October 27, 2010

Big Box stores inspire insanity in China too

Alex and I like to say we're zebras in a lion's den here, and on Tuesday I was like a mangled zebra just waiting to be consumed.

Since it's Halloween week, Alex and I bought candy for our combined 350 students. We're also having our students build a mummy from toilet paper then make up a story about the mummy's life. 350 kids worth of candy and toilet paper is a lot of goods.

Thankfully this twas an inexpensive idea, but it was unbelieveably inconvenient. I went to Vanguard, China's version of Wal-Mart (except 85x louder with a minimum of five advertisements blaring throughout the store). Alex was teaching, so I made the journey by myself. In addition to the classroom things, I had to buy some mops and brooms. Dust collects quickly here with the wind and pollution.

There I was, the little laowai with her arms loaded down with two large grocery bags of candy and cleaning supplies, one mop, one broom, and two giant packs of toilet paper. I walked the half a mile home and struggled to keep everything in my arms.

I set off two scooter alarms from whacking them with my broom and countless people stopped to stare or laugh at the blond girl who bought more than she could carry. 

Halfway home I had only one thought in my head, "you climbed a mountain with cinder blocks over and over and over in Guatemala. You've got this." At least when I had the cinder blocks, I was carrying them up a mountain to build deserving people a home and I had a team of other people carrying the blocks with me. 

This time around I found myself on a busy street in China carrying a bunch of cheap goods (Made in China, Consumed in China) that will be wasted away within a few days.

Hopefully my students like the mummy activity, I'll try take some photos if they aren't too shy. 

I said it week one and I'll say it again, the 90 minutes I have each class are the most fun and easygoing 90 minutes of my week. Yes, it's exhausting, but I really am loving this teaching gig.

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