Well, after a series of frustrations, I finally wrapped up all of this year’s Nu Women’s Summit activities! Last year I brought a bunch of students from my women’s group to Neijiang for the summit, with other PCVs and their women’s groups from around Sichuan. This year we held the summit in Zigong. After working all semester towards attending with my students, in the end my school told me I couldn’t bring them. I was still able to attend and help out with all the activities in Zigong, which were a huge success, but I was really upset that I couldn’t bring my students.
Not to be thwarted, though, we decided to hold our own event here in Nanchong, which went down this past weekend. We did yoga, played teambuilding games, made dream catchers and did a fun, women-themed scavenger hunt on Saturday afternoon. On Sunday morning the students did some presentations on great women, girls’ education around the world, and work/life/family balance. Then we had a couple teachers join us as guest speakers, to give the students some advice about starting their careers, being teachers, studying English, going abroad, and generally being successful women in China :) My friend, a recent graduate from my university who now has a great job at the top middle school in Chengdu and an all around awesome woman, came to join us. The other teacher runs her own training school here in Nanchong and she brought a bunch of her middle and high school students to listen, as well.
Then, after a lunch break, we went to volunteer at a school for the deaf. The students were all ages, and they live together at the school most of the time. My students did a great job communicating with them, typing things out on their phones or writing on papers and using simple signs. We brought paper and markers for them to draw, my students played badminton and jump rope with some of them, and I taught them how to make flowers out of plastic bags, which they got really excited about. It was really fun, and cool to see my students working with the kids and doing something outside of their comfort zone.
I forgot how much fun it is to work with kids :)
Then, to cap off the weekend, we had some 干锅 (gan guo, “dry pot”) together for dinner. Oh, how I’ll miss 干锅…
Like I said, it was definitely a stressful and challenging process to pull off these events. I spent weeks worrying about dealing with my school, reworking our budget, finding speakers, and my students being too busy with their exams and other responsibilities to pull everything together and attend. But they exceeded all my expectations (as they always do) and I’m extremely proud of them for all their hard work. The women’s group has definitely been the most meaningful part of my experience here, and I’m very touched by their dedication to the group, their thoughtful insights during our activities and their constant positive energy. Just one of the things that’s making it hard to pack up and leave.