Weekly

Week 7: A Fukang Good Time with the Xinjiang Gang

A local festival (Uighur Qurban - Google it! Each family buys and publicly slaughters a sheep. The streets run red) gave Xinjiang volunteers a chance to all meet up, in Fukang, we decided. Tom and I elected to travel there by train. Getting to Karamay Train Station was ‘fun’. There’s only one bus route, and it’s half an hour from the city. The infrastructure exists, without the buildings - yet. The station itself was impressive, more reminiscent of an airport; then again, Chinese train travel is entirely reminiscent of flying. (more…)

By TJC, ago
Weekly

Week 6: The Change-As-You-Go Timetable

On the way back to Karamay on Thursday, I was informed by Josh that due to complaints from both the students and teachers, the timetable had been completely overhauled, right down to the number of lessons per day and when they occurred. I prefer the new one, not that it’s up to me, although the one downside is an imbalance in lessons per day. Monday is now an easy, single-lesson affair, but that’s compensated with my five-lesson Fridays (there are seven taught periods per day). The week gets progressively busier, but one complaint I cannot make is early starts - in fact, three days a week I don’t start until midday or later! (more…)

By TJC, ago
Weekly

Week 5: Medicals in Ürümqi

Over the weekend I lost my voice, which was ironically well-timed to coincide with our medical exams in Ürümqi. As it turns out, we got a full week off for the medicals. We were picked up from the school on Monday morning by our waiban, Josh, and the friendly man from the school who drives their people carrier. Four hours of dozing later we were there, under the gloomy overpasses of downtown Ürümqi by our hotel (full, so we were taken to another one with better wifi). (more…)

By TJC, ago
Weekly

Week 4: Karamay, the Desert(ed?) Oasis

The first impression of Karamay as we drove in was not entirely positive. The city is expanding rapidly, which means the outer edge gives the impression of being half-built (which, in fairness, it is). Once we got into the city proper it started looking much more… well… completed. (more…)

By TJC, ago
Weekly

Week 3: Sights of Beijing and Long-Distance Rail

Back from Mi Yun we were given an afternoon’s grace before sightseeing the next day, organised by the CEAIE. Rather short-sightedly, Becca and I chose to go for a run (also a bad idea given Beijing’s air) the morning before we visited the Great Wall. When given a choice between the harder and easier routes, most people naturally opted to attempt the Hero’s Ascent. Let’s just say it was a relief when I lost feeling in my thighs. After a very nice banquet lunch (I’m getting far too blasé about those…) we were taken to the Summer Palace and shown around, so I’m told, only a fraction of it. (more…)

By TJC, ago
Weekly

Week 2: ‘And then this time at Camp…’

It’s difficult to know where to begin when talking about the summer camp, so I’ll start with the obvious. Pairs of us are teaching classes of twenty. I’m with Rebecca (a fellow Xinjiang volunteer), who was due to be up in Fuhai until her partner dropped out at the eleventh hour, so she’ll now be in Kuitun instead, which is actually closer to Karamay. I think we make a pretty good duo - we’ve certainly gelled a lot, even compared to other pairs. We’ve been planning and teaching everything jointly, and by the time they suggested splitting it so we got either mornings or afternoons free, we didn’t see the point, because there were only a few days left. (more…)

By TJC, ago