Blog of a Peace Corps Volunteer. Hello, my name is Kasey and I am in China for 27 months as an English Education Volunteer with the Peace Corps. You can read my blog to know more about me, the Peace Corps, or China. Feel free to ask me any questions you have. Enjoy! The contents of this blog are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps.

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Chinese Dorms are Intense

One of my students let me see her room last week, and it was an eye-opening experience. Chinese students have 5 roommates, so 6 students to one room. The room, however, is about the same exact size as my old freshman and sophomore dorm rooms, which I only had to share with one other person. I don’t know how anyone ever sleeps with 6 people in one room. I’m sure that someone is always awake or making noise. They have to have the same roommates for all 4 years, so imagine if you really dislike one of your roommates and you are stuck with him/her for years. The rooms are set up so that there are bunk beds on each side, and then two desks in the room with a bed above each desk. There is a total of six beds, but only two desks and one bathroom. There also is no AC, heat, fridge, microwave, or closeable windows/bug screens. There were a couple drawers under the beds to put clothes or shoes in, but no dressers or actual storage room. Students bring very few clothes with them because there is no room for them. The room that I have right now is bigger than theirs, and I live by myself. I pretty sure I would go crazy living there for 4 years because how do you ever get alone time?

The students, however, were actually happy with the arrangement. They said that most Chinese secondary (and some primary) schools are actually boarding schools where students live and attend school. Their rooms are about the same size as the college dorms, but with 8 students in them instead of 6. I was pretty much shocked, and I cannot imagine living in a room (similar to my college dorm that I shared with one roommate) with 8 or even 6 people. I would find living with so many people distracting and would probably not get much work done. My students, however, are very hardworking and are always on time for class. Needless to say, I am very impressed by my students and their positivity and work ethic.

I went into Chengdu on Saturday to hang out with some other Chengdu PCVs. We went to a large market, free opera show, a mall with a giant panda on top of it, and did a lot of walking. I also got to use a western toilet for the first time in a month :)

Today I went with the other foreign teachers and some of the Chinese staff to the green road. We wanted to go to a park by the lake, but it was closed. So the Chinese staff just told us to hop the fence. Apparently you only follow the rules in China if you like the rules. It was a lot of fun though and the park was very beautiful. It was very green. Some of the locals were harvesting garlic cloves. Then we had a fancy lunch with the university president. There was fried fish (heads still attached), eel, mushrooms, and many other dishes. And of course there was toasting with wine. To make us feel welcome the president decided to have the cooks make American food too. It was funny, but also really good, and we were served small steaks with gravy, French fries, and homemade ice cream.

Today was great! I got my first package filled with goodies. It arrived a little rough for wear, but everything inside was intact. I got peeps, brownies, Cheerios, a poster, pictures, and more from my parents. I also went painting today with two of my students. It is in a professional studio and an instructor teaches you how to paint. First you pick which painting you like, and then he goes through with you step-by-step how to create the painting. The last picture of the blue snowy painting is mine. It’s my first painting ever and I think it looks pretty good. It took about 3 & 1/2 hours to complete, but it was a lot of fun. It was also free because the Instructor didn’t want to charge me.

My address

So I found it today that it is easier to get my mail if there is a phone number attached to the address. I added that phone number to the address that is posted under the link contact me (look on the left side under my picture). If you want to mail me a letter, postcard, or package make sure you use this address and attach the Chinese address as well. Thanks! 

I went to the fanciest dinner I’ve ever been to last night. An American university in Washington state signed a contract yesterday to let students in chengdu normal university and the American university study abroad at the schools. They will also send teachers to each school. There was at least 15 different dishes, continually flowing wine, and many important officials from both universities. The president of Chengdu Normal University sat next to the president of the American university, and there were multiple translators because neither president could speak the same language. It was a lot of fun and there were many toasts throughout the evening.

These kids were walking across campus today. They were in line and holding each other’s shirts. Too cute.

