Sunday, day of rest.
We woke up at 6:30 to go hiking across the city, up the slopes of Jishou’s tallest mountain, past a Buddhist temple staffed by wizened old women and doves, and then up a couple thousand stairs. I didn’t really want to count each rocky step, as sweat gradually spread like rain across on the US map on my back (thanks Princeton Breakout for a useful teaching tool). The students, SoS’11 veterans, stopped occasionally to scrounge for sour wild raspberries. At the summit we stared down the stairs and back towards hazy Jishou. Soon we were running down dirt paths through the brush. Then we were on the other side. We passed by a natural spring, where Cameron and I passed up the opportunity to get stomach infections. Small barefoot men with bamboo sticks over their shoulders balanced baskets of gallon containers as they scrambled back up the mountain. Somehow in this new territory I felt as though I was returning to the Northeast, surrounded by coniferous trees and a familiar calm… yet only ten hours before we had been belting out the best of the 90’s, Peng you, and Elvis (Tony)…
Monday, and already (or only?) the second week of class.
Rain wouldn’t let up. Students still dutifully showed up to class, and Level Unicorn conducted lessons on the Freshman Fifteen among other college must-knows. The steady drip drip of water on the windows was drowned out when the students acted out ridiculously inane scenarios as American students.
Tuesday, rain, rain, rain.
Wednesday, the deluge.
As we teach emoticons and internet acronyms (MLIG spawns: My PiA Life Is Great), the river nearly reaches the main bridge crossing into town. The electricity in our section of the city is shut off by late afternoon, and the bridge is cordoned off. Policewomen in heels (?) hold back the crowds who amble over to gape at the rushing water. Looking across the bank, we can see that some apartments are not in good shape. Waves crash up and into lower floor rooms. Cigarette clamped between his teeth, a man pushes past me hoisting a ten foot long pole and net. Fishing?
Later, we hold a group meeting by candlelight and consider teaching without electricity. But after a short wait, the power comes back on and tomorrow’s contingency plans seem unnecessary. No sweat.