Dec 16, 2011

Promise me you'll never forget me...

... because if I thought you would, I'd never leave.
-Winnie the Pooh

Today was our last day with the kids, so we had to say goodbye. We had our end-of-semester-performance for the parents, then we took pictures and said goodbye. Then 4 of the students' moms took us (and their kids) out for lunch, which was fantastic. We went back home after that, and then we went to the school again one last time to say goodbye to the kids at 4 (we usually do that every Mon-Thurs, then take Fridays off, but today is the last Friday, so we wanted to spend some more time with the kids).

So, as a tribute to my awesome students, I have one last blog post in China about each of them. I've got pictures, but I'm not using my proxy anymore, so they'll have to wait until I get home.


William is our youngest and he is definitely a baby. He's 3 years old and his mom spoils him like no other. But he's generally a very sweet kid and he's made so much progress with the program. Not only is he getting better at speaking English, but his Chinese skills are improving, too. He was my least favorite of the kids when we first got here. And now, he's not my favorite by a long shot, but he's definitely grown in my eyes, and I love him.


Peter is the smartest 3 year old I know. He is very gifted with languages. He runs around like crazy all the time, shouts my name just so I'll shout his back, and he never without some drool or snot coming down his face. Unless his nose/ mouth has just been wiped. I mean this literally. He's pretty protective and has a short temper, but he's a sweetheart and really just thinks he's being helpful. I'm sure someday he'll learn better. I love him.


John is the funniest little baby gorilla. I love watching him eat his food-- baby gorilla like no other. He is so loving and sweet. He LOVES teacher Mandy. Half the time he's off in his own world and can't be brought back to earth for anything. But he's so sweet and just loves to run around and play. I will miss him so much. Mandy might be his favorite, and he might be hers, but if I could take home a couple kids, he'd be one. I love him.


Jack is Crazy! With a captial C. He's recently picked up the habit of tickling us in awkward and inappropriate places... haha. He's got a good heart, though. He's really smart and he's good at Kung Fu. When he's doing anything-- cutting paper, building with blocks, eating-- he's very concentrated. He seems like a puzzle person to me. If Ender's Game were to ever happen in real life (don't judge me for thinking about this... I know I'm weird), I think he could be one of the kids sent to battle school. I love him.


Wendy is such a funny girl! She loves to draw and dance (though she denies liking to dance), but what she really lives for is running around and being a crazy kid. She and April have had some fun times playing out on the playground after classes are over for the day. And it's hilarious to watch them. She's hilarious-- sometimes she repeats everything you say with surprising accuracy. Anna likes to take full advantage of that, and Wendy ended up singing Catdaddy. :) I love her. (Wendy I mean. Though I love Anna too, haha.)


Tony is awesome. He has the funniest laugh. We'll just be sitting there, talking, and something that he thinks is funny will happen and BAM. High pitched-make your ears bleed-screeching-laugh. But it only lasts for a second or two, and then he turns back into this calm, reserved little boy. Tony loves hardcore. He's so sweet, and he is always looking out for his little brother. He has such a big heart. I love him.


Lucy always wants to be center stage, haha. She doesn't actually speak English very well, which is sad, but she comes to school late, so she misses one of our English classes. She's very smart and I have no doubt that her speaking skills would improve drastically and very quickly if she could be in more of my classes (mine is the one she usually misses). She's really sweet, and in the past couple weeks she's been make it to about 10 minutes of my class, and I've loved every minute of having her there. I love her.


Max is special. He's such a simple boy, and he loves everyone. His favorite thing ever is Spongebob, and if he sees anything Spongebob-esque, he will not leave it alone. His other top interests that he talks about all the time are: baby chickens, his Chinese teacher-- Amy, and star charts. He's always hungry, and the two questions he asks about EVERYTHING-- "And Max eat it?" or "And put it in Max nose?" He has a strange thought process, but he's very pure. He's awesome and I love him.


Back at the beginning of the semester, Dave was my favorite student. My love for him has grown. Dave is genuinely smart (I suspect he'd be at Battle School, too. I also suspect he'd love Ender's Game). He grasps concepts well, he's very good at communicating, and he remembers his vocabulary. He is ALWAYS stylish. Dave is one of the best students I could have ever asked for. He's got the typical cool-kid personality that makes you want to talk to him, but he's good. He is very compassionate and is always the first to try to console the other kids if they are sad and crying. I love him.

Over the last four months, these kids stole pieces of my heart. We had to say goodbye to them today. And yesterday was out last day of teaching. That is easily the hardest thing I've had to do in China. I've used a squatter, I've eaten chicken feet, I even tried learning Kung Fu from someone who doesn't speak English... none of that compares to the past 48 hours. I have a headache from crying so much. I will miss these kids. My heart broke into 9 pieces when I had to say goodbye, and I wouldn't ever want to ask for those pieces back.

