I arrived, with Dawson, two other Americans from a different teaching program, and our English-speaking Chinese guide (who acts a bit like a babysitter), in the city of Jiangshan, China yesterday. There was a bit of confusion, as Dawson and I were both under the impression that we were staying to teach in Hangzhou. However, we learned at our meeting on Sunday morning that we would be shipped off to Quzhou, a city of about 2.4 million people. This, too, turned out to be false, and we know reside not too far from Quzhou, in Jiangshan, where it appears the only white people who set foot are summer teachers like us. The city is several hundred thousand people–a much greater population than I had expected. As a result of both the high population and the rarity of people of our race, the four of us have become celebrities in town and especially at school. But I’ll get to that later.
We are being put up in a hotel–the Jiangshan hotel–the address of which I am desperately trying to find out so I can order two copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It is rather nice–though I never expected to call a hotel home for three weeks. There is a shaky wireless connection from somewhere, which I am using to write this. The hotel is on the main street in town, chock full of shops with incredibly inexpensive clothing and food. Behind these storefronts, as we can see from our eighth-floor hotel room, lie residences, each not more than a few feet from another. The roofs, I am pleased to see, are home to solar-powered water heaters.
I surely shall never forget my first sight of the students at our school. We are teaching at a school that has an annual “English Village” summer camp. About three hundred students attend. Before class started this morning, there was an opening ceremony. The four of us Americans waited outside the building, and when we were welcomed onto the stage, we were greeted by a sea of tiny Chinese children, all wearing matching red baseball caps, and all cheering like mad. I gave a short speech on behalf of the visiting teachers, and then class commenced.
I’m getting a bit tired and there is ramen a-making, so I’m going to stop here. But first, a note on this blog. I hope this to be a forum for my thoughts an observations, as well as a travel journal so that I will remember the events of this trip and you can read about them if it interests or entertains you.
Until next time,