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Posts Tagged ‘Chinese Culture’

Fellows have a lot to learn about their students by visiting their homes and understanding their lives outside the classroom. Kristen Faiferlick (Fellow ’10, Middlebury College) and Laura Zulliger (Fellow ’10, Davidson College) recently spent a weekend visiting the homes of their students in a village near their school in Luodang 洛党. They learned, among other things, that “The Emperor’s New Clothes” and “The Tortise and the Hare” are popular children’s stories in China, too!

With the semester almost halfway over, Laura and I decided it was time for us to go visit some of our students’

Kristen Faiferlick with some of her students in front of their old elementary school in the town of Tianxin

homes. We had enjoyed teaching them about American customs and habits, such as celebrating Halloween, and we were eager to learn more about their lives. So, last weekend, we walked with six of our students to their homes in Tianxin 田心 (“Field heart”), a village across the valley from Luodang. Tianxin is deceptively far from our school. From our dorm window, we can see the village spread across the mountain, but walking to the furthest home in Tianxin can take over an hour.

After Saturday morning class, Laura, our students, and I walked down the road and across the river that stretches around Luodang (which I learned is named Yinchun He 迎春河, “Welcome Spring River”). We stopped along the way at each student’s home, meeting their parents or grandparents. In many homes, one or both parents are working in other cities or provinces, so only a grandmother or grandfather is present to care for the children. Most of the students we visited were lucky to have at least one parent in their home. Troy, Sandy, and Meena also had adorable younger sisters!

I learned a lot about my students from seeing them interact with one another and with their families. I knew that Troy was quiet and gentle from talking with him in class and seeing him patiently work with some of our class’s most challenging students, but seeing him joke with his sister helped me understand how tender-hearted he really is. I was also struck by how sensitive he is in dealing with his family’s pets. In many cases in China, pets are hit or kicked, but Troy told me that they neither hit nor kick their dog or cat.

Once we reached June’s home in the heart of Tianxin, we sat in the morning sunlight and told fables that we learned

The village of Luodang, as viewed from Tianxin

when we were young. Apparently, “The Emperor’s New Clothes” is a Chinese story! Additionally, all of my students already knew “The Tortoise and the Hare,” even though I had been sure that it was an Aesop’s fable. It seems good stories travel fast! We had fun discussing what each of these tales can teach us about life.

At Sandy’s house, we ate a quick lunch of rice, fried eggs and soup, and then headed up the mountain to see Meena and Savannah’s house. We made a detour on the way up to see Savannah’s favorite spot: a tiny stream that pooled over smooth rocks. We spent some time splashing in the pools, then continued up the tiny trail to the upper level of Tianxin. Finally, we reached Savannah’s house. It wasn’t a typical home: for the next few months, Savannah will be living with all her furniture under a tarp, waiting until her new house is built. All of her extended family members still living in Fengqing had joined to help tear down the old house and build the new one. We had to step gingerly around piles of rubble and avoid falling pieces of roof as we approached her makeshift home. Although the family will be cold under their tarp, in a few months, they’ll have a brand new home to live in!

After seeing each of their homes and meeting their family, Laura and I headed back down the mountain. It’s always

Some of Kristen and Laura's students at home

satisfying to interact with students outside of class, and we could feel their pride as they showed us their village’s elementary school, their favorite swimming hole, and introduced us to their parents. I feel blessed to be teaching such wonderful children. Getting to know them better makes me more dedicated to our mission and want to work even harder to give them the brightest future I can!

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Teaching in rural schools gives Fellows the rare opportunity to participate in local customs as members in the community. In rural Fengqing County 凤庆县, Yunnan, a teacher at Luodang Middle School 洛党中学 who is of the Muslim Hui ethnic minority recently got married. When the wedding took place, Kristen Faiferlick (Fellow ’10, Middlebury College), Laura Zulliger (Fellow ’10, Davidson College), and Xu Qiuwen 徐秋雯 (Fellow ’10, Peking University) were all on hand to support their friend and colleague.  For Kristen, the occasion was “one of the most moving things I’ve experienced since coming to China”

This past week, Laura, Qiuwen and I had the pleasure and honor of attending our coworker and friend’s wedding in Yingpan, several hours from Luodang. The bride, Ma Ruxia, has been a close friend, mentor, and guide ever since the three of us arrived at Luodang over a year ago. Watching her take this momentous step in her life was perhaps one of the most moving things I’ve experienced since coming to China.

