Sitting in a taxi on my way to the new M3 to get dinner with my former boss. She is objectively the best person I have ever worked for. She even tried to hook me up with an apartment when she heard I was coming into town, and insisted on furnishing it with new linens and offering me the key to the place even though I had told her it was totally unnecessary (since I’m staying with my girlfriend’s father). It’s been two years since I’ve seen her, and I’m really looking forward to it.
I also met with two former Chinese coworkers for lunch today in Wanda — Tracy and Ivy. It was really fantastic seeing them again. We went to some sort of Chinese pancake restaurant, it was delicious! Tracy has left Mingshi and is now working for her cousin’s Australian visa agency. Ivy seems to be more or less heading up the Wanda Aimeirui. We all caught up over lunch and had a really good time visiting. Tracy drove Ivy and myself to M4 and Ivy made me some coffee in the break room. Walked upstairs and found my picture still hanging on that wall. Got a selfie with the photo of myself. I wonder how long they’ll keep it there. Kind of neat to think there’s a large, framed portrait of myself just hanging around in Manchuria.
I walked home after spending some time with Ivy and spent the rest of the afternoon with my girlfriend.
Met with my former boss, Mandy, at the new Aimeirui. She gave me a tour of the facilities. Much nicer than before, much bigger. Still crowded with all the students and their parents in the lobby during breaks. All the teachers have their own classrooms now, and they’ve really gone a long way to set the school up to emulate how classrooms in the west are. I got to see one of my old classes with my old Chinese co-teacher, Sharon. I didn’t want to interrupt her lesson and bother the students, so I tried to keep the interjection brief. Some of the students in the class knew me from before, although they didn’t seem very enthused. Sharon, however, was very happy to see me, although our meeting was brief. I got to see Joshua, Craig, and Angelo while getting the tour, as well as meet a new foreign teacher. From there, Mandy and I went off to a barbecue restaurant for dinner.
Dinner was great. We talked at length about many things and caught up. It was fantastic meeting with her again after two years, Mandy really is a great person. She has big plans for Aimeirui, and reckons that with all the new implementations she’s making to the school, that Aimeirui ought to be the best English school in North East China within the next two years. I don’t have any reason to doubt this, seeing how mature and advanced Aimeirui has grown to be. She’s planning expansions within Fushun and into neighboring Shenyang, and basically told me that she wants me to start a foreign expert recruitment agency back home in order to meet the perceived demand.
She dropped me back “home” near Wanda Plaza and I walked back to my girlfriend’s father’s apartment building. I passed a couple burning what appeared to be rubbish (but my girlfriend claims to be 金纸, or “ghost money” — which I now believe it to be). “Ghost money” is basically fake currency people burn on the anniversary of a loved one’s death, with the idea being that by burning it, it will somehow become of use to that loved one in the afterlife or heaven. It’s like an afterlife wire transfer of sorts, even though it’s bogus money to begin with. My girlfriend made a really big deal about taking their photo, even though they were in the middle of the road, in public, I was passing at a distance, and they never even saw me. My girlfriend claims that according to Chinese superstition this might anger the dead spirits because it’s “disrespectful”. Oh well. I don’t really subscribe to it being disrespectful, especially considering that I wasn’t invading anyone’s privacy when they’re burning stuff in the middle of a public street for all to see, cars driving around them and everything.