China Team Journal

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Team 149 CHI0706A1

Saturday and Sunday, June 23 and 24, 2007

Thought for the day: “You won’t waste your talents and education if you freely give them in service to others.” This is from a commencement speech given on June 10, 2007 by Laura Bush, our first lady. This thought is as apropos to people at the later stages of their lives as it is to recent graduates.

The Global Volunteers Team 149 met on this pleasant summer day in Yunnan Province to begin their three week assignment teaching English teachers from the Kunming area. 13 volunteers from diverse locations in the United States reported to the Golden Spring Hotel for their initial meeting with their team leader, Hu Di, Global Volunteers China Country Manager. 2007 represents the third year in which the program has been active with the present group representing the ninth team. At the initial dinner on Saturday evening, the volunteers introduced themselves. Their geographic representation includes the East Coast, South, Southwest, Midwest, and Far West. The age group ranges from the twenties to the eighties. Ten of the thirteen volunteers have had previous experience with Global Volunteers projects. Three of the returnees have been in Kunming before. Finally, nine are women and four are men. The majority of the volunteers are professional teachers but other fields such as government work, business, scientists, and the legal system are represented.

(1) Dana Penoff: a Global Volunteers veteran who has been with the Kunming program for three years in a row. A former Voice of America worker, she is a world traveler and makes her home in Santa Barbara, California.

(2 & 3) Martin & Kathleen Choy: Returnees from the 2006 Kunming sessions whose home is in Los Altos, California. Martin is a retired eye surgeon while Kathleen is a retired research dietitian.

(4) Susan Johnson makes her home in Columbus, Ohio who has 40+ years of teaching children. Her previous Global Volunteers assignment have include Cook Island, Romania, Crete, and Ghana

(5) Sally Keller is an avid world traveler who has had two tours of duty at An Shang. She has taught English in Indonesia and Poland.

(6) Brenda Clark from Houston, Texas has a longstanding history with Global Volunteers. She has being among the first teams to go to Poland and Russia. She has been to numerous Global Volunteers tours which on last count range in number between 12 and 16.

(7) Gloria Inlander is from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and has a history of being a literacy volunteer worker. Her professional background includes being a teacher and then a judicial officer. This is her first Global Volunteers tour.

(8) Shannon Chen from Athens, Georgia is presently majoring in accounting at the University of Georgia. Born in the United States, she is fluent in English and Mandarin and is participating in Global Volunteers for the first time.

(9) Claudia Bailey is from Lafayette, Arkansas and is an emeritus academician for the University of Arkansas. Her PhD is in biology and she has been a veteran of 2 China tours in Xian.

(10) Craig Huston, presently residing in Tucson AZ, retired from the business world four years ago from Los Angeles. He is a world traveler and has lived in Washington DC and Hawaii. His two major interests include mentoring and traveling. He is a first time Global Volunteer.

(11) Curt Cultice from Washington DC, is a third time Global Volunteer, having previously served in Xian and Hungary. When not a Global Volunteer, he is an International Trade Administrator in the United States Department of Commerce.

(12) Maureen Tracy is resident of Glen Cove, NY and has been a high school teacher of 37 years duration. A former Global Volunteer in Vietnam, she looks forward to teaching English teachers in her present Kunming assignment

(13) Joel Ferris of Washington, DC has been an elementary and middle school teacher for the past 32 years. He served in Xian in October of 2006 and less than nine months later returns to China to continue his teaching activities in Kunming.

On Sunday, June 24, 2007 the formal didactic orientation began at 9:00 am under the direction of Hu Di. The first presentation was a history of Global Volunteers, followed by a second discussion of the philosophical constructs underlying the organization. The major points discussed were that the mission of the organization was to provide service to the host organization, the nature of which was to determined by the host, and that the relationship between both host organization and service provider was that of equal and matching efforts. The third item on the agenda was a setting of team goals with input from all volunteers. The goals put forth by the team fell into four categories: (1) to make friends, (2) to engage in cultural exchange, (3) to make a difference through our interaction with our students, and (4) to achieve personal goals. The fourth and last topic for the morning session was to list the characteristics of effective teams. Over 15 characteristics were named including those of a well-trained leader, flexibility, respect for each others ideas, cooperation, humor, enthusiasm, constructive criticisms, and several others affecting group dynamics.

