This week was filled with many firsts for Derek and I. It was our first week teaching our students. A lot of volunteers made it seem like teaching would be very difficult and that the kids were the spawn of Satan themselves. To our surprise, Derek and I both really enjoyed teaching, and the kids are the cutest little things. Just look at them!
I am not saying teaching is easy. It never is. Kids are hard, they are crazy, and not being able to communicate with them fully makes it even harder, but overall we enjoyed our first week of teaching. These kids are the reason why we are in China anyways.
They call me “teacha” Wren, but I have been called tiny teacha, yellow hair teacha, and even crazy american. Derek’s students call him “teacha” D, and they LOVE him. We will be walking around campus and randomly hear “teacha D! Hello teacha D!” It’s only been a week, but we already know that we are going to miss them when we head back home.
We also made a new friend by the name of Ada. She is a Chinese teacher at the school who teaches English. She took Derek and I, and another volunteer named Bryn out to dinner this week. We went to an american food restaurant. She says american food is her favorite. (But who knows if that is true) Pasta, cheese fries, and a burger have never tasted better!
She also took us to a nice mall and a super market, and then we hung out at her apartment for a while. It was so much fun to see into a person’s life here in China. She said next time we will go to a Mexican food restaurant, so I am already excited to hangout with her again!
Besides teaching, witnessing our first sunset in China, seeing the inside of a Chinese apartment, getting used to the squatters, and adjusting to the new food, Derek and I experienced our first time getting lost in China! Getting lost in a new city is always nerve wrecking, but when you can’t ask anyone anything, it makes it even more scary. (And funny!)
Over the weekend, I decided that I wanted to go to a lake that was about 7 miles from the school. I put the address in my phone and we google mapped the directions. A few other volunteers decided to join us on our adventure. Long story short, it was quite an adventure. We ended up getting on the wrong bus and ended up in a city called Jintan that was 2 hours away from the school!
As I sat on the bus and watched us pass the stop that we were supposed to stop at, I decided to get up and ask the bus driver why we didn’t stop there. He didn’t speak any English. Instead, he just looked at the map on my phone and just laughed at me. We all decided that this was in fact, funny. When we arrived in Jintan, we walked around for a while. The town was filled with cute flower stores, coffee shops, and had a lot of dogs that were pets and not strays! I was actually happy to be there. This one reminded us of Harvey. vvv
We found a little restaurant to eat lunch at and were happy with the food and company. So far, Derek and I have really enjoyed the food here. I do miss crepes, pizza, and Mexican food, but we expected the food to be much worse than it has been.
After lunch, we ran into an older Chinese guy who was pushing around a metal cage. I could tell that the cage was filled with some sort of animal. As we got closer, I noticed that they were PUPPIES. My heart instantly broke when I made eye contact with their sad little souls. They were so crammed together, and so tiny!
I kept saying they should be with their mother. The guy just smiled at us, having no idea how upset we were. One of the other volunteers decided to open the cage door and we all took one puppy to hold. It was a horrible idea. I choked up as I walked away thinking that I couldn’t save them, or at least one of them, and not knowing if he was selling them for pets or food. I think that was by far the worst thing that I’ve ever seen in China… or ever.
After trying to communicate with the language barrier, and attempting to read the road signs with our translator for about a hour, we finally found the correct bus station. And after another two hours, we were back by the school. It was quite the experience, but we learned a lot of lessons about public transit, and now have a funny story to tell. Plus are you even living in a new city if you don’t get lost every once in a while?
On Sunday, Derek and I had home visits with a few students from our school. Which means we get to go spend the day with them and their parents. There was 7 students, and all of them were in 5th grade, so Derek and I actually don’t teach any of them in our classes, but them and their parents welcomed us with open arms for the day. They tried so hard to impress us with their English and had such great hospitality. It was such a fun day!
We played board games, made home made spring rolls and dumplings, and played at a nearby park. Their parents cooked us a HUGE meal for lunch that included a few Chinese dishes, spaghetti, steak, potatoes, corn, and salad. It felt like Thanksgiving. It was a very cool experience to not be able to communicate with language, but only with food, and smiles.
After lunch we went to an amusement park place and played mini golf, laser tag, and bowling. We also went through a giant maze (that I couldn’t get out of, so the kids laughed at me) and a haunted house. All of the kids chickened out last minute, so Derek and I went through the haunted house alone. It was actually quite scary! We got dropped off at the school just in time for an afternoon nap, dinner, and game night with the rest of the volunteers.
This week opened our eyes a lot. We are finally feeling settled, comfortable, and more at “home”. We are even getting good at our basic Chinese. We’ve experienced so many new things and have learned so much, but we know there will always be more to learn that we will be constantly working on(especially public transit). We are so happy to be on this adventure together!
Onto the next one, Wren