With the temperature rising and the humid summer just approaching (it’s around 30 degrees everyday), the atmosphere in the city has been ever-changing. I can’t say that the heat is getting to me – not at all really. I love that I can walk at night, in a t-shirt when it’s dark and still feel the heat of the day and the fresh breeze. The thing I actually love most about this time in Jinzhou is the night market. Up until September or October, there’s a particular street quite near the school that probably homes at least 100 stalls every evening come 6pm… There’s everything on offer from clothes, to household goods, from accessories to stationary, from dogs (!!!!!) to toys, from shoes to food… You name it, it’s there. A shoppers’ paradise, especially if you can haggle. For me, it’s not really a paradise because of all that’s available, but it’s more because of the routine that’s evolved since the market has opened.
It’s so close to work (and also within walking distance from my place) that me and some colleagues have made it a regular thing to wander down the market street after work, a few times each week. It’s not really to buy, but instead to sit on the sidelines, take in the atmosphere, the people, the weather and the pearl milk tea (a yummy drink that I’ve come to crave everyday). It’s so cool. I’ve been doing this mainly with Helen… After work, we’d make our way there. We’d sit at the dirty tables, right next to the tens of food stalls where the famous Jinzhou bbq is being prepared. We’re the object of observation - to which I’ve totally switched-off and the stares never stop the talking we could easily do for hours at a time. It’s strange that this bustling street promotes the conversations we have, which are nearly always regarding where we’re at in life, how we can benefit more from what we’re currently doing so we can move towards the things we’ve always wanted to do. For some reason, we both always come away from out chats, having learnt or realized something new and feeling so full of life…
I’ve learnt over the past month or so, that teaching really isn’t what I long to be doing. Well, not long-term anyhow. It’s something I enjoy, really I do. And I do my best to be a good at it. But I know it’s only temporary. And I say this, not because of the contract, but because I can see ‘clearly’ in what direction I’m heading. Although I know how much this position in china is giving me right now and it’s really amazing to see just how much I’ve gained by taking this step; the school has been the biggest contributor in giving me such an amazing experience and lifestyle – without me feeling to have done anything big at all, to receive so much.
But, the more I take time to stand back from what I’m doing, the more I realize that this position is bringing me forward to the next experience. When and how it will happen, I can’t really say. But I know what the teaching is giving me, in terms of realizing what I was to pursue in life. Because there’s something of a strong passion to not only travel and write, but to be more involved with kids too. This is something that has been coming out, during my classes. I’m standing there, teaching these kids English, enjoying my time with them, but feeling a little saddened that the only way I get to form a bond with them, is through teaching English. It’s like I want to get closer to these kids, but I can’t, because we can’t fluently communicate and because of the fact that I’m ‘only’ the English teacher who sees them 2 hours a week.
I’m the teacher who is meant to be strict, fun and active at the same time. I’m giving them ‘knowledge’ of the English language… Is that really what I want to be giving them? Hummm… I actually want to be giving love, more than anything else! I wish to be helping them on a less ‘superficial’ level. But I do see how special this experience is, if this is the only contact or connection I can form with kids in general, at this point in time. So I’m grateful. And I take so much from being in front of the class – even when the pressure can get too much.