Fellows Kristen Faiferlick and Laura Zulliger with the bride

Ma Ruxia’s wedding took place over the course of a week. To celebrate a wedding, most Chinese couples usually host a giant dinner for their friends and family at a local restaurant, wherein everyone comes to eat, drink, and toast the bride and groom. To be frank, most foreigners are rather unimpressed with this sort of wedding ceremony, considering the fact that we’re accustomed to both eating and actually seeing the ceremony performed. Additionally, we tend to associate weddings with music and dancing, both of which are unfortunately absent in Chinese weddings.

However, Ma Ruxia and her husband are both Muslim, which meant that the dinner was slightly different from a typical Chinese wedding. First, nearly all the dinner guests were

The wedding feast

also Muslim, so the food served at the dinner was all halal. Second, the the dinner was served in the courtyard of Yingpan’s beautiful mosque, situated just next door to Ma Ruxia’s home. As the “dinner” stretched from afternoon until sunset, we all ate far too much! As the dinner slowly wrapped, up, the evening sun setting over the hill cast a warm glow over the children playing in the courtyard and sparkled against the star and crescent above the mosque. The children running and singing, the laughter of guests, and the cool breeze blowing through the trees reminded me how thankful I am to be in such a beautiful place sharing such a special day.
After the guests slowly meandered out of the mosque courtyard, Ma Ruxia invited us into

Yingpan's mosque

her home, where we spent the rest of the night chatting, cooing over her wedding photos, and playing ma jiang with our local teachers. It was a wonderful night, and I think I’ll look back on it for years as one of the best times I’ve had with the friends and teachers from Luodang Middle School.

The next morning, we all rose early for what was, to me, the most interesting and touching part of the wedding. Around 7:30, a group of elderly men entered the home to perform the religious ceremony that would bind Ma Ruxia and her soon-to-be husband, Zhang Lei, in eternal partnership. Usually, the room this ritual is performed in is closed to everyone but the religious leaders and the couple, but Ma Ruxia invited Laura and me in to film and take pictures. I felt incredibly blessed and lucky to be close enough to see and hear the entire ceremony.

The ceremony began with the leader explaining the significance of being Hui Zu (Muslim)

Flower petals, seeds, and money play an important part in a Hui minority wedding ceremony

in China. He explained the importance of being proud of their culture and heritage, and the importance of observing halal and raising their children to observe the same Muslim codes of behavior. He spoke about social and spiritual significance of marriage, and how the couple would be expected live their lives from that point onwards. As the end of the ceremony drew near, he sang a song in Arabic, which filled the tiny room with a deep, resonating energy. Finally, a second leader lifted a basket from the table, which was filled with flower petals, coins, and seeds. He tossed them lightly onto the head of the newly marriage couple, then sprinkled the items all over them to ensure they were covered in luck and prosperity. It is said that anyone who receives these coins will also find luck, so several other guests reached into the room to grab the fallen coins from the floor. After the couple was showered with luck and prosperity, they left the room for the most bittersweet part of the entire wedding.

In Chinese culture, a woman belongs to her family and serves her parents only as long as she lives under their roof. Although marriage ceremonies and attitudes have evolved into many different forms in recent years, Ma Ruxia was very much affected by the idea that she would be leaving her mother for a new one. As she prepared her things, the cars waited outside to bring Ma Ruxia to her new home and new mother. Suddenly, without warning, she burst into tears. They were brief, but told of the great internal battle she must have been experiencing internally. Marriage is a time for happiness, but it also represents the final step from adolescence into adulthood. Watching her as she left made me wonder about all the emotions she was feeling as she left home, and how she would feel in the weeks and months to come. She quickly recovered, smiled, and led the parade of guests down the road to the waiting cars, which would take the couple and their close friends to Genma, where another dinner party would be held, this time for Zhang Lei’s friends and family.

The entire ceremony was both emotionally stirring and mentally challenging for me. Unlike the marriage I may someday enter into, Ma Ruxia and Zhang Lei’s marriage was arranged by a matchmaker. As a member of one of China’s ethnic and religious minorities, Ma Ruxia had struggled to find a suitable boyfriend for years. She could only date other local Muslims, of which there are few in this area. A matchmaker arranged a meeting between her and Zhang Lei, and although it wasn’t love at first sight, they learned to appreciate and care for each other. Zhang Lei knows that he has found a precious gift in Ma Ruxia, and I trust that they will value and love each other.

