Posted by: viaprograms | August 25, 2010

Welcome to China

Last week, eight new China long-term program volunteers completed one month of intensive training in Guangzhou.  Prior to departing to their posts, they were joined by four returning volunteers who will serve as mentors this year.

Brooke Bryant, a second year volunteer based in Qinghai, reflected on her return to China:

After a month of tacos and real beer and toilets that don’t require yogic balance, it’s back to the land of rice and noodles, babies in split pants, and taxi drivers who secretly yearn for the NASCAR track. It wasn’t easy to leave family and friends (and did I mention tacos?) behind for another year, but it wasn’t long after I landed in Guangzhou to catch the tail-end of training, sitting on a sticky hot street corner on rickety plastic stools with a warm beer in one hand and a stick of chuar in the other, that I realized I was actually glad to be back.

It’s been a little odd meeting the new crop of China vols, and – even though they are mostly old hands at China travel — watching them wrestle with many of the same cultural, let’s call them challenges, that our group did last year. And I suspect that, much like we did, they’ll be taking all those cultural miscommunications, travel mishaps and alarming apartment quirks in a stride. (Although fingers crossed for an earthquake-free year this time.)

I had to laugh today when, riding in a cab with Devin and Sarah, our new Xining-based volunteers, the cab driver took great delight in reaching over to stroke the curly hair on Devin’s arms and legs, chortling as he showed off his own hairless arms.

Yep. Welcome to China.

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