Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Social Life

I've spent the past month getting adjusted to life as a foreign teacher in Zhanjiang. Now that I'm feeling slightly more settled, the next step will be developing friendships with Chinese as well as with a few other foreigners in town. Here are some of the people I've hit it off with so far:

1. Scott- Duh. Naturally, we're together constantly- neither one of us particularly enjoys going out in town alone yet. :)
2. Kevin- Kevin teaches at the Normal College down the street. This is his third year here; before this semester, he taught at another middle school here in town. He's a lot of fun and gives me much-needed advice on handling my difficult classes of 15- year olds who barely speak English.
3. Ruth- Ruth is my Chinese tutor: she's a 30- year old Evangelical Presbyterian and probably the only Chinese one of those I'll ever meet. She's a sweetheart and has proved a very valuable "cultural liaison" by providing an insight to the city that only a native can give. We're planning to head to the beach this wekend with Ruth and a few of her friends.
4. Caleb and Karen- They're a late-20's couple from Canada who have spent the past two years teaching at another university in town. He speaks fluent Cantonese and she's working on her Mandarin. We met them at the annual Zhanjiang Foreigner Dinner and got together for some Western food and good, smoothly-flowing English conversation. We're planning on meeting up for some UNO soon.
5. Helen- Another English teacher at our school who means well but sometimes comes on a bit strong in her desire to practice English.
6. Zhu- A young male Chinese teacher here who has promised to help me practice speaking Mandarin. His English has radically improved after just a month of conversing with Scott and I. When we first arrived, he shyly refused to speak English; now, we can carry on a relatively pleasant conversation together.

There are a few interesting foreigners in town I have yet to spend much time with, including the new 23- year old Welsh grand pianist at the Normal College; a mid-twenties, gorgeous couple from Uzbekistan; a recent college graduate from Australia who I hear "likes to drink a lot;" and Irene, a young teacher at our school from Cameroon.

We certainly are an eccentric bunch thrown together here... I'm looking forward to getting to know some new friends, both foreign and Chinese.

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