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Friday, May 25, 2007

The Lightening is Tearing the Sky

I'm sitting here typing in the first bit of pleasant weather Zhanjiang has had in these past few weeks of hot humid stickiness: a thunderstorm. Lightening is doing some really crazy curls and swirls outside my window, and it's throbbing all white and ethereal behind the buildings on campus and the shadowy trees. It's nice to sit here and listen to music (Animal Collective) and just watch the lightening do streaking somersaults across the sky.

I've been making great progress toward my exit (and all-too-immediate return) to China these past few days. Scheduling rooms for finals, writing finals, honing the lessons plans for the last hurrah, and all that. Been making up some classes, too, which is never fun, especially on a hot damn morning like this morning when all I wanted to do was sleep late and take long cold showers. Having that end in sight is good, though: it lets you pace yourself, it makes you aware of just how far you have to go and just how quickly you will get there.

A group of students came up to me the other day, and told me how much they loved today's class in a way I was very unprepared for but profoundly touched by. We were doing a poetry lesson, but it was different this week: Robert Frost, those beautiful classics Fire and Ice, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, and (of course) The Road Not Taken. I know these poems have been Hallmarked and JCPennied into meaninglessness now, but this material is genuinely fresh to their ears, and Frost's poems are so elegantly simple. They really got into it, and a small group came up to me after class and told me how they had never read or enjoyed a poem like we had just done in class, in Chinese or in English. Yeah, teaching can be fun, but helping them feel something from these words is a feeling I won't soon forget. They're my Class 3 fanclub.

I look back at the list of things I wanted to do here in China, and a lot remains undone. But then, a lot has been accomplished, too, and these more internal accomplishments were never written down but were needed. I sense my own change and growth this past year, and I am excited to return home to a world that I am fully aware has been going on without me. I still have a lot to do before I get there.

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