Six weeks in, there have been days where I have felt homesick and frustrated. However, one of the biggest pieces of advice I have received in life is to focus on the positive and to remember to be grateful. On that note, I have been reflecting on the acts of kindness I have experienced and doing that helps make my heart so full that the homesickness and frustration is abated.
There have been countless acts of kindness, but I want to reflect on a few:
- The man at the airport – My flight coming to China was delayed by 10 hours in Vancouver, which resulted in me missing my connecting flights in Nanjing. I didn’t know how to speak any mandarin and the flight attendants did not provide any information on what to do once I was in Nanjing other than to go find the checkin counter. Once at the checkin counter, a lovely man noticed how I was struggling to communicate what I needed, and he made sure that I understood what was happening using his own limited English and kept me under his wing as we kept moving locations.
- Our fellow trapped Kangding travellers – as my other China TABBers have detailed in their posts last week, being stuck on a mountain was almost fun given the kindness and joy that our fellow traveller brought to our trip.
- Our partner teachers – My first lesson here was a struggle and I came out of it disappointed and displeased with how I ran it. The partner teachers took this as a moment to share their own frustrations and times of difficulty, and I found it so comforting and encouraging that instead of critiquing what I did, they shared their own experiences.
- My lovely roommate – There is a lot to navigate in China from obtaining a laundry card, to eating at good restaurants, to knowing if toilet paper is toilet paper, to shopping, and booking rail tickets. My lovely roommate is consistently sharing her own knowledge, her own experiences, and going in the middle of the night with me to make sure that we 3 Canadians can have access to Wechat money.
- My supportive classmates – In our language classes here, it is sometimes hard to not feel overwhelmed in classes. But in kudos to the teachers, they have built such a nice environment that if I am struggling, my classmates will mouth the answer to me or take the time to explain to me when I am confused. There is also a chorus of “zao shang hao” (good morning) every time that anyone enters the classroom, that I would love to have emulated in my own classroom.
- David & Logan – I couldn’t imagine having a better group of classmates to travel and do this experience in China with – their kindness and humor has helped so much going through the tired days. From David’s insistence and excitement in bringing in new snacks for everyone to try, their encouragement as I struggled to climb 5 steps due to altitude acclimation at Paoshan mountain, to Logan running out at night to buy a bug zapper, I don’t think later on that I will necessarily remember all the beautiful sights we are seeing, but I do think I will remember their support.
Like in travel, I think in teaching there will be days of frustration and negativity, but this practice of looking at kindness and positively is important to help keep moving forward and to appreciate how lucky I am to have the life I have and the opportunities I have.