Ganyu versus Beijing


I am sitting on a bus to go to Xinpu to visit some friends. It will be about a 45 minute bus trip….if it ever leaves the station. On the walk to the station, about 20 minutes, I was reminded about some differences between rural life and urban life in China.

The first was when I left my home. At the corner market was a 7 or 8 year boy with his pants down and squatting over a piece of paper doing his morning constitution. I have written about this many times. It was not as if he was behind a bush or tree. He was squatting out in the open, at the entrance of the market. I am guessing that he was the son of the storekeeper there. In Beijing, not once did I see children doing their business on the streets. In fact, a friend of mine told me that Beijingers will speak out about this if they see other Chinese people doing this.

The second thing that showed me the difference between rural and urban China was when I went to get some breakfast. No forming lines here in Ganyu. Just push your way to the front and hope you do not get trampled. In Beijing, people were forming lines and were somewhat respectful of those around them.

On the plus side, people in Ganyu are more friendly. They go out of their way to help me, to speak to me, to meet the foreigner. In Beijing, they are accustomed to seeing foreigners. It is just another face in the crowd. I think that is why I love Ganyu. I do feel special. I feel like I will be taken care of if I need help. I do not like special treatment. But, I feel safe and secure here.

As I am riding the bus, I am reminded of one other difference. Young people in Beijing are much more open with their romances. They walk hand in hand with no issues of feeling looked down upon by others. In fact, on the campus, I saw several of them kissing each other on the streets. That is totally unheard of in Ganyu. Well, for the majority. There are always exceptions to the rule. Like now. There is a young couple in front of me. He is all hands and kissy face with his girl. She seems a little put off by it, but allowing it to proceed. Ah…how things are changing in China.

Yesterday was my first day back at school in Ganyu. They changed offices on us while we were on vacation break. They put us into a dirty old office space. The paint is peeling from the walls and the lighting is poor. But, it does not matter to me. I spend little time in the office. Many pf the kids welcomed me back. In fact, two of my special boys heard that I was back and they did a naughty thing. When they heard I was in the office, they told their Chinese teacher that they had to use the toilet. They then came to the office to visit me. They greeted me with a big hug and a kiss on the cheek.

I did a review lesson in each class, as they have all had my English program last term. My students did not disappoint me. They knew all the material and showed me that they had memorized and mastered the technique. I am very happy to know this. We can now move on to refining their speaking skills and listening skills.

As I said, I have the next two days off work. It is just how the schedule was made. I am going to Xinpu to visit my friend Jack. It has been a long time since I had visited him. I am excited to him. Jack is the guy that went on summer vacation with me to Suzhou and Wuxi. We had a great time and have become very good friends. I love visiting his small town. His family is great. And, he is a great guy. He is a bit lost in life right now. He is not sure what he wants to do with his life. He likes to find short-cuts around things. So, school is not an option for him. He wants to jump right into jobs. One day he might realize that this is not the best path. I have been honest with him. But, he is stubborn. Kind of reminds me of myself.

I am also visiting some of my summer camp students for lunch tomorrow. We have been getting together about every two months to stay in touch with each other. I actually am surprised that so many of them still contact me. Usually these relationships forged from camps last about three months. But, we all have come to be family to one another. So, we stay in contact with each other.

When I returned home from Beijing, the following morning I had several messages from my students in Inner Mongolia. They had a 14 hour train trip home. So, when I was waking up in the morning, they were just getting home. It was wonderful that so many of them took time to send me a message. One boy sent me a voice message. It was good to hear his voice. All night last night I was chatting with them on QQ Messenger. So many told me that they miss me and love me. They told me that I am the best teacher they have ever had. And other great things. It was strange not seeing them throughout the day. I do miss them very much too. They are a great group of kids. Thankfully, I will get to see them again in July at the summer camp.

Well, the bus is almost to the Xinpu station now. I have to shut down the computer and pack up my things. My first stop is McDonalds. I only had a milk tea for breakfast. I need more. Then, onto a local city bus to my friend’s house. I guess this is a good place to stop this journal entry.


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