After another gourmet meal at the hotel, the afternoon session began with members being chosen for four special committees: The responsibility of Journal Manager would be undertaken by Maureen and Susan. Health and Safety Coordination would be taken care of by Joel, Gloria, and Martin. The Free-Time Activity Coordination would be managed by Dana and Curt. The last committee, the Final Celebration Coordinating Committee would be comprised of Claudia, Kathleen, and Shannon.

Hu Di then discussed the policies of the Global Volunteers Organization and suggested behavioral guidelines for the Kunming Team. The six policies of the organization are (1) no personal gifts, (2) no intimated physical contact, (3) observation of local laws, (4) matching labor, (5) no contact with children under 18 without proper chaperones, and (6) no use of illicit drugs or alcohol excess.

The last topic of the orientation was that of lesson planning, utilization of the resources in the library, and various teaching techniques that have been effective with prior teams. After a brief rest, the team gathered together for a gastronomic feast at the evening meal which was sponsored by our hosts and local dignitaries at a local restaurant.

Tomorrow will be the opening ceremonies with the school administration at Kunming Teachers College, following which will be our first contact with the students. We all look forward to this with anticipation and some anxiety but have been reassured by Hu Di and the former Kunming volunteers that all will work out to everyone’s mutual satisfaction by the end of the program.

Martin Choy, aka Cai Mu-teng

Monday, June 25
Thought for the Day: “A rising tide floats all boats”-Unknown

“To get rich is glorious”—Deng Xaioping

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around”
Leo Buscaglia
Our team was welcomed to the Kunming Teachers College program by Mr. Wu Yanming, Chief of Teachers Training Division, Mr. Yan Zhongqing, President of Kunming Teachers College and Mr. Xiong Shaohong, Director of Teachers Training Center in Kunming Teachers College and other distinguished administrators. Hu Di represented us volunteers in expressing our happiness to be part of the program.

Included in the opening remarks were several comments from our hosts that the host organization is happy that we are here. Mr. Yan Zhongqing also commented that three of the members of our team had served in Kunming before.

A recurring theme in the welcoming remarks was the belief that focusing on conversational skills in English was an important goal of this program. Speaking for Global Volunteers, Hu Di mentioned that it is a pleasure for her to work with the Kunming Education Bureau and that it is an honor for us to have been invited here. She also commented that our group is the ninth to have been invited to Kunming.
Hu Di mentioned that everything is very well organized and that everything was ready for us well in advance.

My partner Martin and I met our group of nine English teachers. We introduced ourselves and our students introduced themselves. Two students did not have English names so the class suggested names and both students selected their names. The way we introduced ourselves was very similar to the technique used by several of the other teams. We first asked the students to introduce themselves and we took this opportunity to assess their Conversational English proficiency level. We read from a journal entry from one of last year's teams as a model of an activity that the students will complete on a daily basis.

The level of spoken English proficiency in our class varied from excellent to very limited, and at lunch, we discussed ways of including all the students and helping all the students improve. The consensus and the Global Volunteers policy was that it was better for all students to participate within the same class and we were encouraged to design lessons that would be beneficial and helpful to all of the students.

In discussing how the first day went it appeared that several of the teams used similar introductory activities. Having the opportunity to discuss
and comment on how the first day went in each of the classes was a very beneficial activity for us. Several team members shared activities and possible lesson development strands.
Maureen Tracy

Tuesday, June 26

Thought for the Day:
“People judge in order not to be judged themselves.” Dostoevsky

It is 10:30 as I sit down to record this entry and it amazes me that this is only day four of our three-week program and only day two of teaching. As a first time Global Volunteer I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. The many laughs shared with my roommate, Brenda, the abundance of knowledge that I have already gained from my fellow volunteers, and the hours of work spent with my teaching partner, Susan, both inside and outside the classroom are only the beginning of this incredible experience.

