Saturday, December 1, 2007

Signing Off:Zaijian!

As I'd anticipated, my last weekend here has proved to be mostly nonstop activity: Almost immediately after returning from the visit to Gongbei I wrote about in my last entry, I was whisked off to dinner with the guys from the Zhuhai propaganda departments and most of the folks who'd gone with us to the Meixi arches and dinner afterwards a few weeks ago. Instead of taking photos, I used the videocamera to record the presentation of some of the dishes and several of the toasts, which were particularly numerous and enthusiastic last night.

At noon Mr. Jeung will be coming by to take C***o, R****i, and me to Cuiheng, a small village about 30 km north of Zhuhai, to see the birth site of Sun Yat Sen (his house has since been torn down, but there's a recreation of it), Tonight there'll be one final dinner, and then I'll finish my packing (how many DVDs can you cram into one suitcase? We'll find out) and turn in early to be well-rested for my flight home. I'll be leaving the campus at 8 for the two-hour drive to Guangzhou, where I'll fly Korea Air to Seoul and change planes there for O'Hare.

I can't really say that the two months have gone by quickly — I've done and seen so much that it somehow feels like I've been in China much longer — but I have a feeling that once I'm back in Chicago I'll wish that I could have stayed here a few more months (and not just because of the ice storm I've heard just hit the city). I'm counting on the pleasure I'll get from seeing all my friends (and boring them with tales of my experiences) and from being home for Christmas to compensate for how much I'll miss Zhuhai, my colleagues, and most of all my students.

Goodbye Gongbei — This Time for Sure!

I'd said goodbye to Gongbei earlier in the week after I made what I'd thought would be my final shopping trip there. But a couple of days ago I remembered that I'd brought the tiny videocamera that I use for work to China with me, and I'd never even used it. So, just in time, I took it to my last class and asked my students to say hello to my family and friends back in America (those of you in Chicago will be able to view it soon, if you'd like).

Encouraged by the results, I realized that video would be by far the best medium to convey the sights and sounds of Gongbei (as well as those of other places I've traveled, but it's too late to revisit them armed with the videocamera). So I went back there this afternoon to document the back alleys and food markets, and I have to say that the results are quite vivid and evocative. After I get back, I plan to edit this post to add one or two of the videos; I've got a full plate awaiting me at home though, and this is relatively low-priority, so don't expect it for several weeks). But again, Chicagoans will be able to see them much sooner than that.