30 June, 2012

One year.

One year ago, I said goodbye to the United States.

One year later, a lot has changed. I've done a lot of growing up.

However, I don't have a lengthy reflection to go with this news.

Instead, I wanted to pass along something highly enjoyable I recently listened to... Back in the States, I always worried I was strange for enjoying NPR. The only people I knew who listened to it were my dad and grandfather, so I associated it as an "old" thing to do. However, since coming to China, I've met tons of people who share my enjoyment of many NPR programmes.

One in particular I listen to often is This American Life. Last week, TAL did a piece entitled "Americans in China". If you have an hour, it is well worth the listen. (And, if you follow me on any social media, I also posted this there, so I'm sorry for the saturated coverage; however, I really think it's great).

For all my friends and family who have wondered what my life has been like for the last year, this is for you. 

There are quite a few parts of the show that are spot-on. They reflect what my life is like on a daily basis. However, if I have one complaint or critique of the programmes, it's just that they stayed in the east. They acknowledge that things vary wildly depending on where you are, and even mention how different things can be in the west, but I think if they could have focused on someone living in Gansu province, they'd get an even better range of what life can be like. 

I want to leave you with a couple of quotations I enjoyed, so please check it out...

The first comes from Act Two: The man is an author who has lived in China for seventeen years (he started as a Peace Corps volunteer!).  
“In urban China, the sight of a foreigner no longer causes a crowd to gather and stare, but in the rural half, people still approach me with friendly cautious curiosity, the way you might if a giraffe wandered down your street.”
I am that giraffe. I am always that giraffe. Even in urban areas (like Chengdu), I still get friendly and horrified looks. Also, later on in his portion, he talks about how people reacted to him as a PCV. I cackled.

The second comes from Act One: A Chinese-American expat who has lived in China for a long time, struggling with living as a part of both worlds, American and Chinese.

“If you’re not really profoundly conflicted by the things that you see here, then you just don’t have your eyes open. Living here as an expatriate, you going to see things that will cause your blood to boil, but if you dwell in the house of indignation at all times, you’re just not going to hack it here.”
This is probably the most profound truth in the entire radio programme. It's something everyone deals with on a daily basis. It's probably the hardest thing about being a PCV here.

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