My plants were doing well in the warmth from the beginning of this month, though the recent cold damp week in the final days of the month have left them a little unhappy. The one little rose that didn’t die during the summer heat produced a few more buds. It has been dreary as of late, so I reflect on the last beautiful day a few weeks ago. Between rain and haze when it’s not raining, the winter months see less light.
It is a practice here for colleges to have military training for their freshmen. While many colleges have this training during the beginning of the semester in September, my college holds it in October. For two weeks after the holiday they trained and thus campus was filled with them in military-style outfits. They are, of course, their same bubbly selves, who talk of making friends and the handsome instructors.
Another notable event, that actually happened at the end of September was a small earthquake. I was in class at the time, a couple of seconds of shaking, but no damage. Two days later I had the opportunity to visit a memorial site for the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. That was an 8.0, caused major damage and many casualties. My students—many of whom are from Sichuan, though young at the time—remember that earthquake. There is a village that was left as a memorial. It was a very moving experience.
Enjoying the art school in the municipality of Chongqing
Some rest and relaxation in Chongqing
A brief visit to Chongqing to see friends. A view from atop a mountain, but not the best view of the city center.
My plants did well in the fall.
Students on campus on break from military training.
One last little rose
A rare clear sunrise
Rare blue sky
Cookout with friends at a nearby college
Memorial for the 2008 Sichuan earthquake
October was a busy month as I further settled into life in Mianyang and my teaching schedule. An event of note was held to welcome the freshmen on the 21st. Each department of the university has one, complete with dancing, music, emcees, games, and flashy lights. Many of my students were involved in planning, performing, and the behind-the-scenes work. When students had first mentioned to me about this event, I thought it was just an activity for the English Corner, but as I’m learning, performances, competitions, and events are often big productions. Without knowing how these things usually go, I told my students I’d give a short speech. Well, I did, and it felt a little out of place to all the performances of the night, but my words were nevertheless meaningful. Then to my surprise, during an actual English Corner activity about Halloween the following week, the Dean of the Foreign Languages Department kicked off the night by name-dropping me in his speech and paraphrasing to them what I had said before.
Earlier in the month I attended an “international” food festival that mostly comprised of Chinese street food. The students I went with were also disappointed, but we went out for a good lunch.
I also starting using my toaster oven more often and made rolls, banana bread, apple oat crisp, cookies, and pumpkin scones.
Homemade pumpkin scones from scratch and fresh brewed coffee.
Apple oat crisp
Freshmen Welcome Event, the Emcees for the evening
Freshmen Welcome Event. My Peace Corps sitemate leading the cha cha slide.
Freshmen Welcome Event, the end of a skit. Some of these are my students.
Freshmen Welcome Event, one of the performances
Freshmen Welcome Event, me giving a speech
Freshmen Welcome Event, they sang “我爱你中国“ (I love you, China).
Hanging out with students
Lunch with students after the food festival bust
Today is the first day of Spring in the northern hemisphere–but for this post, I’ve re-hashed two previous posts about the rain in Sumatra (here and here), forming this one below about October:
It’s October and the rain falls nightly, bringing a chill to the air, though it’s not cold and it isn’t Autumn in Sumatra, this lush island near the equator.
On these earth-soaking October nights, some memory inside expects to arise in the morning to see orange, yellow, and red leaves falling around. But when I peer out my window in morning light and the rain gone, the leaves remain bright green; it is Summer for another day in Sumatra.
Sometimes I awake in the morning after the night rain, missing the misty cool mornings of the Pacific Northwest. I stare at photos of Autumn leaves and remember seasonal transitions. But in two months when I greet Sumatra’s sunshine as friends trudge through dark December, I won’t miss the cold winter.
When I listened to the sound of the rain—which is at times a roaring noise echoing off trees and metal rooftops—I was grateful for shelter above my head and an abundance of fresh fruit, vegetables, and rice available all year round on the tropical island. I’m back in North America now, but really do miss the Sumatran rain. The heat never bothered me much; I miss that, too.