Wednesday, February 28, 2007

When Does School Start?

I was talking to my parents on the phone this past weekend and they asked about this coming semester. Mom wanted to know when I would know if I would be moving down south. These ‘when’ questions are hard to answer out here. Today is the last day of February and the new semester is suppose to start the beginning of March. I still have no idea if I will be moving south to teach or if I will go on being a student.

Time and scheduling work very different in Uyghur culture. In our North American mind set if something is important you have to tell people early enough that they can set the date aside in their day planner. The further ahead you book the more important the event must be. We would hardly ever think of cancelling something that has been inked in for months. Out here the later you tell someone about an event the more important it is. If you are invited to a wedding two days before you know you are an honoured guest. If you are told about a meeting a few hours ahead of time you can bet it is important. So I guess if we do get the job we can assume they must really want us as teachers to have left it this late.

Me and a group of Uyghur students I taught English to two years ago.

Monday, February 26, 2007

I Survived the Police

Today I had to do one of my least favourite tasks of all out here, go to the police station. It was time to renew my visa, AGAIN. I have been here two and a half years and this will be my 8th visa. Every time I had to get a new one I had to go to the police station twice and face the music. I am proud to report that I have only cried on two of those occasions and today was not one of them. One of those two times was when my visa was nine days over due and I had been illegally living in the country.

I am thinking about having T-shirts made up that say “I survived the Police station”. I can wear it whenever I have to get my visa renewed. Thankfully right down the road there is a KFC where I always drown my stress in a cup of coffee. The new visa I applied for today is only a one month visa, so I can already look forward to my next set of visits. But thankfully none of these trips to the Police office have ever lead to this:

Sunday, February 25, 2007

A long Road Home

Early in the morning of January 17 I got on the plane and headed to the warm weather. The first stop was Hong Kong, (where we had originally hoped to process our new work visa’s for the coming semester but since the paper work did not go through in time) we ended up just hanging out. Hong Kong is a huge city. We where able to stay with one of my friend’s family. Although I was a little offended when her 80 something year old aunt suggested that I was a country bumpkin lost in the big city. I just kept staring at everything, tall buildings, Subway systems, shopping malls and crowds pushing their way through it all.

I learned that there are only two things to do in Hong Kong: eat and shop. We sure did a lot of the former.

From Hong Kong we flew to Thailand. Bangkok has one of the most amazing hospitals in the whole world; in two hours you can see a doctor, get blood tested, fill your prescriptions, have an eye exam, review the results of the blood test with the doctor and drink some Starbucks coffee, no appointment necessary.

I spent two weeks in class/conferences which were a lot of fun and encouraging. I learned that if there is an American idol night to stay as far away as possible, if you don’t go you can’t be asked to sing a song you don’t know in front of a group of people. My performance was more like a laughing hyena than a song. It was wonderful to be surrounded by sunshine and friends

There were many more exciting steps of the trip along the way, but I am just so thankful to be back home.