Packing: Computer, Camera & Walkman
Givens: This is my first experience at being away from home for six or more months living on my own with specific community service responsibilities. The Chengdu YMCA will provide me with an apartment with two bedrooms, a shower-bath room, a sitting room and a kitchen, with furniture, kitchen and household utensils, heating and air conditioners and other electric appliances. Electricity, gas, water and housekeeping expenses will be provided by the YMCA. Larry & Carole told me that the apartment had sheets, blankets and towels. The Y will also provide me with a bicycle for in-city use; plus a Y driver and car will take me to the rural Gangqing Primary School where I will teach two days/week. The Y will also provide a lunch from Monday to Friday at the Y-staff canteen or at the Gangqing Primary School. A stipend is provided monthly toward the costs of the other meals and telephone service. With these givens, I've tried to figure out what I need to take with me to Chengdu. This is the first of several "packing posts" to share what I've decided - thinking it might be helpful to future volunteers in this program. As time progresses I'll write about what else I should have taken and what I could have left at home.
Computer: I've always used a desk top computer at home. After deciding to go to Chengdu in June, I purchased a Toshiba Satellite laptop with the Microsoft XP Media Center operating system, MicroTrend Anti-Virus, SpySweeper, a CD/DVD player/burner and wireless capability. Accessories for the laptop include a universal power cord/cable and AC adapter, a plug adapter to make it compatible with the Chinese electrical outlets, a wireless mouse, a headset with earphones and microphone, a multi-type card reader primarily for my CompactFlash camera cards, a telephone cable if I start out with dial up Internet service, a 25' networking cable to connect the computer to a DSL/cable modem, a SanDisk 1.0 GB thumb drive (to transfer data between computers and to provide the ability to make Skype calls on computers without the Skype software) and several blank CDs and DVDs if I need to burn some material for use at the YMCA or school. The primary software I've put on the laptop includes Microsoft Office Professional (Outlook, Word, Excel, Publisher, PowerPoint, Access and FrontPage), Microsoft Viso Standard, Adobe Acrobat Professional 7.0, Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0, Roxio Easy Media Creator 9 Suite, and Avery DesignPro Media Edition. It also has some Toshiba provided software, plus Windows Media Player, QuickTime Player, RealPlayer, and Windows Life Messenger. I've also installed the Skype software for making Internet telephone calls to family and friends around the world and Google Earth to view locations around the world. I'll also take the printed guides that came with the laptop as there are some features I have not yet used.
Camera: WIll take my Kodak digital camera with plenty of CompactFlash cards, two sets of rechargeable batteries, a battery recharger, an appropriate voltage converter and plug adapter for the recharger. Also, have some extra regular batteries if needed. Plus, I will take my Kodak Camera Users Guide and Scott Kelby's The Photoshop Elements 4 Book for Digital Photograhers, published by New Riders, 2005.
Walkman: The ESL programs used in the school and at the YMCA both include taped material; and the Chinese course offered to the volunteers last year included taped material. Thus, I am taking our battery powered Walkman in order to be able to play the tapes in my apartment.
Other: The only other battery powered equipment I'm taking is a beard trimmer which will need to be recharged (will use the voltage adapter above). I am also taking a couple of regular three prong to two prong plug adapters and a small surge protector.