So my day in the country didn’t put me in nearly as monkey-like a position as I had feared. I mean, sure, feces were thrown but when are they not?
The thing that alleviated a ton of the badness was that it wasn’t the vice president and me and a student to translate going, it was me and Miss Hu going. Miss Hu is our (recently promoted) foreign affairs head, speaks excellent English and is just plain nice. We could actually have conversations out there.
We drove for two hours into the country. The car we were in was not one of the school’s Audis, for good reason. It was smallish mountain roads all the way, which were mostly paved but the last half hour were dirt.
The school was in a little town. Little little. I sometimes make fun of Wanzhou for being out in the boonies but these were people who thought Wanzhou was the big city. And I was the first foreigner to ever come to the school.
They had a banner welcoming Mr. Justin and I was given the whole rockstar treatment (which is weird when it’s not for anything you did and solely for what you are: white). Lots of applause, and signing things and posing for a million pictures.
The class itself was me letting them ask questions and trying (without success) to answer in words these fourteen year olds would understand. But they didn’t run out of questions, which impressed me (though they never paid attention or understood my answers to what I liked about China so I had to do that one 134 times). They sang songs (including Edelweiss) and I sang songs (including Grandpa was a Carpenter); they danced and I didn’t dance.
We went to lunch and then a reservoir for a boat ride with some of the administration and students. The reservoir was something they asked about when we got there and I said fine. I mean, it’d be a shame to go out into the countryside and not actually spend any time out of doors. When we were out there Miss Hu was talking about how much she doesn’t like living in the city, so it seems it was a good choice.
Incidentally, as I understand it, Miss Hu got her affection for the countryside when she was packed off out there in the Cultural Revolution aftermath, when all the students were sent off to get some real education picking plants. She still identifies and picks things to eat when she goes out climbing mountains or whatever with her family.
We took this boat to a dam and walked around and I was asked many times if I fished. By this time I was getting tired and couldn’t wait to get in the car to come back here. It was also raining by then so we saw a couple of accidents caused by slippery mountain roads, but no blood.
Then in Wanzhou our school driver suddenly had an emergency and had to put us in a cab to get back. Which was kind of weird but whatever.
So the whole thing was tiring but it was much better than it could have been when I posted my cussing filled first response. Which is also why I don’t tell anyone at school about my website.