Thursday, June 23, 2011

Last Update

Note from Suki: The last post was actually sent to me sometime last week. This one was just yesterday. Lindey comes home on Sunday.

This is my very last update at Jiangxi Mayflora International. We have just about six hours before a bus comes to take us away to Guangzhou.

The performance that we were supposed to do yesterday never happened. I’m not sure when they decided to cancel it, but they did and didn’t tell us until a half hour before we were supposed to do it… I don’t really mind, truly. Instead, we went to go say goodbye to our kids and hang out with them. It was just the most fun I have ever had, even when some of them think it is hilarious to pull down their underwear while I’m filming.

There’s a hole in my heart.

I don’t want to be so overemotional about things, but I have always had a hard time letting go. I may bounce back easy, but it’s hard to just let go.

I haven’t truly cried yet, actually. Not even when saying goodbye to the kids, mostly because I don’t think it’s sunk in that we’re not coming back and I will probably never see any of them again.

It broke my heart saying goodbye to Lory and Colt. They are the two kids that I came to love as much as my own nieces, who are the children I will love the most until I have kids of my own.  I hung out in Colt’s dorm room and we just cuddled up on his bed and he showed me his elephant and was just so happy to see me. He got so sad when I had to say goodbye. He has this thing about doing running-jumps to give me hugs. I am going to miss him.

Lory was even harder, because Lory actually asked me to stay and started crying. He told me to not leave the school, or at least go to Japan with him and his family instead of going back to America. At some point, he laughed and called me a bad teacher for leaving him and I just wanted to cry. I am going to miss this boy so much, he has been my precious little friend for this semester.

We said our goodbyes to the teachers we’ve known and everyone else. I have now removed everything from my room and just need to do a last minute mop-job.

In three days I will be back in the States and back with family. I’m excited, but I wish traveling around the world was easier. I would love to return to China, to come back to Jiangxi Mayflora even, if just to see my kids. There’s so much more to see here and I think it’s a great country, even if I cannot comprehend the language and sometimes the hygiene really sucks.

It'll be really hard to not be around the girls. We've just grown so close and I can't believe I can't go to Desi wedding. But we'll keep in touch and hopefully meet up in the future.

I think I’ll just send this off now and call it good. All the other stories will come once I’m back in the States and everything else.

Farewell, Mayflora. Farewell, my kids. I have loved my stay here and I hope you all have amazing lives and time finds you with a smile on your faces.

Overdue Update

Okay, I totally meant to write this up before, but I am easily distracted and there were things going on here.

Not much happened between my last update and last week, but last week was actually rather eventful. For one, it started our last month in China (but more on that later). It was also Children’s Day!

Now, I’m sure you guys have heard me bemoaning the fact that Tim wanted me to sing the Titanic and I did not want to sing the Titanic song. For one, I just don’t like it that much. -_- and another, it’s really hard to sing for me.

So I finally convinced Tim to let me sing something else, maybe a week and a half later… On request from Bryndi, I was going to sing Colors of the Wind because the other girls were painting while Raza and I were singing.

Well, that lasted a while until we did a stage rehearsal and realized the two songs were not enough to paint the whole picture of flowers (it was a big picture. 2x4 ft? Something like that.) So I offered to sing another song to give them time and Tim immediately jumped back onto the Titanic song…

But long story short, the other girls decided they wanted to sing the national anthem for the third song, which defeated the purpose of the third song, but since the first verse is so short, they decided to cut out Colors of the Wind and pre-paint some of the picture (it turned out that they pre-painted A TON of the picture, but whatever)… and thus I was singing the Titanic song again.

The weekend before Children’s Day, Lory invited all of us over to his house for his little sister’s birthday, on Saturday. Saturday comes and it’s maybe 2:30 in the afternoon when Tim gives Kim a call and says that we have to rehearse in four hours. Kim tells him that we have plans with Lory and he says to cancel them, basically. 8( Strike numero uno. He actually GOES TO LORY and asks if he really did ask for us to come over to his place, and Lory says yes. Next thing Kim knows, Tim is saying that Lory is okay with the teachers coming over the next day. Somehow I don’t think Lory really had a choice in the matter, but the problem lies in the fact that Tim cancelled our plans for us, four hours before he needed us. None of us were down with that. I especially am not down with this, because later on I found out that it was the entire program running through rehearsal and if Tim couldn’t be bothered to tell us until mere hours before, I wasn’t really willing to cooperate. I realize that’s a crappy attitude, but Tim has lied and used us SO MUCH before and this was just… not okay.

