Surprise! We found out last night that we will be getting three full days off this weekend!
In addition to our planned trip on Sunday, Shu-Huei informed us that she and her family will be out of town Friday and Saturday, giving us free reign to do whatever we like. So much freedom, we hardly know what to do with it!
But before we got too wrapped up in planning, we had some already-made plans to attend to. Yi-Mei invited us to come with her to the elementary school she volunteers at, to watch while she and one of Shu-Huei’s brothers gave a presentation on soil and plant growth.
Elementary school truly is the same all around the world. The kids were giggly and rowdy as their principal lined them up by class, and clusters of friends pointed and whispered as Yi-Mei’s “foreign friends” were introduced. But the kids and teachers were lovely, and it was great to watch Yi-Mei in her element as a plant medicine specialist, teaching others about the importance of plant health. Our only regret was not knowing enough Chinese to truly follow along!
But luckily, Ryan at least knew enough to understand the basic concepts, and you don’t need a translator to understand kids throwing paper balls (symbolic of different soil types) at their friends, and wrinkling their noses and making faces at classmates when handed a bucket of yucky fertilizer. We loved getting to see the kids learning and another side to Yi-Mei that we hasn’t gotten to see while we’ve been out working in the fields. Next time we visit, hopefully we can improve our language skills enough to help out with the lesson!
Beyond that, our day was quiet as the intense August heat started to die off. Jeff took us to lunch (featuring our beloved American foods: French fries, sandwiches, and pasta) and showed us how to use the bus to get to a few popular locations on our days off. Later that night, our other housemates were kind enough to shared their dinner with us. As great as amà’s cooking has been these past two weeks, it was nice to shake it up a bit and try something new, especially with two roommates who we haven’t gotten the chance to get to know as well.
For the first time, we really got to sit down with someone and ask our questions about local and national culture, while answering some questions about our own. We discussed similarities and differences between our two countries’ media and food (no, we clarified, not all Americans eat McDonald’s every day, but honestly the rate is probably higher than either of us expect) and much more over soups, noodles, tofu, and a whole fish.
We have a day packed full of plans on Sunday, but we’re going to have to think hard about how to spend our last, precious Saturday in town. Now is our chance to do so much of the exploring and experiencing we’ve been too tired to do after a day of work in the fields! We’re going to do our best to get the most out of our last weekend here, and see all we can of this beautiful county.