July 8, 2008
Day 2 in Ledu County has been relatively uneventful, especially for someone such as me with a low level of Chinese comprehension. Because the students are taking exams, we will not start teaching for several days. Thus, the Tsinghua students have set out to do some research on the successes and failures of a recent government health program aimed at covering a percentage of health expenses for people in rural areas. Yue Lin, the only female Tsinghua student, and Ma Haipeng, also a Tsinghua student, spent the morning meeting with people to get permission to interview doctors. They found that if a government official did not accompany them, the doctors would not be willing to interview.
What it all comes down to at the end of the day is that us U.S. volunteers have still done very little. I'm not quite sure how I feel about this. When I was in Durán, I participated in a service learning experience that was more about being than doing, so I'm used to that aspect. Unfortunately, here I feel that I am neither doing nor being. My Chinese level is still weaker than my Spanish, making it difficult to communicate with people. I can't even begin to imagine how Shannon feels, since she understands almost no Chinese at all. At least I usually have a vague idea of what's going on.
Nevertheless, I am still having an amazing experience. Though I spent the last five moths at Tsinghua, I haven't had much one-to-one contact with actual Tsinghua students. I have spent a lot of time over the last few days getting to know my fellow teammates, which has been loads of fun. They are able to answer a lot of questions I've had about what it's like to grow up in China.
Tomorrow is another day. I think we're waking up early to go look at a village, though I'm not entirely sure what we're doing there. After that I have no idea what our plans are. At least I'm living in the moment!
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