A deeply personal look into the life and times of Mr. Veitch.
The views and opinions on this website are mine alone and do not reflect those of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps and it's probably better that way
First home cooked meal in the new place. Lee Veitch- volunteer, teacher, chef #peacecorps #peacecorpschina
Preview of what’s to come
We finally did it; we, the China 20 are now officially Peace Corps
For anyone having a mental breakdown, here’s an analogy that helped me a bit:
Remember our first day of college? This is kinda like that. We packed your bags, hugged our friends and stepped onto campus to begin a new (and incredibly scary) chapter of our lives.
We may spend our first couple weeks in a funk. For the 4th time in 10 weeks, we’re being thrust out into new surroundings and must create a home. With our new surroundings will come new people and in many ways, a culture that is “foreign” to us (we kinda got used to Chengdu, right?). Once again, we must ask ourselves some hard questions: Where will I fit in? Will my colleagues like me? How long will the food wreck my stomach?
What we will experience now is very similar to that first semester of college, and if you went away it, this is especially true. If you didn’t, I believe that those of us that did can tell you with confidence, that despite all the tears, it does gets better.
How long that takes will vary for everyone but it does pass. Bear in mind however, that jumping that hurdle will take a profound amount of effort.
It is up to us to push ourselves to find a home in our new surroundings. It is up to us to preserve those relationships with the people we love in other areas (and around the world!). Make no mistake, we will have help, but ultimately the bulk of the effort lies in your hands.
Maybe I’m wrong, but I believe it is that very struggle that makes this journey that much more worth it.
My fellow volunteers, and any staff that creep on this page, I look forward to seeing you all again during IST. Getting to know you these last 10 weeks has been life changing in the best way possible. This first semester will be hard, but for us to have made it this far, a lot of people already believe in us. Now it is your turn to believe in yourself.
Mr. West cites his time in China, and the celebrity treatment he received there, as part of what motivated him to become a star. Wonder how all this will affect me in the end.
Kanye West as a child in China, circa 1987.
When I was a little boy, they told me I could be whatever I wanted.
They forgot to tell me that people would ask if my father was around and why I speak so well,
forgot to tell me that my life is worth less than Arizona and skittles,
or a cigar
forgot to tell me that if I were gunned down,
my past would be picked apart by the media
by people who probably can’t pronounce my last name
but will be quick to label me a thug
for some stupid picture I don’t even remember taking
They didn’t mention that if I strived to be an educated, cultured and well-rounded man
that people would question my blackness.
That trying to be more than a stereotype
would earn criticism
instead of praise
As if education and being black must be mutually exclusive
Why are you trying to be white?
I am going to be a man
But I’d like to be a human, too
(Inspired by ”Terms and Conditions”, by Meghan Lynn)
(Or why I stopped fighting to pay for myself)Free dinners. Gifts. Seats offered to you on public transit. You’ve probably had it all. Have you ever felt uncomfortable accepting the star treatment, especially from people you don’t think can afford it?
In the states, you are taught to politely decline this level of hospitality, from friends and strangers alike, even if you want to accept it. You are supposed to be independent and pay your own way. ‘Murica.
Well here in China, you are a guest, and Chinese people like to treat their guest well. Your American way of thinking of thinking can create discomfort and even offend some people. More often than not, for everyone’s benefit, you should accept the hospitality rather fight it.Now I understand that this stands in direct contrast with everything you learned back in the States, but this is not the States and you should adjust your behavior accordingly. The motivation behind hospitality in China and in the US is very different and understanding those differences should alleviate some of your discomfort.
Be honest. Most of the time when you offer to pay for other people back home, you probably didn’t mean it and we’re hoping others would chip in too.
Well here in China when someone offers to front the bill, or 请客，they really do mean it and to oppose them on this, especially in front of others, will cause them to lose face. I won’t get into what that means here, but in short, losing face is like dropping your friends baby when they finally let you hold it after months of building their trust. Try this:
Imagine for a second that you are a Chinese local. You were raised believing that treating friends and family to food and giving gifts is one of the highest forms of showing appreciation. One day you invite your foreign friend out for dinner. When it comes time to pay the bill, even though you made it clear in your invitation that it was your treat (you said 请客) this laowai is arguing with you, in front if all the people that you are trying to impress, that they should put money toward the bill. You can literally feel your face being lost.What is this laowai thinking? Do they think I can’t afford to pay? Do they not appreciate my hospitality? Are they trying to embarrass me?!?
That is likely what is going through their heads every time you fight with the over a bill or refuse their hospitality in general.By accepting their kindness, they gain respect in their community and feel good about yourself, and you save money! As a peace corps volunteer, this is definitely a huge plus. Now I’m not saying you should accept any and everything that comes your way; use your judgement but keep in mind the differences in culture and motivation. Certainly turn down anything that feels like an overt bribe, but if you say, even in passing, “I need a new set of prayer beads” don’t be surprised if they buy you one when your back is turned.
Just remember: every time you deny hospitality a Chinese local loses their face.
Judith McNaught, Remember When (via ventriloquistic)
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is how I ended up in China (3 times haha)
The sunshine is actually quite rare…
But here’s the list of things that suck about living in China:
Trying to get onto public buses/trains
While this is far from a comprehensive list, I can say with confidence that these are the things that cause me the most grief. Not too bad, right?
After much research and experimentation, I believe I have finally figured out why foreigners that live in China lose so much weight
Chinese meat dishes are often just plates of bone (especially when you don’t eat pork, like me). You’ll find yourself sitting at a lunch/dinner sucking meat off bones until you grow tired and feel like you’ve wasted enough of your host families time (they stopped eating 20 minutes ago and are just watching you go). When you realize you’re the last person scavenging for meat, you quickly apologize and pretend to be full despite the growing hunger in your belly after being teased with the amazing flavor of whatever bone you sucked.
A few dozen of these meals later, your body begins to adjust to the lower calorie & fat intake (despite the copious amounts of oil and grease) and cuts weight in order to maintain a healthy equilibrium.
I gained 2 pounds shortly after getting here. I quickly lost 4 and I expect it to, but pray that it doesn’t, continue. Maybe I should eat more bugs…
I finally checked out my site today and it made me forget for a moment that I am in the Peace Corps. The Sichuan College of Architectural Technology is impressive, but my apartment left me in awe.
3000+ square feet. 3 bedrooms, 2 bath. Master bedroom (not pictured here yet because I can’t get a good enough pic) had a private bath. I have a lovely balcony thing with some potted plants and sitting area. A huge living room, dining room and fully stocked kitchen. Washing machine/cleaning area is tiny but that’s no big deal. The previous volunteers left behind a ton of stuff including a skateboard and ukelele, both of which I plan to master in these 2 years.
My excitement is continuing to grow