SPRINGTIME IN SHIYAN
Today it's sunny. Yesterday it was raining. Two days ago I was wearing three and a half shirts and the day before that a tank top. I feel like I'm back in Oklahoma with the daily weather changes. Of course, our apartments stay about fifteen degrees cooler than the outside temperature since we are essentially living in a cinder-block ice house so at least when I stay indoors, the temperature is consistent.
My class schedule is full now that I've started two sophomore English major courses. These classes require a little more planning and inspiration than my non-English majors classes, but I think they'll be fine. And, with these two new classes, come two nights of discussion groups at my place. The discussion groups are voluntary, but I always have the max number of students - ten - sign up each week. So, as of now, my Thursday and Friday evenings will be occupied with students coming over. I like the discussion groups because it gives me a chance to get to know my kids individually and in a more relaxed environment than what the classroom affords.
Last week we got to celebrate the addition to our Family of a new sister. Florence is a spirited girl - unique and thoughtful. We're excited to share this, the greatest of common bonds, with her.
Last semester I remember writing about getting hit by droplets of water someone threw off the roof of a restaurant as I was passing by. Well, it happened again...only, this time, it wasn't water. Barry and I had just finished a pleasant meal at Happy Guy's and were walking past Hobbit Hole when we were splattered by a brown substance that smelled of vomit. Whoever it was got us good. I had this gruel - for lack of a better description (or maybe for want of a desire to accurately describe it) - in my hair, on my face, my clothes, my bare arms. It was gross. I'd like to say I'm more cautious now as I pass by Hobbit Hole (the same place I was hit the first time) and look up before walking on, but I never think to be preemptive. I'm hoping my lack of concern won't bite me in the end, but I wouldn't be surprised to be hit again within the next three months.
Before leaving for Europe in January, I signed up on www.couchsurfing.com to find people who have couches free for travelers passing through their city. Jessica and I thought this might be a fun way to travel - staying for free and meeting people along the way. Sadly, only one person had a free couch in all our travels through Europe. Our first two nights in Paris we stayed with a Vietnamese girl and her husband. It was a cool experience. Anyway, since I've been back to Shiyan, on two separate occasions, I've had requests from people to stay with me for a couple nights before going to visit Mt. Wudang. On both occasions, the requesters were from Germany. The first guy was going to Wudang to study tai chi for a month. He's a shiatsu practitioner and is really interested in the body's energy centers. He was an interesting person to talk with. The second request came a week later from a young German couple who are passing through China after spending time volunteering in Israel and will head to India next to volunteer there. They were also interesting to talk with. Anyway, I've become an advocate for couch surfing. For anyone who travels much, it's such a blessing to find places to stay that don't cost money. But, even more importantly, it's incredibly wonderful to meet people who are hospitable, open and interesting. If you're planning any trips in the future, check out www.couchsurfing.com. You won't be disappointed.
Anyway, I just wanted to send out a short update. All is going well. Hope the same is true for you!