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very busy, very china

September 12, 2005

because I have been depending more on mass emails, I haven’t been posting here as much, but for those of you who care, here is a copy of what I most recently sent out. Maybe if I have time I will post more later.

Dear Family and Friends,
Although I was going to wait until Sunday to write you all, I decided to take advantage of a free offer of internet and email you today. Several times in the past few days I have found myself amazed that it has been less than 3 weeks since I arrived in China. Life is beginning to reach some level of normalcy with a nice balance of classes, free time, exploring, lectures and chances to interact with Chinese students. Yesterday was a big day for our group because we finally met our cooking/host families. While we will continue to live in the Waiban dormitories these families will serve as connections to Chinese cultures and also offer some of us the chance to try our hand at some Chinese cooking. Feeling rather nervous, I finally met my family at 8pm, a few hours after the rest of the families had arrived, due to my host parents having a dinner they needed to attend. They are a great couple, the husband speaks English and actually just visited the States last spring, through an exchange with the university of Georgia. They picked me up in their rather nice little car and drove the short distance to their apartment. They live on campus because he is the dean of Teacher Preparation, or in other terms he teaches undergraduates and graduates how to be teachers. Unfortunately his wife doesn’t speak any English, but this will definitely be a good motivation for me to learn my Chinese. They also have a son almost exactly my age, he is a English major here at Sichuan Normal University. It was nice to be able to talk with someone my own age and in English! Another random connection is that he was actually in a English taught by the previous group of Goshen SSTers, specifically Rachel Wr and Ann A (both of which have graduated by now).
Anyways it was quite a lovely evening and they gave me a present of some pomegranates (which are quite common here) and some lovely Jasmine tea). I look forward to going over to their house tomorrow to cook lunch with them.
Other highlights of the week include late night chats with fellow SSTers, unexpected fireworks going off at the south gate, providing us with a spectacular view from our roof, bright sunny days in which to dry our laundry, a random meeting with a Chinese girl on the street, that lead to coffee and good conversations, games of volleyball, lots of tea, successfully ordering several Chinese dishes and getting what we asked for (although we also managed to get three separate orders of fried rice, which provided a bit too much for us), and much more. Although time is moving slowly, each day feels very full and eventful, I continue to fight a bit of a head cold and recently learned that Chengdu does indeed possess a fair amount of mosquitoes of which several have left their mark on my arms. The weather is quite nice and it is interesting how quickly one gets used to the pollution and on clear levels it seems even less. I think most of our group will welcome the arrival of fall, which will hopefully bring cooler days and maybe even less humidity. Yesterday we had a lecture from Professor Huang, a retired Chinese professor of English, who was
instrumental in the origins of the China SST program. He read a poem about GC based on his visit there and his appreciation for its campus and oddly enough it made me a little homesick for the campus and all its lovely Maple Trees.
Oh another highlight was joining a group of middle aged Chinese women who meet nightly to do aerobics which take the form of Chinese folk dances. Although many were quite hard to pick up on, it was lots of fun and I am sure they got a kick out of a bunch of foreign girls joining them.
Well this email grows long and my time grows short, so much love to all of you and remember to let me know how you are doing from time to time!
Abby

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