"People so seldom say I love you, and then it's either too late or love goes. So when I tell you I love you, it doesn't mean I know you'll never go. Only that I wish you didn't have to."

Dec 7, 2011

We have to go. I'm almost happy here.

The other day, Mandy Anna and I were going to get our hair washed, and on the way, Anna and Mandy were talking. I wasn't really listening (sorry guys), but I heard Anna say something about how, although it didn't feel like it, this was one of the last times we would ever get out hair washed. Unless we come back to China, obviously.
(PS. Don't know if I mentioned it, but going to get your hair washed sounds super lame, right? I mean, just wash your own hair, how lazy are you. But no! It's comes with a half hour to forty five minute scalp massage, then they give you a back massage for 10-15 minutes! All this for only 10-15 rmb:: $1.50-2!)
And she really nailed it right on the head. I leave China in 12 days (and I leave Zhongshan in 10 or maybe 11), and I might not ever come back. Maybe I'll come back for a vacation sometime down the line, and maybe I'll come back with ILP as a head teacher, but even then I can pretty much guarantee I won't be in Nanlang. What she said really got me thinking about the things I want to make sure to do before we go. There's only three concrete things that are really essential on my list, so it's pretty much guaranteed I'll be able to do them, but it's still a really sobering thought to think, "I have to do this next [Thursday], or I'll never be able to again."
And that train of thought led me to (1-) one of the most sad thoughts I've ever had, and (2-) try to find what it is that I'll miss most about being in China.
1- You know how sometimes, you think about a conversation you might have with someone in your head? :) And it's usually either something you wish you would have said two hours ago when you actually had the conversation because, now that you've had a couple hours to consider what they said, you have a perfect comeback or response. Or, if that's not the case, it's a future conversation you'll probably never have, because the other person just won't follow the script you laid out for them. Well, call me crazy (no, really. You can probably call me crazy for this), but I had a one of the future conversations in my head with myself. It would happen in about two weeks and it goes like this: "Hey, wanna go get some noodles and dumplings down the street?" "Yeah!" "Well too bad! You can't! Because you're not in China anymore, you're in America!"
It was really sad to think of that. There are so many things that are awesome about China. It's a gorgeous country, and the people here are so kind. There's literally a little jungle right across the street from our apartment complex. In our little town, the crazy markets are only about 5 minutes from the quiet, serene landscapes. The trees everywhere are so beautiful. It's so green here. There's a giant pond/little lake right here in town (which we didn't find until about 2 or 3 weeks ago). Adventures are always waiting. And it's China. Come on. If you take a quick motorbike ride, you can visit some Chinese temples with incense, Buddha statues, statues of other important people, the classic Chinese architecture. Then, I can't even describe the beautiful views we've seen at parks on on vacation (but don't fear, I have pictures). I imagine this is why most people love China.
2- And I love China for those reasons, too. But I won't be sad to leave that. The stunning views that are everywhere are great, and I love being surrounded by them. It's always beautiful. But there's plenty of places back home that beautiful, too. I've seen many gorgeous scenes back in my hometown. And the classic Chinese look is something that, now that I've seen it personally, I feel like that's kinda the end. I don't need to be surrounded by it all the time. I can look back at my pictures and say, "I've seen that in person, and it was awesome." And that's it. What I'll really miss about China is the people.
They're loud. They won't hesitate to sneeze on you. They stare at you openly, sometimes stopping dead in their tracks so they can watch you walk down the street. They eat strangely. They freak out if it starts drizzling outside. They have some bizarre medical ideas and superstitions. But they're awesome. They're extremely friendly. They go far out of their way to make you feel welcome. They're honest. And they're usually pretty good about playing charades if you don't know how to say it in Chinese, and they don't know how to say it in English.
I love being here. Although the beauty and history of the country itself is wonderful, I'm not afraid to leave that behind. Been there before, already done that. But the kids at school (not just our own students) who get excited to see us and shout our names, the motorbike drivers who always know where we want to go, the lady in the back of the store who knows what I get every time, the noodle guy who doesn't ask what we want anymore but instead asks how many of this dish we want, the girls at the ghetto salon that try to teach us random words in Chinese, the teachers who always smile at us, that random couple with one of the only pet dogs I've ever seen... I recognize all of them. And somehow, even though there's a GIANT language barrier separating us, we've managed to dig deeper than words and become friends anyway. I love them.
The worst part is that I don't even know how to tell them that this is the last time I'll see them.
Oh, and in case you were wondering about the three things I want to do before I leave. They're all pictures I want. I want a picture with the older kids at school (ages 5 and 6). I want a picture with the awesome noodle guy. I want a picture with all the people at this one ghetto salon.