Yesterday after work I took a yoga class that is offered on campus. I arrived about 15 minutes early, rolled my yoga mat out and rested on my back. I felt myself become quite emotional and on the edge of tears. I realized it was the first time I had completely “let down” since arriving here. I had not been aware of the level of tension I was holding everywhere in my body. Because I do not want to get lost, or accidently offend someone, I find that I operate with a heightened sense of awareness at all times. Unfortunately, the yoga teacher seemed to be a former gymnast with minimal yoga training (and minimal English) who wanted us to do extreme back flexion moves that I knew could potentially incapacitate me for weeks. Hearing the wise voices of my past yoga teachers I did my best to stay in my own practice, and made it through the class. In the future, I will develop my own kinder and gentler yoga practice and do it in the privacy of my apartment.
Today was a beautiful, sunshine-filled spring day here in Zhuhai. Genie, our fabulous teaching assistant in the General Education Office, walked with me through the Zhuhai campus of Beijing Normal University (BNU), where I took a few photographs and she took a few photos of me. UIC is directly next to BNU. All and all it was a lovely day until I returned to my apartment at about 5:00PM and, once again, could not connect to the Internet. In that moment, I could feel my chest get a little tighter and my breathing become shallower. I was particularly frustrated because late Friday evening is when I try to speak with my mom on Skype (11:00PM my time is 9:00 AM her time) – and I was concerned that would not happen.
My office mate, and upstairs neighbor, Victor, has quickly becoming an important part of my support network here. He only arrived in August, but has a good sense of the area and speaks some Chinese. This evening we walked to a “noodle place” in Tangjia – the commercial center of this northeast corner of Zhuhai. Yanyan, another important person in my life here, introduced me to this restaurant earlier in the week. My Gustavus colleague, Mike Hvidsten, taught at UIC during the 2009/2010 academic year and Yanyan had been his teaching assistant. She is bubbly and bright and has taken me under her wing since I arrived. Yangzhou Fried Rice has become my comfort food of choice, and once I had eaten a generous portion of that, and walked back to Hai Yi Wan Pan, I was feeling a little better.
Then, miracle of miracles, my Internet was magically working again.
|This says "Learn to be a teacher for others; act as a model to the world."|
At BNU, Genie had taken me into the building that contained the calligraphy of the “motto” for the school. It says “Learn to be a teacher for others; act as a model to the world.” In these moments when being abroad feels overwhelming, I know I am learning lessons that will make me a better teacher. As to acting as a model for the world – that is a little more than I am willing to take on right now.