For many Americans, December has always been a time for Christmas carols and tinsel on trees. This December, however, I feel blessed to have witnessed something even more important than Christmas: a lifelong union which will bring a close friend a lifetime of happiness.

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Emily Cole (Fellow ’10, Brown University) spent a memorable Thanksgiving visiting the home of home of her students in a remote mountain village in rural Yunnan. Her account, and accompanying pictures, provide an intimate look into daily life in this remote community. 

Leah (刑承月) is on the left, and Yang Wen Qing is on the right.  Both

Emily Cole's student, Xing Cheng Yue 刑承月, "Leah," on the left

were my 3rd grade students, and both are from the same mountain village.  Leah’s hometown is about a 2 hour hike into the mountains.  During the week, she lives with her grandmother, little brother, and little sister in a simple house in one of the smaller villages on the outskirts of town.  Her younger brother is in the first level of preschool at our elementary school, and her little sister will soon attend the school.  Though China has a one-child policy, citizens from the peasant class and ethnic minorities are allowed to have more than one child.  Most toddlers I’ve met here are very shy, but

Leah's younger sister

Leah’s little sister cuddled up to me the minute she met me and loved looking at the world through the viewfinder of my camera.

Last year, Leah struggled both socially and academically.  She had a an infected lesion on her head, forcing her to wear a hat because her hair had fallen out.  She has a really cute grin and an even cuter giggle, but last year, she was lacking in both.  This year, her injury has healed and she’s become more outgoing and less self-conscious.  While I was at her house this weekend, whenever she sat down to do her homework, she’d get up every ten minutes to feed the goats, take care of the cows, or run next door to play with Yang Wen Qing’s puppies. Corn harvesting and drying season is in full swing, so her parents were out working most of the day.  During the school day, she has teachers and classmates who can nag her to get her work done, but on the weekends and at home it is hard for her to focus.  This year, her English grades has improved, but her math and Chinese grades are still among the lowest in the class.

We didn’t have class on Friday, so I walked up the mountain with her and a gaggle of

Leah's home

girls who live in the same area.  I spent the night at her house in a room filled with pottery basins filled with water where they stored their fresh fruit.  The ceiling was a straw-filled tarp nailed to the ceiling, chock full of mice.  The next morning when I asked about the mice, Leah said “Oh, our house is full of mice!  They love to dance and fight in the ceiling at night!”  I couldn’t agree more, there was definitely a lot of dancing and fighting going on while I was trying to sleep.  The top floor of her house is an open attic where corn was laid out to dry.  All of the houses in the village were covered with piles of bright yellow corn drying in the sun.  The compound has a cement courtyard in the center.

Feeding the goats

One one side is the house, with a smoky, dimly like kitchen in a separate room that always has a small fire blazing.  On the other side are the cow, pig, goat, and chicken pens.  I slept to the sounds of her goats jingling their bells in their pen, the cows moo-ing throughout the night, pigs grunting, and roosters crowing at all hours of the night.

 

 

 

We woke up early the next morning and I went hiking around the mountain with the girls, watched Mickey Mouse cartoons in Chinese, ate persimmons with Leah's sister, found strange flowers and berries on the mountainside, and played with Yang Wen Qing's puppies. It was wonderful.

Time to trim the ol' bangs

Puppies and students, what could be a cuter combination?

The girls snacked on this while I politely refrained. The small fruits are more sour than War Heads, with the texture of an unripe peach. And then, to improve the flavor, they dip it into a mixture of hot pepper flakes, MSG, salt, and chicken bouillon powder. YUM! They said they like it because they are mountain girls, and mountain girls like sour things, obviously.

Leah stoking the fire in the morning. While I didn't have turkey for thanksgiving, Leah's mother was generous enough to kill a chicken which we had in a delicious sour soup for lunch.

 

 

 

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Caitlin Moss (Fellow ’10, Georgetown University) is working to build her students’ sense of investment in their educations. One of her strategies was to survey her students and ask them about their own goals–for school, for their careers, and for their lives. Some of the answers weren’t quite what she expected…

In the first few weeks of class, I have started to implement my investment plans, which are basically an ongoing reinforcement to my kids (yes, I have started referring to them that way…) that studying is critical to opening up doors in the future. To me, being truly invested means that rather than being disinterested because they feel English is a subject that they’re forced to take (even though that’s partially true), my students will want to study English and be willing to study hard because they understand the importance of doing so for their own good.

