You guys, I started work. I work in China. That is weird. Also, this makes me feel like I really live here now; the “I’m on vacation and have no real responsibilities” part of this year feels over. I have a lot of responsibilities now. I think it’s going to be a productive year.
For those of you who don’t know, I’m working with the Beijing Farmers’ Market because I’m in China to try to understand what’s happening here in the realm of sustainable agriculture. Even before I started spending all my time at the market, I could tell it was going to be a fruitful year — we went to Inner Mongolia with the market, where I got to see traditional agriculture first hand, and since landing in China, I’ve had intermittent meetings with the woman who runs the market, through which we’ve had an incredibly fascinating ongoing discussion about food here. In addition to my own research, I’m going to work on raising awareness of the market among the expat community, and forging partnerships with restaurants and other food industry players. Should be fun. I already feel busy.
Anyway, starting my job here was not that different from starting my job anywhere — like most jobs I’ve had, there’s a lot of food involved with this one: we all take turns making lunch and dinner for each other (I am intimidated to take my turn, because these people are really good cooks), and we snack on samples from our suppliers all day long.
Only thing that really sticks out so far is that the very first thing I did was go to a two-hour meeting conducted entirely in Chinese. And then I realized that despite two months of intensive language training and many small wins, I do not, in fact, speak Chinese. I basically spent half an hour being like, why are we talking about sentences? How could possibly have this much to say about sentences?
We were not talking about sentences, dear reader. We were talking about Mandarin oranges, the word for which is nearly identical to the word for sentence, but said with a different tone. Feeling good and confident about my skillz.