Sunday, April 25, 2010

Winds of Change

Wherever the Wind May Call Me

About a week ago I wrote a full blog and decided not to send it to anyone. There was nothing sensitive per se, but I realized that I was essentially saying the same things I’ve said before in a new way. That is when the new thought struck me.

I noticed that I was starting to settle into a routine. I don’t feel like i’ve gotten stuck in a rut - I know what that feels like - but definitely there is a certain amount of repetition that I am recognizing. For once, I dont see it as all bad. However, I do recognize that this could be a dangerous stage for me. Dangerous because I may ignore new problems by dismissing them as old issues. The fact that I recognize it is an encouraging thought.

My classes and I are at that point of the semester (one more week of content before finals) where everything cognitively shuts down and you are ready to be done. Its not a pretty sight sometimes, and its definitely not fun to have space cadet students when you are trying to get them involved. Such circumstances make moderately boring lessons into a nightmare, and even games that had decent potential become the doldrums on the open seas.

Luckily, we will all be done very soon. I keep reminding them that the end is near (and not in a naked hobo wearing a sign in New York kind of way) and to take heart. They listen. . . Sometimes.

We move forward. Occasionally together. It has been a real trek to get to where we are and there is no mistaking that. I have learned a ton about what it means to be a teacher and a good student, and hopefully they have learned a lot about reading or writing depending on what class they have me for.

Next semester is full of promise and I greatly look forward to it: almost as much as I look forward to the week long break that comes before it.

Regardless of the prospects of a new semester, I have realized a very important thing about my circumstance right now.

I am content with the stage I am at.

I am not content to stay in this occupation forever maybe not, but I am confident that I am where I need to be for the time being. I am learning skills that I need to learn and I am being proven in a way that I needed. I needed to know that I could really go somewhere and adapt to the language and people in a way that most cannot or will not. I needed to know that I could go and “acculturate”.

I definitely have a lot of work to do, but I am on the right track.

Here is the juicy part (I always think of Juicy juice when I hear the word juice... and even though its kind of miserably non-juice-ish... I have some really fond association for it and the tin-can stilts that my mom used to make out of their oversized containers).

I realized that I really do love China. I didn’t before I came, and I don’t think this is necessarily some calling to stay here forever, but the fact that I could stay here forever is an incredible sign. I am a restless spirit. I am more often than not fidgety and looking for the next stage of growth and development. Right now, I feel like China is a vast green horizon full of growth and intrigue and I am astounded by how comfortable I am here.

I am almost done with my first Chinese textbook. I have already purchased a new one, and I love seeing my language skills grow and be measured by increasingly more demanding books. I look forward to seeing that grow.

I was at dinner yesterday night and somehow the concept of “getting into someone else’s head” came up. I’ve always liked the idea. This time however, some friends of mine said that they wouldn’t want to get into the Chinese mind. Without a doubt, the average mainland Chinese tinkerbox has some odd toys rolling around... trust me... this isnt just racism. I however do want to know what goes on in their heads.

My view on culture is that it is amazing. Not to say that there aren’t ups and downs, pros and cons etc, but that a style of living would be agreed upon by a group of people (a functional view of culture that I hold) is an incredible thing. I like to know about culture and understand how to operate within it, without being bound by it against my will.

It is one thing to choose to be limited to honour those around you (that one’s for you mom) and another to be ignorant of your own chains.

The same thing is true with culture I feel. Know the problems and advantages, and understand how to use them to really connect with people.

All that said, I do not know what my plans are exactly, but I know that this is a good stage for me. I dont know the expiration date on this milk but it smells good for now.

(Ok so that metaphor doesnt totally apply because Zhengzhou smells pretty horrendous sometimes.)

So I dunno where the lemons went... evidently life gave me milk... so im gonna make cheese instead of lemonade. I think cheese is more multipurpose and useful.

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