An American in Chengdu

Reception | September 30, 2009

Last night I went to an annual reception held by the Sichuan government in honor of foreign experts working in the Receptionprovince on the occasion of China’s National Day. China turns 60 tomorrow (October 1), and it’s a big deal. Flags have cropped up everywhere, you see 60th anniversary displays in store windows, there’s going to be a terrifying military parade in Tiannanmen Square, etc.

I didn’t get my actual paper invitation until just before the event, so I didn’t know that I could have worn “Lounge Wear or National Dress.” It would have been fun to show up dressed as a cowgirl. In theory, anyway. Instead I wore the dress Cecilia helped me pick out a few weeks ago.

The reception wasn’t exactly the gold mine of blog material I’d hoped for. There were speeches, which were translated into English, and as a former Asian Studies minor I should have been delighted to hear these examples of Chinese pomp and circumstance. But I found myself zoning out amidst talk about socialism with Chinese characteristics and the spirit of earthquake reconstruction. Then we stood and toasted, and then the live music began, and we were free to eat and chat.After an hour and a half someone thanked us for coming, and the reception came to an abrupt end.

I go days at a time without seeing another Westerner, so it was strange to spend an evening with my fellow foreign experts. Back on campus I had a drink with two Brits, Jacob and Elisa. Elisa is a longtime resident who peppered us with advice on everything from where to get fake (pirated) books in English to fake (vegetarian) chicken feet to where to get clothes made, and not to touch that cat because it will take your hand off.

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    About me

    I've come to Sichuan in search of adventure, fluency in Chinese, and awesome vegetarian food. I have to concede that the baby pandas are very cute.
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