Today is our last day in Xi’an. Tomorrow we will fly back to Kansas City. Yesterday we started to feel sad. We had lunch at our favorite restaurant—the one we don’t know its name—with our friends Jado and Dieudonne. Then we went to church at St Francis Cathedral one last time. St Francis has been our haven here, and it is hard to say goodbye to it and to all our friends there.
This morning we stopped by to say goodbye to the people who make our favorite breakfast food at the West Gate. We gave some of our plants to our neighbor who keeps a garden. She was the lady who had a duck back in September. We also walked onto the old campus to get coffee from Big Tiger and his mom one more time.
It is hard to believe that most of last week we were in Hong Kong. We stayed at our favorite Regal Airport Hotel again. Then we took the train in to Victoria Harbor and the ferry to Lamma Island. We think next time we come to Asia we will take a writer’s retreat to Lamma Island—the island of no cars. The plant and insect life there remind me of El Salvador and Thailand.
So today we will make the most of our time by saying goodbye to people we will miss. But tomorrow we look forward to seeing our family and friends in the United States again. So today is bittersweet for us.
So much has happened since last week. In fact, so much has happened since this morning. I’ve been interviewed by a media outlet called The Sixth Tone, and photographed by some other Chinese media outlet (maybe CN). No. Nothing bad has happened to me. Apparently, someone is doing a story on our English language mass. I think it could be because the World Wide Day of Prayer for the Chinese Church is coming up soon. It could also be that a short while ago the President of Italy visited China and wanted to attend mass at our church, but at the last minute, the Chinese government wouldn’t allow it. Maybe the story on our church is just to attract tourists. I’ll let you know when the story comes out.
The Sixth Tone story, on the other hand, has to do with some social activism I participated in on Monday. I joined a feminist wechat group. Then I agreed to meet for some activism without asking very many questions about what we were going to do. I was so happy when I showed up at the metro station, and two Chinese women were waiting with signs. They have a picture of a cat who is telling a pig that he can’t touch her even though she is cute. Behind the animals, you can see they are riding on a metro. We walked around with the signs, and we asked passersby to pose with them. We also took the opportunity to share our radical idea that no one should be harassed while riding the metro. Most people received this information very well. I felt so much joy supporting and encouraging my new friends to speak up for what is right.
When the articles come out, I promise to share them here. Until then, I promise to spend the rest of my time in China doing things I love—like riding my new bike, watching my friends perform at international music festivals, filming lectures on APA style, finding weird bugs in Expo Park, and drinking coffee.
The word of the week is camaraderie, and we found it in several places. We have visiting scholars from Sweden who delivered lectures on “Doing Literary Research” last Wednesday and “Error Patterns in Swedish Student’s English Language Writing” this week. Both of the lectures affirmed my current beliefs and inspired me to keep writing and noticing patterns in my students’ writing. The added bonus was that we enjoyed the fellowship of the other teachers in our department. Because our schedules are so different, we rarely see them. Meeting them during the lectures reminded us of how much we enjoy spending time with them.
The other place we found camaraderie is at church—as usual. This week we got a lesson in how to add money to our bus passes as well as how to say the days of the week in French from our friend Deo Adonai. After the service, we enjoyed our “lemon waters” and had dinner at a Muslim restaurant with Deo Adonai and our new friend Jado. They continued our French lesson as we ate lamb on a stick and my favorite bread. I left feeling very encouraged.
In addition to enjoying my colleagues and church friends, my freshman brought me joy again this week. They were working on the final “s” sounds in English (S, Z, EZ), so we played a modified version of “I’m going on a picnic and I’m going to take…” We turned it into “Frank is very busy. Every day he….” They had to come up with present tense verbs to continue the pattern. The students did a good job of coming up with (and pronouncing) present tense singular verbs. But I managed to go last and remember twenty-four activities that busy Frank did. It was awesome.