Thursday, August 9, 2012

Wo shi Guizhou-ren!

Today is was one of the pivotal days in a Peace Corps China Trainee's experience:

Site Announcements!!!

We all gathered at Sichuan University this morning for a health session (how not to get avian flu, schistosomiasis, dengue fever, and malaria).

I'm guessing there will be a few cases of schisto this year among the group. The excitement sparked by the impending site announcements dulled our usual bear-trap attentions.

Announcements came next.

Peace Corps China works in three provinces and one independent municipality: Sichuan, Guizhou, Gansu, and Chongqing. All China volunteers teach English and other subjects at Chinese universities. The site managers were all waiting to hand out colored folders containing our site information. Yellow for Sichaun, Green for Chongqing, Blue for Guizhou, and Pink for Gansu.

The trainees from Sichuan Normal East got the excitement going with a dance routine to the Jackson Five's "ABC."

Alyssa gave the go ahead and the site managers handed out the folders. 

Mine...dun, dun, dun...Guizhou!  Zunyi, Guizhou! Zunyi Teacher's College.

My site mate is Becky from Ohio.

There will be the only two volunteers at the university. Two China 16s (a married couple) just left.

After some serious sharing with our friends, we headed to a session orienting us to the new site.

Guizhou is southeast of Sichuan, and is a fairly mountainous province. Many rivers and caves. The population is, on average, quite poor. It is the third poorest province in China. Because of this, it can be difficult to attract foreign teachers, so it is heartening to know that what we will do at our universities is work that really needs to be done and that can have a lasting impact. The region contains very large minority populations. My students will be struggling to speak English.

Overall, it is a politically conservative region. Mao Zedung took control of the Communist Party in Zunyi (my city!), Guizhou. 

The climate is more mild there, with cool-ish summers and warm winters. The largest waterfall in China is in Guizhou. Most importantly, the food is excellent. Less oily and slightly less spicy than in Sichuan. I will miss the hua jiao! Lots of fresh vegetables and bean, pork, beef, chicken, and, yes, dog. 

Besides Becky, my province mates include: Rachel, Maria and Nick in Tongren, Jason K and Kateri in Bijie, Morgan and Claire in Duyun, Shree in Kaili, Alex and Trevor in Lupanshui, and Russ, Melissa, Dan, Aaron, McKinley, Mike, and Kelly in Guiyang. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

My Chinese Host Family

No clever title here, as this is serious gratitudinal business.

These past few weeks, I have been staying with a Chinese family, who has given me a place to stay, fed me delicious food, and taken me on some great outings in Sichaun (more on these later).

The Peace Corps host family modes is such that the volunteer is usually the "son" or "daughter." This seems apt, given how new I am to the culture here, even though I am nearly as old as my host "mother" and "father" and old enough to be my host "sisters" father.

Mother: Huan He (43, a university English teacher at Sichuan Normal University)
Father: Yan Cun Jian (45, a university Geography/GIS professor at SNU)
Sister: Yan De Fei aka Fei Fei (a 14 year old student and Gu Zheng player)

My blogger profile picture includes the family, but here they are again:

My training site is Sichuan Normal University (Sichaun shifan daxue), between the second and third ring roads. It's not downtown, but still relatively urban. You can find more information about it here:

Chengdu is a fascinating city as well--ancient, but developing and expanding day by day.