Although this is only our second day with our teachers, I feel that they have already grown more comfortable with speaking to us in English. I am eager to watch them open up even more and allow us to challenge them in their conversational English. Our group currently includes nine teachers, and this morning they each shared more information about their English classes at school and about the places-mostly in China-that they would like to travel to. Their desire to participate and support each other is impressive- along with their competitive spirit as a game to “brainstorm rummy” revealed. One activity I particularly enjoyed was learning an English song that one of the teachers teaches to her students. With all of the teachers working in primary schools, it should be interesting for them to exchange teaching ideas.

In the afternoon, Hu Di and five of our team members including Sally, Joel, Donna, Claudia and I gave a lecture on volunteerism and why it is important for Chinese people to become volunteers. In addition to explaining the philosophies of Global Volunteers, team members contributed by briefly describing their own volunteer experiences and other service organizations that they work with. This idea of volunteerism, which is relatively new to the Chinese people fielded many excellent questions from the teachers. Several wanted to know why we are willing to work for no payment and if our families support our volunteer work. Others were interested specifically in our English teaching program or had questions about the United States.
Overall, I believe the session was very successful and I appreciate the thoughtfulness the teachers put into their questions.

As I end this day, the thought that remains in my mind is “how can I do this better?” I’m still getting a grasp on what it means to be a teacher and still looking for ways to improve. Thankfully, I’m not in this alone. I am fortunate to be surrounded by an experienced and dedicated team of volunteers that I can always count on.

Shannon Chen

Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Thought for the Day:
“Life is not a dress rehearsal.”

I chose this quote because both times when I’ve participated in Global Volunteers
programs in China I’ve never lost sight of the fact that we are doing what we can in the here and now. We can’t turn back the clock and change any problems that existed between our two countries and we certainly cannot predict the future, but right here, right now, we’re doing our small part to break down barriers, make friends and help in any way possible.

My partner Sally and I look forward to working with our wonderful students every day. In many ways they are as diverse as our team of Global Volunteers: young and not-so-young, single, married, hard-working, open-minded, and eager to help others. Some of our students have been teachers for over twenty years, some for only one year. One has had the opportunity to travel and study abroad, but at least one other has never been outside of Yunnan province. One of our students is an English teacher for students who are blind or deaf.

Today Sally and I began our class by discussing what our team did last night. Then we asked the students to do the same. Occasionally I would write a word or phrase on the white board to zero in on some grammatical point during the discussion. One girl said, “Joel is the language police.” I got a big kick out of that.

Sally brought a photo album to class containing pictures from many decades of her life. The students looked at the pictures over and over again. They saw Sally’s wedding picture and pictures of Sally’s classmates from fifty years ago.

In fact, the students adore Sally; they respect her and honor her every minute of the day. They are always asking her questions and crave personal attention from her. Today one girl said, “Sally, I love the way you speak. Can you please teach me to speak English exactly like you?”

We gave the students an assignment: They will work in pairs to prepare an English lesson to teach to the entire class. Our goal is that all the students might learn new ideas from each other that can help them when they return to their own classes in the fall.

After lunch Susan, Curt and Maureen returned to the college for an afternoon activity. (Craig and I audited this session.) They taught the 57 students fun songs like “Yellow Submarine”, “Here Comes the Sun”, “B-I-N-G-O”, and several others. All the students were smiling and seemed to enjoy the activity. At the end, everyone went outside and Susan taught the entire group the “Hokey Pokey”. I’m sure passers-by thought we were all crazy, but everyone left feeling happy.

When we got back to the hotel, a surprise was in store for us. We entered our rooms and found a wonderful gift: The hotel had actually turned on the air conditioning! What more could we ask for to make this day complete?

