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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

One Month

Kevin "The Man" Clancy is here in Jilin, checking up on us Maryknollers and making sure we haven't burned this city to the ground yet. He got in to the Lucky Forest some time around five this evening, and after the foreign teachers brought a pathetically sparse edition of English Corner to a close, we went into town for dinner, met up with Kevin, and had a good long catch-up chat together.

Kevin's been married to Kaishan ("Snow White") for more than half a year now. It was good to hear how that was going, to get some tips for Jim when he and Kat tie the knot next year, to talk about this past year in Jilin and what teachers will come after us and what this program will be in the next few years as the Maryknoll priests slowly go extinct.

It's about one month and counting for me here in Jilin. I look back at last September, I remember getting on the plane in Philly on that lost lonely August day, I remember coming in here to Jilin for the first time and seeing where I was going to live, I remember those first classes with my freshman last September that felt so familiar and yet so awkward. I've changed a lot, and in some ways I feel like I changed more this year than I did last, Jilin's harsh winter and my amazing trip through Southeast Asia acting as a kind personal and spiritual centrifuge. But in many ways this change is harder to explain, harder to put into words, harder to convey in a pat little blog entry. I feel so few people truly understood my first year here in China, so few ever had to time or the desire to really know how it affected me, so how could anyone possibly understand all that has happened in a second year?

Despite the uncertainty I face going back home, I feel all the more equipped to face it. I think I've whittled out a lot of unnecessary diversions, I've been able to see some things clearly in China despite the smog, and in just under one month, I'll be leaving China behind.

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