Last night under a clear sky I laughed and laughed, probably the deepest laugh I have had since arriving in China almost a month ago. On my walk home I noticed a few stars; it’s not so often I have a chance to look up and see the sky.
As a Peace Corps Trainee, my days are spent in sessions about Peace Corps policies, information about health, safety and security, training for teaching English, and Chinese language instruction. The first two weeks passed by in a blur, as I met the other trainees (there are more than 80 of us) and attended sessions. We were given training books, a portable medical kit, and lots of work. Those weeks were in a hotel in the middle of Chengdu, a the capital of Sichuan province in western China.
We are China 22s, the 22nd Peace Corps group to be in China. We’re further broken up into 4 groups, now training at different sites. I am staying with a host family and training at Chengdu University. My host family owns an appliance store and have a teenage daughter who speaks English well.
We’ve completed the first week of “Model School,” essentially a practicum for us trainees to have classroom experience in China before we begin our work as university professors. Our classes are populated by students who volunteered to have an English course during the summer. I’ve taught once with a partner and two classes on my own. I’m happy to be in the classroom again…It is hard to believe that I left Indonesia 2 years ago.
Last night’s laughter and walk under the stars lifted my spirits: Friday. The end of a week. Free night. No Saturday class. Previous night seeing the sunset for the first time. Clear skies, not impeded by rain or pollution. Last night I sat around a table with a few of my fellow trainees and laughed and laughed. So much of our days are full serious study, this great work as “US-China Friendship Volunteers” as the Peace Corps is called here. I breathed the night air that was cooler than it has been, and released.
Below are a few pictures from my experience so far (I have many more, but a slow connection speed means a little at a time). Photos with my host family, eating Sichuan hot pot, a food stall, a central Chengdu street,:and on Chengdu University campus. More photos when I can upload, and more stories as I write them.