This past Thursday, my 4:30 PM Oral English class was completely empty- I freaked and thought I accidentally went to the wrong room, when I remembered the morning class telling me there was a dance competition in the afternoon, at the north campus. With this in mind, I took a brisk walk over to see what the fuss was about.

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cheerleading competition underway

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Foreign Experts take Linxia

The Gansu Bureau of Foreign Experts heads to Linxia!


In late May, I jumped on the opportunity to take part in the annual foreign experts trip, this time to the town of Linxia! Linxia is known as the “Little Mecca” of China; just over 50% of its residents are Hui (Muslim Chinese) and there are several other ethnic minorities based in the city, including the Turkic Salar group.

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i need those glasses!

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At my school in Lanzhou, breakups and relationship drama are a very public affair. Young couples will make a scene outside the front gate of the north campus for everyone to see. The guy always looks angry and talks loudly, while the girl (she usually wears a baseball cap, maybe to better hide her mascara-streaked face) silently cries at the prospect of getting dumped by this loser over a misunderstanding that probably wasn’t her fault.

And the rest of us pretend to go on with our lives but we keep looking over our shoulder every ten seconds.

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A China – America Friendship Softball Game

This past weekend was Lanzhou University of Finance and Economics’ 7th Annual “China – America Friendship Softball Game” (中美友好垒球联赛). PCVs from across Gansu gathered in Lanzhou late Friday and took an early Saturday bus down to the school’s Heping campus to play softball and engage in intercultural exchange with the Chinese students.

Gansu volunteers and our Chinese hosts

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Short Stories, May 2017


Coco has the best style out of all of my students; I sometimes wonder if she named herself after Coco Chanel but I never asked. Her hair is poofy when everyone else’s is pin-straight, her clothing is outlandish in color and texture, and her giggle is an octave or two higher than that of her peers. Coco is a welcome addition to my class when the rest of the kids pretend to be too cool to enjoy what I’m teaching.

One day she wore the craziest shirt littered with emojis and smiley faces…

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those happy faces!

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