So that evening, the other girls decided to go check out this little run down restaurant that’s across the street (it doesn’t look like anything but a brick house falling apart) and they rather liked it. But anyways, they were basically escaping Tim completely and were going to walk around for a while and everything… I didn’t go to the restaurant, I just ate the normal food before heading up.

I decided that even though Tim already spoke to Lory, I’d go to his mom’s place to see if he was there. Tim came up the stairs right as I was leaving and asked where I was going and where the girls were. I answered (truthfully, mind you) that I didn’t know where they were, because they’d gone to get dinner but that had been an hour and a half ago. He starts WHINGING at me that we all need to go to the stage to practice and I need to call them (dunno how he expected me to do that, not like I have a phone to do that -___-) and he always tries his best to tell us when things are happening, which is complete BS, really, because there’s actually this other party that the other English teachers told us about and Tim hadn’t even mentioned AT ALL, but anyways… I basically flipped out. Tim knows that it is in the ILP contract that teachers get the weekends off completely and he had the nerve to tell us last minute and cancel our plans and just… no, I was not okay with it and I told him so. I didn’t yell or anything, but I was definitely angry and he stopped trying after that, trying instead to get Kim and the rest on the phone or something. By that point I’d left to find Lory.

Turns out he wasn’t and I went to check if he was in his classroom, which he wasn’t either. So I spent some time watching James and Thomas play basketball, which was completely adorable. They were so excited (and actually kinda good) and three feet shorter than the other boys playing, cause they were all 7th and 8thgraders. XD So cute.

It was actually almost 9 by the time the other girls came back and sometime after that, Tim called Kim, telling her that we needed to rehearse the next day… which Kim told him no, because we have already told him time and time again that we don’t do things on Sunday for religious purposes. And really, we would have done it, except he whines at Ashley and Bryndi and then tries to convince Kim and all this ridiculous stuff and we were just… not happy with him.

We did say that yes, we’d run through the program on Monday after classes, and it’s not until we’re heading off to this rehearsal that we find out this performance isn’t on Wednesday, June 1st (Children’s Day), it’s on Tuesday. Why we are only finding out the day before is beyond me, wtf.

But rehearsals went well, really. My voice kept on breaking in the last part of the song, but everyone else there seemed to love it. After our performance, I nipped onto the other side of the stage to say hi to Lory and watch his skit (he was playing the piano for it ) and then he and I hung out in the audience for a while before heading off to his place. We played some games and stuff and guys, I just love this kid so much, I don’t want to leave him at all. D: D: D: my heart, omg.

And thus the performance came upon us! It was super crowded, obviously, since there were tons of parents and siblings coming to the school and everything.

Performance went great. My voice still broke, but the crowds were enthusiastic. Sam and a couple of the other kids came up to give us their little hand clappers and glow stick bracelets, and at some point, this girl came up, gave me a flower and a hug. So I felt pretty good about that. After the performance is when we got our next surprise!

Tim had mentioned to Kim on Monday that he was thinking of taking us with us when visiting this other school in the province and maybe we could run through our little program (me and Raza singing, the girls painting, the nation anthem, etc). We’d be staying at a hotel, maybe do karaoke, and of course, he’d feed us. It sounded like a great way to spend the weekend, so we said that was fine.

Turns out that he didn’t say June 4th, he said June 1st (which sounds exactly the same, argh) and so that was… Well, the next day. So we got up really early, sat in a van for hours, and eventually arrived at this school.

It was smaller than Mayflora. It only ran from grades 1-8, had about 700 students, and was rather charming, but I think I like Mayflora better. Our kids are cuter. (My bias, can you feel it?)

But we were warmly welcomed at the school. We had lunch with a couple of the headmasters as well as the director of the school, and it was just HUGE. Ridiculous, there was so much food we couldn’t eat at all…

Tim took us around to see some sights. We saw a pagoda that was supposedly 2000 years old, which I honestly don’t believe because the entire thing was made out of modern brick… but it was fun. The stairs were fun, actually. The way you go up the floors and stuff. Ashley decided she wanted to build a pagoda for her kids for a playhouse. I really liked it, despite the fact that it was six stories or something and I am really not that good with heights.

While we were on the top floor, I spotted what looked like a graphitti spider (since there was plenty graphitti around)… Turns out the spider was real. Ashley screams, I freak out, and we decide that it is obviously time to go.

Kim jumps out on me as we go down to the next floor and I literally just sit down and start crying while laughing, my systems were all freaking out and just… haha, it was hilarious, but my heart was trying to jump out of my throat. Good times.

Also with the pagoda (and we actually saw this first) was the ‘biggest dinosaur fossil’… which was roughly the size of Linus and much shorter. Definitely not real, either… Uhm.

