After lunch, I look over a small lesson plan. It's Thursday and for the last couple of weeks, a fellow intern and I have conducted a one-hour English pronunciation class for the Chinese colleagues and interns at the center. When I was asked to do so by a center lawyer, I emphasized that I wasn't familiar with the methods that English teachers in China have used to teach, nor was I qualified to teach English as a second language. But I think she figured that since I am a native English speaker, I know a little something about English pronunciation. So I agree and I ask another intern who did some English teaching in Japan to co-teach. It turns out to be fun, even rewarding, and a great way to get to know new people. Today after class, we get into yet another conversation with people who have stayed after about the nuances of the English language. Today, the conversation revolves around English and Chinese tongue twisters and about why we say "hot" and "pop" with an "ah" sound instead of an "aw" sound. It turns out many English teachers in China use more of a British pronunciation when teaching English. Then an intern finds out that it's our last week at the center and invites us to her home for lunch on the Saturday before our departure.
I return to my office to finish working on another, but shorter, memo for my supervisor. I have already turned in my big research project to her earlier in the week, but I'm finishing supplementary research on a related topic in which she had some interest. As I work on this, I watch my email and my door for updates on the intern newsletter that is being finished. It has been a semi-coordinated effort for the past few weeks, but it has come down to two of us to tie up the loose ends. Today I don't have much time to study any Chinese I've learned recently, but I know I'll get in a half hour at some point in the day. At least a half hour of study a day has been my new mantra.
Occasionally, I hear the door chime downstairs. Recently, a new lock on the door was installed so that people that work at Zhicheng don't need to use actual keys; rather, the door is activated by fingerprint. But because this development is still new, you can still hear sounds in the distance when someone is having trouble getting in. After some time, one of my office mates receives a phone call and she goes downstairs to help. With all of the things going on this afternoon, work goes by fast today. At 5:35, I head out.
After work, I head to my new hotel with my new roommate. The place is actually not unfamiliar to me (it's literally two minutes from where I lived before) and the roommate is just another intern, not someone new. We will only be living this hotel for the next few days because our living arrangements at the old place were done on August 1st. This evening, we go to dinner at one of my favorite places, Sushi (pronounced soo-shuh) Beef Noodle, and I run back so I can make it in time for my language lesson from 7-9. As usual, we spend the first hour speaking in Chinese and the second hour speaking in English. Most times, we start reviewing my notebook that is now full of Chinese vocabulary, but then we go off on tangents about things such as family/friends, television shows, and life lessons we've encountered lately and so I learn a lot of new words and native phrases in the process. Since this is our last lesson, we also make plans to practice over email and occasionally QQ and Skype even when I've gotten back to the states-- but I know we both realize how difficult this will be with the time difference and our busy schedules. For the first time, I get really sad that this exchange will be ending because the exchange has become so natural and been so helpful for the both of us. After talking some more, we end "class" and head home.
*Note: This blog was written in retrospect. I have since returned to the US.