April is in the books and with it a lot of new developments for myself and my PSB China basketball adventures. I continued working with students at Golden Apple Middle School (金苹果中学), and began a number of new classes around Chengdu.
When I was not working I sampled more of the local Sichuan cuisine, visited Beijing with my roommates, and started taking Mandarin Chinese lessons.
The month started out well with an office outing to a traditional Sichuan Hot Pot (四川火锅) restaurant. The meal is famous for a simultaneously spicy and numbing sensation caused by the local Sichuan peppercorn.
It is a bizarre feeling, but the flavor wins out and leaves you wanting to try more. The outing was a hit with our group and seemed just as enjoyable for the amused restaurant goers seated nearby watching us deal with the heat.
With the memory of the peppercorn still fresh, my roommates and I took off for Beijing in search of more mild cuisine. The trip coincided with Tomb Sweeping (清明节) festival weekend, so we expected some crowds – but were excited to find that unseasonably cold weather kept them smaller than normal.
We hiked virtually by ourselves on a snowy Great Wall (长城), went to a Beijing Guoan (北京国安) soccer match, and sampled local favorites like Beijing Duck (北京烤鸭) Steamed Pork Buns (包子).
April also marked an undefeated month for my CIBL men’s China basketball league team. We finished with a 3-0 record thanks to staunch defense, limiting opponents to under 50 points a game – while averaging nearly 65 ourselves.
We are now second in the league behind an all Chinese team who we beat in last year’s finals. They avenged that loss in the first game of the current season, and a rematch seems likely to come playoff time.
Having a second month under my belt in Chengdu has familiarized me with my weekly coaching routine. I no longer have to check my phone to figure out the route to sessions and I am getting a better grasp of how to use both Chinese and English to effectively coach my students.
So far, my Chinese basketball students are responding well to a hybrid approach, which allows me to get more out of every class. For more on the merits of foreigners China basketball coaching, check out my most recent blog post.
In addition to my normal coaching responsibilities, PSB China had a number of exciting trial classes with new partner schools throughout the month. Check out the highlights from one of these classes via the PSB China Instagram account (@ProSkillsChina).
I decided to fill the few gaps in my schedule with some early morning Mandarin classes. My instructor, Teacher Li (李老师), is always pushing me to speak and incorporate new vocabulary to increase proficiency.
The class is only in its third week, but I can already see signs of improvement. It is fun to be able to finish class and immediately practice what I learned by engaging with people on the street.
I closed out the month with a solo-trip to Hong Kong. It was the first time I’d visited the area and I made sure to try and see as much as I could in the few days I was there.
I went hiking almost every day and was rewarded with trails that ended on beaches, in small fishing villages, and with the largest seated Buddha in the world at Ngong Ping.
That’s it for April!