Let’s just say everything is still falling into place. I had hoped by this point to have a plan for more than the first week of a two-month vacation. I’ve sent countless emails and couchsurfing requests, hoping to find a place to work or stay on the cheap, somewhere that would allow me to explore a new community while temporarily stepping away from the English teacher identity that I’ve been locked into here. I want this vacation to be a chance to become a student again, to exchange language and culture without the weight of duty.
So far, this is what I know: My first week will be spent in North Yunnan province, exploring Tiger Leaping Gorge and the mountains around Lijiang (the first place every outdoorsy foreigner mentions whenever I ask where I should go in China). After that, there’s a nice big month-long hole that I’m working to fill. In lieu of an itinerary, I’m left with a list of priorities:
1. *Practice Chinese- I’ll keep to a language pledge whenever I’m not working on this project (writing, reading, drawing, or interviewing)
2. Learn- I’ll read everything I can about the science and politics of climate change
3. Interview- I’ll meet with local experts and everyday people to try and learn about environmental challenges in the area
4. Explore- I’ll try and get to know the place and the people that live there.
Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) is a family holiday, and my students were generous in their invitations for me to join their families for the two-week period. I was only able to accept a few of those who offered, as their homes are scattered around the province, but I’m excited for the opportunity to see what I can. Around the 10th of February, I plan to return to Hunan and spend Spring Festival with the families of 3 my students in the capitol city of Changsha.
I’m working on several posts to schedule for the time that I’m away. Keep an eye out for short, periodic updates via Facebook and Twitter, but know that I will save most of the real storytelling about this trip for the longer posts that I’ll prepare upon my return.