Haha, at some point, Raza actually JUMPED IN and crawled under the wood skeleton thing and just… ahahalsdfj I don’t even know. Raza’s actually pretty hilarious, once we started talking. It took a few weeks, but yeah, it was fun.

[Insert a week happening]

Sorry, I realize this update is so long overdue, but I’m beginning to realize a couple things. I have 9 days left until I’m back in the states and today is my last day of teaching.

I don’t want to write these stories, I want to just tell them to you. And I also don’t want this to end. Time flew by so much faster than I was expecting and now it’s time to say goodbye… I don’t know, it’s hard.

But I’ll leave some quick summaries, just to remind myself of what’s happened.

 The rest of Children’s day was spent at a different school where we were fed three different dinners, went to a karaoke lounge for the first time in my life, and several people got drunk. I think Raza and Tim got drunk three times in the space of ten hours.

 I am currently winning at the one who’s gotten the most here in China, since I kissed a soldier on the cheek during the Children’s Day performance. There was tons of cheering and the headmaster and everyone else later told me that it was a story to last a lifetime. I find it amusing that I don’t interest guys in the US, but here, I am going to be one of those cool little legendary things that he’ll probably brag about later.

 Tim really is ridiculous drunk. And he loves the Titanic song like nothing else. So does everyone else in China, I was thanked by several people for singing a song that brought back adolescent memories or something like unto that.

 Vacation wasn’t anything exciting, really. The girls went to Guilin and I stayed here at the school.  I was dragged off to this English party that I thought I’d gotten out of since the other girls weren’t there, but I was a judge and it was just kids from our elite department… except for Grade 6, which are my ELE kids. Not sure why they weren’t there, probably they had to do some test or something. But I judged, I sang, my kids were adorable and Lory somehow knows how to play ‘Teacher wants me for a Sunbeam’, ‘The Wise man and the Foolish Man’, and ‘Once there was a snowman’ on the piano. When this happened or how this happened, I have no idea. But they were so cute and I’m going to miss them a ton.

 I watched a lot of movies on vacation, some of which were pretty awesome. Tangled, Unstoppable, Inception, and A-Team, to name a few. I also liked the Italian Job, which I had never seen before, for some inexplicable reason, despite the fact that it has been on TV for ages and all the other Kids had seen it at Nana’s a million times before. But yes, I liked it. It’s better than the Oceans movies.

 I was unfortunately stupid and tried to watch I Am Legend on my own. It was broad daylight and someone had told me that if I could watch the newest Sherlock Holmes movie, I could handle I Am Legend…  Yeah, right. |:  I didn’t even make it forty-five minutes into the movie, I started freaking out. And then I couldn’t sleep for two nights because once the lights were out, I started freaking out more, thinking things were going to eat me. Yes, I realize I am far too old to be scared of monsters under the bed, but I am. (Luckily this sleepless night thing ended when the girls got back and I sleep just fine.)

 I haven’t started packing yet.

Yesterday was my last day of ELE and I got all my kids to write down their Chinese name, their English name, and fingerprint their piece of paper. I’m going to scrapbook this somehow. I’m going to miss them so much.

Yesterday was also my last day of proper teaching since today we’re running through our end of semester program that ILP presents to the parents. Yesterday I did coke-floats, which were actually extremely successful, in that the kids loved them and that I could keep the ice cream frozen despite not having a cooler or anything to keep it cold proper. The wonders you can do with bags and bottles of ice and a couple towels. Win? I think so.

Lory and Colt are going to be the biggest heartbreaks leaving this school. They’re my babies. I’ve watched Colt grasp a ton more English during this program and he’s just the cutest thing ever. He lets me hug him and holds my hand and everything. And Lory, of course, has always been a favorite too. They both just hand on me and let me hang on them and I just… it’s going to be hardest to let them go. I’ll miss all the kids, of course, but those two are just so sweet and amazing.  

But as much as it’s going to suck leaving, I’ll be happy to be going home. It’s weird not being able to vocally talk to my family and this is the longest I’ve ever had to go without seeing my parents. Also, Valerie has had her baby and it’s a girl and I’m so excited to see her, I cannot even say how much. (But I guess the battle for the first nephew is still on? Who will win!? FIGHT-O!)

I also just miss America. I realize I wasn’t able to pick up on Chinese the way some people expected me to – none of us did, really – but I’m just waiting to be somewhere where I understand what people are saying most of the time. And losing celebrity status will be a little odd, but not being stared at all the time will be nice too. I’ve decided that I can skip the being famous thing, I’ll just be rich.

Well, I should shower and go down to lunch now. I might update one more time before I get back to the states, but I might not. At this point, it really is just wanting to talk to people, not write this stuff down. But anyways, toodles!