Caitlin Moss with Margie, one of her students

I’ve also been trying to get to know my students better; with 52 of them, that’s not always easy. So part of my solution to that problem was to have them fill out a pretty extensive survey, and to make them reflect on their personal goals for the year and for life (and yes, all of this was done in Chinese, to make sure they understood.)

My students are certainly not dumb. I was really surprised and impressed with some of their self-insight and ability to reflect. I am looking forward to getting to know them more and more in the future, and even though they can be little monsters in class sometimes, I can already feel myself getting quite attached to them. Some of their answers really inspired me to work as hard as I can to support them this year.

Here are some of their interesting responses, synthesized and translated. Who WOULDN’T be inspired by these kids?!

Q: In your opinion, what does the ideal teacher look like? What characteristics does he/she have? What teaching methods does he/she use?

A: My ideal teacher looks just like Miss Moss. Except that I don’t know you well enough yet to know what your characteristics are.

A: My ideal teacher can teach me lots of new things, doesn’t get mad easily, and finds many different ways to communicate with students.

A: My ideal teacher is strict in class but tells us lots of stories.

A: My ideal teacher is just like you, different from all the other teachers.

Q: What are your goals for the future? What do you want to be when you grow up?

A: Go to college.

A: Go to Qinghua (Tsinghua) University.

A: Get a PhD.

Become a…

A: teacher.

A: scientist.

A: public attorney.

A: lawyer.

A: doctor.

A: math teacher.

A: nurse, then a doctor.

A: sports coach.

A: gym teacher.

A: cab driver.

A: migrant worker.

Q: What challenges might you face in trying to achieve these goals? How will you overcome them?

A: There are some things that I don’t do very well at (in school), my family doesn’t have enough money to keep sending me to school, and my parents don’t want me to be a doctor. I will study hard, take out loans, and convince my parents to let me follow my dreams.

A: Well studying might be a challenge. But if I have questions I will definitely go ask the teacher.

A: Some challenges I might face are not having enough money and not being able to find work. I will face them by asking Miss Moss for help.

Q: When you don’t feel like studying, how can Miss Moss motivate you?

A: By simply talking and interacting with Miss Moss, it will make us more mature and willing to study.

A: Tell me to believe in myself, not to give up, to keep working hard, and to always be honest and responsible.

A: Remind me that if I don’t study hard now, I won’t have any more chances to keep studying later.

A: Say: “For the sake of your own dreams, don’t you dare quit!”

A: There’s not really much Miss Moss can do about it.

A: Remind me that I’ll be able to play badminton and other games in my free time after I finish my homework.

A: Remind me that I’m studying for my own sake, and not just to meet my parents’ expectations.

A: Say: “You should believe in yourself. Don’t give up! Believe that if you continue, you can realize your dreams and overcome challenges.”

A: Remind me that if I work hard, I’ll have time to go play badminton.

A: Say: “You’d better go study! You don’t want to disappoint your parents, and especially don’t want to disappoint your dear Miss Moss. ADD OIL! You can do it!”

A: Compare my grades to other students who are doing well and tell me to study harder!

Q: If you could go anywhere in China or in the world, and bring anyone you wanted, where would you go and who would you bring?

A: I want to bring my mom to Xinjiang.

A: I want to go to France with my friends, since when you leave the house, you have to rely on your friends for support.

A: I want to go to Shanghai with friends because it would be a lot of fun.

A: I want to bring my parents to America, so they can live comfortably.

A: I want to go to Beijing, and I’d bring my parents with me. (times 3)

A: I want to go to Kunming because the weather’s nice there, and I would bring my parents.

A: I would like to go to America and bring my parents with me. (times 4)

A: I want to go to Africa and I’d bring my little brother. He’s very curious about how Africans live.

A: I want to go see where you live.

p.s. Another part of my investment strategy is to have lunch with my three most improved students on Friday. I started this last week, and one of my students, Marcia, has such a great attitude. During our lunch conversation, she asked me lots of questions about America, and asked me if there is anything she can do to improve her performance in English class. I’ve gotta be the best teacher I can be to support Marcia’s dream of becoming a doctor, and for all my other kids too!

