Chronicles of Nanyang - Back in China
This article series is from a Hills Learning student, Loraine, who took our intensive course over the summer of 2012. She writes about living in China and her experiences learning about the Chinese language and culture.
After spending the summer in the U.S. visiting family and friends, I’ve returned to China to work for a second year at Nanyang Normal University. It’s been wonderful to get back to all of the things that made my first year here so special—the students, my home, friends, and food.
The school year began with many holidays, some Chinese and some Jewish. And not to be left out, classes began on September 2nd, American Labor Day. Like last year, the foreign teachers were given gifts in honor of moon festival, including a generous supply of moon cakes and 45 fresh eggs. To celebrate a sweet new Jewish year, I enjoyed apples and honey, as well as Chinese honey cake, which did not disappoint.
Now that the holiday season is over, it’s down to business. I have a teaching schedule of 24 hours per week, with classes of freshmen, sophomores, and teachers who come to Nanyang from around Henan province to refresh their classroom skills.
Many changes took place while I was away from Nanyang over the summer. New shops moved in near the school, and a new karaoke club, called KTV, is being built just across the street. But the biggest change is the huge archway that now towers over the entrance of the school. Much of the street and sidewalks were deconstructed in order to erect it, but it was all put back together, and is even better than before. In addition to identifying the school, the arch has become a popular site for taking photos.
The other big change has been in the group of foreign teachers. All three of the native Japanese teachers are new this year, and there are two new native English speaking teachers. That means I’m the teacher with the most experience at the school and in the city. Because the others have depended on me to show them around, I’ve had to work to overcome my poor sense of direction, which has been no small task. My other role in the teachers’ group is to act as translator between Chinese and English. So far, I’ve risen to many challenges, such as navigating the buses, ordering food in restaurants, and speaking with taxi drivers. So far, we haven’t gotten lost or starved!
Although Nanyang is a fairly large city, in many ways it has a small town feeling to it. Among the many special ways that people interact is to give food to friends, or even strangers, they meet on the street. One day as I was walking down my driveway, an older woman whom I had never met was coming towards me. When we were about to pass, she opened up a plastic bag filled with fruit and insisted that I take some. I had seen this fruit before, but hesitated to buy it because of its green skin, which in the U.S. could be a sign that the fruit is unripe. In any case, when I cut open the fruit at home, I was happy to find that it was a sweet, juicy citrus fruit, very similar to a tangerine. Once I tasted it, I had to buy some for myself. The Chinese use the jin as the basic unit of weight, equivalent to about one pound. In addition to the delicious taste, the good news was that one jin of this fruit cost just one yuan—about 16 cents.
As before, I’m looking forward to this year with great excitement, from observing the smallest details of daily life to continuing my travels to the great sites of China. I’ll keep you updated, and hope you will do the same.
Best wishes from Nanyang,