Arriving to Nanya Middle School (photos incl)

Trip Start Aug 13, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of China  , Hunan,
Wednesday, August 25, 2010

August 25, 2010

    Well, here I am--in my apartment in China. My very own apartment--bedroom, living room, kitchen, bathroom, all mine for the year. I can walk around naked, use the toilet without closing the door and leave my luggage in the living room (all of which I've done very happily). I've never had so much space to myself before and it's a really amazing feeling. It's certainly not perfect-- the AC stopped working, the electrical outlets don't work (I may have caused this problem actually), the shower head sprays directly over the toilet, the wardrobe closet smells strange, etc... but it's all mine. I have a nice sized bed with a lovely pink butterfly comforter, an extra room that currently has one desk in it, a nice fridge, a new Western style toilet, a new washing machine with too many options, a T.V., and more space than I need. I feel a little bit guilty that the "foreign" teachers get so much space. Rodger, the liasan for the Nanya Middle School, told me that he does not have as much space in his apartment and he has a traditional Chinese squatty potty in his bathroom.
    I feel a little bit uneasy about the special treatment that I am receiving for being a foreign teacher. I really don't have any experience and I've got so many benefits. When I met one of the Chinese English teachers, she asked me about my teaching experience and I felt uncomfortable about not having any. Nanya Middle School is a really good middle school in Changsha and I feel like I should be more experienced. There are three individuals that will be teaching at Nanya also, who are volunteering with World Teach. They get a stipend of $300 but have been doing orientation/training for almost a whole month now. They seem to be a lot more prepared, yet the four of us from the HPEIA organization will be earning about $600 a month. Of the four, only I went through the week of lame training. I think World Teach is a much better organized and experienced organization. I think that Nanya hired HPEIA people for the first time this year. I hope they won't be disappointed (especially with me!)
    Of the four from our group, I'm the only girl. There is one guy from Oklahoma, Andrew, who is very outgoing and practices his Chinese whenever he gets the chance. I admire the way he says hello to everyone he sees and says as much Chinese as he can. There is another guy from Nebraska, Jonathan and one from Georgia, Derek. I haven't spoken much with either of them. There were two teachers from Nanya who came to pick us up-- Rodger and Robert, both very kind and with very good English (better than the lady I met at Yuelu Mountain). Robert is the head English teacher, I think, and Rodger helps the foreign teachers with various things (apartment issues, for example).
    When we arrived at the school, I was quite impressed with how large it is. The main entrance is lovely. There are several apartments on campus where the teachers live. All the foreign teachers have apartments on the first floor, except for me. I decided to take the one on the fourth floor. It was difficult to get my luggage up but I made it. Pretty soon after we arrived, we left to go to dinner so I didn't get a chance to unpack or clean or anything. We met the three from World Teach-- Lon, Noah, and Donna. Donna is a recent divorcee with two 20-something year old daughters. Noah is 35 and taught high school history for one year, amongst many odd jobs. Lon was born in Shanghai but moved to the States when she was three and grew up in Wisconsin. They are all quite nice. I feel a little bit jealous of Lon though. I've been feeling really weird being Chinese and not speaking Chinese here-- She's Chinese and she speaks Chinese too. She's very outgoing and energetic and seems to be one of those people that is very motivated and successful. I wish that I had grown up bilingual too, although I would have grown up bilingual with Cantonese, not Mandarin. Anyway, I should probably get over that and just accept what I have and not compare.
    So the seven of us went to dinner with Rodger and Robert. We ate at this fancy restaurant in a private room. We were joined by the president of the school and some school officials-- all men. I was really uncomfortable, actually-- I didn't say very much  and I felt really shy. Throughout a lot of the dinner, the important Chinese guys talked to each other and the Americans talked to each other. At some points, Andrew spoke some Chinese to the Chinese guys and with some translation help by Robert, the Chinese guys said some stuff to us. Lon was able to talk with everyone very well but most of the rest of us stayed pretty quiet. I think the formality of it all made me kind of quiet and uncomfortable. The food was good. It was better than the restaurant we've been going to-- not as greasy, better quality. Some of it was very spicy-- I continue to be embarrassed by my sensitive taste buds and overactive sweat pores.
    I haven't been to many  formal dinners, but at this one, each of the important Chinese guys walked around to teach of us, toasting to friendship and wishing us luck. There were several toasts that evening.  It was a nice evening and perhaps if I had had more of the beer that we were toasting with, I could have been more relaxed. It was okay though. After dinner, I walked to a local convenience store with Noah and Andrew to buy some stuff (water, toilet paper). After I got back, I attempted (and failed) to connect to the internet and none of my electrical outlets worked.
    At one point, we stopped by Noah's room to check it out-- and saw the biggest spider I've ever seen in my life. It was HUGE and HAIRY. I've never seen such a large spider-- It was in Noah's kitchen. He got a broom and flattened it, destroying the broom along the way, I think. It was so disgusting and freaky. Afterward, I got a little bit freaked out about there being huge bugs in my apartment as well. Later, when I was in my room, there was a huge grasshopper in the corner. I didn't realize it was a grasshopper-- I thought it was a cockroach or something. I just saw it from across the room and didn't want to get close-- I was still freaked out over the spider incident. I called Andrew and he shooed it out of my room. Apparently everyone on the first floor has ant problems but besides the grasshopper, I haven't had any other issues. I'm a little bit afraid of seeing random large bugs in my room... besides that though, I'm glad to be here!

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Martina on

Spider, Sprider, Spider

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