Orientation so far has been incredible. Where I thought that I would be just taking photos of children all summer and editing those (and I'm not at all opposed to that) this internship has turned out to be so much more. First off, we are a team of 11, and we're not interns, we're summer staff. When we meet at 8 every morning, I still can't believe that I get the privilege to work along such amazing people!
There is so much more to this place than just an internship. On our second day of the job, we were given the task of teaching English for two hours at the local middle school. We had a little bit of preparation, but other than that, we were basically tossed into the deep end and told to swim. Luckily the day went through without a hitch. We were even invited back the next day to teach the teachers as well. It was funny to see the kids faces when I walked into the classroom when they were expecting a "real" American to teach them, and they got me. Some asked me if I spoke Chinese and I would just reply "This is English class, we speak English." And I would just bluff my way through. Oh, and the official tally is up to 41 people who have tried to talk to me since I've been here.
We met some of the children today and heard their stories and it was my first emotional experience since coming here. They are so sweet and precious and loving that I can't imagine anyone leaving them. What I want to do is adopt them myself, but apparently you have to be 30 to adopt in China, so I have some time. Seeing them just makes me realize how easy my own experience has been in comparison, they've gone through all that I had to and beyond that and it breaks my heart that I was so fortunate and they still soldier on. These kids are my heroes. And they just represent a nameless and faceless thousands that haven't made it to a loving place such as this. As part of our training, we saw some photos of the other orphanages around China, and the realities are this, there are simply not enough people to care for the orphans here. One care giver can be responsible to an upwards of 20 children. There are just stories upon stories upon stories of kids not getting the proper care. To find out more about what kind of children I'll be working here this summer, here's the blog for the foster home
As I have been here for about a week now, I feel as if I've acclimated to living here and living among these people. My roommates are amazing, as are the other volunteers that inhabit this place. I'm beginning to accept this as life, which is both thrilling and scary at the same time because of the short time that I'm actually living here.
We're traveling into the heart of Beijing on Monday for the annual Dragon Boat Festival which is one of the most celebrated festivals in China with only Chinese New Year and the Autumn Moon Festival being more important. The tradition spanning back to 300 b.c. When the famous poet Chu Yuan fell out of favor with the emperor and threw himself into the Mi Low river. The local people loved and respected him so much that the immediately went searching for his body, all the while throwing rice into the river so that the river dragons would not eat him. Chu Yuan was never found, but every year on the fifth day of the fifth moon, people gather and race boats that are painted to look like dragons in his honor. I cannot explain my excitement to be able to participate in such a wonderful cultural holiday. I have a growing respect for the Chinese people and their culture with civilization spanning back to the days that parallel to that of Ancient Greece. I'm proud to have come from such a people and I'm excited to share in their happiness with the upcoming holiday!
Well, I suppose that's a good place to leave at for now! Hopefully I'll be able to write later and add some photos of the festival to accompany this blog that has gotten much too wordy for my taste!