Days Like Floating Water, A Story of Modern China by Susan Edwards McKee

By Susan Edwards McKee

Trip with a California couple as they educate English to cautious students in rural, Communist China. NATO bombs decimate the chinese language consulate in Yugoslavia so outrage spills round their campus. How do lonely americans react? Later as belief deepens on each side you could immerse your self in China's actual middle and soul, within the lifestyles ot its daily humans. This tale is superbly written, consistently attention-grabbing, usually humorous, occasionally poignant.

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We both breathe deeply and open the door for our first class. The seats are filled and all eyes turn to stare at us. Then applause! Amazing! Maybe we’ve even won a round with Chinese inscrutability 32 D AY S L I K E F L O A T I N G W A T E R since there are exactly thirty students beaming up at us. We grin and plunge in. “Hello. I’m Mrs. ” “Hi! I’m Mr. McKee,” Robert follows, “so now you know something about us. We’re married. ” Laughter. I print our names on the board with the dustless chalk we were coached to bring with us, since it’s not available in China.

If it’s not too icy the granddad holds the baby outside. The Chinese language, I’m learning, has different names for each of the four grandparents showing which are the parents of the father or mother. This grandpa is the dad’s father, and he’s the chief babysitter, which is the usual arrangement. While Mama and Papa go to work, grandparents take care of the babies. They all live in an apartment the size of ours. We note, though, that ours and Jacques’, the Canadian teacher next door, are the only ones with an air-conditioning unit at one window.

The ancient, spotted dark green indoor-outdoor carpeting throughout was worn in spots completely through to the concrete floor. I knew I’d soon be a slave to my compulsive cleaning gene. The apartment was what we learned to call “China clean,” but my Swedish background called for a bristle brush and disinfectant. Too, that bathroom drain haunted me. We met our predecessors briefly in America, an American couple, also in their sixties, who were the first humanitarian volunteers to come to this college, and who lived in this apartment.

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