How about another delicious dinner with our team! That’s how we ended the day. We went to the Che Che restaurant around the corner. Some of us ordered western food while others ordered Chinese food. No matter what we ordered, we ate too much … as usual. But we had a great time.

After dinner Maureen, Curt and I walked with Gloria to a camera store. She wanted to buy a replacement for the camera she lost. After much bargaining and miscommunication, we finally got the price of a new camera down to a reasonable 520 yuan and we had fun the entire time. The salesgirls were talking about us in Chinese, we were talking about them in English, but eventually everyone was smiling and Gloria had her new camera.

That’s it for today. Tune in tomorrow for more exciting adventures by Team 149.

Joel R. Ferris

Thursday June 27, 2007
Thought for the Day:
“I long to accomplish a great and noble task but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble”. Helen Keller

“Carpe deum” – and a bright day it turned out to be. The volunteers once again board the bus and set off for Yunnan Teachers College. Passing a city park we observe dozens of people doing exercises, practicing Tai Chi, or practicing ballroom dancing and martial arts. During the ride some volunteer tag-teams continue planning the day’s activities while others chat about the upcoming Speech Festival. Mr Li [Chris] greets us warmly upon our arrival and we disperse to our respective classrooms.

Chris has followed me to my classroom and checks off attendance as I practice the Chinese names of “my” teachers. I chat informally about the previous afternoon session (Everyone enjoyed the games and songs.) while waiting for late-comers.
Let’s get started! From a practice test for students in upper elementary school provided by one of the teachers, we review pronunciation of words with difficult sounds: wood, fourth, usually, and practice using syllables to help with speaking. They have chosen weddings and marriage as the topic for the day.. Photos of celebrity weddings stimulate the discussion of wedding attire, the people making up the wedding party, financial aspects, and the honeymoon. We define new terms and make comparisons between Chinese and American practices. “Yes, both Chinese and Americans have to get a wedding license. No, in America the groom doesn’t have to arrive with transportation for the wedding guests, or knock on the door and answer questions from the bride’s family, or pass out red envelopes with money for the bride’s relatives.”

Since most of the teachers are married and some have children, the conversation after break is quite lively. We discuss what makes a good marriage: mutual respect and caring, shared responsibilities and division of labor; modifications to the “single” life style; parental roles; divorce and its effect on children. I am really learning a lot about modern Chinese attitudes and greatly appreciate the willingness of the teachers to share their ideas and feelings.

Over Lunch Hu Di relates the origins of the Communist Party in China, celebrated on July 1. After lunch, Susan, Gloria, Maureen, Dana, Sally and I trapse off to the Bird and Flower Market. It is easy to be enticed into purchases from among the colorful items. All manner of crafts are displayed in the 4 story Cultural Arts building, along with an entire floor devoted to the translucent splendor of jade. Downstairs I turn a corner and hundreds of brilliant red eyes stare into mine as schools of alabaster fish swim lazily around their tanks. Goldfish, rabbits, birds, hamsters and turtles are available as pets. Near the flower stalls I notice a restored stone house and find that I’ve entered the oldest part of the city. Weeds emerge from between the tiles of the wooden houses. The front part of first floor generally has been converted into a store with living quarters behind. From the second story windows bamboo poles support drying laundry and sounds of mahjong tiles being shuffled and crying babies drift down to passers-by. These glimpses into the past serve to remind me of the long history of the Chinese people.

Evening – we are off to another dining adventure. A short cab ride [about $1.10US] takes us to the Yunnan Flavor Restaurant. We are greeted by two young ladies in the dress of the Yi minority and shutters click as we pose with them. Above the entrance, a young man, tethered by a safety harness, is repairing the neon sign. Inside the red and gold dining hall we are seated in front of the stage and our tables are soon filled with fish, fowl and new taste sensations. The show begins with a lively drum dance and we are then treated to several acts featuring melodic voices and vigorous dances, all highlighted by the beautifully crafted costumes representing some of the 26 minorities of Yunnan Province. During the show we are served “Across the Bridge” rice noodles (delicious) commemorating the hot soup and noodles brought to a young scholar studying for the Imperial exams. His wife discovered that to keep the meal hot she could pour a thin layer of oil over the broth. Then his lunch would not cool as she carried the meal from the village to his place of study – across the bridge.
For the last winding chain, Brenda, Susan and Maureen join in; pictures are taken and a good time was had by all.

