Day 82: Bare Sticks and Coffee

13 Nov

Is it true we’ve been here for over 80 days? That just doesn’t seem possible. Thinking about the fact that we will not return to the States until July is a daunting thought but when we think about the fact that we’re already a third of the way through our time here in China and considering how fast these 80 days have flown by, it seems like we’ll be back in Asheville in the blink of an eye (or a click of the red-ruby heels). I’m a little jealous that places all over North Carolina are already getting snow while my locale just South of Mongolia has yet to see a freeze, but I’m sure I’ll be wishing the cold weather away sooner than it will be gone. Besides, once it really gets to be winter, we’re going to organize a trip to Beijing to go snowboarding with Samantha and Johnson and I’m really looking for to that adventure.

Monday was 光棍节/Guānggùn Jie (Single’s Day) here in China (a sixth grade boy of mine let me know). The reason it’s on 11/11 is because they view the ones as single people and the date 11/11 represents all the single people in the world (literally it’s called “bare sticks day”). I asked Samantha if anything interesting happens on that day and she basically just said no, other than single people being sad that they’re single. I did a little research and discovered that 11/11 festivities frequently include getting your friends together and having a KTV (karaoke) party with the hopes of meeting some new people. People who are not single also celebrate 11/11 with a different significance placed on the number “1” – to signify that their loved one is the only one in their heart or the only one for them out of all others. I think it’s sweet in that fabricated Valentine’s Day kind of way and pity-party inducing like on SAD (single’s awareness day) in the US. As with most holidays of this sort, it’s more of an excuse to hang out with friends than to actually lament/celebrate your current relationship status.

Tuesday, my seventh graders were unusually and disconcertingly quiet. Though a welcome change, it made class feel completely different and now that I’m more used to the energy (and number) of my students (I plan my lessons around these two facts), any change is a stark contrast. For my international class I was (for once) feeling very prepared and excited about the day’s lesson, only to learn that the class had been cancelled for this week because the international students had to clean their rooms (apparently they were absolutely disgusting). The Third Plenum is about to meet in Beijing and I was going to discuss with the students what they consider important issues for the Chinese government to discuss. While I am genuinely interested in hearing their opinions on what needs to be addressed within their country (and in comparing it to how Americans think of China), I was also going to use the opportunity to talk about the pollution problem and throw in a PSA about not burning plastic (and that they should tell everyone they know and to pass along the message).
Like Tuesday, my fifth grade classes today were unusually quiet as well. We discovered that something, some kind of event, is either happening or will happen soon, but other than involving some students and not others, we don’t know much else. Two of the big rooms in our building had paper fliers taped to the outside of the doors today saying “entrance” (入口) and“exit” (出口) and seventh grade students were going in and out of the rooms in huge groups all day long. Something, though I also don’t know what, was happening with the fifth graders because in the middle of my classes, one student from another class would come in, talk to the teaching assistant in front of everyone else, and then leave. Selected students would get pulled out of class or return in the middle of my teaching, but I was never given an explanation.

At QLH I’ve inspired Samantha to get better at latte art and now every time I order a latte (拿铁 “na tie”) or a cappuccino (卡布奇诺 “ka bu qi nuo”) I get a different design on top. Most recently, I picked up my cappuccino from the bar only to discover my name was on the top in chocolate! I’m sure I’ve said it once and I’m sure I’ll say it again, but if you ever find yourself in Baoding, China make sure you find your way to QLH on Junxiao Jie (street).

Other than discovering that the school wants to buy a new heater and replace the one we have, it has been an ordinary week. Seeing as I am on week 2 of my two-week class rotations, I have only two seventh grade classes tomorrow afternoon and then I am done teaching until next Monday.
Early Saturday morning we will leave for Pingyao and we will return to Baoding Sunday evening. Fortunately, I managed to plan for classes for the next month and thus will not have to worry about doing any catch up on lesson planning Sunday night.

I realize my pictures in these posts has been sparse as of late so here are some of my favorite pictures from the daily life in Baoding:

My regular noodle dish from our regular noodle restaurant (I don’t know the name of either):

Our regular Sichuan meal from the Sichuan restaurant:

Some first graders to brighten your day:

Lesson planning (of course):

A huge geisha kite from the Military School Park:

New ice cream at QLH – coffee/Oreo mixture in a homemade cone:

My next post will be after our return from Pingyao (hopefully) with more pictures and stories.
I hope you are enjoying my posts and thank you for reading!
Until next time,

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Posted by on November 13, 2013 in Baoding, Uncategorized


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