China Team Journal

Friday, March 23, 2012

Week 3

Dumpling and karaoke Monday - after teaching the wigger students - the ones from a rural province - a bit of English, I went with Baoli and Della to the president of the college and his wonderful and talented wife Julia's home.  We entered the apartment and could smell food preparation - however, it was no warmer than the school and the window was still open of course.  We dug into the doughy wrappings and stuffed them full of pork, eggs and chives.  I was by far the weakest member of the production while The others created perfect and consistent moon-shaped dumplings at five times the speed.  Apparently, this is what families do for New Years - a bit different from the binge partying of the USA.  After a bit, there were rows of about a hundred dumplings which were promptly boiled up and eaten while Della entertained us with her piano playing.  Soon after I was in my bed in my room nursing a very overstuffed belly and on my way to a short but fitful nap.

At 6pm, Baoli and I went for noodles and a sandwich - like I needed more to eat! - and we went to the karaoke house and met out dumpling crew.  We spent 3 hours singing a variety of international songs in a private room and really enjoyed the eclectic mix of music and dance.  After a while I even managed to work the Chinese keyboard on the karaoke machine to navigate the menu and pick my own songs.  It was an absolute hoot and we all had quite a great time.  I don't think anyone really wanted to leave but we were all worn out from the singing in the hot and stuffy room and thankfully enjoyed the brisk air outside for once.  It is my last week here in china and what a start!  While I am really anxious to get home, I will also be loath to end this amazing journey.

The rest of the week went smoothly much the same as previous weeks -- except for the cold and grey of Xi'an is certainly starting to get to me.  It had started warming up last weekend after the government shut off the heat for the year, but now it has dipped back to freezing - this time with no heat - yet classroom windows remain open!  Sheesh!  My last day teaching was Thursday and while I felt a terrible cold coming on, it was a very special day.  The kids and teachers came together for a final farewell ceremony.  There was singing and dancing (even I was cohersed into participation) and wonderful praising speeches (not that I'm sure they were deserved ;).  Then we took a bunch, and I mean a bunch!, of photos and we went our separate ways - the kids to class or lunch and the teachers and myself to lunch off campus.  We walked across the street and upstairs to a family-style restaurant where I was seated facing the door in the VIP seat.  Lunch consisted of courses of beef, veggies, corn, rice and chicken soup - I also had some noodle soup to warm my bones.  We all just hung out and swapped stories while shoveling food into our faces.  Soon after, we said goodbye and went our own ways.  I will miss the kids and teachers - at least those enthusiastic ones - very much!

All in all, what a trip!  The cultural, language and certainly food differences have been vast and quite challenging at times!  Friday is the day to set my affairs in order for my departure - packing, checking my flight and generally resting up in preparation for a very long flight home.  My final fair well dinner with Baoli and some last minute shopping concludes my itinerary and then a restless nights sleep and journey to the airport.  Goodbye   Xi'an!

- Ryan