We have been in the city of Anqing for only 11 days and it already feels like home to me. Anqing is a “small” city of 700,000 people and even though I come from a town in Ohio with only 1,670 people, I still feel comfortable here. The fact that my host sister’s middle school alone has over 3,000 students is a little daunting, but the amount of people does not lessen their generosity and hospitality. This is our second home stay and I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we are more comfortable this time around simply because we have dealt with this before.
For me, Anqing has been an enormous blessing. Unlike in Nanchong, we have personal Tutors to help is with our less-than perfect Mandarin. Our tutors are all students at Anqing University who are majoring in teaching Mandarin as a second language. Having this time every day with students as our tutors has been a great opportunity to make new friends and to really connect with Chinese people in the same stage of life as us.
The university has a drama/music department, which houses their very own Huangmei Opera troupe, put on a show for us last Friday. The local news station caught wind of this and thought that a bunch of foreigners watching traditional Chinese opera was news-worthy. Thus, we were interviewed and caught on camera.
My tutor’s name is He Yu and her English name is Halinda. Every day, I get off of the bus and she is waiting for me with a hug and a smile. Brittany, her tutor (Jojo), He Yu, and I have become a small group of friends who just sit and chat every day. While we maybe learn a little less Mandarin than some of the other students, I am not upset because, in my book, a new friendship is just as valuable as knowledge. I am actually dreading leaving Anqing (in 2 days) simply because I don’t want to leave these new friends behind, but I can at least look forward to coming home to my friends and family at EMU.