After feeling unwell for more than a week I finally feel better – better enough to publish a blog post and start planning some travelling! Now that the first semester is over I have 5 weeks to myself and I want to spend it backpacking in South China. But before that adventure begins I want to catch up on my blog. So here is what I did during my fourteenth week in China.

Sunday 11th December

Today I completed some life admin and lesson planning. Life admin is a term I coined (at least I like to think it is) to describe tedious, but necessary, tasks such as buying drinking water and checking emails.

Monday 12th December

This evening I was shown the dance routine I needed to know for a dance exam on Thursday! Unfortunately, due to my trip to Beijing I missed the week when the teacher taught the routine, but thankfully three students helped me catch up this evening. The dance routine was a very fast Cha Cha. When I watched it for the first time I thought there was no way I’d be able to learn it – let alone learn it by Thursday!

Tuesday 13th December

I finished writing a second English Reading exam for any student that misses or fails the first exam. Thankfully, having already written one exam paper this was a lot quicker to write. I managed to complete it within two days instead of four.

Wednesday 14th December

I had my first lesson with my new Chinese book! The book seems good so if I dedicate sufficient time to it I should improve my Chinese beyond “dan chao fan” (egg fried rice).

On a less exciting note, today marked the second day the city had no running water between 8am to 11pm. Now, you wouldn’t think that could be a problem, that is, until you need the loo! Oh my goodness, the squat toilets at university became so full I wondered if I was able to take the day off work.

In the evening I had my final dance rehearsal before the exam tomorrow. Miraculously, the Cha Cha routine which at the beginning of the week seemed impossible became doable, and although my arms were still a mess I had the footwork down.

Thursday 15th December

Somehow, unbeknownst to man, I scored an A on the dance exam. To be truthful I think it was an A for effort, not skill, but at least I passed it. The notes from the dance teacher included that my arms were a mess but that I could enter the dance competition in April. Exciting!

Friday 16th December

Aimee and I were invited to visit a school, 90 minutes away from our city, in a town called Sandu. Several of the staff from our university, including the Vice Principle, went too. We were there to give presentations. First Darren, the Dean of the Foreign Languages Department, gave a presentation to 300 local teachers. Second Mini, an English/Japanese teacher, gave a presentation to 600 primary school students. Last Joker, an English/minority languages teacher, gave a presentation to 1,000 primary and middle school students. Can you guess who assisted Joker? That’s right me and Aimee!

In between the speeches we managed to fit in a banquet lunch, a trip to the local museum, and an impromptu singsong with some school children who gathered around me and Aimee during break time.

After all that fun we had a banquet dinner, complete with shots that were delivered by a line of singing waitresses (see video below) and traditional drumming, and on the way home we did karaoke on the minibus!

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Selfie with a few of the 600 primary school students.
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Lunch. The sticky rice served in a squash tower (top left) was amazing.
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Me posing with the museum tour guide who is wearing a Shui minority costume. Sandu County is home to the Shui minority.
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An impromptu singsong with a group of students.

This is the view from the stage that Joker, Aimee and I presented on. There were approximately 1,000 students.

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Joker, Aimee and I on stage.
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Dinner. Notice the buns with sweet dipping sauce (top right) they were heavenly. So heavenly we ate the leftover ones from the other table.
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Posing with the singing shot waitresses.
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Having the time of my life co-bucket drumming with the singing waitress.
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There is always an opportunity for karaoke – even on a minibus!

Saturday 17th December

The Pioneer English Club is a group of students who organise English Club and events such as speech competitions and Christmas parties. Luckily, this year was no different and today they hosted a fantastic Christmas party. A member of the club told me they had blown their budget on Christmas decorations and you could see they definitely had! In addition to a Christmas tree, Christmas hats, balloons and giant stars there were cans of fake snow! It was magical. The party also included party games and live entertainment.

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Fantastic decorating which deserves an award.
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Ethan (Peace Corps volunteer) and I trying to pop as many balloons as possible in 2 minutes.
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Minority music and dancing.
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Fashion show displaying minority clothing.
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Fashion show.
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