taking it in stride

March 1, 2013

random school shots 002
I knew I was gonna like it here when a staff Professional Development day was cut short because the planned “fire safety” demonstration turned out to be a hoax. As we geared up for the hour and a half long, translated session, the director got up and said, “Well folks, it seems we’ve been duped!” A mistranslation caused us to expect a government-regulation school safety program; it was, in fact, a fire hydrant salesman looking to sell us on the newest, greatest model. “Welcome to China!” a coworker said to me as we all, chuckling, left the room.
Seriously, though, the amusement this incident provoked was a bit of a confirmation to me of the rumblings that had already begun within me about how many things just seem to “fit” me here [clothing sizes perhaps being one of them :-)]. And perhaps that is why, in the midst of being utterly overwhelmed by the hugeness of my job, battling feelings of inadequacy over the task of properly educating my 23 youngsters, there is a deeper calm. The calm, I think, of knowing that I love this place, already. And that I am at home here.
Case in point: every night, outside of my apartment building, a group of ladies dances outside, on an open public patio. One brings a boom box with her and leads the dances–simply choreographed steps to what I presume to be musical hits among the older generation. I had seen them for the first time yesterday evening while walking home from dinner with a neighbor. This neighbor is also my after-work walking buddy, so I asked her about it as she and I walked past the same spot. “Oh yes–they just like to dance, for fun and for health. Every night. Anyone can join them” Anyone? I questioned. She assured me that they would not mind. So this evening I joined right in. I got a few inquisitive looks: that amused expression that I’ve grown used to when first participating in something outside of my culture, or comfort zone. Or both. But they didn’t pause in the dances, and the first time I tried to leave the instructor motioned me back, convincing me to carry on. So I did.
Yes, I know I’m gonna like it here :-)
This photo is a glimpse of the schoolyard, as it looks each day when the students are doing their dances . . . yes, every day!

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