Today marks the end of our third week back at Sias International University teaching Oral English for Spring semester. Upon our return to China, both Rachel and I were dreading the thought of coming back to work. We had just returned from laid-back Thailand and bustling Hong Kong and were already brainstorming where we could travel over summer and even next winter. The thought of having to go back to work after a near two month paid vacation was almost tragic. It's not that we didn't want to be responsible adults and go back to work, but we were still in vacation mode. The thought of sitting on the beach and sipping coconut juice from a freshly chopped coconut seemed infinitely more appealing. Crossing paths with reality was a little difficult at first.
Lacking motivation seemed not only bad for us but also for our students. Some things that contributed to the lack of motivation were that we had just left the lush jungles and beaches of Thailand, where we were able to breath fresh air and eat fresh everything in 75 degree and sunny weather, and were now back to Xinzheng where 35 degrees was considered warm and the skies were gray and the sun and stars nonexistent. We were wondering if this was a sign from above that maybe we just weren't supposed to be here for longer than a year. Maybe we were supposed to go back home or look for jobs in other countries. This is what consumed our thoughts for the full week of being back before classes started.
All faculty were given till March 17th to notify the school of their intent to either stay for another year or leave at the end of the school year. After considering all pros and cons and weighing other options, we decided to wait until the last few days to make the final decision.
The decision was definitely hard to make, considering we had a few really heavily polluted days. Anthropogenic emissions of PM 2.5 and PM 10 are major contributors of the gloom in China. Locals raking leaves, branches and dirt into a pile and incinerating the pile is a daily practice here. Many villages don't have trash pickup services, so the only thing left is to incinerate all rubbish. This also adds to the local pollution. Considering we would have lungs of an addicted smoker upon our return to America was rather scary to Rachel and me. This was one of the biggest reasons we didn't want to be here. Here are a few pictures so you can see what it's like. There are nice days in China too, but it's definitely not common. I will post some next time.
|Air Quality Index of our city vs. AQI of Beijing|
on one of our more polluted days.
|The view outside our bedroom window on a relatively clean day (AQI: ~200).|
|The view outside our bedroom window on a pretty bad day (AQI: ~400).|
We have a great community of teachers and students at Sias University. This is one of the few schools that has such an open campus. Students and foreign teachers here have the great opportunity of hanging out and getting to know each other whenever they please. These cultural exchanges are probably some of the most rewarding things one can experience from working abroad. Most of our students are so eager to meet with us to help them with their oral english and talk life that we have to be very strategic in planning meeting times. Being able to encourage students to be independent thinkers and help answer the tough questions of life has been a huge reward.
Many are the reasons we have decided to stay another year. Even though we miss our family and friends, we know this is where we're supposed to be right now. We are excited to see how much our relationships grow with our students and our new friends here.
Even though this post did not discuss much about our wonderful travels, it would be impossible to even mention Thailand and not post some green pictures. With that said, here you go:
|Koh Samui, Thailand|
|Koh Samui, Thailand|
|Sunset at Naiyang Beach, Phuket, Thailand|
Thank you for reading and thinking of us. We do miss everyone more than words can say.
P.s. Loads of pictures coming SOON!!!