I wasn’t wearing my glasses when we exited the airport, so I couldn’t make out the fine details of what I was seeing. I was in China, but the environment somehow felt so familiar to me. The first things I noticed were the humid weather and infrastructure. They reminded me a lot of India and I felt a little more at ease after hours of nervousness on the flights. However, after breakfast the next day I realized I would not be as comfortable as I thought. I had a lot of trouble stomaching the Chinese food. It seemed like the opposite of what I would eat on a daily basis. Thankfully, Hsiao-Mei was always looking out for me and she guided me towards the things I could eat. This was only a minor hiccup, though. Everything else went quite smoothly.
Culturally, we all noticed a lot of differences, especially after arriving in Zhuhai. Students at No. 9 Middle School would walk up to our group and ask for our contact information without even knowing our names. We also noticed that they were especially interested in getting the contact information of the people who looked the least like them, so the Asian people in the group generally received less attention than the non-Asian people.
Like everyone else, I was nervous yet excited before my first lesson. I wanted to meet all the kids and deliver a good lesson, but thoughts of how the lesson could go wrong kept entering my mind. The kids widely varied. Some were boisterous and some were shy. Some looked at me curiously and I was sure that others were making fun of me. The students were often disheartened when they learned I would be teaching them instead of another Duke student. However, I wasn’t bothered. I went through my lesson as planned and, generally, the students had a lot of fun.
As Hsiao-Mei had warned us, our first performance came up quickly, only after two days of teaching at No. 9 Middle School. None of us were really very worried. Our group has a lot of talent we came up with performance ideas quickly. However, I felt pretty useless because I wasn’t doing anything substantial. I ended up being in charge of the music and also did a short filler act with frisbees. I definitely want to make a more meaningful contribution to the final performance and I’m already thinking of the cool things our team could potentially do.