My students have packed their bags and left for home. Now I am preparing to go home myself: cleaning my apartment, buying last-minute souvenirs, and trying to fit everything into my bag.
Over the weekend, I got to make one last trip into the Chinese countryside. I was invited to visit my student Victor’s family in Da Wu. I met up with Victor and 7 of my other students in a campus drink shop. We packed into a 7-passenger van and drove 2 hours Southwest of Xiaogan.
Victor’s mom had dinner on the table when we arrived. As we tore into the dishes, I was reminded of times when I would invite all my friends over during high school. My mom would cook up a lasagna and a plate of cookies, and within 20 minutes it would be gone.
In the evening we walked around the city and then watched some Chinese reality tv. We watched a show called “Baba Women Qu Nar?” (Daddy, where are we going?) It’s about these 5 sets of fathers and their kids (all under age 10) who are taken out into the wilderness and given multiple challenges that the have to complete. My favorite was the episode where they had to play soccer in a recently harvested rice patty. I love seeing some of the similarities and differences between Chinese t.v. and American shows.
The next day, we went hiking at a war memorial. This part of the country was the center for the communist revolution in the mid-1900s. The park that we hiked through is full of monuments depicting heroes of the revolution and famous battles. It was an interesting look at Chinese history juxtaposed against my energetic students who were more interested in climbing all over the monuments than looking at them.
On Sunday, we had my last hot pot of the year. We gathered around 8 pots of boiling broth and dipped vegetables and meat into it the water until they were cooked. I enjoyed having one last big meal with my students, laughing about our memories from this year and looking forward to our summer plans.
After we came back to campus, my students took their final exams, and I finished up my paper work for the year.
Our part of Xiaogan is steadily becoming quieter and quieter as our students head home. Soon, we too will vacate our apartments and fly home. I’m so excited to come home for the summer, but I know I’ll miss my students. Just 7 ½ weeks until I come back to China!