I am very satisfied with my trip to China this time. I learned a lot and had a lot of fun and met dozens of people who don't have facebook. I learned family history and political history and social culture and that China is about as diverse as Europe is. The China you know might not be the China I know. No wonder some things Nancy claims are traditional Chinese are things that my dad's never heard of before. I have also heard stories of back when the Communists took over and things were actually Communist (not like now, haha). Combine that with a sci-fi book that I was reading that was obviously a political statement against Communism, and I understand better now why Communism doesn't work so well in real life. Distributing everything equally means no one has enough. And cutting off the top to exalt the bottom doesn't make too much sense either (there was a time when only proletariat could go to college... doesn't that just switch the roles of the proletariat and bourgeoisie?). I've heard of the grief that Communism has brought to my family (far from an exceptional experience), and I don't understand why Chinese people are still glorifying Grandpa Mao.
Anyhow, that led me on a long exploration of Wikipedia that led me to find this guy: 罗瑞卿 (Luo Ruiqing), an important person involved in the Communist Party of China. Now, my grandpa's name was 罗瑞環 (Luo Ruihuan, possibly wrong huan). Siblings often have the same middle character. My eyes almost popped when I thought it said he was born in Nanchang, where I presume my grandpa was born. It actually said he was born in Nanchong, which is in a different province altogether. He is probably only a distant relative. The same middle character is probably explained by the fact that it's traditionally determined by generation.
I have some significant news updates since my last post.
1) I have begun teaching English! Co-teach, more like, but it's awesome as heck, and I am thoroughly enjoying myself. In fact, I almost don't want to go home, so I can finish the program, because as it is, I'm missing the second half of it. It's an English summer camp for high school/college students, aimed at language and cultural exchange between Chinese students and American teachers. I am awkward because I am somewhere in between the two, haha, but it's fun. And boy am I learning a whole lot about Chinese culture that I didn't know existed. For example, it is extremely far from the truth to say that Chinese people only care about math and science, and don't care about history and the arts, because they do. They appreciate it more than Americans do sometimes, I believe, because they have 3000 years of history and culture under their belt. America barely has 300, ok. And a thousand other things, like how whole classes often hang out together, and lunchtime is two hours long so you have an hour to nap, and some people don't distinguish the l sound from the n sound, and you always wear slippers inside, and you never wash your underwear in a washing machine(??), and divorce is very taboo but unfaithfulness in marriage is tolerated, etc, etc.
2) Which brings me to my second point that religion is not a touchy subject here like it is in America. In America, people think you're trying to convert them if you even mention religion. In China (at least in Chinese universities), they take it academically, as culture. I am giving a presentation on religions in America tomorrow. In other words, they have invited me to share the good news (among other things) to my two classes in a public university. All I prayed for was an opportunity to share the good news with the TA of the class, and this is how God answered. He never ceases to amaze me.
I went to the senior activities center (for senior citizens aka retired people) on campus with my aunt and they were having like a ... ballroom dance session. (PS Chinese universities take tenure very seriously -- they take care of their retired faculty and staff, and their families. This college campus is swimming in old people.) Old people ballroom dancing is pretty cute. She dragged me dance with her and then she pushed me to dance with this old man who was apparently a colleague of my grandpa's (like I know how to ballroom dance). Now, my grandpa has been dead for a few decades now, so he seems to me to be further in the past than he actually is. I was introduced to old people as his granddaughter and they reacted in awe and commented that I look like my grandma. I know I do, but I bet they haven't seen either of my grandparents for decades. This is about equivalent to ancient history to me! To think that I bear visible similarities to someone from that long ago (not really) is mindboggling. Especially after sorting through ancient family photos the night before, and hearing my uncle (a true professor) lecture me on our family history up to since we became a family of scholars four generations ago (that is, the time of the end of the last dynasty of emperors of China O.o), this is really mindboggling. To think I have relatives from that long ago, lol. So now you should all know that my brains are mainly genetically inherited because all my ancestors had exceptional brains, and I am not exaggerating about that. Some were regular smart, but some were genius. They are the type to score 2390 on the SAT despite coming from an extremely disadvantaged background. I am highly impressed. You should also know that both my grandpas were physics professors, which explains my love relationship with physics.
So I find myself doing gruntwork for some Norwegian company involving not-quite-but-almost-computer-programming, instead of teaching/half-teaching English. Sadly. I am learning lots about programming but unfortunately I don't have much of an interest in that. 眼睛都看花了, I tried to cram so much into my brain today. Note to self: do not trust other people to hook you up for stuff anymore. What happened was that it was, I guess, failed to be communicated that the summer session here (and thus my English class(es)) starts in mid-july, when I am supposed to leave. Originally it would have been ok, because I was supposed to go home later. Timing was for some reason not calculated into the flight change. Very sadly. So I got stuck in this lab trying to learn to code with these crazy students who literally sleep in the lab, haha. Delicious. We will see how this ends up.
I was a 5 star hotel restaurant, and the sign over the CANTALOUPE said this:
哈密瓜 (translated: honeydew)
...although google translate is telling me that 哈密瓜 is cantaloupe, from my understanding it's honeydew.
In addition to some chocolate honeydew, I also had some frog fallopian tube in a papaya. This is a gourmet delicacy, not street food or homecooking, in case you were wondering. They wouldn't tell me what part of the frog it was, and no wonder, lol.
I also saw dragonflies and butterflies the size of small birds and a wild snake when we visited the countryside for one hour.
And purple yams! And trees growing IN a lake! And an herb that makes mosquitoes not bite you when you eat it!
Oh speaking of food, today my uncle was showing me around campus, and pointed out a bakery he said that made western snacks... breads and buns and things. Funny thing is, the stuff the "western" bakery sold is exactly what we call Asian bakery stuff. Like me! In America I'm Asian, and in Asia, I'm American! I understand you, little pineapple buns.
What else is fun (oh no, my English is becoming Engrish!)... when I speak Chinese here, no one thinks I'm American/Canadian (to heck with Ma Jie's claim that I have an American accent). They think I'm from Taiwan or Hong Kong. One person said I sounded a bit local. This, my friends, is dialect leveling. I speak generic southern Mandarin and everyone picks up on the characteristics that aren't local to them and thinks I'm from elsewhere. In reality, I'm a Mandarin speaker from nowhere. Real Taiwanese people would never think I'm from Taiwan. China for sure, they say. And I've never heard Hong Kong until I came here, but I dunno. They all sound very similar in my opinion. I'm probably somewhere in between.
Hi, rest of the world! I am getting spoiled like you would not believe here, and I am not exaggerating. I am not just talking about relatives buying me whatever I want. Use your imagination. But nothing in the whole world is as good to me as my God!!!!! Nope, no physical comforts, no entertainment, not even people or natural wonders (my favorite things in the world) are as beautiful or gratifying as my God. He is so beautiful. Tell me if the God who gives his own life to give his utterly undeserving whore of a wife a chance to come back isn't the most beautiful thing in the world, from the point of view of the broken wife.