Thursday, August 16, 2012

First Impressions

We arrived in our first city in China, Pinghu, early afternoon. I was surprised that it didn’t feel as much like a foreign country as I expected. It was similar to the US! I guess I didn’t experience “culture shock”, at least that wasn’t my first impression. We ate our first meal at the buffet at our hotel. There were many options, but not many that looked appetizing. I realized quickly that at this buffet, the oily green beans, white rice, and yummy watermelon would be a staple at mealtimes. For variety I went for noodles or soup. We quickly learned how to use chopsticks, and it wasn’t nearly as difficult as I expected.

Self-portrait in our hotel room

Around town

City view from our hotel

We settled into our rooms. I was confident that my roommate and I would work well together, even though I hadn’t met her before the training for this trip. We did work incredibly well together, and got to know one another pretty well after rooming with each other for a month!

Our wonderful hotel room

We went to a grocery store one afternoon in Pinghu, so it was fun to see and compare things with the US. Everything in the city was packed together. Stores were always built up; there were floors and floors of apartments. Nothing was one-story. In the grocery store, it was neat to see US name brands in Chinese, and see what the store carried in comparison. Finding “oatmeal” was a funny experience, because the one English speaking person didn’t know the word.

Parked outside the grocery store


 We began teaching a few days after we arrived. The first day, the intrigued look on some of my students’ faces made my day. I was so happy to be there teaching them! There were certainly some that “stole my heart”. While they were only a few years younger than me, they felt like my students. I loved reading through the journals that they wrote to me the first day. They would sometimes say things like: “The most surprising thing is that American teachers have come to our school to teach us. That would be the most unforgettable thing forever.”

For many of them, I was their first foreign teacher, and was about to leave a lasting impression for them of Americans, foreign teachers, and the English language. I could only pray that it would be a good one, and that God would use me to be a light to them.


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