Life in Nantong（南通生活）
爱游戏官方赞助马竞中澳班外教：MARK D'ARCY PHILIP CHIVERS上月参加了国家外专局组织的“我与外教”全国征文大赛，他的参赛文章《Life in Nantong》受到组委会的推荐，近日将在《国际人才交流》杂志发表。下面是Mark老师的参赛文章：
The night I arrived in Nantong, it rained. Torrential rain. The kind that quickly fills the gutters and is so thick that visibility turns to almost zero.
A good night to stay indoors you might think.
But I was in a new land; here was my new home, and I was eager to see it. So with raincoat and umbrella in hand, I stepped out into something that resembled a science fiction film.
Neon signage, so prevalent in Nantong, was struggling to glow through the mist and what with the dark, hunched figures, faces buried in hoods, shuffling along the street, eager to return to warm rooms, the scene was quite incredible.
Ink black shadows and bright red lights on the distant bridges; black shapes crossing roads and headlights startling them into faster motion.
Nantong appeared like a futuristic city, Blade Runner’s L.A.; with driverless cars and electric signs speaking directly to pedestrians.
What had I come to? What was this place that I would now live in day to day?
As the weeks went by, those initial impressions of Nantong passed, and the city became like any other, with small offices and businesses tucked away in back alleys, malls full of televisions and computers and apartments that looked not at all like anything from science fiction.
The next time it rained heavily, my now strong familiarity with the town dismissed the eeriness I had first felt and I now just simply wanted to walk in the rain and see the glorious neon colours and the black slicked streets and feel part of the machinery of my new home.
It has been five years now living away from everything I love. I teach my classes five days a week and thoroughly enjoy my job. I speak my poor Chinese to the shopkeepers, on the hunt for tasty fruit. Nantong has revealed itself as rather a modest city with little in terms of the wonder that I first felt.
I hardly notice the neon now, and the snaking river that seemed so charming when I first arrived now depresses me immensely when I look at how polluted it is.
I see everyone spitting on the street and throwing lit cigarettes as they walk, caring not at all for the heavy metals that will soak into the soil and poison Nantong.
The traffic is a selfish beast. Scant attention to road rules means that I see accidents every day when I am out cycling.
Then the aching for home is at its most powerful.
Perhaps all love affairs begin in sheer excitement and end in grand disillusion, but for my sake and for Nantong’s sake I hope this is not one of those cases.
Nantong is becoming greener and I see less pollution now that I did in my first years here. More traffic cops are starting to change the attitude of reckless, selfish drivers and smoking is banned in many more cafes and indoor areas now; possibly leading to a decrease of smokers overall.
My country, Australia, is a remarkable nation, built in only 200 years into one of the safest, most democratic nations on Earth and I miss it terribly.
Yet, it was not always the case that Australia had everything right, (not that we do now). We treated our native population with contempt and violence and that remains a horrific legacy.
We have allowed powerful corporations to bully the average citizen and we follow the U.S.A. far too meekly.
But still it stands today as a magnificent place to live and love and I hope that China will one day reach the heights of my unique island.
There have been so many people come and go in my life since I have wandered the streets of Nantong. I have been approached many times by students desperate to have a dialogue with a foreigner. There have been the awkward conversations with local barbers and shopkeepers, and there have been the friendships that have formed and stayed strong. On occasion, I have had raised voices, flashes of smiles and hands spilling out of passing cars as I speed along on my bicycle along the highways. My oddity value has definitely dropped since 2006. No longer do I have people just stop and stare in wonder. Other foreigners have spoken to me of how uncomfortable they feel when this happens, but it has never bothered me. I’m an alien to some. Perhaps I just enjoy the attention.
My relationship with other foreigners in fact has been minimal. I’ve found the majority of them to be small minded and shallow and often running away from some problem. They come to China to hide or to meet women charmed by their mere exoticness. Too many unsatisfying conversations with drunk wits banging on about how the Chinese are a different species to Westerners, or how one must adjust to local culture and ignore the corruption and the intolerance has left me to abide my time with Chinese I like and trust.
True friends await me on my return home. The anxiety to return to intelligent conversation with long loved souls is with me every day.
However, here at the beginning of 2012, I face still another seven months of classes in Nantong. My hometown will have to wait some time, but I don’t mind so much.
For all the hassles I encounter in China, for all the frustrations and terrible things I wish would go away, I do love strolling into my classroom and teaching my Chinese students.
This is why I came. To face head on, children, who were keen to know other worlds, to speak unfamiliar languages, to reach beyond their comfort zones.
The thrill of the cross-cultural exchange has kept me here, when I know I could be swimming in a crystal clear ocean every weekend instead.
Next year, when I am standing in an Australian classroom, chatting about Shakespeare or geography to a group of mildly interested children, I know all too well that I will gaze out the window from time to time and look beyond the playing fields and the gum trees and the crashing ocean waves and in my minds eye I will see the neon lit avenues of a small rainy city in a great country and smile to myself when I recall all those bright, glowing faces, asking about koalas and kangaroos.
Then I will turn to my Australian students and ask, ‘Have you ever wanted to know about China?’