“I had never had any idealistic illusions about my Peace Corps ’service’ in China; I wasn’t there to save anybody or leave an indelible mark on the town. If anything, I was glad that during my two years in Fuling I hadn’t built anything, or organized anything, or made any great changes to the place. I had been a teacher, and in my spare time I had tried to learn as much as possible about the city and its people. That was the extent of my work, and I was comfortable with those roles and I recognized their limitations.”
He lived there in the days before having a QQ number was as common as having hot water, and before it was the norm to own a mobile phone.
This evening, I entered a classroom that looked like what it was. The classroom of 30Students who have a barely qualified teacher, with greaseblock walls and a concrete floor.
Everywhere I go, people ask me a question I doubt they have ever asked before: "can I be your friend?" a question I don't have the energy to deconstruct several times a day. It's very much the opposite of the life Peter Hessler claims to have chosen for himself. He was hungry for knowledge, and I'm greedy for it. And I want everybody to know.
But as it is, I'm starting more friendships than I could ever possibly sustain, and getting more enviable opportunities than I could possibly take advantage of.
The only pressure is the pressure I put on myself, and it's great to live in a place where nobody talks about the good old days. Clearly for me, these are the good old days