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This summer, several Teach For China Fellows traveled to Cangyuan, a county in southwestern Yunnan on the border with Myanmar. The county is home to the Wa minority 佤族, who every year celebrate the “Monihei” 抹你黑 festival, in which participants attack and smear one another with mud. Check out this account of the festival by Sam Waldo. Photo by Christine Yuan.

“Whatever god it is that the Wa worship, it’s pretty clear that theirs is the one true god,” Axel says facetiously as we walk down one of the main thoroughfares of Cangyuan, today cordoned off and teeming with mud-blackened pedestrians.  Monihei, a traditional holiday of the Wa ethnic minority in southwestern China, had been such a success that it did in fact seem like there might have been divine intervention.

<an hour previous>

Our band of ten foreigners stands packed like cattle among the thousands of Chinese waiting for the gates to the festival grounds to be opened.  The weather in Cangyuan has been cool and wet the two days that we have been there, but with the sun beating down at midday the only reminder of the rainy weekend is the intense humidity, magnified by the breath and sweat of so many bodies.

The long fence, a kind of automatic metal contraption I’ve only seen in China, retracts and the crowd rushes to the event field.  It’s a grass field, a soccer pitch when it isn’t Monihei, with a large stage set up on one side and concrete bleachers lining the other like a high school football stadium.  On the field are dozens of lidded vats, maybe three feet tall and almost as wide, that at this point are still sealed and even under guard.  As the crowd filters to either the field (for the participants) or the bleachers (for the observers, most of the women), attention is drawn to the stage.

A hundred or more Wa girls, high school age it seems for the most part, wearing traditional dress, a simple red and black cloth wrapped sort of like a sari but shorter, begin a unified song and dance with the backing of powerful speakers.  The Wa people, from my understanding, have really never broken with their traditions; most of them live lives that are considered normal by modern Chinese standards, but the Wa it seems have thus far avoided that historical moment where traditional culture becomes artifice, only something to be pedaled to tourists.  Most Wa people haven’t intermarried with Han Chinese; their skin is much darker than Han Chinese; they grow their hair long; they speak their own language; they do traditional dances and sing traditional songs as a part of their own lives and not just for the sake of preserving dying traditions.  They are still a people apart from China, though at the same time they have little trouble fitting in.

Their music, when I have heard it, is comprised of many voices singing a simple line in unison accompanied by heavy drum beats, generating a powerful and intimidating sound.  Such is the effect with this performance of the hundred or more Wa girls on stage.  Dark skin, long, straight, black hair, foot stomping, powerful percussion –simple and warlike.  After the song’s very loud conclusion, the lids come off the vats and monihei begins.

I approach one of the vats, already surrounded by half a dozen Chinese men.  Everyone is shirtless – standard attire for monihei doesn’t exceed shorts and flip-flops.  The men are all smiling as they frantically hurl the specially prepared mud-pudding mixture in the vat into the sky.  Some have cups or small bowls, others use their hands – the goal at this point is to get as much of the mud onto others as possible.  I should explain now that the literal translation of “Monihei” is “rub you black,” and this is the expressed purpose of the festival.  At this point I am still unsure of exactly what lay ahead of me in the coming minutes.  I approach the vat, looking to join in the mayhem.  The first big splash of mud that hits me is also the worst, temporarily blinding me and also getting caught in the back of my throat.  This isn’t just wet earth, it is a special concoction designed and produced specifically for the day – it has a strong cocoa taste and smell, the consistency of runny pudding, a little strange but better than eating dirt.

After I recover from this first barrage, the battle has fully begun.  Across the field all of the vats are open and the mud rains from the sky.  Mud is slung, flung, smeared, dumped, and slapped on every man, woman, and child.  The scale is incredible – it isn’t simply that everyone is getting muddy, rather every single person has, in a matter of minutes, become completely covered from head to toe in the chocolate-colored mud.

The whole thing doesn’t last more than twenty or thirty minutes – the mud goes pretty quickly, and there’s only so much

Fellows recover from the mayhem at the Monihei festival

to do after all of the participants are already fully saturated.  Things slow down – mud wrestling and impromptu slip-and-slides in the half-foot of mud lining the ground replace the free-for-all.  After a few more minutes pass, everyone simultaneously comes to the conclusion that the year’s festivities are over and we begin drifting out of the gates. Across the street from the field they have installed a public shower system of sorts – lining the sidewalk are hundreds of meters of bamboo secured firmly together to serve as a long water pipe.  The underside of the bamboo is punctuated with hundreds of holes, and water runs down the length of the entire pipe so that every few feet there is another shower tap.

