1. How did your Craigslist renter work out?
a). My Craigslist renter was dreamy. She kept my plants alive. She cleaned my place immaculately. She and my mom hit it off over coffee while I was gone. I came home to a stocked refrigerator (all kinds of cheeses, nuts, chutneys and jams - most of them unopened), a very nice bottle of wine, two food movies she thought belonged in my collection, and various little gifts scattered all over my condo. Her son lives in Seattle, so she will be returning...does anyone want her email address? You will make out like a bandit if she chooses to gift you with her presence in your home.
2. What other universal synchronicities occured through Craigslist this time?
Sometimes universal synchronicity takes time to reveal itself, so I will have to go with my initial perceptions and then, perhaps next month, next year or possibly when China is ruling us, I will have more insight into the workings of the universe (these are not, by the way, in order of importance):
a. Stir Fry Street
Imagine, had I remained in the Chinese hell hole that is Deqing, I would have missed living one block from Marjie's Street of Dreams. The universe played a little hard to get on this one (it taking me to a place with uninteresting street food at first) but Stir Fry Street was meant to be in my life sooner or later. Sadly, rickshaws are outlawed in many cities for the sake of "progress" and I have to wonder if the Stir Fry Streets are disappearing as well. Hopefully the others just didn't find them, but no other ACT group had tales of a street tranformed each night with woks, live fish, Noodle Performance Artists and vegetables. Now I have the memory of my Noodle Guy, my Noodle Lady and my Clam Guy with me always.
Specific foods in my destiny: the long necked clams (never had one before, hope to see them again), the hand-shaved and stretched noodles (had them here but I think shaving and stretching in China adds flavor and texture), the salted egg pumpkin and the egg-covered dumplings.
The above would have been enough u.s. but
b. Keqiao was Massage Heaven, too.
The Hair People and The Foot Guys were also meant to be in my life (but, sadly, not the Abundant Blind Person). Since we were living in the Textile City, residing in the marble-floored Textile City Hotel, the demand for massage was probably higher than usual for visiting businessmen. We had our choice of salons within a four block radius. And
c. My Group Gave Them a lot of Business.
My group was amazing and fun and up for so many adventures. I will be visiting them, hosting them, emailing them and traingvel with them. I especially enjoyed hanging out with Amy because fun follows her. She makes things happen and I loved being along for the ride.
d. Grade school kids.
I was so desperate to get out of Deqing that I didn't even ask what I would be teaching in Keqiao and therefore did not have time to worry about my fear of - my horror over - teaching small children. I would have never chosen it, but the universe made it so. I spent four weeks organizing flash cards, choreographing songs, wracking my brain for games and poems, sweating onto my students' workbooks, smelling hot, stale urine in the muggy afternoons and being forced to use the torture squat toilets. I'm happy for all of it now... the bad memories already magically transformed by distance.
Back to the kids... I loved their innocence, their sense of humor, openness, and their beauty. What a future they are facing; they are what the whole world is talking about.
e. Our assistants.
They were wonderful and they provided a window into Chinese culture that was and will continue to be invaluable. Another Sunny story: While we were loading up the van to leave Keqiao, we were very surprised to see Sunny and Maggie running into the hotel. They had ridden the bus for over an hour because they wanted to see us one last time; Sunny had a picture for Amy and two of Lu Xun's books for me (the famous writer from Shaoxing- I had briefly mentioned that I regretted not buying one of his books). Since my return I have received many Sunny text messages and emails. In each one she asks me a question from the idiom book.."What's the difference between 'every other day' and 'every two days?'....She has finished her "study plan" and is determined to come to America.
3. Would you do it again?
Many people have asked me this. I don't tend to repeat experiences, plus I will not willingly travel to Asia in July or August again, so no I would not do it again. I hesitantly recommend ACT; they are a bit unorganized, but they did manage to connect us with schools and the schools were primarily responsible for us. It's all a gamble (think Deqing), especially when you are dealing with China. It's certainly a valid way to get there and experience IT. (By the way, earning independent study credits through Heritage University rules...you make up your own curriculum and study plan).