Returning to the hotel we prepare for Friday with the anticipation of sharing new learning experiences with our teachers.

Chinese proverb: “A bit of fragrance lingers on the hand that gives flowers”.

Claudia Bailey

Friday, June 29
Thought for the Day:
“Success is getting what you want; happiness is wanting what you’ve got”

Another sunny morning and I look forward to seeing my students again. So far, it’s been a great experience. This morning, we start off with Susan giving the weather report. Then we break into our two groups to complete discussions on the creation of a new global society from the Global Volunteers Workbook. Each of the two teams had to decide how their new global society would be structured. There seemed to be wide consensus that it would be a democracy with certain provisions for censorship, should it be needed for national security concerns. Initially, both groups opposed the idea of people having the right to own guns but after some discussions, the two groups thought that allowing hunting rifles would be okay if a license was required. Most of the students were against the idea of gay marriage, however, a student named Monica pointed out pointed out that people have the right to be happy and that people shouldn’t be denied happiness if it doesn’t hurt anyone else- a strong opinion which gave other class members something to think about. Students also had progressive ideas on preserving the environment, calling for increased use of renewable technologies such as solar and wind power and the use of environmentally friendly industries such as high-technology, tourism, aviation and transportation.

How about education? The students wanted smaller classes and performance pay to supplement their salaries. All were opposed to capital punishment. All-for-all, many of their views were not different than those of Americans-we all have many things in common, wanting a good quality of life with good jobs and a strong network of family and friends.
During the second half of class Dana led discussions on vocabulary as we encouraged students to form sentences using key words. When Chris popped his head in the door, we repeated slang with students “shot the breeze.”

To cap off a good day, it had been rumored there would be Karaoke that night. With three taxis of Global Volunteers it looked like an official delegation as we pulled up in front of Karaoke TV. Claudia won “comeback singer” with her awesome performance of “Memories” from Cats followed by a stunning performance of “Midnight Orchid”, a classic Chinese song from the early 1950’s by Martin and Kathleen. Overall, the results were impressive, as other Karaoke-goers looked into our window to hear what those American folks were singing.
As a result, the city government has asked Global Volunteers to start a Karaoke-only teaching program in Kunming. “If the Chinese people can learn to carry a tune like those Global Volunteers, China will be better for it” said Chinese president Hu Jinto. “We look forward to working with those American Karaoke-goers.”

Saturday, June 30 2007
Thought for the Day:
“The teacher opens the door, the student walks in by himself”

An all-day trip organized by Chris to the Stone Village concluded a visit to the newly named “World Heritage Site of the Stone Forrest Park.”

After about a two hour drive leaving the city and passing the lovely countryside studded with fields and terraces of rice, corn, tobacco and wooded hills, we arrived at the simple village of the Yi people with basic stone houses, walking in on unpaved tracks, passing workers/farmers tractors. There were many picture opportunities of locals carrying toads of wood, balancing tubs of water on poles, loads of wood, checking out huge, fat pigs, goats, chickens. We were welcomed by the local teachers, toured the village primary school and accompanied and were escorted to the host family’s courtyard to find tables laden with steaming bolls of feed, all prepared by the pretty young hostel. Tables were moved to the shady terrace—we feasted on fried homemade cheese, corn, pumpkin, red beans, rice two kinds of greens, mashed potatoes with chives chicken and roasted walnuts. Afterwards the hostess put on her costume and graciously afforded more Kodak moments. Next was a visit to the Stone Forest, walk through the incredible limestone/ karst formations before returning to Kunming.

