I think now would be an appropriate time to introduce my new, and hopefully lifelong friends.
Occupation: Librarian, ESL Teacher
Hometown: Neosho, Missouri (crazy, huh?!)
In Missouri, Brittany and I are approximately 250 miles apart. It's crasy to think that we met in China, more than 7,000 miles away from our homes.
Brittany is incredibly smart. She has a Bachelor's Degree and a Master's Degree in something that has to do with English. In China, she was picking up Chinese very well--way better than Barb or I.
Let's see, she loves dogs and every time we saw one she had to stop and pet it (as long as it was okay with the owner). I pointed out cute babies, she pointed out cute puppies... it worked out well.
Brittany signed up to teach in Nanjing China for 1 year and came early to do the summer student program I was in. She had a little teaching experience in college, but not with younger students; she taught college students. She is a good listener and comforter when things aren't going exactly as planned (which in China is always... because they don't believe in plans and it's frustrating).
Brittany and I had a lot in common. But she also had a lot in common with Barb and my G. The 3 of them are movie buffs; maybe that's why she made me feel a little bit at home. She's just one of those people that you feel like you've known your whole life. During some of our spare time, we would sit in her room and watch Scrubs or Fraiser (if we were too exhausted to do aything else), or just listen to music until we were almost late for class.
Brittany and I could talk about anything in a country where barely anyone understood us. I am so glad she was there with me!
Anyways, so far Brittany and I have kept in touch, and hopefully we will continue to do so.
Formerly known as: Awah Junior Awah
Occupation: ESL teacher
Home country: South Africa
At the supermarket.
Let's see. What can I say about Junior?
Mr. Awah is a South African native, and he was the other foreign teacher besides Brittany and I. He has been teaching in China for 2 years and in the school we were at for 1 year. When he first moved to Huaian, he lived in the same hotel where we were housed.
Fortunately, Junior could speak Chinese and English. I say fortunately, because the guy who was assigned to help us out...well, didn't. So we usually ended up dragging this poor man around to help us communicate. We needed help getting the internet, so we brought Junior to our hotel and he figured out that we could use the internet for free in their smoky office downstairs (which was better than nothing!). He also figured out the laundry situation for us (they didn't have laundry service, but we could do our wash -by hand, with a washboard and wringer- on the 5th floor and hang them outside.
Generally, I will credit him with keeping us sane the first few days. After about a week, we branched out a little. But I still depended on Junior for a lot of things. In the town I was in, there weren't taxi's readily available like there were everywhere else we had been. So you had to take a rickshaw to get a taxi. Or Junior. He would put us in a rickshaw and tell them where to go and negotiate prices. And one night I even called him at 11pm to take me on his bike somewhere where I could get a taxi.
He went walking with me after I got solicited and didn't want to go alone (that's another story in itself...). He helped us communicate with the guy who was supposed to be helping us.
Junior is a gentleman. One night he wouldn't hang out with me out of respect to G-which I was a little pissed about, but I reminded myself that it's his culture. Brit didn't want to hang out, and of course we couldn't be alone! Jeez. But anyways, thinking back, that was very respectful and kind.
Also, Junior was fun to converse with. He didn't know a whole lot about America and it was fun to try and explain things to him. For example- he didn't know what taxes were. One night he asked what was the deal with healthcare in the United States. So he knows a lot, but he doesn't know a lot, which is really fun. He also was pretty interested in politics, but more intereted in Barb's views than mine... again... made me a little mad because I'm just as knowledgeable. But I brought it up to her and she reminded me again that it's his culture to respect older people more.