A few days ago, I had just about finished typing up a HUGE post, and then the electricity for the whole neighbourhood went out. That was frustrating. Mind you, of course the net cafe's main computer was still on because of a BackUPS (gotta still record how long the customers used the computers and collect the revenue, you know!). So I can't remember what I wrote, really. I'll try to write as much as I can remember.
The electricity can be intermittent sometimes. Many days and nights I do not have any electricity at all. The most recent stretch lasted about three or four days. Then a lightning storm hit and half the town lost electricity. The town had it all up and running by midnight, and my room was running with it. :) It's really interesting going to the bathroom when you can't see your own hand in front of your face. The running water rarely cuts out anymore.
So the students graduated. We had our presentations, my class did their play, sang their song (This Land is My Land, with the lyrics changed to have Chinese and global locations), and got their attendance certificates. One of my students cried. Two of them gave speeches about their experience at the YC. Awww... English wasn't fun until they had me as a teacher? They'll remember my ten points about what it takes to be a successful person? Ahahaha, it was cute. We did have one small scare. Right before the presentations were to start, one of our kids still hadn't shown up. Then we received word that he had been bitten during lunch by a dog suspected of having rabies and was being rushed to Xichang (3 hour bus ride away) for treatment, because there were inadequate facilities in ZJ. So I gave my kids a pep talk about having to overcome difficult circumstances, think quickly on your feet, adapting to unexpected situations in life, and how we'd do this performance well for the bitten kid. Then half an hour after the ceremonies are underway, the kid shows up. Turns out he was swimming, and the bitten kid was in another class. So much relief. :) And the bitten kid is ok now.
The next day, we had debrief with the head of training, and some of the assistant directors. We talked about our own experiences, suggested how to improve the program so that future teams could be more effective, and received comments from the staff. That also was very touching. The head of training talked about the impressions of love we gave her, especially because her kid was in the Grade 1 & 2 class. Also, the little brother of one of the assistant directors was in my class. She talked about how he was so much more helpful around the house now, and how her relationship with him was so much better. He had told her about the things he had learned in class, and how much of his ways of thinking were changed. It has been my deep impression that as short-term volunteers, we can do little more than sow or water, and leave the rest up to the long-termers and daddy. Camp Lady thinks that much progress has been made with the leadership group here. I suppose there's always much debate about which is better in a closed area: making tents or incog? There are advantages and disadvantages to each. But you can access leadership circles much easier by making tents, while still having an impact on common folk.
Oh yeah, after graduation, a student invited my TA and I to have dinner with her family. But the parents had already had dinner, so they killed two chickens just for us. @@ Wow. We also got to try on some traditional Yi clothing. :D
We got to go to Xichang for the beginning of the Torch Festival the day before yesterday. We arrived back in ZJ yesterday. We got to ride this chairlift up a mountain and then slide down this long slide on a luge type of thing. It was crazy. :D Also, the next day, I ended up entering a Yi wrestling match. Soccer Gorilla would have entered, but he had diarrhea. I lost, but they gave me the traditional Yi vest. :D Also, they interviewed me for the evening news! Hehe. It was pretty funny when the announcer said I was from Canada, and there was this big roar from the crowd. It's 20 kuai to enter, but you get 1,000 kuai if you win the tournament. You challenge people on the podium for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. When there are no more challengers, the three duke it out to see who is #1. 2nd and 3rd place also win money. So I guess they guy really didn't want to lose his spot (I chose to challenge the #1 guy). I couldn't get the technique right, they say I was standing too high and not using my size advantage properly. Seemed like he could tell which way my momentum was going all the time and used it against me. You put on these belts, and then grab the opponent's belt. Then you have to try to throw your opponent to the ground. I lasted longer than I thought I would, but in the end, he tossed me around like a rag doll.
Shirts are easier to buy for my size in Xichang, but not that much easier.
We're back in ZJ, now we're just helping around at the YC during the Torch Festival. The staff have vacation right now, so we'll be helping with the cooking (learning Sichuan food). And other stuff that needs helping until we leave. Meanwhile, the TAs have gone back to Chengdu. We'll be seeing them again before we head back home.
Stuff I've eaten so far, that I wouldn't eat in Canada:
Black bone chicken
Black bone chicken feet
Luofei fish (has to rank among the best fish I've ever had! and I live on the ocean!)
Luofei fish eyeballs