After taking a little break in Shanghai , we went to Yunnan to have our training to be a volunteer teacher. I love the great weather in Yunnan, I did successful stay away from the super hot days in Shanghai and it was the first summer in my life without AC.. I cannot describe how pleasing I feel. The life in Yunnan made me believe that the most luxury thing in this world is to live in a natural life: Getting up when sun rises, taking the food without over preparation, enjoy the life with few electronics, and sleeping when the darkness comes. If there was a church around, the life might be better. The lesson I took from Yunnan, I will always keep in my heart.
The assignments of TFC often make a lot of people disappointed. Yunnan is a dream land for many people, but not everybody can stay in Yunnan, and not everybody can enjoy a simple life for two years. Compared with dream place Yunnan, Shantou can be called a nightmare for a lot of people: air and water are polluted by factories and minds and souls are polluted by worshiping the money. This actually was the first impression we got from what people said..about Shantou…
The only reason i chose Shantou is because of “faith”, no matter how problematic church is here.. A valid and legitimate mass for me weekly is great comfort.. (though my parents have listed sooo many other great reasons for me to teach in Shantou). I am glad that my friends are strong, although they have heard so many terrible things about the Shantou, but they still choose to come and see first before they make their own judgement.
The tranferring from Yunnan to Shantou was a really difficult journey,
Here is a powerpoint which described the entire trip.. 6 hours waiting at the train station. 28 hours on train, arrive Guangzhou at 4 o’clock in the morning and took another 5 hours bus from Guangzhou to Shantou. No matter what..Our own team sticked together. Then we began our training in Shantou Xinhua hotel, besides Cathedral of Shantou diocese . At that moment, I know my prayer is answered and this is the choice I am supposed to take.
Then we begin the training and after three day’s training, we were taken by the principles to go back to school.. After arriving Heping, I finally finished my long lists of three months moving: 3.5 hour flight from STL to LA, 13.5 hour flight from LA to Shanghai, 32 hour train from Shanghai to Kunming, 1 hour flight from Kunming to Baoshan, 2 hour bus from Baoshan to Changning. 2 hour bus back to Baoshan, 5 hour bus to Dali, 6 hour train from Dali to Kunming, 28 hour train from Kunming to Guangzhou, 5 hour bus from Guangzhou to Shantou, 1.5 car to current school.
The first day of settling down was really unease. I was awaken entire night.. really really hot.. and without AC. The second day gets better, still without AC. These days reminded me of Michael’s story of being in Heidi when stayed awake for couple days until he felt too tired to stay awake any more. We booked a hotel at the end of first week and took a really nice long nape.. four hours in the afternoon with AC….
The following teaching life I have documented in other blogs as follow:
The water is polluted.. The only river I could see from my window is black… The air is fine..since my school is not in a industrial area, so the quality of air is still better than Shanghai, but some schools definitely have worse conditions than mine.. The air quality is not that good.
How about the heart and soul.. It is an interesting question to discuss.. It is hard to listen to a foreign language in a foreign country, but it is harder to not to be understood in your own country.. I cannot remember how many times, I have to tell people… please speak mandarin and I am not from here… I sometimes did lose temper when I speak in mandarin to a person for a minute, but one still insist in talking with me in Chaoshan dialect…I cannot believe it!!!! It happened once in a branch in Bank of China and I did get angry and yell at the woman,” Has Bank of China not trained you how to speak Mandarin?”
However, it is just the fact that some people are like that here, but trust me,.. just “some”… really not many…. I am really really moved by my friend’s mother who was trying to speak with me in mandarin even when her daughter can be the translator.. I am also moved by my student’s mother who cannot speak mandarin at all, but she still came to visit me in person… When she could just sent her older daughter who can speak pretty well mandarin.
So.. stereotypes are just stereotypes.. the reality is what you observe through your own eye and heart! I do wish to discuss something about the local customs in some posts, but please keep in mind.. 1）what I write does not represent the entire Shantou region, even does not totally fit the reality of place where I live… 2) what I write does not apply to all Shantou people..
I: Gender discrimination
II : Machismo (大男子主义）
III: The fun Chaoshan dialect
( more will be added….)