China, holidays, teaching, The China Chapter, travel

离开纬度 – Leaving Latitudes

In Virginia, summer fades to autumn, the suns sinks in the sky earlier and earlier each day, and one morning you feel a slight winter chill telling you to break out your coat within the next few days.  At least that’s the Virginia I remember, before this polar winter weather came into our lives.  Chengdu, at least this year, is different.  The damp heat hung in the air until mid-October.  Comfortable temperatures followed until late November when the thermometer’s mercury plummeted and the pollution levels sky-rocketed.  Only now are some of the trees’ leaves turning vividly yellow.  We’ve had a couple days (like today) where kids were not allowed outside for recess because of the AQI (Air Quality Index).  Between the cold, the damp, and the pollution, I can’t tell what is causing my cough.  But, looking at the bright side of life (oh, so bright right now), it really doesn’t matter.  Because on Friday, after a half day of teaching (actually writing letters to Santa and drinking hot cocoa), I get to flit away to Bali for 3 weeks with my friends Adam, Jay, and Yang.  The sand, the sun, the inexpensive airfare?  It’s all oh so close!

But what’s been going on here?

The last Thursday in November, we celebrated American Thanksgiving.  Not really much to write about; there was good food, great company, and humorous conversation.  There were even fake flames on the television, which brought back memories of a tape my grandparents used to own that showed…well, pretty much the same thing.  But on a large screen TV, it just made the living room (where we ate) look festive and warm.  I guess the Christmas tree did that too…  So we ate, we drank, we were thankful for health, friendships, and family.  Afterwards, I even convinced Adam to sit through Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog which, in my oh-so-humble opinion, is all sorts of awesome and definitely a film I am thankful for!

Thanksgiving 2014
Kerensa and Me, toasting Thanksgiving

Last week was pretty much chock-full of school work, meaning I stayed late way too often.  We had narratives due on Friday.  This means we had to write a paragraph about how each child was doing in each subject we taught.  So I had 81 “blurbs” to write about student strengths and weaknesses in every subject (except, blessedly, science).  I don’t know yet if it’s a good or bad thing that our school never closes.  We have security guards around the clock, but if you wanna come in and lesson plan at 3am, so be it.  For the record, I have yet to be that crazy.

On Wednesday, we had a field trip to the Sichuan Science Museum for Kids.  The 7-year-olds had a lot of fun running around.  Although I was not as impressed as I was by kid museums in the states, we were pretty much the only people there which made the kids a lot easier to watch.  On Friday, we also spent a good part of the day out of school.  We drove over to the Women and Children’s Cultural Center to have a rehearsal for the Primary School Christmas performance that night.  The 7-year-olds sang and played bells and xylophones.  They were also the first group to perform and were amazingly well behaved (not that we have bad kids, but still, this program started at 7pm after a long rehearsal day) for the rest of the performance.  Afterwards, we gathered all the 7s up and tried to take a group shot, but with so many parents snapping away, it was hard to know where to look!

Most of the 7-year-olds after the Concert
Most of the 7-year-olds after the concert

On Saturday night, we had a staff Christmas party at a local restaurant.  The chef at the restaurant has kids who go to our school, so we were treated very kindly.  Below are pictures that my friend Lucy (always the self-designated awesome photographer at QSI events) snapped.  After the party here, we headed to KTV (Karaoke).  It was my first time going, so I was pretty excited, even though the time spent there was short.  Basically, you get a little room with a couch and coffee (tea?) tables.  Wait staff brings in any food you order while you look through a computer for songs.  Push a couple of buttons (always fun for us non-Chinese reading folk…) and hopefully up pops a music video that you recognize on the television in the front of the room.  We had a few wireless mics and shamelessly belted out whatever English songs we could find like…Scrubs by TLC.  I did get people to play Xiao Ping Guo, which is pretty much the only Chinese song I know…
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That’s been day to day life.  Beyond that, many coworkers are hopping on the baby bandwagon (happiness) and many coworkers are going to be transferring to other schools next year (sadness).  My buddy Adam’s actually not coming back to Chengdu after Bali, but moving to another city, which sucks and pretty much means my American Horror Story days are over…

Well I just got my first package from Virginia, so I’m going to head home and open it!  Thanks Mom!  Mwah!