Sunday, July 26, 2009

Clouds that Move

by Ruth

I just finished my first section of our comprehensive exams. As I was madly writing (probably the first time I’ve written 9 pages in 3 hours), I kept looking out the window and getting distracted by the clouds because they were moving. I had honestly forgotten that they do that. It seems like such a simple, fundamental thing to forget about, but we don’t have too much experience with the cumulous variety of clouds in China, at least where I have been.

I talk most often about all the food I miss, and it really has been wonderful to drink milk every day and casually browse the cereal aisle. But what I miss even more is the aesthetic beauty I see all around me here. I am amazed by the nature and color and cleanliness all around. In Georgia, I loved being able to see a dozen trees from every window. I woke up to the sound of birds and fell asleep to a chorus of crickets (with a few tree frogs thrown in). I saw deer wandering through the backyard. I got to hear the magnificent sound of rain hammering on the roof and watch it turn the trees to a shimmery gray.

At Wheaton, I can’t believe how blue the sky can be. It’s no wonder that my first summer back from China I thought everything looked so nice it seemed almost fake. The clear blue sky with a few puffy white clouds (which move, by the way), the neatly trimmed green grass, a part of well manicured lawns surrounding beautiful, crisp looking houses – it’s almost too idyllic to be believable. I realize not everywhere is like this, but to remember these places exist!

In California, I know I will see spectacular sunsets that fill up the whole, huge sky, fading into night skies crowded with stars. Maybe we will have one of those violent storms when the rain that so rarely comes is torn from the sky.

These are the things I miss even more than Multi-bran Chex. My first year in China, I remember discussing with my teammates our feelings of homesickness. For them it came gradually and quietly, lingering vaguely, casting a shadow in the background. I experienced it more in sharp, unexpected pictures. The prism in the living room window throwing rainbows around the room. The sound of a wind chime clanging on the porch. The smell of the perfume my mother used to wear every week to church. The softness of carpet on bare feet.

I guess these will be the things I’ll always miss and marvel at rediscovering.

(This is all so whimsical and sentimental it kind of makes me laugh, but then I have been reading the Anne of Green Gables series, and my mind is always affected by what I’m reading. It’s hard not to like enjoying a book that’s entirely pleasant once in a while.)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Fake Graduation

by Ruth
Even though we have better internet access and blogger isn't blocked, this summer has been incredibly busy overall, thus the lack of blog posts. We are still back in the states, though now we have moved from GA on to Wheaton, where we just graduated from our master's program.

Well, kind of. We had a little graduation type ceremony with the other people in our summer program, but we aren't actually finished with the work yet. This week Kevin and I have been meeting with a professor to finish an independent study class. Next week Kevin will have one more class on Cross-Cultural Conflict. This weekend and next weekend we will be doing our comprehensive exams, so we are preparing for those. So even though we had the little ceremony, we've still got lots of work to do.

In a little over a week, however, I will be completely finished! I'm really looking forward to that. Kevin still has two last distance learning classes to complete this fall. Both of our families (or at least, parts of them) came up to visit and see us fake-graduate. I will post a few pictures to keep you happy until there is time to do a real blog again.