Friday, June 6
Work around the house in the morning trying to manage some freelance work. In the afternoon my student Rosa takes me to a school for migrant children, in the western fringe of the city. You can see the
After the school trip I was walking through the Renmin campus and a kid was selling tickets to the new Indiana Jones movie, playing tonight on campus for 5 yuan (about 65 cents) so I bought two not knowing what to expect. Katie and I went, sat in the hard seats of a classroom to watch it, but it was in English with Chinese and German (!) subtitles, but we enjoyed it and the price was right, even if the legal permission to show it probably wasn’t.
Before the film I returned to the English corner and recorded some audio of folks visiting there, to hopefully use for a radio story later. I also got some audio of the old women dancing, this time using a fist full of chopsticks to create this great rhythm.
Saturday, June 7
Finally, I can be in limbo no longer and make the final decision to stay through the Olympics. I really, really want to go home, but I’ve convinced myself that if I go home and all hell breaks loose here, I’ll regret that I didn’t stay. So, of course, if I stay, this will be the calmest Olympics on record.
In the afternoon, I interview my student Hannah’s parents, for the maybe book. We meet at a Starbucks in the Xidan shopping area. Her mom is a sharp dresser and much younger looking than her 48 years, her dad is quiet and seems disinterested in the discussion. Neither are at all what I expected. Her mom is a Party member, very supportive of all that is going on in
After, Katie and I go clothes shopping and she gets 3 soccer uniforms, shirt and shorts, for about $5 each. One from
Sunday, June 8
Take Katie to her friend Louisa’s birthday party way out by the airport. Get lost getting there, cabbie is on a dirt road paralleling the highway and I keep saying mei you, not this way, but he keeps barreling along for several miles. Finally I get the host of the party on the phone, who finds a Chinese speaker, who then guides our taxi back down the dirt road to the correct location. Another adventure in uncharted territory. After I drop Katie (I have told the cabbie to wait), I get back in the taxi and head to the 798 Art district to meet a former Fletcher student who we hosted a few years ago, Yuxin. It was great to see her. She is so bright and funny and interesting. She has a pretty senior job in the foreign ministry, and is full of revolutionary fervor – but wants it directed at all the guys who spit, and are rude! She is pragmatic, logical, authoritarian go-getter. Can’t be complacent, can’t ignore, always questioning, challenging. How refreshing after all the complacency I’ve seen here!! Unfortunately our day is cut short because my stomach is telling me that the salad bar from the previous night was not such a good idea! Katie gets home around ; we are both tired and she is not being cooperative. I am tired of doing it all, alone.
Monday, June 9
Spend the day at home, drumming up freelance work, organizing what I am going to give away to my students. Eve stops by so that I can look at her 9(!!!) minute final project (supposed to be more like 2 or 3 minutes!). I am pretty ruthless but she is so smart and capable of doing much better. I meet Katie at at school (she stayed late for rehearsal for her dancing role in “BISS Idol”. We head into the city, make a quick return at Silk Market and then join Janice Cotton and Katherine for dinner at Lan. Great to see them. We’ve got to get to
Tuesday, June 10
It is the last day for the grad class and three have their final presentations. They all were prepared, but the intellectual rigor was pretty thin. I’ll attach the power points here, but my favorite was the analysis that the reason westerners like “bad news” (his perception of critical, honest, balanced reporting is “bad news”) is that we believe in Original Sin and evil in all people, and Chinese believe in Confucianism and that people are basically good. So I asked how
From the sublime to the ridiculous, Katie wants a pedicure for her graduation, so Eve takes us to the local nail joint and Katie gets strawberries painted on her fingers and pink polish on her toes. At least an hour’s work, and the bill is $3.50. I gave the girl a huge tip and she was completely taken aback. We then discover a Subway near the nail parlor and decide to have an all American sub sandwich for dinner. On the way home Katie and I start talking about all the kids she has met, from all over the world and I realize she has pretty limited geography facts. So we spend the night on line looking at world maps and mapping out where her classmates are from:
Wednesday, June 11
This place is officially nuts. I just left a scene out of 1984 or
Mercy tells me she wants to have a meeting at 9 with department colleagues to talk about courses. They will meet me in my office. I am there before 9 and no one shows. About some air conditioning guys show up and I call Mercy to see what is up with our meeting. She says she'll come get me. The other faculty (four others and two students) are waiting in a conference room. They hand me a four page document about all the course listings, in Chinese. I cannot read it but they keep pointing to it and I keep saying I can't read it. I tell them how BU runs its program. THEN, they tell me TODAY, that each of my students has been taking
I go home, have a quick snack and then head out to get a taxi to Katie’s school. I hand the taxi driver the piece of paper with the address of the school in Chinese characters and he looks at it and says mei you, can’t take you there, and motions for me to get out. I get out and hand the same piece of paper to the next cabbie … this is the same piece of paper that I have been using for 16 weeks….and this cabbie says no, parroting his buddy in front of him. Five cabs and five minutes later I finally find a guy who can read it and get me where I want to go.
The graduation is lovely in 105 degree heat. Katie looks adorable in her fancy duds, as do all her friends. I am sitting under an umbrella but the kids are baking on the asphalt of the playground. Exilia is in a black velvet jacket and looking rather overheated. Yuanyuan lists a few memories for the handful of kids who have actually been here since kindergarten, and Aditi has a few words as well. The teachers read from Dr. Suess, oh the places you’ll go, and the kids sing a few songs “we need a leader” and it is over. Katie is beaming. This has been a great experience for her. At 3, Shen Shifu arrives and takes us home.
Thursday, June 12
I work at home, start organizing what goes home, what stays. At I head into Katie’s school for BISS Idol. It is a wonderful collection of kids singing and dancing some to pop songs, karoke style, and others playing piano or violin recital style. One girl did this fabulous Indian dance. Another Caucasian girl from
Friday, June 13
I work all day, three