17.01.2009 - 23.05.2009 -6 °C
Saturday morning and a week from now I will physically be in China. Mentally, I have been there since last March when we interviewed the students. So to recap: My name is Amy Richard (Ms.Richard to my students) and I was chosen to chaperone 7 Newton Public School students on a semester long exchange program to Beijing, China. I will be chaperoning with another Newton South HS teacher: Ms. Kamerik. The group studied Chinese over the summer for 6 weeks and that is about the extent of my Chinese knowledge. So apprehension #1 is language barriers. I have been told that everyone in China is very nice to foriegners which eases my apprehension a bit. I am packing a lot of asprin to stave off my very certain and prolonged headaches.
Aprehension #2 is that my gifts to my Chinese famies will not be up to par. China is a gift-giving society and gifts are given as tokens of appreciation and friendship. I hope the gifts I have chosen will also convey friendship and appreciation to my host family and my new Chinese colleagues.
Aprehension #3 is that I will not have packed everything I need. Every traveller has this fear and I always waylay it by stating that anything I need, I can purchase in the country I will be staying. I am trying to not pack much so I do not have to port it around and so I can bring more stuff back. I would rather have Chinese things that will stay with me forever and I will never have access to again than making sure to have 3 pairs of jeans so I can have choices then I am in China. Also, we were told that the dress code in China is very casual, so I am not too concerned about my appearance and having the latest fashions. The students get to wear uniforms. Ms. Kamerik and I lobbied to be treated the same, but our idea was ridiculed when it was pointed out that we should not be treated the same as the students.
Apprehension #4 also hits every traveller especially on long stays in a foriegn country: routine. Routine and habits take a long time to establish and a long time to break. I am waylaying this fear by just trying to go with the flow . I would like to get a bike as soon as we get there so I can tour my neighborhood and get out on my own. Typically when I go to another place, I will go for a run which does a few things: shakes off the jet lag, gives alone time and lets exploration begin. Running, I have been told, is not a normal behavior by the Chinese citizenry.
So, I am enjoying my last quiet Saturday morning Stateside until June. The calm before the storm as I try to get everything in order before I leave next Friday. In these few days left I will have to pack, organize my condo for sale while I am away, get my car fixed and pass it off to my dad, see as many family and friends as I can before I go, grade papers and enter grades and get my sub ready for his role, win a championship, make sure my wedding invites are all addressed and pick a dress, and do all of this with a smile. Stress really doesn't describe it.