Sunday, June 1, 2007

The day was devoted to various cultural and otherwise pursuits. Shopping, swimming, massages, etc. Susan bravely ventured by bus to the “National Minorities Village”. Kathleen, Martin, Claudia, Curt and yours-truly decided to “live it up” for lunch at the sumptuous buffet at the Green Lake Hotel only to be told by the maitre’d we cannot be served because the entire restaurant was booked for a private party and suggested the Chinese Restaurant across the lobby. Kathleen went over to negotiate for salads while some of us checked out what we sere missing at the buffet, when we were invited to a table towards the back! We re-assembled, were seated, started to order drinks when we were approached by yet another director and invited to leave, apologizing for the confusion. Needless to say we were insulted at practically being thrown and left in a huff while a line of twelve staff bowed and muttered “Sorry”! As we marched out we had to restrain Curt from mooning the director. We then went on a search for a western restaurant, ended up at the “Fennel Pub” at a terrace table overlooking the lake and the passing parade of Sunday crowds. We had another comedy of errors when Claudia’s egg rolls turned out to be a flat omelets. My first salad consisted of sliced bananas and apples covered with a sweet sauce laced with chocolate and colored sprinkles. Joel, passing by joined us later.

At dinner Brenda generously provided an array of cakes for desert. Joel also treated everyone to a glass of Yunnan wine. Gloria returned from her weekend trip to Xian and enthusiastically recounted the highlights.

We all reviewed our goals and commitments with Hu Di and the program for the next two weeks.

Donna Penoff

Monday, July 2, 2007
Thought for the Day:
“Seeing is easy, learning is hard”

Already it is the start of the second week of teaching for Kunming Team 149.
We had an extra half hour to sleep in as breakfast was not until 7:30am.

At 8:30 we boarded the bus for a half hour trip to the flower market, Dau Nam on the outskirts of Kunming. HuDi told us at breakfast that there are plans to move the city of Kunming there in stages because of the limited space in Kunming. First to be relocated will be the local government offices.

Chris, our guide, said the blower market began about ten years ago and now is the largest in Asia. Flowers are flown throughout China and all over Asia. We soon left the city and were surrounded by greenery and row after row of plastic sheeting sheltering the flowers being grown for the market. We arrived and HuDi said we would meet at the same place an hour and twenty minutes later. We invaded the market-first plants from cactus to heavenly-smelling jasmine, on to the main area with row after row of cut flowers. Mainly roses, lilies and carnations in help a dozen colors. In the midst of the flowers several people were removing by hand all the rose thorns to make them lighter for air shipment. Beyond this area large boxes of flowers were being wrapped for air shipment. We departed with many bunches of flowers. After lunch at the hotel we reviewed teaching techniques. Every one is enthusiastic about the student’s progress.
Afternoon lessons were mainly concerned with preparations for the speech festival.
Dinner at the 1915 Restaurant featured skilled tea pourers. The tea pot has a three-four foot stem and the server could aim the water into our tea cups without spilling a drop.

Sally Keller
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Thought for the Day:
“Go carefully with peace in your heart, love in your eyes and laughter on your tongue. And if life don’t hand you nothing but lemons, you just make you a bunch of lemonade”.

Advice given to Ellen Burstyn’s character by Richard Farnsworth at the old desert gas station in the movie Resurrection (1979). It was a dark and stormy night. The volunteers slept soundly all except for one, whose window fan had been mysteriously defenestrated the previous morning, destroying itself in the process. Fortunately, no one below had had the misfortune to be on the receiving end of this surprise from the skies. Instead, the roof of a local gentleman’s car had absorbed the blow, shielding no-doubt-surprised local pedestrians from harm. Morning broke cloudy and gloomy, with rain threatening. No one at breakfast this morning was so indelicate as to inquire as to the current temperature and ventilation status of the unlucky volunteer’s room. Some of us were as foggy as the skies, as no one could remember the location of the journal or who had been responsible for Monday’s entry. When the mist lifted, the journal was retrieved and Sally was assigned to write a post-dated entry for the previous day. We reviewed our schedule for the day, to include class speeches and selection of festival speakers in the morning, and a visit to the Hump Memorial in the afternoon.

