I cannot say enough good things about the host family I have been living with for the past month (I’ll spend a total of almost two months with them throughout the summer). For most of my stay the family consists of Ma Shu Shu (father), his wife (Ayi), Tommy/ Cao Cao (the 4th grader son), and Snuggles, the cat. The past week has been extra exciting since Ma Yan (22 year old daughter) has returned from America from her studies to live with us. I took her room 🙂 Also, Ma Man, their 21 year old cousin has been staying with us as well, and she is also returning from America. So its quite the full house we have right now.
I have been living here in Chengdu for a month now, and have had the great pleasure of exploring the city and its outer boroughs on the weekends and occasionally weekdays after class. Some of this is done with my host family (more on this amazing, welcoming family later), some with my program or friends, and other adventures take place on my own. Here are the highlights thus far:
San Xing Dui archaeologic site: 70RMB entrance fee
This is about an hour by drive outside of the city center. It is located at the site of bronze age ruins from the mythical Shu dynasty of china, which flourished some 3,000 years ago. This doesn’t fit neatly with the traditional narrative of Chinese history of one dynasty succeeding another (was this after the Shang dynasty? Before the Zhou? Or coexisted with one or both??), and records are spotty from 1,000 BC. The bronze relics are most interesting to me for their non-chinese-ness. The gold plated heads don’t look han Chinese! There is something almost mayan or Olmec looking about them. Everything else in 2,500+ years’ worth of Chinese art is impeccably covered in dragons and phoenixes.. and these are just very otherworldly and beautiful in their own way.
Survived my first week of model school! This is a two week program for us Peace Corp TEFL trainers to try lesson planning and teaching, to give us some experience before we head off to our universities to become full time English teachers mid august. I’ve already been warned that the level of English I will see here in Chengdu is much much higher than what I would get in the smaller towns we are placed in. I had a class of 24 rowdy high schoolers, though their numbers dwindled with each class.
First things first:
A week into our program we visited what is officially called the “Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding” basically for non-scientists, panda heaven! Live pandas of all shapes and sizes were on display, from little pink week old hairless pandas in incubators to full blown adult pandas chomping down bamboo with gusto. There must have been several dozen pandas sitting around in this facility, probably too domesticated and helpless to ever to be released into the wild, and perhaps destined to be gifted to other nations’ premier zoos as a gesture of goodwill in times of diplomatic need.
Note: this post is originally from 6/20 but due to annoying VPN issues it was not posted until today, 7/1
So its official, I landed in china! What a ride. There are 83 of us, many hailing from parts of America I have never visited- texas, ohio, Alabama, Missouri, north and south Carolinas, arizona. This makes the gang seem incredibly nice and warm, especially when contrasted against all the no-nonsense new Yorkers ive been hanging around with for the past 9 years 🙂
I look forward to meeting all of them, but also know that realistically it is impossible to become good friends with everyone when there are so many of us, and after 2 weeks we will be split across four separate campuses for training, and after 2 months we will all head off alone to our individual college sites. Still, I expect to become very close with a handful of them after 2 years of living in the same country.