“Chinese Friend: You shouldn’t marry a Chinese girl.
CF: Too many culture differences.
Me: What if I really love them?
CF: (beat) I guess that’s ok.
(20 minutes later and the topic has changed to learning Chinese)
CF: You should date a Chinese girl to improve your Chinese.
ME: You just said I shouldn’t marry a Chinese girl!
CF:You can date them though.
Me: So I should date a Chinese girl, improve my Chinese and then dump her?
CF: Well if you really love her, you can marry her but it will be very hard because of the different cultures.”—Real Talk
“Chinese Friend: Oh, you are fat!
CF: You went to America and a lot of delicious food and now you are fatter!
Me: Technically, you are correct. Still … Whatever.”—Conversation with Chinese Friend after not seeing them for over a month
I’ve been back in Chengdu for about a week now and the transition back has been pretty seamless.
It probably due to the fact that Chengdu is my second home. I’m staying on the Sichuan University campus and helping out around the Peace Corps office in my abundant free time. After living here for two years, I’ve gotten very comfortable in the city and fell back into my old habits.
The work around the PC Office isn’t terribly exciting but it keeps me busy. I’ve been helping out with the content of the website, traditional office work and giving a hand to the the different departments as need be.
In my free time I’ve been catching up with friends, wandering around the city and just trying to keep out of trouble.
Today, the China 19’s had their site announcements. I stood in the back with the other visiting volunteers and staff members as each volunteer was given an envelope with information about their new home in it. I thought back to what is was like for me 2 years ago;
"Not Chengdu, Not Chengdu, Not Chengdu."
I had done my training there and really wanted to get out of the city and see something new. I was devastated when they gave me my envelope which read “Chengdu Vocational and Technical College”.
"You’ve got to be kidding me. How dare you!"
Of course, it all worked out in the end.
As the envelopes were being passed out, I heard gasps and screams. Two friends hugged each other and jumped up and down. They were going to be sitemates. It was like watching Oprah when she gave out cars.
"You’re best friend is your sitemate! You’re best friend is your sitemate! You’re all getting best friends!!!"
I waited until things started to call down to find my new sitemate. I’ll admit, I was a little nervous. My record was .50 but I was hoping that I could base the kind of volunteer I’d be partnered with based of the personalities of the previous volunteers at the site. I found her and from our 15 minute talk it seems like it’s going to work out. They were more open and personable than my last sitemate and so I think it’s all going to be ok.
I also met the volunteer who would end up at my old site and wished him the best and told him he was the luckiest volunteer in the China 19’s.
I also ended up talking to the new Country Director who shares a Charleston, SC connection. It was great to meet another southerner in Peace Corps and talk about food, of course.
Now, I’m just waiting around. Dazhou is 4 days away and I need to mentally prepare myself for being in a new city.
-New city, new people, new challenges, new goals, new friends, new life.