I've had even more fun and games with sending a blog today so the revised one may be shorter.
Tom's visit has now been and gone and was a great success. It was lovely to see him after so long, and he, like Tim, could see for himself why I like it so much here. He helped in each class, we had a cooking crowd round, went up Xihua Park and Wen Bi Ta, ate out with students (fun) and teachers (not so much fun, the usual 'avoid speaking foreign' farce), and played a lot of sport. He managed to keep away from the basketball, despite several invitations. The students took one look at his imposing stature and assumed he must be a good player. A veritable Yao Ming. Well, he did play a couple of times when he was about twelve. I think maybe he performed a rain dance though because, every time he was due to play, it poured down. He did play table tennis, badminton and snooker, with England doing pretty well against China. One poor PE teacher, foolish enough to challenge him at badminton, is probably still drowning his sorrows, saving his face in the bottom of a bottle of Bai Jiu.
Tom had to stand at the front in each of my classes, answering questions and talking about University life in the UK, and got notably better as the week went on, surviving even TV Class 2, for many of whom 'What's your name?' can be problematic. He got the inevitable 'Can you use chopsticks?' question, plus 'Do you have a girlfriend?' and his head has swollen with the number of times he heard how handsome he was.
So now the countdown is well under way, the flight home booked, the classes nearly finished ..... and the tissues nearly bought. I will be so sad to leave here, the time's been too short and I couldn't have imagined I'd be feeling like this. It'll soon be time to say goodbye to the students and I'll need some dark glasses and stage make-up if I'm to survive with any dignity.
I'm leaving Wenshan in around two weeks time, after my oral exams are over, and don't plan to hang around long to extend the emotional goodbyes. I'm heading eastbound, via Guilin, with and without other VSOers (I'll miss them too), eventually ending up in Hong Kong for a few days before heading back to the UK. It'll be good to see people I haven't seen in a long time, have a rest, travel a bit, get my hair back to normal (!) and to generally 'acclimatise' before September. Weydon seems another world away, I look forward to it with some trepidation. One day should do it, I expect, then it'll be like I've never been away. Or will the China experience have changed me forever?