Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Peace Corps and Amity: Volunteers of a Different Color

I’ve been behind on my blog lately, partly due to the end of term and exams, and partly due to being too busy with things I should write about in the blog to actually have the time to write about them. So going back a couple of weekends, there were foreign visitors to Zhangye, as in Danielle and Stephen being visited by other Peace Corps volunteers in our province, and Andrew and Gary being visited by a friend also in China through their organization, Amity. The Peace Corps teachers can be seen in the pictures - Emily and Thomas, me and Danielle, Cary and Stephen. I spent a little bit of time with both groups, and this is a brief run-down of the activities:

Peace Corps:


-met volunteers around 6pm, at a bar
-dinner, with drinks
-back to Stephen’s apartment, to drink


-met them at Danielle’s apartment roughly 5:30pm, where I was apparently just in time for the drinking
-went to dinner, then a bar
-dirty dancing at Hot Ball Place
-a round at another bar to end the night



-went to Gary’s apartment, and listened to him and their friend Rae perform religious hymns
on the piano while we gently sipped homemade wine and discussed watching a movie from perhaps the 1950’s called Miss Marple

Being around Peace Corps teachers is like being at a frat party; being around Amity teachers is like being at church. Our Chinese friend He Le, owner of our new favorite bar China Fire, was at Gary’s apartment, being his usual entertaining self. We decided he would like Sex and the City better than Miss Marple, and in the interest of politeness I won’t repeat some of the funniest lines, but at any rate by the third pair of breasts nothing was disproved about the preconceptions of “easy” Western women.

So me and the Peace Corps teachers thought it would be fun to dance American-style at the dance club, in which boys actually touch the girls rather than keeping a safe 18-inch barrier between themselves and anything with breasts. However, we realized only too late that we were opening Pandora’s Box on this one. We immediately received loud cheers and whoops from the men, who formed a circle around us while we danced in the middle, exactly like the kind of scene from a movie that seems so cheesy because you’ve never seen it happen in real life. This circle drew closer and closer, like a pack of hyenas closing in on a wounded gazelle. There was nary a female in sight, besides the pole-dancing girls manning their usual stations. Emily, one of the visitors and an attractive blonde, had to actually sit most of the night out due to the unwanted attention. Very much to my dismay, I was also receiving too much attention—from men. Particularly Red Sweater Vest Man, an unwanted friend who happily bounded up to me every time I got on the dance, or rather into me. You need to build up a tolerance for discomfort when living in another culture, but I still have a line somewhere, and it was definitely crossed. It would seem Reform and Opening has yet to cover “dirty dancing in small provincial towns”.

No comments: