Peace Corps, China 22s!

And now… onto the adventure of a lifetime! The past month has been perhaps the busiest of my life- I left my job of five years in financial services, moved out of a tiny midtown west studio, said all my goodbyes, took a 10 day trip to bologna and Verona (the prosciutto and mozzarella.. heavenly!) and came home for a week and a half to the suburbs of new jersey. Then I packed all my stuff.. and now im writing a blog to fill you in on my journey to the peace corps before I board my flight tomorrow!

So, why peace corps? There are so many reasons why an adventurous American would quit his office job and be drawn to the peace corps. The chance to learn a new language, travel the world, make a meaningful impact on a low income community, and act as a cultural ambassador for the united states (to clear up some misunderstandings on who we are and what we stand for.. kind of important when donald trump might be the next president!) are some of the great benefits of volunteering with peace corps. It’s a two year commitment and the work and responsibilities vary from country to country. The impact is long lasting and very different from the “take a selfie with a child in a developing country before spending a week on a beach/ safari” experience that people from high GDP nations tend to do these days for the sake of Instagram 

Where am I going and what will I do? There are a dozen countries I’d love to spend two years living in, but ultimately I decided to serve as a university English teacher in China! It was a good fit- I am not the most qualified to work on agricultural development projects, health awareness, or social work programs – but I have a passion for teaching and interacting with students and would love to help them improve their English skills. Three of my grandparents were born in China (the fourth from nation island/ renegade province Taiwan) so I felt comfortable returning to my roots for two years, and meeting some of the 1.3 billion people who call China home. I am fortunately fluent in Mandarin Chinese, but am hopelessly illiterate so I will make my best effort to memorize some 2,500 simplified characters (I believe that number is the minimum threshold for character recognition if one wants to claim he/ she is literate in hanzi! Roughly 4 new words a day over 2 years… not too tough, right??)

what does this say? I HAVE NO CLUE! COME BACK TO ME IN TWO YEARS

I find china fascinating from a cultural and artistic perspective, and my secret nerdy history dream is to time travel back to the 9th century Tang dynasty, a period that most scholars consider to be the apex of the Chinese empire. I could spend all day at the Met museum walking through silk robes, ivory or jade carvings, bronze burial vessels, scroll paintings, and intricately designed vases spanning three thousand years. China is home to 48 UNESCO world heritage sites, sandwiched between #1 Italy (51) and #3 Spain (44). I love visiting all three of those counties- the food, language, traditional dances, friends, DUENDE– keep me coming back for more, and I’m always drawn to UNESCO approved palaces, fortresses, mosques, temples, towers, cathedrals and all sorts of ruins that better explain our past and how quickly the tides of fortune change throughout history

packing:

two sketch books, ink brushes, some watercolors, a palette, silver, gold, white gel pens. lets make some magic!

also, lots of khakis, dress pants, rain boots, dress shoes, sneakers, flip flops, shorts, swim trunks, jeans, sweaters hoodies, polos, dress shirts, jackets of all sorts.. CLOTHES CLOTHES CLOTHES .. DSLR camera, kindle, laptop, new iphone (yeah, very first world i know i know) and an electric toothbrush

packed and ready to go!!!! heading to china (specifically Chengdu for two months of training) see you on the other side!!!!!!