older crowd, all die-hard swimmers like myself. The water was heated but not the pool deck area, which made for a very chilly walk to and from the locker rooms.
School Pool Opens, Closes due to Covid, Re-opens to Date
While many areas of China have recently been struggling to keep the country’s Zero-Covid strategy in place, Luzhou (6 million, Sichuan Province) is proving itself Covid-free . . . at least for now. My students are posting pictures of folks maskless, lovely spring flowers throughout the campus, outings into the countryside with friends, eating out at crowded restaurants, sports events taking place, as well as contests and performances going on in the fully packed auditorium. Campus venues likewise remained fully operational, including the sports stadium and the natatorium.
I received word of the grandness of our new water-sport addition from Australian, Geoff, who recently turned 70. I once featured him and his disabled wife (Chinese, whose English name is Snow, 56) in a previous post. The two of them visited my campus recently to take a look at our nice facilities. They sent these pictures.
Quite impressive, isn’t it?
The gentleman giving the “thumbs up” signal was meant for me. He and I swam together every day at Zhangba Park Natatorium, where I had a year pass. Now he is swimming at my college pool, which is open to the Public for a $4 US fee per swim or you can purchase a year pass, as I absolutely will do when I return.
How I miss all my swimming buddies, including times I was asked to give swimming stroke advice for freestyle and butterfly, two of my areas of expertise. Looks like upon my arrival to my Luzhou home, whenever that can take place, I’ll have a lot to look forward to: new swimming friends and just a 3-minute walk from home, up the roadway incline to my favorite hang-out place of all time, the swimming pool. Can’t wait!
Next report: China is struggling as Omicron variant runs wild Updates will be personal stories from former students about the current Covid situation who live in: Shanghai, Jilin (Beijing district), Shenzhen, Nanjing (our Amity Foundation headquarters), tiny town Longzhou (my 3-year placement from 2009-12, along the Vietnam border) and Hong Kong.