Monday, December 07, 2009

It's Getting Close To Semester's End

One of the common questions we get about our time living in China (besides the dreaded, "How was your trip?") is, "Did the time fly by really quickly?"

All along, I've thought (hoped?) that the answer has to be an emphatic "No!" But I've never been truly certain. After all, once I turned the key, there I was, back in my office in DC, just as I had left things a year earlier.

And then, this week, the issue finally crystallized in my mind. On Thursday, I taught my last classes of the semester. All that's left are for some final papers and projects to be turned in and graded.

I bring this up because I realized that this semester has just kind of whizzed by. There are students whose names I never really learned. I taught the same material I have many times before, in one case in the very same room I've lectured in in previous years.

By contrast, last fall was the semester that seemed to last forever. Even though I was only teaching one session a week, I have indelible memories of those days. Passersby lingering outside my classroom door, presumably listening to my native English. Working at the last second to troubleshoot technical problems with the staff girls dressed in white shirts and black pants. Watching with delight as Harbin girl, glasses girl, Macao boy, CUN boy, biker girl, and quiet girl together came up with procedures for assembling a probability sample of public comments on the Chinese government's proposed health system reform.

No, the trip didn't pass by quickly at all. In fact, I'm beginning to think that the secret to a long life is to find ways of continually shaking things up...



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