To really understand China – I’ve heard you have to move there.
July 5th we were hiking way up high in the Sandia’s above our New Mexico home with a Albuquerque Senior Centers group. I had tried to reach my daughter in the parking lot before setting out. There was no service, at all, that far up, although there are antennas of many variety at the mountain top nearby.
I heard Bill’s phone ring and him talking to someone, but I was many people ahead of him on a narrow trail, so did not hear any of his conversation. During lunch he mentioned to me, and the entire group that he had a call from the BYU Kennedy China Teachers program asking if we would consider going this fall, rather in a year as our application had requested. He said he had told them that we had plenty of commitments, which would be a full time student schedule for me and he would be going to school and doing his student teaching at the high school near our home.
My reaction to hearing that he had made this decision without conferring with me was, “Seems like something we would talk about before giving an answer.” He looked shocked and asked if I would consider doing this so soon.
Truth – I had a very unusual dream the night before and was still trying to figure out what that was all about. It involved a train station and going up and down stairs and then someone saying that we were already there. Walking through tight places with luggage and it just went on and on. I had been having a hard time with the idea of going next year as we would miss my youngest graduation and just maybe some kid would fulfill my need to be a grandma! The idea of actually moving early on the China experience had not presented itself until the morning after this dream.
Long 53 days later – longest plane ride yet – Texas to Seoul Korea, and we are in Tianjin China preparing to teach 16 classes of Oral English. Arrived on 27th of August and the school starts on the 12th of September.
August 28th -We got a taxi, very quickly and went to church in the morning. 9AM was scheduled time, we didn’t walk straight to the house, as the map we had didn’t show the road exactly and we got there 3 minutes late with help of a nearby neighbor. A super nice gal was waiting in her car and said that the people with keys had not come yet. So we compared our situation and found common ground in that we both have married kid living in SLC. After church she drove us home, showing us useful businesses etc. along the way.
The meeting started at 9:30AM – lasted until 10:15. One speaker – and he spoke English and then translated to Chinese without missing a beat… back and forth with each thought. I’ll need to get used to that! Total attendance 10. When all the teachers show up – all 11 of us, we double the branch. There were others that were not in town, but it was basically two families and us yesterday. Setting was a nice big house, with small yard. No sign on the front or anything, you just need to know the address.
Learning a little bit by bit, but it’s coming together and we’ve only been here one full day. Today – a new friend named Jello from church is taking/driving us to Ikea. We have a huge list to make our apartment a little more workable. Excited!
August 29, we had a meal with a friend of past teachers that we have been in contact with, who filled us in on soooo many things. 1 – everyone unplugs all appliances from the wall, for real fear of electrical fire due to questionable building practices and the fact that there are bars on our windows and it would be hard to get out. They showed us a picture taken by a student during a hard rain. Water was pouring out of the electrical outlet and they had a pail catching the water. 2 – our students know that no one fails out of college… so they don’t have to do much to get by. 3 – the apartment manager comes in on Wednesday and sort of cleans the floor, but maybe just snoops. 4 – she’s going to show us the blind massage place where we can get a dry massage for $10US. They do it clothed – so I’m going to try that soon. (not that I’m used to clothed massage, but going to try her recommendation) 5- how to get a bike and how to lock it with 2 locks or it will be stolen. 5 – Cautioned to be super careful during flooding as you may trip on a manhole cover that has floated out of place or worst case – fall into a manhole. Descriptions of water being knee deep and full of sewage.
And much much more…
August 30th – a trip to Carrefour
department store, took so long and we came home with so little. Gallon size vinegar is not to be found so far. Nor coconut butter – but we will keep looking. We use vinegar as a fabric softener and in cleaning. We used a translate app many times to try to get help at the store. If any of the workers know English, they were not trying very hard. The very few times we have come across a Chinese person willing to talk to us in English, in the last three days, is making me a little nervous for what the students in our class can handle. Our experience in Shanghai, big tourist city, made me think that any young person can speak English, not so here.
PS. I’ll add photos, and edit this when I’m less jet lagged.