Hello from Hengyang, it’s me, Rachel.

Here’s a little update on last week. (By little I mean this post is actually pretty long, sorry.)

Because it was Halloween week, of course I had to introduce the holiday to my students. Most of them don’t know what it is! I am in a foreign world where people don’t know what trick or treat, apple bobbing, or haunted houses are and I was delighted to tell them all about it. I showed them “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and then Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” music video (which totally terrified some of the girls in class). I also gave them candy and we played a fun game of charades to practice their oral English and help them remember the new Halloween themed words they learned.

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It’s been such a joy getting to know my students better with each passing week. These 240 young freshman are so sweet and sassy and I can’t stop smiling with them. In almost every class someone will bring me a gift: a piece of candy, an apple, an orange, Chinese medicine, a Chinese ornament one girl hand made. Many of them are still very shy with their English and need a lot of encouragement, while others are very outspoken and seek me out for hugs and ask me lots of questions.

Because the new campus is 20 minutes away (by the teacher bus I take, 40 minutes by the regular public bus the students have to take), it is very difficult to see my students outside of class. Luckily this week there were many events I attended that allowed me to see them more!

It was my turn to do “English Corner” this week, which is an open English discussion held outside at the old campus on Monday nights and at the new campus on Tuesday nights. It’s a great opportunity for students to practice speaking English – lots of non-English majors will come, as well as a few English classes that are required to come.

I had a great time at the old campus with some old and new friends on Monday! At English Corner you normally pick a topic, but since it was my first time meeting most of them I spent some time introducing myself and answering questions, and then we discussed all kinds of topics! It normally goes from 7:30-8:30 but we were out there until 9:45 p.m.

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Mervin, Sonny, Pretty, a hilarious boy named Orange, and lots of other new friends.

I went to the new campus the next night and was overjoyed to see many of my students there!! Because I knew most of them already and had discussed many things in class with them, I only talked for a little while, and then I wanted to take advantage of the open space we had outside and teach them some American games.

I played the “Cha Cha Slide” for them and taught them how to dance to it – they were a little shy at first but then they loved it! I also taught them how to play some games I taught at camp the past few summers – “Bibbity Bop Bop Bop” and “Little Sally Walker”. It was a little difficult because of how many students were there, and none of them had ever played these games and didn’t understand all of the English words, but once they learned we had so much fun!

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Peter, Echo, Doris, Charis, Andy

On Wednesday night I went to dinner with Lauren, Brittany, and two of the students in their classes, Deeping and Ivy. They were so funny!! It was great talking with junior students and seeing their perspective on foreign teachers. They also gave us some helpful tips on teaching Chinese students.

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Friday and Saturday were SO EXCITING! It was the big “sports meeting” weekend for the University of South China. All the students are required to attend and they cheer in the stands as other students perform and compete in track and field events. Hundreds of students performed Tai Ji, and others did the Dragon and Lion Dances, and Sword Dancing. Although it rained most of the day on Friday and Saturday and the Chinese students were cold and not happy, I was really excited to see more traditional Chinese dancing.

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I also attended two Halloween parties! Just to let you know, it is nearly impossible to find Halloween costumes in China. There isn’t a Walmart to swing by and pick up a t-shirt or face paint or costume materials. We hunted around and scavenged what we could at YaYa’s, a store similar to Claire’s in the U.S. Yaya’s has all kinds of girly things and random items like makeup, hair accessories, socks, umbrellas, notebooks, earrings, belts, etc. (Most Chinese people will use the popular online website Taobao to order things like costumes, but since we are foreigners we do not have an online account to do this. Also we can’t read the Chinese website.)

Luckily, the first Halloween party wasn’t really a costume party. Lauren and I took a bus to the new campus and met several of my students, Sherry, Yeri, Alexa, and Hyacinth at a coffee shop called Morning. It was so creepy inside!! They played a Japanese scary movie (the original Grudge I think) and fed us food shaped like fingers and drinks from “blood bags”. They gave us Halloween makeup and then the owner and workers at the coffee shop wanted photos with us!

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On the way back from the party we were worried about missing the last No. 8 bus at 10pm so we hopped on the first No. 8 bus we saw, but it was going the wrong way and dropped us off in the middle of who knows where. These guys came over to us and were trying to talk to us in Chinese – LOL – and so Lauren called Minnie and figured out one of the guys was like a private driver. He took us back to the old campus, but it was a little like being in our own scary movie,

The next night we went to a Halloween party at an English training school Gari will teach at. There were so many people there! And it was a little overwhelming because they all wanted to meet us foreigners. There were two other foreigners too, from England and Spain. We played a game where your team has to eat all this food before another team and the foreign team won our round! We also had KTV, and Lauren, Drew, and I sang Uptown Funk and the Chinese people went NUTS, dancing and singing and whipping their phones out. I was so sad when the night ended so soon.

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Lauren and I both met a student Orange at our English Corners/Lectures and he invited us to this Humans vs. Zombie event on Sunday. You had to run an obstacle course past zombies with a red ribbon tied to your arm. If the zombie pulled the ribbon off, you died. The zombies had to stay inside a red box, but they could still reach almost every part of the course. Some of the zombies were wayyyy too excited to be zombies. One guy would rip off ribbons and then put them in his teeth and shake his head like a dog and it was terrifying. Somehow I made it past the zombies during my turn and my prize was a box of milk lololol.

It was quite an exciting week in China! As always, I’m super grateful for your prayers and encouragement and thankful for those of you who have been reading every week 🙂