Speeches given in this writer’s class ranged from good to excellent. Gloria informed the teachers that we would leave the room for ten minutes to enable them to discuss the speeches and select their speakers. She suggested that they use the secret-ballot method for voting, and that we would tabulate the votes upon our return. However, when we reentered the classroom, they immediately handed us a card with the names of the three chosen ones. So much for secret ballots. Two of the names on the card were name we had expected, but the third was somewhat surprising. No, we will never tell which name was the surprising one! Chris paid a visit to each class during the morning session. Depending upon which class one was in, he or she came away with the understanding that (1) on Wednesday our teacher group would be taking us out to lunch, or (2) that we would be taking our teacher group out shopping, or (3) none of the above, as at least one group was told nothing at all in English regarding what had been discussed between Chris and the teachers in Chinese. This apparent discrepancy caused some good-humored concern when we compared notes at lunchtime. The consensus, as always with Global Volunteers, was simply to see what the day brings and go with the flow.

Lunchtime also brought a surprise visit from the Hotel Manager and a few staff members. They lined up by the serving table and the Manager addressed the group briefly (in Chinese, with translation), apologizing profusely and repeatedly for the lack of air conditioning in the hotel to date, assuring us that the hotel aspired seriously to four-star status, and promising to provide top-notch service henceforth. The volunteers applauded graciously and appreciatively. After this delegation had departed the room, Hu Di made us aware of the dilemma faced by the Manager. Chinese government environmental and energy regulations simply do not allow 24-hour air conditioning in hotels in this part of the country. Hotter cities: yes. Cities catering more to western businesses: yes. But not in Kunming; not yet. So the Manager is between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Nevertheless, he has promised to work closely with Hu Di and the rest of us to match our desires to his abilities as closely as possible. Rain began in earnest during lunch, threatening to ruin our afternoon excursion. We returned to our rooms, with Hu Di promising to apprise us of any change in plans should it occur. As the rain abated and none of received a call to the contrary, we reassembled in the lobby at the appointed time, umbrellas and cameras at the ready.

We, in our van, swung by the College to rendezvous with the bus that would carry most of the teachers to the Hump Memorial, and a few overflow passengers bundled into the van. As we left the city and began the climb into the surrounding mountains, we came to regret the decision to have our van follow the bus rather than vice versa, as we were engulfed in billowing black clouds of diesel smoke from the bus. Eventually, our driver stopped (possibly on the verge of asphyxiation himself) in order to give the bus a substantial lead. We then proceeded up the mountain through beautiful green scenery and gloriously clean air. In an act of near-perfect timing, we caught the bus and reentered the Cloud of Doom just upon reaching the main entrance to the Memorial. The bus driver graciously allowed us to pass, and we proceeded to the drop-off point without further discomfort.

Rain threatened once again, but we and our teachers gamely ascended the steps to the first phase of the memorial: a text-and-photographs display telling the stories of the Burma Road construction, over-the-hump flights by the US Army Air Transport Command, and the defense of Burmese and Chinese skies by the American Volunteer Group, more commonly known as the Flying Tigers. Many of the teachers indicated to us that they were familiar with this bit of their history, but most had never visited the Memorial itself. Text was in Chinese and English, so we could discuss each display while, at the same time, those less proficient with English could read the story in Chinese in order to gain as much knowledge as the rest.

A few more uphill steps took us to the Memorial itself, dedicated in 1993 and of modern design. Some of the more perceptive and, perhaps, artistic teachers among us commented that its twin spiked peaks and angled forms leading up the sides resembled two high mountains with accompanying foothills, and that the foot passage through the middle could represent the treacherous path the pilots had to fly, threading the needle between towering mountains they could not climb over, with any human error or mechanical failure resulting in a crash into the unforgiving stone walls. An inscription on a white marble wall nearby commends the brave pilots who flew the missions, and the hyphenated phrase over-the-hump used in the inscription inspired a spirited discussion of the way in which hyphens have combined and changed a preposition, an article and a noun into an adjective. They all seemed to be clear on the concepts not only of hyphenation, but also of adjectives, etc. Good for them.

