I wanted to mention a couple of interesting cultural differences between China and the US before going into my day, in case you aren’t very familiar with Chinese culture. The first and probably most commonly recognized is that it is positively rude to accept a compliment from someone. It is custom to deflect it, usually by saying “那里？” (literally, “where?”) or outright refuting it (“My house is not big. In fact, it’s small.”) Something else I found interesting is that traffic laws, stoplights, lines on the pavement, and the existence of seat belts are merely suggestions to the commuters of presumably most of China. Cars drive in the opposite lane, reverse in the middle of the freeway, bikes come out of nowhere, rickshaws cut off police cars, and taxis basically run over everyone in sight (100 extra points if they’re American!) Of course, I jest. But even the residents here admit that, “China drives crazy.” But I digress.
Today I was blessed with the company of our two youth ambassadors and their families (Tony and Yixin, for those of you who had the pleasure of meeting them in the US) and I was given tours of two large shopping centers in downtown Yangzhou as well as of the high school and university. We then ate a fine dinner, which was absolutely delicious, and all the while I practiced my Chinese with everyone at the table. My basic skills are getting me by, but I’ve got a long way to go until I’m proficient. I also got to see Yixin’s apartment and will soon be staying with her and Tony on certain days throughout the upcoming holiday (Chinese National Holiday is October 1-6). Tomorrow I am attending the Canal Cities Expo welcome banquet dinner, which is a huge honor as delegates from all over the world will be there. This being said, an early morning is in the works since a curriculum needs to be designed for the upcoming weeks. 18 lessons with 45 students per class a week… this will indeed be a life experience I’ll never forget!