Friday, August 04, 2006

Take Me Home Country Road (but to Beijing First)

I'm done I'm done.

What a day what a day.

How exhausting to have two end of the school session days within two months!
I arrived to find my 6th grade girl fan club waiting at the door with loads of gifts (unfortunately they mostly bought me cute little angels and paperweights...) and spent the day in a fog, playing last minute favorite games and giving my little bag o gifts to the 80 or so Chinese children who have made my life oh so interesting this month and receiving so many gifts. The little ones cried and the older ones hugged me about eight times a piece when we said goodbye. The fan club put on a "program" for me which included skits and songs...if anyone can endure some videos just let me know, how could I NOT get them on film?

After school Pamela treated all of us teachers and our assistants to dinner at the hotel. We sat at a huge round table and ate about 25 dishes. In China, you think you are done eating because the food stops coming out for about ten minutes and you feel kind of relieved...then five more dishes arrive. I can't figure out why one of the last dishes is always soup. Anyway, after dinner we had to say goodbye to our TA's and I was fine until I looked over at happy Sunny with tears running down her cheeks. I can't tell you how special Sunny is; out of all of the girls I think I was the luckiest. She is funny and, well, Sunny. She helped me so much. She really liked the "Where the Sidewalk Ends" book I brought (my mom's) so I gave that to her as a parting gift (I will buy another one) as well as a book Julie Carey gave me on idioms and a tie-dyed t-shirt I bought on a whim and wow, it fit her personality to a T. She loved it all - she especially loved the books because she is so eager to study English and travel the world ("like Marjie" I have her saying on tape). She gave me a drawing of a beautiful Chinese woman - she is quite artistic- in a very funny plastic frame with animals on it ("the animals are lovely" she said). Anyway, when I went to hug her goodbye she turned away and said "I can't say goodbye to you!" She was very attached to Amy, too, and when Amy hugged her she lost it completely. I think Sunny is so bright and this is her first contact with the world and she loves the taste of it and it broke her heart to see it go for now. She is determined to study hard and make lots of money and come to visit me. "I will visit you in your condo" she says.

Last night Amy and I took the girls from a few weeks ago out to dinner. We all took the bus to Lily's university campus and fortunately it was much better than the first one, with waterfalls and rocks and an ancient bridge. The seven of us walked through the "U District" which was unlike anything we have seen vendors cooking pancakes filled with meat and vegetables, artists making animals with ribbons, photo booths where Sunny and I got nine different backgrounds and nine poses for under two dollars. Amy's TA, quiet and studious Lily, wanted to take us to a special restaurant, so I had to resist all of the pancakes - but what a treat. The place is known for its pumpkin with salted egg...really outstanding, I would have to say the only time pumpkin has tasted good outside of pumpkin pie. Funny, we bought our drinks outside, as usual, and when we sat down Lily said "They have very good dumplings down the street, I will be right back." And she returned with the best dumplings of my life and plopped them down, no concern that they came from down the street. They were pot stickers covered in egg. Later I found out that the fried rice we had at the beginning came from somewhere else, too. No problem.

After dinner we were under no volume constraint so Amy and I traded songs with the girls. We would sing an English song (Take Me Home Country Road, Top of the World, American Pie) and they would counter with a Chinese sleeping song or a pop song. Funny, they know a lot of Carpenters and we sang "Yesterday Once More" together.

I am under pressure to leave now for my last massage and some wandering down Stir Fry Street with the gang so I am not going to edit this: the next time I write I will be in Beijing, and by the way, don't ask for pictures...the dirty internet has been completely dismembered and I can't figure out the camera stuff here ( and I have TRIED).

See you in Beijing!


Preston said...

I've been told by some wise Chinese sages, that when eating at a banquet of any consequence ( like a wedding) the rice and soup always come at the end. Conversely, the meats and seafood always come first. This is a sign of wealth, or at least an appearance of wealth. Similarly, at the Wedding at Cana, Jesus' first miracle was to turn water into wine, after the wine ran out. The guests quipped "You have saved the best wine for last!" It was the custom to serve the best first, then everyone gets drunk and cares not if the cheap stuff comes next...

I enjoyed reading about your bittersweet goodbyes.

Have fun in Beijing!

Dad said...

What a perfect conclusion for your China teaching! I’m rooting for Sunny to succeed and visit you in Seattle; she sounds like a special person.

Enjoy Beijing. We also look forward to visiting with you in Seattle.