Thursday, June 21, 2012

Round Three

This refers to my third year in Wuhan, which has not even yet started. Talk about projecting!

Right on the eve of boarding a plane headed Stateside I sit down to write about being back here for another year. That is because I’ve thought a lot about what this third year will bring. How will I know what it will bring? Good question.

For one, I’m doing the money thing differently. After this summer trip I plan on traveling to the States over the winter break this year, instead of waiting till summer next year. For one, so I can be close with my loved ones come Holiday Season, although my winter break probably will not start until after New Year. I don’t think anyone will mind a delayed Christmas celebration though, especially if I ask nicely.

Being as most of my family and friends live in the southern regions of the States, it will put me in slightly warmer climes when winter is at its most brutal here, or at least in a place where the spaces are climate controlled rather than trying to keep myself warm in an unheated apartment. Or trying to travel around China during peak traveling season.

Remember the disaster of trying to get back in time to celebrate Chinese New Year with Gary and his family, and there was not a train ticket to be had back to Wuhan (See Nanjing in my Sights entry, posted January of this year)? I had other traveling woes too, such as finding a hotel room when everything in my preferred price range was booked. I had to pay for a luxury room… not something this vagabond likes to do. Sampling native cooking – all of the restaurants were closed because everyone had gone home to celebrate Spring Festival. I resorted to eating at chain restaurants during most of my travels.  

What does all this have to do with money?

In order to make winter travel possible I will have to take on part time work. If I tutor 4 students one night a week, I can charge them each100Yuan per session. According to Sam (and Gary), that is a reasonable rate. Cheap, even. And, I’ve actually been tutoring, first with Shelin (last year) and Susan (this year), but I’ve done it for free. Nothing wrong with charging for my services, right? That will be an extra 1,600Yuan a month. That will be my traveling money.

Going stateside over the winter break will free me up to do volunteer work during the summer, such as with or Doctors Without Borders. The first organization is active in China. Surely, with the way kids and I relate, and my growing ability to speak Mandarin there is something I can do to help them. The second is active the world over. With my language ability and my desire to help others, maybe that would be the way to go.

If nothing else, I can volunteer as a foreign expert English teacher in rural villages, where school is in session year round. Many times students in the country do not get the benefit of a native English speaker in the classroom because it is expensive to hire foreigners, and truthfully, not that many foreigners want to experience life that close to a bare bones existence. I welcome the challenge and would love to spend 2 weeks in this village and 2 weeks in that one, initiating young students to English spoken by a native speaker.

Sam presented me that idea when I was wondering what I’m going to do with the rest of my summer, once I come back from the states. I’ll have about 5 weeks left before school starts at the university and indolently laying around seems just a bit selfish, doesn’t it? Traveling around, with or without Gary would be a lot of fun, but… it is a bit self-serving, no? China has been very good to me and I’d like to give something back. Too bad Sam didn’t come up with that idea in time to make it happen this year. Fortunately we are early in the planning for next year.  

The main thing is that I have 2 uninterrupted months off during the summer and I can’t spend it all in the states without the risk of burdening my loved ones and overextending myself financially. Surely I can put that time to good use, couldn’t I? Not that visiting loved ones isn’t good. But, if I have the opportunity to see my loved ones over my shorter winter break I can spend my summer learning new skills, experiencing new things and seeing new worlds. To say nothing of incurring blog fodder. I do want to keep writing this blog. These experiences will take us in a whole new, exciting direction, don’t you think? And then there is the matter of helping others, something I dearly want to do.

So there is round three. Moneywise I am on track to return stateside over winter break already. I am ready to accept the challenge of one-on-one tutoring during fall semester.

I can’t wait to see how it will all pan out!  

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