Eye of the Chicken
A journal of Harbin, China

Rain, rain
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Well, Tropical Depression Muifa is dousing Harbin today and is supposed to stick around until tomorrow. I've never been in the path of a tropical storm before (even a weak one like this); we don't get a lot of them in the Great Lakes area. It's pretty amazing. It's been raining steadily for twelve hours, and looks likely to rain for 24 more; no breaks in the clouds. In fact, the clouds are swallowing the buildings, so it feels like we're inside of them, surrounded by rain. No thunder, no lightning. Just rain.




It's better than yesterday, though, when the temperature was about 90 degrees and it was so humid, you wondered how the air could be so wet and not be raining.

What a strangely inhospitable climate this is.

Anyhow, I'm sitting in my room, not doing much of anything. The first group of summer teachers left this morning, and another group will leave tomorrow. One person is staying on until the 15th; I leave on the 17th.

I'm feeling a little let down, a little lonely. For some reason (or maybe for a combination of very knowable reasons), the group didn't really gel this year. People had fun, and the teaching went very well - I think it was an excellent group of teachers, maybe the best so far - but we didn't function as a unit very much. This bothers me, and I'm not sure why. People got individual invitations, which they pursued, but sometimes it felt to me like those invitations should have been extended to everyone. And also, I think the fact that everyone had a roommate meant that they turned to their roommates for company.

I really like the "summer camp" feel of the program for the teachers as well as the students, so I experienced this as a bit of a loss. I, after all, don't have a roommate, and I was in a different building than most of the others. So I felt out of the loop a lot of the time - and since I'm nominally the leader, I felt twice as bad about that as I might have otherwise.

Anyhow, I'm not sure how necessary group cohesion is for the program to succeed. My knee-jerk reaction is to think it's important for all kinds of reasons - safety, for one thing; and also, I think our Chinese hosts expect it; and I think it's my "face" on the line if things go awry, so I'd like to have the pulse of it a little better; and also, I want people to have equal chances to do fun things outside of class. But maybe it just boils down to my own discomfort at being left out of a party, or my own need to control things. We'll see . . . something to think about as I start to plan next year.

That's about it for now . . . Now I'm gonna go continue packing; I want the lion's share of that done before people leave tomorrow because it'll be just too melancholy if I leave it until the very end . . . I hate hate HATE this transitional phase. I'm going to turn my thoughts towards Mackinac Island, where my husband has promised me we will go as soon as I get home and wake up after my jetlagged nap . . .

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