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A Day in the Village

Here’s a little unknown fact about China: The entire country is under one time zone. This makes it really easy to travel around the country and not have to be hassled by changing your watch, but it also causes an annoyance when you have to wake up in the morning and are greeted by complete darkness. Yet, there is another thing that greets me in the morning; the crow of our neighbor’s roosters. It’s not the romanticized version of how the rooster crows on Little House on the Prairie and everyone wakes up with a grin on their face, ready to greet “Ma” and “Pa.” Unfortunately, our village rooster seems to have a constant cold, which turns his crow into a wailing warble and makes me squirm in my bed. But no matter how loud the rooster sings (or crows), I always try to greet the day with an optimistic outlook because it’s not every day that one can wake up in a rural village in China.

Awhile back, I was offered an incredible opportunity to be a private home school teacher at The Linden Centre. The part of the job that really caught my eye was that I would be able to travel to a new land, and I would be able to feed my hungry adventurous side of life. This opportunity has also opened my eyes to the world of teaching. Not only am I home schooling the two sons of Jeanee and Brian Linden, I am also teaching English once a week to the local children in our village. It’s only an hour a week, but it is such a rewarding activity. When I walk through the streets of Xizhou and I see my students, they yell out, “Maaassssssaa! How are you?” Their grins light up my entire day, and it makes me feel like I made a great decision when coming back to China.

The last class that I am teaching in Xizhou is a leadership class for five American students. Both sons of the Lindens are participating in it and their friends from Dali have joined in as well. While studying at the University of Minnesota, I earned a minor in leadership and coached a middle school group as they created a community project. I thought it would be a great idea to bring that concept over to China and start with a small group here in Xizhou. Every week we meet to discuss the core concepts of leadership as well as brainstorm problems in the village that they would like to help change for the better. Stay tuned for more updates about our leadership group and what type of community project the students will create!

When I am not teaching, I try to explore more of the area that surrounds me. There are days when a small bike ride to the super market turns into quite the adventure. As I ride my purple Schwinn-like bike to the super market, there are landmarks that I have to pass to make sure that I’m going the right way. First, I have to pass the sun dog, who lays in the same place every day to catch the rays and has a permanent grin on his face. Then, I pass the old men who sit underneath a large tree that offers shade. Their caged birds hang from the thick branches and engage in a chirp-like conversation, while their owners play majong for the entire afternoon. I then take the second right and head down “Dog Alley.” Even though these furry friends are the scruffiest I have ever seen, I still get a kick out of them! Their fur is matted, mud soaked dreadlocks hang from their body, and their under bites give them a rough and tumble look. My bike allows me to glide through the aftermath of the daily market and I finally reach my destination. Sometimes I don’t even need anything at the super market, but it is always fun to stroll through the aisles and try to guess what type of exotic fruit or mystery meat is sealed in the air tight packaging. Maybe one day I’ll be adventurous enough to try those foods!

Even a stroll to the lake allows me to take in all of the beauty that surrounds me. The fish jump and splash as I walk past the fisheries. Women carrying baskets filled with the daily harvest greet me with a quizzical look and a smile. “Here Comes the Sun” sings through my mind and drowns out the noisy rumble of dump trucks. Even though it breaks my heart to say this, I have to thank the roosters and their obnoxious cock-a-doodle-doos for waking me up in the morning. Their crows allow me to greet the sunshine and experience my daily Chinese adventures.