23 April, 2012

Powerless in China

Below is a blog I wrote on 24 August. At the time, it was meant to be a smattering of updates about what I had been doing. Now, I guess you can read it as a smattering of highlights from my last couple weeks of training. 

I’m currently listening to “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)”. I always love this song, but it is, at the moment I write this, appropriately topical. The power is out.

My host father is the only one home. He and I ate dinner together with what natural light was still present on a cloudy day at 6:30 in the evening. He speaks no English, and I speak so little Chinese, I should default to none. Other than the rain and thunder outside, it was a silent meal.

After dinner, with a cool breeze coming in, he and I played a game of Chinese chess. I am slowly learning (or he is just taking it easy on me because I’m such a novice). He beat me. He always beats me.

Training has been remarkably busy this week. It’s only Wednesday, and yet I am at a Friday level of exhaustion.
You can tell by our smiles, we're all
pretty excited to see the Veep speak.

Sunday, I saw Vice President Biden speak at Sichuan University. I sat direct centre, second row. I don’t mention that only to brag, but for my brother. Tim and I got an opportunity to see Obama speak while he was campaigning, and we sat second row, centre.

I was caught zoning out
before the swear-in started.
Monday, I was technically sworn in as a volunteer? The newly appointed Ambassador to China was still in Chengdu because of Biden’s visit, and he could not make it back for our swear-in ceremony in a couple weeks. We have had part of the ceremony, and will have the other part at the end of training, as scheduled.

Tuesday was a long day. We had our official security and safety sessions about sexual assault and rape. Things were hypersensitive because of the recent media coverage of PC assault cases. After a draining, serious day of that, we partook in what could only be described as the most epic Ultimate Frisbee extravaganza China has ever seen.
So many people were playing.
It was great.

I despise the hyperbolic use of the word epic, so trust me when I say it was epic. About 32 of the 78 volunteers (and a few staff member) turned out to play after the long day. We played for nearly two hours. Big teams, small teams. Every iteration of teams. Each person playing was fantastic at frisbee. No person was carrying their team. Epic, indeed.


Below are some additional photos taken during these weeks. Some are mine, others are from my friend Amanda and Zhou Xiang, our site manager at Sichuan Normal University.

We were not allowed to have our
camera during Biden's speech, but
we got to stand on stage afterward.
My friends Amanda and
Nick are clearly excited.
On the way to our swear-in,
I had to teach my friend how
to tie a tie. 
Swearing in...
Ambassador Locke
Group photo!

My friend Amanda (seen above) took
quite a few frisbee photos, so I
thought I would include them here.
China is making me fat.

Even if this was taken on a different
day, frisbee in China has been pretty

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