These kids were walking across campus today. They were in line and holding each other’s shirts. Too cute.

Interesting Student Names

I have now met all my Chinese students. I have about 250 college freshmen and sophomores this semester that I teach oral English to, most of whom are female. I normally have 2-3 boys in each class and 35-45 girls. The students choose an English name, or use one they’ve already had for a while. Here are some of my most interesting student names:

  • Holiday (I really like how cheerful a name this is)
  • Seven (I have about 3-4 students with this name)
  • Few
  • Rainbow
  • Snail
  • Jeans
  • Rosy
  • Blue
  • Green
  • Smile
  • Icey (I have a couple of students with this name)
  • Lime
  • Candy
  • Orange
  • Deer
  • Lord
  • Flower
  • Garky (this is the only guy name on this list, all the rest are girls)
  • Snowy
  • Echobaby (I think this is the most unique name of all my students)
  • Water
  • Cream
  • Roly
  • Sunshine
  • Lanjeer
  • Yoyo

I gave my students movie genres and told them to create a movie and perform it for the class. The action group had a policewoman stopping and killing a bank robber. The romance group just acted out Titanic, but it was pretty funny. The other groups were horror and comedy, and all of the “movies” were really funny.

We had our first English corner tonight and over 200 students came! English corner is just a place where students come once a week to talk to foreign teachers for an hour about different topics. I felt like a superstar and I took at least 50 selfies with the students. The foreign teachers (there are 7 of us) had to stand in front of the students and introduce ourselves. Many of my students that I have came to English corner. When it was my turn to introduce myself they started chanting “kasey kasey kasey” before I started talking, and soon all 200+ students started to chant my name. It was crazy, exciting, and something I’ll never forget. I wish I had videoed it. I spent the next hour answering random questions (do you have a boyfriend, do you like Chinese food, why did you come to china…) in English. Overall it was a lot of fun and I felt like a celebrity for a night.

Chinese Yoga

I attended my first Chinese yoga class today. It’s free for the teachers at my school and I went with one other foreign teacher, but everyone else in the class was Chinese. The instructions were given in Chinese, so I had to pay attention to what everyone was doing because I couldn’t understand the instructions. This made it a little less relaxing than I was hoping for, but halfway through the class I became more comfortable. The music was really nice and peaceful. I’ll probably go back again next week, and who knows, maybe this will improve my Chinese…

One of my favorite vegetables in china, the lotus root. I bought it from the street market for 1.5 kuai, which is like 25 cents

One of my favorite vegetables in china, the lotus root. I bought it from the street market for 1.5 kuai, which is like 25 cents

I bought some vegetables today from the local street market. It’s bigger than it looks and everything is pretty cheap. There are live fish, chicken, and ducks that people will kill for you if you buy them.

Kasey, we have an emergency

I was sitting in my room after just getting out of a meeting where we talked about what I would be teaching. I found out that I was going to start teaching on Monday, September 15th. Then my phone rang at like 3:15 pm and my supervisor told me “Kasey, we have an emergency.” I was immediately worried that someone was hurt, but she said that there was a mistake in the schedule and I was supposed to be teaching today. My 2 pm class was waiting for me and I had to teach a 3:45 class today as well. I felt relieved that no one was injured, but then panic because I did not have any material ready for class.

I quickly walked to my class and found all my students waiting for me. They had been there since 2 pm and it was now 3:25. I apologized and introduced myself, and when I had finished, class was over at 3:35. I was so surprised that students had waited over an hour for me, and I felt really bad for them. Then my next class started at 3:45 pm. It went okay for the most part, but it was a little chaotic since I did not have much planned. I did enjoy meeting my students and almost all the girls wanted individual selfies with me after class. Two girls even said I love you to me as they walked out of class. It was pretty funny, though I wasn’t quite sure how to respond, so I just smiled. Even though today was unexpectedly stressful, it was also amusing. Only in China would you be told that you are supposed to be teaching right now.