Monihei, clearly, left quite an impression.  It was as novel an experience as I’ve had in recent memory, and even in a country this foreign to me I have yet to encounter something so entirely different.

I’ve heard two different stories of the origin of Monihei.  One, the traditional school of thought, is that the mud-smearing is a sign of rejuvenation and fertility.  Rubbing mud on someone is a kind of blessing, and the festival is held before the planting season to usher in hope for a good harvest, etc.  The other definition is a little more fun.  We heard this one at a bar in Cangyuan the night before the festival at near-2 AM from a table of intoxicated Wa guys.  It’s simple – the Wa people are dark-skinned, so they want to make everyone else dark-skinned too!  Get some dried mud on you and you get to be an honorary Wa for the afternoon – it’s a nice thought, inclusive and goofy, and it adds to the joviality of the whole festival for me.

But most of the local people we asked, including many Wa, were surprised at the question and unable to provide an answer.  They would smile, chuckle, and mumble in their local dialect in that way that we’ve all gotten used to – it’s the standard response from most locals when we foreigners do something they think is silly.  At any rate, be it fertility ceremony or ethnic rite of passage, Monihei was a whole lot of fun.

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As they live and work within their placement communities, Teach For China Fellows gain the opportunity to share in local customs and traditions with their students, neighbors, and coworkers. What are these local traditions like? 2010-2011 Fellow Kristen Faiferlick describes a yearly winter tradition in her placement community of Fengqing 凤庆, which everyone enjoys but the pigs. 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Unless you’re a pig in rural Yunnan.

Apparently, citizens in rural Yunnan have a tradition of killing a pig and hosting a giant feast for all their friends and neighbors some weekend in December to January. Two weekends ago, I was invited over to Fan Laoshi’s house (my coworker’s house) to enjoy the festival with them.

Pause. Initial reaction: automatic no. Was I not a vegetarian? There was no way I was going to enjoy a second of this party. But then I thought about it again… she was my coworker, and she had invited the whole English department to come. I ought to think of it as a cultural experience. After all, my refusal to come wasn’t going to save the pig from being served to all her friends. In the end, I decide to go, and Laura, Hu Zhengfeng and I all packed our bags and headed through the rain to Fan Laoshi’s home.

Stuffing the pig's intestines with blood and rice

Her home farther away than we realized. We had to wait for her friend to come pick us up, then we drove for a half an hour out of town. Luckily, when we got there, the pig had already been slaughtered. We were just in time to see them stuffing the intestines with blood and rice, though.

I surprised myself at how little I was revolted. I tried to think of it scientifically… things die, and sometimes they get eaten. I don’t think this sort of attitude could have carried me far enough to try some of the pig, but it made the general experience easier for me. Here’s a picture of the room full of dead pig, just so you can share a little of the experience with me:

We stayed for a few hours then headed back to school and to Lincang. I’m sure there will be many more pig-killing festivals in the weeks and year to come, and I’ll do my best to take my kids up on their invitations to come to their festivals. It may not be Thanksgiving or Christmas, but it’s still with family and friends. Well, “When in Rome…” 入乡随俗!

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Fellows frequently visit students’ home villages on the weekends. Monica Kim, a 2010-2012 Fellow, took the following pictures from a visit to the village of Xunfang, where several of her students live.  

Xunfang is a village approximately 10 minutes away by rickshaw or minibus. Xunfang is quite rural despite its proximity to Boshang. The local elementary school does not provide English education. I have two students from this area: Eric and Brian. Both are quite smart but rarely apply themselves. Both are also quick-tempered and have said quite a number of dirty things in the classroom. Brian will unfortunately drop out mid-second semester and end up working in the local hair salon in Boshang and then Lincang.

During this home visit we were invited to a birthday party of one of May’s students.

Walking to Xunfang

View of Boshang, a nearby larger town, from Xunfang

A "tragon" (tractor & wagon = tragon): extremely loud and slow vehicle used to transport various goods/people in rural China

Brian, one of my students who lives in Xunfang

We had dinner in one of our students' homes that night. Getting dinner in the kitchen

Eating a home-cooked birthday diner

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