Friday, March 29, 2013

"You Are EFF You!"

Last semester, one of my students learned that "Eff you!" was a bad word (probably from music or an older student). Despite my efforts to convince him that it's pronounced "funny," he continues to occasionally spit out the occasional "You are eff you" before class, and it's really hard not to laugh when he does it, because he says it with such enthusiasm, panache, and genuine happiness.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

10% Annual Growth

There are thousands of articles online about the crazy pace of development in China, and I know everybody talks about the development of big cities like Beijing and Shanghai, but things are changing pretty rapidly out here too.

In the past year and a half my school has:

  • Put in a new track
  • Started construction on one new teacher dorm
  • Started construction on another random building...(this happened a few days ago, so I'm not sure what exactly it's supposed to be)
  • Got rid of our two normal trash burning pit, and made a new bigger one. 
  • Redone the front gate of the school (currently in progress)
  • Changed some signage
  • Re-landscaped the area near the teaching buildings 
  • Put in a ton of ping-pong tables
  • Probably done some other stuff that I can't think of right now (Ohhh! Speed bumps. They put those in! And putting smart boards in the honors classrooms)
The  elementary school has:
  • Made a new library (with support from TFC fellows!)
  • Built a new teachers' dorm (not quite open yet)
  • Made a little playground for the kids
  • Probably done a whole lot of other things that I just don't know about or can't remember...
In the past year in Songgui (my village):
  • Opened a new supermarket. (We now have two! And the new one has Gatorade!)
  • Tore down the building that housed the amazing Yogurt Lady.....twice. (Her original building got torn down to make something, and then the next place she moved to had the same thing happen to it. I have no idea what she's doing now.) 
  • Crazy Hair Lady's building was torn down to make something. (She's now in a new building that got built next to the new supermarket, and still has a vendetta against my sideburns)
  • Paved one of the more important roads in the village
  • Opened a ton of little shops, at least one restaurant (right next to the school!), and built a whole mess of new houses. 
Nearby, the county seat recently got a train station (which makes travelling to Kunming a lot nicer, which in the past year just got a new airport, which makes travelling out of Kunming more of a pain). 

I didn't actually think about much of this until the past break, where I went back home. I don't think I saw a single crane the entire time I was in the U.S., and I don't know that I even saw any buildings under construction. In a single drive near Kunming, I counted over twenty cranes before I got bored. It's really going to be crazy to come back here in a couple of years, and see how much it's changed. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


It's weird to realize that at some point in the past year and a half I started thinking of Songgui as home. Even though I spent four years at Georgetown, I never felt that it was a home for me in the same way that Songgui is. I'm not really sure what the difference is--maybe having a job?--but it definitely felt good to get back here, and I know I'm going to miss this place when I leave.

I don't actually have any pictures of around Songgui, which I need to change. It's just hard to remember to take pictures of the places that you see everyday. So, instead, here's a picture of Tian Minghao, one of my students from last year:

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Things I was glad to come back to

1. Great friends.
2. A good bowl of rice noodles in broth. (The ideal bowl is served under a tent by the side of the road, and has a good splash of vinegar, some pickled peppers (seriously), 3 or so spoonfuls of crushed peanuts, and a little bit of crushed hot red pepper)
3. My students + teaching
4. My toilet (as long as you're not food poisoned / have giardia, squatting is better)
5. Being able to walk everywhere