Kali and I have gone through a lot to get ready for our semester teaching English in Chengdu, China.
We’ve driven out to Jamestown for many meetings with Felix Muzza and Laura Turnbull, the coordinators for experiential learning, and history Professor Jon O’Brian, whose contacts in China and at the YMCA (he’s also director of Camp Onyahsa) are part of what made this internship possible. They’ve all helped us tremendously to make sure we have everything in place and ready to go. We are currently working on getting our visas done, but we’ve had our passports for quite some time, which is a big relief. Our classes are taken care of, and our financial aid has all been sorted out. It sounds like a lot, and at times it felt like it, but through it all we’ve had Felix, Laura, and Prof. O’Brian helping us.
But that’s background. Let’s get to the fun stuff and start looking ahead. During our time in China, Kali and I are each required to write a blog post a week, so that everybody back home can follow along with our adventures and so that we can process the experience a bit. There’s some other coursework we’re supposed to complete while we’re over there, including some history essays and a journal. The main reason we’re there, though, and the one we’re most excited about, is teaching the kids. During the day there, half of the time we will be teaching students at the YMCA/YWCA in Chengdu, and the other half we will be helping children at the orphanage.
Still, needless to say, I’m a bit anxious. Crazy excited, but anxious. I’ve never flown before, so that alone will be an adventure. I know that once we get there we will feel lost. There’s probably no way around that, and it’s useless to pretend otherwise. But I know that we’ll also be amazed by so many things — by the buildings, the people around us, the cultures and traditions and language and the food. Ahh, the food. I’ve heard many stories about the food in China. Mainly, I’ve heard that it’s nothing like the Chinese food that we have here (did you know that General Tso didn’t actually make General Tso’s chicken? Shocking but true). I’m planning on testing this theory as soon as we get there.
As we sit here, waiting for our visas and thinking about what the next couple of months are going to be like, I’m not sure how we will react to all of this. It’s the adventure of a lifetime, but it’s intimidating. I know deep down that it will be OK, that everybody here at JCC will have our backs and that the people we’ll be working with in China will be phenomenal, and that we’ll do and see things we never thought we’d get a chance to, but it’s still sometimes overwhelming. Regardless, I’m ready and waiting for the plane tickets. I know I will miss my home and friends, but I also know that we will be back before we know it, and that the in-between part is going to be awesome.