Where to begin, I’ve accomplished a lot these past few weeks! School wise I’ve buckled down, so to speak, and have really focused my attention on understanding the chapters and being able to use new characters interchangeably. To help with my speaking and listening (口语和听力, kǒuyǔ hé tīnglì) I hired a tutor, and it’s the best decision I’ve made yet , that is in regards to language learning, I like to think I’ve made at least one or two decisions just as important throughout my life.
His name is Liu, and he’s a father of two, and in the middle of his Master’s dissertation. On the side he takes foreign learners and I’m especially glad I found him. We meet once or twice a week for two hours and do homework and talk. At first I had no idea what I could say to keep up a conversation but he prompts me a lot, and likes talking himself, so together we make a good pair. I like to think we have very meaningful discussions. The other day we talked about why it’s rare to see girls on their own, the pros and cons of travelling in a tour group, and the chances of getting free rice with your meal. I talked very animatedly on the last subject since it only happened a few days ago and I was still gloating over it. Liu is very helpful when it comes to proper grammar usage and is a stickler for tones when speaking. He will have me re-read texts over and over again until I’m pretty sure all the sounds I’m making merge into one endless drone. Afterwards we will talk about living on campus and the age range of who it is acceptable for me to date. He is very preoccupied with that fact, and is pretty much my confidant in all manners relating to the opposite gender. It is extremely helpful since
- He can’t tell anybody that I know
- I can only use limited words so my otherwise in-depth analysis becomes narrowed down to 朋友， 好朋友， 马马虎虎 （friend, a good friend, so-so）
In other news, I have joined a dance class on Saturday’s that consists of me imitating the disposition of a bull. It’s actually a lot of fun, but I, yet again, misread what I was signing up for since I thought it was to be on Friday’s and definitely not three hours long.
What I’m a part of it seems is a dance that comes from the Dai tribe in China’s Yunnan province. This endears me to it since that is where I went during my first trip to China. Yunnan Province is located in southwest China and is beautiful and warm. It has about four main large ethnic minorities, and the Dai tribe is famous for their musical and dancing talent. . They say that dancers holding a bulls head first appeared on a fresco in a stone cave within Yunnan. A long time ago the bull was revered by the people for its strength and fierceness. To slay one, and have its head, was a sign of power and fortune. Many heads with the horns rising out in a giant arch would be used to decorate their houses and put on wooden posts. The dance we are learning has us use our arms and hands in imitation of the horns. We move to the rhythm of a heavy drumbeat that methodically keeps our pace. If the drum doubles up, or slows down, then we know to transition into a new move, and over and over again we keep pace with the drum.
After awhile it becomes ingrained to your mind and the moves come naturally. The sound builds until it becomes overwhelming and you lose sense of time. When you close your eyes all you see is flashing images and silhouettes. Ingrained forever are the snapshots of the village women’s colourful garments and the ominous shape of the bullhorns rising up from the dust.