Sunday, November 02, 2008


Activities are increasing, demands are growing, and life is generally more hectic right now. I recently finished two seven week classes and am beginning two more this week. The Third World Traditional Wushu Championship has finally descended on Shiyan, and the entire city will be heaving a big sigh of relief in a couple days when it is officially over and is officially declared a success. Halloween activities went off without a hitch, thus ringing in the ambiguous Holiday Season. Foreign friends from Wuhan and Xiangfan have graced our homes with their presence for the past two weekends, and the weather has suddenly turned warm. That's a small summary of recent life in Shiyan for those of you weary of my long entries. For the rest of you, here come the details...


There aren't words to adequately express my feelings about this event. Imagine rumors of hundreds (if not thousands) of foreigners from around the world coming to Shiyan yet running across no more than four or five of them the entire duration of the competition. Picture a third of our English majors missing classes for three weeks for "Volunteer Training" only to hold signs for the foreign teams or to reel in frustration that no one on the foreign team they represent can speak English. And, finally, imagine walking down a familiar street and seeing an entire NEW block of buildings that couldn't have been there the week before. This is just the beginning. It's a strange feeling to always be regarded as a foreigner in a city you know better than, at the very least, the new students who come to Shiyan for college. But it's an even odder feeling when you are regarded as a very specific kind of foreigner - one who has undoubtedly come for a week to participate in the Wushu festival. People look at you differently as you walk by them on the street. They shout "Welcome to Our China" when you've been living here for years. They look at you with wonderment trying to figure out how you fit into the Wushu Competition, and you want to respond to everyone who gives you this look, "I'm a Shiyan People!!!" It's also a strange feeling to contribute to the success of the Wushu Championship in very tangible ways (correcting Chinglish signs, being human dictionaries for those involved in the event, teaching students Spanish because they happen to be representing a Spanish-speaking team, teaching Shiyan people English via TV, and being patient with our students who have missed tons of classes and activities to learn how to walk elegantly in front of a group of people) only to be royally snubbed by the powers that be who promised tickets to, if not the opening ceremony, at least a competition here or there. So, The Third World Traditional Wushu Championship is coming to an end, and our feelings of being under-appreciated will subside eventually. I'm happy for the honor it brought to MY little city. I'll claim HER even if she doesn't claim me.


We've been blessed the last two weekends with foreign visitors from Wuhan (last week) and Xiangfan (this week). Carole and Daniel came first bringing joy and laughter into our homes, and Carie, Will and Brittany followed bringing music and kindred spirit moments.


After two years of living in China, I have finally bought an article of clothing. I avoid shopping for clothes like the plague which is easier to do in a country where the size large in anything is too small for me. I've heard too many stories about the horrors of shopping (being told that there's nothing in the store that would fit you, being dressed by the shop assistants, being watched by other customers) that I have successfully boycotted clothing shopping for my entire stay here. But all things must come to an end, and with a big rip on Saturday, my jeans met the beginning of theirs. I had planned to buy some jeans Saturday anyway, but during our weekly girls brunch, I talked myself out of it. Then came the rip, and it just felt like kismet so we went shopping, and through the aid of my sisters, I found a pair of jeans that will work. Done and done.


We planned an 80s theme party for Halloween this year. You'd be surprised how easy it is to buy 80s styles in China (or to dig through old clothes I brought to China and find appropriate clothing - which is sad, really). It was a fun party - lots of goodies, lots of family, lots of laughter. For my birthday this year, the foreigners in the city gave me the most amazing gift, and I'd like to share it with you all. I contemplated not posting the video because I don't want to put my friends on display, but what they did so touched me and is such an inspiration that I want to share it. I am so honored to work among these fine brothers and sisters and so blessed they are a part of my life.

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