I’ve been in China for just over three months, and my living routines have settled into predictable patterns for the most part. Let me illuminate you…
As mentioned elsewhere, I’m a teacher (not professor) at Shenyang University of Technology in Shenyang City, Liaoning Prefecture, China. Originally I signed on as an English Conversation teacher to bank some cash while I study Chinese. I’ve set aside two full years to get myself as close to fluent in Chinese as possible and then take the proficiency test.
And so it was that I dragged my sleepy self out of bed at 6:30am in order to get ready in time to catch the 7:30am bus outside AP House 1 that would take me to Genkai Nuclear Power Plant for an awesome behind-the-scenes private tour… Unfortunately, it is fair to say that a hot shower and breakfast of rice and fried eggs were the highlights of my day. Had I known ahead of time what I *really* was going to be doing, I would have dismissed the trip out of hand without a second thought… had I known…
Well that bit about having lots of time to post hasn’t quite proved true this past week, but I’ve finally gotten most of the errands I had to do upon return out of the way and am settling into a somewhat regular schedule.
Today is a briefing, if you will, on what is in store for me this coming semester. Class is a good place to start – this semester I’m enrolled in:
The last entry is always the hardest to write I think. It’s easy enough to prattle on for weeks about this and that, but when forced to commit yourself to an opinion or two and draw some concrete conclusions, well, the words come more slowly.
My final act on the island of Camiguin was to head back to San Isidro and GPS the CBFM site with Jorge and Nicoles the surveyor. Originally Jorge, Nicoles, and I were scheduled to begin work on Monday, March 20th. However, Nicoles’ brother died and we delayed until Wednesday the 22nd while they buried him. Then, as it turned out, there was some trouble with the actual burying him part (“I’m feeling better…” “No you’re not!”) so it wasn’t until Thursday that Jorge and I finally met up with Nicoles on the mountain. Nicoles is the head of a Department of Environment and Natural Resources land survey team, and we joined them for the morning’s work. The plan was that Jorge and I would follow while they slowly surveyed their own project and when we passed near markers of interest to me they would point them out. In the meantime I got an excellent firsthand reminder of the wonders of government efficiency.
Surprised yah didn’t I? Weren’t expecting me to sneak a mid-week update in now were you? I think you’ll find that this time I really don’t have a lot to say, but that’s a good thing I assure you.
At the end of the last post I discussed my hopeful intentions to do the following:
finish the household surveys
map San Isidro with a GPS unit
visit the regional DENR office
visit NAMRIA for maps
interview the PRRM project coordinator
visit the Dept of Agriculture
interview the PRRM head
Last week was a winner, because as of right now I have accomplished everything italicized in that above list. I was also supposed to get the PRRM project coordinator’s interview done last night, but she rescheduled for this evening. Also, the Department of Agriculture visit isn’t by any means a do-or-die accomplishment, so in reality after I interview this lady tonight I’ll only have one more major item left to see to in my 2.5 weeks of remaining research time – that’s efficiency baby!
Oh what a week it’s been. Now I realize you’re saying “but wait Drew, you haven’t fed the vicarious needs of our boring cubicle lives in TWO weeks!” … and you’d be correct, the point is nothing can compare to what I’ve experienced the last 5 days during our time in San Isidro… which I’ll get to shortly, but first some odds and ends.
My problem in relating my adventures these days is not deciding where to begin, but where to end…
Gee, what a clever little sentence that was!
Perhaps you noticed the new panoramic picture in the previous journal? the catchy island slogan? Don’t give me the credit, I couldn’t make up something that cheesy if my life depended on it. That’s the tourism bureau’s official catch-phrase for this silly rock. I took the pictures used to make the panorama from White Island, a small coral & sand key about a mile offshore from my sitio (village).
Camiguin is an oval shape of sorts and unfortunately for you I live on the north end, the skinny end. So the perspective of this picture keeps you from seeing all 7 volcanic peaks we have here. We’ve had a lovely string of sunny days this past week, but even so I’ve yet to see the top of the highest mountain on the island, Mt. Hibok-Hibok — that’s it dead center with clouds obscuring its upper reaches as usual. You can see three large white specks in the middle of the shoreline, that is Paras Beach Resort where you can stay and pay 900x the actual retail price for anything your heart desires. I currently live in YumBing, the sitio (village) directly behind it, perhaps 50m from the ocean.
I’m going to go ahead and warn you in advance that this is the last you’ll be hearing from me until… *checking my calendar* … … March 4th. I’ll get to why later on, but we’ve got a lot of ground to cover before the emotional goodbyes begin.
…Before I arrived on the island I thought I knew what that word meant. All reports I was able to find, and everyone who I talked to who had heard of it – Filipino and Foreigner alike – confirmed that it was a tropical island paradise, a sunny jewel adrift among the sheltered waves of the Philippine Sea. Today, Saturday, marks my 5th day in the Philippines, and what would have been my 4th day of research had I not fled the island for the comparative comfort of nearby Cagayan De Oro…
Perhaps “fled” is too strong a word. Truth be told I’m here in CDO today because my research assistant, Melvin, must teach a Japanese class every Saturday at the local university. This weekend I accompanied him back into the city for one reason and one reason only – to dry out.
My date of departure approaches. I leave Japan on the morning of December 28th for a three month absence that will have me circumnavigate the planet by airplane – seriously. APU, bless its frosty heart, is doing all it can to make me desperate to leave. Winter so far has been unseasonably cold – we’ve had snow 5 out of the last 7 days, including the current tempest I woke up to this morning. I enjoy snow, very much in fact – but the snow I enjoy falls gently down to earth, accumulating into a beautiful silent white panorama as far as the eye can see. APU snow, on the other hand, on account of our ever-present hellacious winds, *never* accumulates. Instead, it prefers to stubbornly drive itself into your eyes, up your nose, and occasionally even into your ears. I don’t particularly enjoy this…
Camiguin… +10,000 points if you’ve heard of it before. Camiguin, as it turns out, is a small tropical island towards the southern edge of the Philippine Archipelago, and Camiguin is where I shall be doing my thesis fieldwork.
My official degree title here is Masters of Science in International Cooperation Policy. My unofficial degree title, based upon my chosen specialization, is Masters of Science in Environmental Policy and Administration. To delve further, my thesis theme is community-based forestry management policy within Southeast Asia.