During the last week of teaching, we had a super cultured class: Chauncy and I taught the kids about Greek mythology and had them watch the Disney version of Hercules. We also finally got around to teaching them some words about being sick, a topic we had been meaning to get to since Chauncy came back from the hospital…
Friday, the last day of class, was sunny and hot. We started out the morning with a closing ceremony where we gave out certificates, and all the kids and volunteers danced the Cupid Shuffle for the parents. And then the kids started leaving for the last time. I managed not to get too emotional (I had gotten emotional over the kids the afternoon before when Zoey and Sophie showed up for the office hours that we weren’t supposed to have and started decorating goodbye balloons and writing messages on the blackboard.) until the Chinese volunteers started leaving. I didn’t get a chance to see Ling before she left, so I said goodbye to Chauncy, Rose, and Camille first. Then I pulled myself back together, and a while later, Kelly, Sunny, and I walked to the bus stop together. They were going in a different direction than I was, though, so they got a taxi before my bus came, and I was sad again. And then it was just me standing out at the bus stop with Sunny’s host aunt waiting for the bus that would take me first to the mall for lunch and then to the long-distance bus station.
All but three of the LE volunteers met up at the bus station, and we gathered around for a meeting and then got on our bus to Shanghai. The bus took us to the airport, which was the closest station to our hostel. This hostel – the Hidden Garden Youth Hostel – was absolutely terrible, 0/10, would not recommend. The rooms are smelly, the beds are rickety, the sheets are sketchy, the bathrooms are questionable, the location is meh, and communication with the front desk is difficult at best. The lady we worked with when we checked in spoke heavily-accented English that was very hard to understand, and when I tried to speak Chinese to help move things along, she insisted on responding to me in English. Now, I’m the last person who wants to put anyone down for learning a foreign language and practicing/exercising their skills, but in certain situations a line needs to be drawn and the language of communication needs to be switched if possible.
Luckily, I only needed to stay in this hostel for one night, and then I got to check out and come back to my friend’s house, where I am now. On Sunday, we visited Wuxi, a city next to Suzhou in Jiangsu Province. Monday we stayed home and relaxed, and today we went out for a bit to do some shopping. Tomorrow I’ll probably go to the book store and stationary store, and on Thursday I’ll come home.
Overall, I’ve had a great experience in China this summer. Teaching with LE is something I’ll never forget. I have my share of comments and complaints about the organization itself; I am disappointed in some of my fellow volunteers for some of their consistently negative and disagreeable attitudes when they signed up for this of their own free will and were told what to expect; and I certainly had plenty of hardships and unforeseen circumstances, but at the same time, I made several new friends, learned a lot more about China and Chinese, and accomplished and overcame many things that I was extremely nervous about.
Pictures will be on Facebook when I get home, and I’ll probably make a post on here with some as well!