As challenging as life was in China, especially after I broke my ankle, there were many people who I got to know and those who just helped a stranger. For the latter, I am extremely grateful, since I was generally lost when they stepped in to help me, though the woman at Beijing airport who very kindly bought me an orange juice from the vending machine when I was tired and thirsty between flights when I had to go home because of my dad dying really stands out. Bless you!
Of course my friend A, who took me under her wing and answered my numerous questions about Chinese customs. Her staff, S & D, who also helped me, and my coworker L, who introduced me to her in the first place, as well as lending me cash my first week so that I could buy food at the Canteen until I was able to get to an ATM. A introduced me the guys who adopted me as their American auntie and became my Chinese nephews.
My American coworkers M, D, and T were all helpful in different ways, but notably it was D who showed me where to find the ATMS on campus, M who took me to the grocery store to get food, and T who showed me how to decipher Chinese menus so that I wouldn’t accidentally order dogmeat (and not have to always eat at the Canteen. High school cafeteria food is the same in China as the US, not that great.)
The women in the school office always tried to be helpful, though at times the language barrier got in the way. One day C ordered a pizza for me from Moms at the mall. I asked her to tell them no mayo. It arrived and there was mayo squeezed all over the top. I asked her if she had told them. She looked confused and then told me that it was salad dressing! I told that it was the same thing. Oh well. It was ok, but not what I prefer to eat on my hot pizza!
My Chinese coworkers who took the time to get to know me and help with teaching and cultural understanding were a joy. H drove me to Walmart numerous times after it opened, D helped me get more rehab by speaking with my doctor and driving me there, S gave me emotional support when I was feeling lonely and homesick, and my dear friend C who introduced me to local delicacies like my favorite no.mi.ji. (Chicken inside of rice, wrapped in a leaf, kind of like a tamale.) And my other friend C who so kindly brought me food when I came back with a broken ankle and was unable to walk the half mile to the grocery store.
Many of my students were a joy to teach, and watch improve during the year. My Model UN students in particular were very bright. I admire them for being brave enough to attempt the simulation in another language. The tiny girl who was assigned to play Stalin was amazing! I felt really bad for the student who had to defend the US use of napalm in Vietnam. They all did a great job.
The students in the Star Trek Discovery group were the most fun. They were in college, so they were more mature and their English was more advanced. We had some lively discussions regarding the plot and possible storylines. I really miss them.
And the final group of friends was the international expat group. It was so fun to meet everyone from around the world who was also in town. The married couple from England, the young guys from France, and Germany, and Hungary, and Algieria, and I cannot even remember all the countries! And the Chinese people who came to practice their English with us. My friend S in particular, who I met there, since she is a midwife and spoke with the rehab doctor at her hospital so I could get physical therapy where I could speak English.
I look forward to the new year and new adventures….