Tuesday--Jackie had given Andrew some little craft kits and some poster board she was getting rid of as she packs up. She wondered if he could pass it on to someone who could use it. We found out that Elsie, the sister mentioned earlier, could use it in the after-school care program she runs. So I met Carolyn at the JDL store at 1:00 and we walked to Elsie's apartment. She was pleased to get the supplies, and immediately gave one kit to a little boy who was already there, who started in on it immediately. I also took her two hats made by the ladies' group in Anderson, as well as the "uplift" shawl they made for me to give to someone. She is a sweet lady who has been through much, and it was a pleasure to give her some encouragement.
Elsie wearing one of the knit hats and holding the shawl
At 4:30 Andrew and I left for the biggest adventure yet. We want downtown to the English
Corner meeting that I went to with him last week also. This was the final meeting before the summer break, and the plan was to have the English Corner (for practicing English skills), then go out to eat. The group is interesting in its variety of people. It is about half college students, half career people. Many are not interested in the same reasons for coming that Andrew is interested in.
The meeting was chaotic for various reasons. But it got more chaotic as the lady who assists Andrew broke the group into cars for the ride to the restaurant. We rode with Jane, a lovely lady with a sixteen year old daughter. All somehow made it to the restaurant, which was a traditional Dong Bei place to eat. We were split into two tables in one private room --they insisted that Andrew and I sit at separate tables. And then the food started coming. It's placed on Lazy Susans in the middle; everyone has a small plate, but that's mainly for remains--yes, everyone just digs into the bowls of food with their chopsticks. One guy who I called the Commander kept pressing me to try different foods. There were a couple of pork dishes that were pretty good, but most of the food I just tried and then didn't eat any more. The sweet potato was good--you just pick it up and eat it. I would have eaten more roasted eggplant had someone not smashed it all together with the spicy condiment that was also in the dish. The corn was very starchy and had no taste. This food thing has been my biggest obstacle--not because I've been getting sick, but I have a big psychological hurdle. Too much biology background. ðŸ˜„
It was Jim's birthday, so somehow it was decided that we should all go to the People's Square for awhile. This was the only place where I started feeling a little ragged. It's like a big carnival with demonstrations, vendors, a concert in an amphitheater (their music is nice), and a huge area just for people to walk around, see all that's going on, and enjoy themselves. However, being the foreigner, the picture-taking was endless, and the lady in charge was so solicitous of us, making sure that we had a good time, and so many were talking to me in broken English, that it was wearing. But--true culture immersion! And a privilege that these people were so eager to spend time with Andrew and me.
One of the men brought us home, which was about a thirty-minute drive for him. We got home just before the gate closed. A big evening!
Dong Bei style meal
At the Dong Bei restaurant. Display in back is to show how China worked hard to get where it is.