Thursday, December 22, 2011

PCV Living in a Big City

Here I am a Peace Corps Volunteer living in one of the most populated cities I have ever lived in.  Incredible isn't it?  Not your mud hut in a village of 300 families.

It is hard to wrap one's head around being a volunteer and living in such a city of luxury.  I feel like I am back in Seattle riding buses to music shows, biking to museums, feasting on international food, and sipping coffee in a different tea shop every week.  The buses are packed and it is hard to find a seat.  You are always standing.  The subway with its one single line that runs north and south is way less crowded but more expensive.

At first I had culture shock moving from small town to big city, but I have adapted and now am loving big city life.

Because I am working so much with the PC community, I tend not to have as much energy for my Chinese community.  Also because I am only here for one year I have a different mentality towards community integration.  I am holding office hours and learning about my students' lives.  I am inviting people out to dinner and learning about the lives of Chinese teachers, but I am not really doing the footwork that is necessary to start a secondary project. 

If I had been assigned Chengdu for my two years in Peace Corps I would have become more involved.  Even though there are foreign teachers in this city making $1000 a month compared to my $220 living allowance, I think as a PCV there is a different mentality when living in the community.  As a PCV, I tend to want to integrate, to learn language, to find people to work with, and to start secondary projects.  I try to do more than just teach.  I am not here for a salary, for hanging out with ex-pats in foreigner dominated venues, but am here for the Chinese experience, for the culture exchange, for the idea of serving a community.

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