Although I am in Changsha, and really do enjoy the city, I can’t help but love returning to Cili. Home away from home? Yes. Unhealthy home away from home? Maybe. Okay. Yes. But, that’s why it is going to be my new favorite (occasional) travel destination (for this year). Instead of just saying that this is the case, let me go into more detail about my past trip to Cili:
– I arrived at about 4:00PM. After meeting up with Chelsea (a new volunteer) and Tank (a geography teacher with excellent English), I bopped in and out of a few classes. I feel a bit bad that I didn’t go to them all. But, the few classes that I did disrupt went a bit like this:
1 – I walked by the windows. Heads turned. “Is that Frank?”
2 – I popped my head into the classroom. Everything stopped.
3 – The Chinese teacher looked at me. “Why is he here? Oh my god, I can’t even speak enough English to ask him that?” they thought.
4 – The students, unsure of what is acceptable behavior do…nothing.
5 – “Hi guys! How are you? How was your vacation?”
6 – The Chinese teacher is still staring at me.
7 – “So sorry! Duibuqi (sorry)”
8 – The students say vacation was boring. So short. Too much homework (which I don’t believe).
9 – I leave feeling as if it was not a satisfactory return.
* The classes without teachers were a bit more responsive although they all did freeze at first, and I got a lot of “Why are you here?” Some of them just acted as if I hadn’t left. My favorite response was from Blue who physically and verbally assaulted me for “leaving” him and not returning soon enough.
– One math teacher, a good friend of mine (Mr. Li) apparently forgot how to speak any English at all. Although, he was still willing to give me a giant bear hug, lifting me off the ground. Oh, but also, we discovered last year that his English gets significantly better as his intoxication level raises.
– I played basketball at the people’s square. Nice to be back.
– Went to dinner at the fish restaurant with Tank, Richard (former liaison), Li Hong (a lawyer friend), and the two new volunteers, Linda and Chelsea. I wowed Richard, Li Hong, and Tank with the most basic of Chinese phrases that I apparently never used in front of them.
– After dinner, we went to a second dinner at my street restaurant. Second dinners in China usually consist mainly of alcohol. This one was only alcohol, I believe.
– By the end of the night, the only thing I, or any of us foreigners, had paid for was a taxi. We returned quite late, went to sleep, and perfectly timed our wake-up for lunch (11:30AM).