June 2, 2012

Code Green: Last minute plans

Our first year in China, we had a code system for requests like this.

Code Purple: Dress up nice, we're leaving in ten minutes.
Code Red: Regular clothes, but we're still leaving in ten minutes.
Code Yellow: Change your afternoon plans, you're coming with me.
Code Blue: Your weekend is about to get interesting.

We regularly had Code Red and Code Purple in Nanchang often being shuffled off to VIP banquets. Now we live on more of a Code Blue campus receiving simple requests. Can you judge a contest? Will you give a two hour culture presentation on American leisure? Can you come to English corner? When we've had to dress up and attend a VIP banquet, we've had about a week to prepare.

This past week was more Code Yellow. On Wednesday I learned of my Thursday & Friday class cancellations. In my mind, Code Yellow is so last minute. I want to know sooner, at least Code Blue, so I can prepare lessons or clear my schedule. So often my Code Blue view of time is steamrolled by the Code Yellow, Red, and Purple view of time I encounter here.

Read the official notice shown above that was posted to encourage foreign students to sign up and participate in a campus-wide event.

Now don’t miss what's so funny about this notice. It was signed on May 15 and probably posted on our bulletin board much later. The registration deadline is the morning of the next day! We are given less than 24 hours to check/clear own calendars and sign up for events. Code Yellow.

This concept of "anything-can-happen-at-the-last-minute" arrived for the third time on the same day via text message from my former student:
Hi,Jeremy. I'm Olivia. One Friend of my Japanese teacher will open up a kindergarten this Saturday in Daqing, which calls for ONE foreign teacher to interact with students. Would you or your dear friends be willing and convenient to join in the activity? There will be sb. picking you up at Friday and the salary is decided on you. Look forward to your reply(^o^)
So while it's technically a Code Blue request, it involves so much more. This invitation includes transportation by train 2.5 hours outside Harbin and what I can only guess is an overnight stay in Daqing. We need a new color, perhaps Code Green.

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