Sunday, October 16, 2011

Random Observations of the Week (10/17/2011)

  • Wow. I can't believe it's been a week since we posted anything. Here are some random observations; post about my birthday weekend coming soon!
  • Our vacation to Thailand it supposed to start this Saturday, so of course, the country is experiencing its worst flooding in decades. We’ll know by Tuesday how bad the situation is, but I can’t help but feel like my in-laws who had plans to go to New Orleans less than a week after Katrina hit. Needless to say, they didn’t make it; I’m hoping we don’t share their fate.
  • The students here on campus have been protesting about various campus policies (we've been asking around and haven't been able to get a clear answer about the cause, but it seems to boil down to a decision to implement Smart Cards which students believe will be used to monitor their whereabouts and access their rooms without their consent). What amazes me is that the protests have been going on for weeks, day and night. Right now, it's about 9 in the morning, and right on schedule, the chanting (which is what the protests seem to consist of here) has commenced. I can't help but wonder if students in the U.S. would engage in such a sustained protest over campus policies.
  • Had one of the most interesting public transportation rides ever the other night. First, Berkley managed to secure an invitation to visit Mount Kilimanjaro from a group of semi-intoxicated Africans (one of them even gave Berkley his e-mail address, so we could follow up). Then, he had his picture taken by some locals; he was totally hamming it up, mugging for the camera. Finally, I used my college French to communicate with a guitar player and his wife who were trying to chat him up. Totally bizarre – particularly since I had a few drinks in me.
  • And that’s all part of a larger observation: Berkley’s natural gregariousness combined with the fact that the Chinese love kids with blond hair has meant that he has been in his element. He regularly has people take pictures of him (in addition to the folks on the train, he had some girls following him taking pictures yesterday too), and he’s always making friends on public transportation. It’s strange for me to watch as I was so not like that as a child.
  • The boys had sports day at their school on Thursday. In our experience in the U.S., sports day involves constant activity; there are multiple activities set up, so the kids are always doing something. Not so at Gigamind. The kids each got to participate in two activities; the rest of the day they were sitting around in the stands, pretty much doing nothing. While Berkley’s second place in his heat finish for the 60m dash was not enough to win him a medal, Quin crushed it in the softball toss. Clearly, throwing is not a large part of the kid culture around here. However, he almost had his moment of glory stolen as they announced someone else as the winner. Luckily, Doug had volunteered at the event, so he was able to help work it out. They re-announced the winners, and Quin got his moment on top of the podium. After all the excitement of the day (well – okay not really. In fact, the kids were all completely wound up, and Berkley ended up getting in trouble), the entire school was given a day off on Friday. Because you know – a few 60m dashes will really wipe kids out!


  • Speaking of volunteering, both Doug and I stepped up for Sports Day. While it was great to get a feel for their friends and the school, I totally got the shaft. Doug was assigned to the softball toss, which took about 1.5 hours. The rest of the day, he got to hang out. On the other hand, I was assigned to be a timer which meant I was working ALL day, in the 80+ heat, with NO shade. Unlike the kids, I was pretty wiped out by the end of the day!

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