By the end of my third week here in Qingdao, I’m starting to feel at home. I’ve been out in the city several times, by myself, and I’m getting to know my way around. I’ve done pretty well asking people directions and finding what I’m looking for. I’m able to read better than I used to, that helps a lot, and my speaking is slowly improving. I’m getting a better idea of the culture and what is expected of me. I am by no means an expert, I have such a long way to go. But I no longer feel a complete stranger always in need of a Chinese friend around to help me out. I do get stared at a lot though. Not really stared at so much, but people’s head turn. The kids actually stare at me the most. Though one little girl, probably only four or five, walked right up to me and said ‘hi’ today as I was walking back to the univeristy campus. Her mom was sitting on a wall next to the road and she was playing. She saw me as I walked up and went “oh!” *light bulb comes on, that person looks like she speaks english* so she walks right up to me and says “hello”. I said “Ni hao” and she immediately got all shy, as if she wasn’t sure I ‘was real’ and was just checking me out to see if I talked, but not really ready for the fact that I would talk back. Her mom laughed and tried to help me get a few words out of her, but she pretty much shut up after that. She was really cute.
Anyway, this week I only had three days of school (yeah, dancing in the streets) because on Thursday and Friday we went on a little trip. Our trip was up to the town of Lai Xi, a medium sized town in northern Shandong province. We went up there to visit two elementary schools. One of them was in the city and one in a farming village outside the city. The bus ride was about two hours, and I had fun not having fun while I tried to take pictures of the countryside from inside a moving van. We stayed at a fairly nice hotel in Lai Xi, I was in a room with three other girls. We drove up Thursday morning, and that afternoon went to the first school. A couple classes of kids were waiting for us in what I think was their auditorium. They performed some for us, did some dances, singing, reciting, and a play. They are all very cute kids. After they were done, I, and two other of my classmates from OSU gave short presentations about our respective hometowns. I felt very inadequate and bumbling up there, it was after all the first presentation I have ever given to a room full of complete strangers in a foreign language and in a foreign country. But, of course, they all said it was wonderful.
After all that pleasantness, the kids taught us how to make traditional Chinese knots. You know those red pendents and hangings you see that always have a knot and some tassels? Well they taught us how to make them. Just very small ones mind you, though I’d love to learn how to make the really big ones. Finally, the kids took us outside and we all played around for about a half hour. We played jump-rope, volleyball, and a hoping game that I couldn’t describe if I tried, so I’m not going to. The jump-rope was lots of fun. They had two adults with a really long rope and people would run in, jump, and run out. We did this, sometimes in pairs, in opposite directions, with a partner, or just completely randomly. It was so much fun and it felt wonderful to play like a kid again. There is certainly a beautiful innocence and joy that comes from kids that nothing else can reproduce, and I am sorry to know that I no longer have it. I know to much and have too many responsibilities. But this is not a bad thing, since life is a cycle of growing and you can not stop change, nor should you. Each part of life has its place, and it is our job to enjoy each moment God gives us to the fullest, because we will never have it again.
(that is all for now, Its late and I have homework so I’ll finish it sometime this week)