A sudden rain shower brought out the many brightly-colored Chinese umbrellas, and the several stodgy black ones carried by most of the Americans. (I know, I know: not all the Americans umbrellas were black! But more were.) A short walk downhill from the Memorial brought us to a pond stocked with an astonishing variety of multi-colored, multi-sized carp, and the obligatory seller of fish food. A lovely pavilion graced the pond, with tables and benches for people to relax and eat while feeding the fish –- a switch from the usual routine of relaxing and eating while eating the fish. Peach trees grew along the path by the pond, and our teachers who had been there before told us that the peach blossoms are especially beautiful when in season. As for us, we could see the beginning of the actual fruit on the branches, and one of our teachers warned us that Chinese believe if you touch one of these baby peaches, it will not grow and ripen. So we looked, but did not touch.

Further on, we came upon another pond with beautiful pads (if that is the proper word) of lotus flowers floating thereon. Benches and tables had been provided, and everyone settled in for a bit of a chat in English, of course. As everyone rose to leave, Gloria and Craig’s group decided they needed a quick round of their new favorite song, so the hills soon reverberated with Day-O,DaaaayO, Daylight come and me wanna go home. A few verses of the Banana Boat Song put everyone in the proper mood for the remaining climb to the departure lot and our transportation home.

Being quick learners, those of us in the van made certain that our driver left ahead of the bus, and the trip back into town was as pleasant as the return from any grand outing to the routine of daily life can be. At about five o’clock we bid adios amigos to some of our teachers, and Good Night to the rest. For anyone reading this in the future, the reference to Spanish will remain our little mystery. Proceeding directly from the College to tonight’s dining venue, we found ourselves and our carry-on baggage being disgorged from the van at Yitianyuan restaurant in the northern part of the city. This is alleged to be a Muslim restaurant. If you don’t believe it, just look at the Chinese girls wearing veils and funny hats and welcoming us at the Chinese at the door.

A hand-washing stand in the main dining room amused some of us with its hair-dryer-as-hand-dryer mechanism all attached to a pillar, of course and a flight of stairs led us to our large table on the mezzanine. Veils were dispensed with upstairs, as plastic sanitary gloves became the costume de rigueur. Tea was poured, and Hu Di ordered for all of us, as usual (Praise be to Allah!). Food began to arrive, looking and smelling delicious, as always. We realized that we had truly entered a new culinary realm when some of the more perceptive among us commented that there was no pork with our Chinese food. Someone had substituted lamb, of all things. Luckily, they tempered any consequent surprise or discomfort by including the requisite number of tiny bones we have come to expect. And Hu Di had the discretion and good sense also to order three beef dishes, two soups, three vegetables, noodles, potatoes, chicken, dumplings, Minnesota hotpot, bagels and knishes, a partridge in a pear tree and a ‘57 De Soto in case anyone was really hungry.

After borrowing money from us to pay for all this, she led us to the street where three taxis appeared almost immediately to return most of us to the hotel. Hu Di, Sally and I then experience Chapter Two of Hu Di’s Bad Taxi Luck. (Never mind what Chapter One contained.) The three of us waited, waved, paced, laughed, and checked our watches, then waited and waved some more. Finally, a cab stopped for us and we entered, only to be ejected like gringo brunchers from the Green Lake Hotel when it turned out that this particular cab driver isn’t allowed to drive into the central city on Tuesdays. Go figure. But it came to pass, as the day follows the night, that a vacant and empowered vehicle took us in and transported us safely to our destination. Thus endeth the seventh work-day (if you can call this work) of Team 149.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007
Thought for the Day:
Happy Birthday America!
Many of you know I am from Philadelphia, Pa. which is known as the “cradle of liberty”. I think it is fitting that we once again hear the words of William Penn who on grant from the King of England provided this rich and meaningful quote:

I expect to pass through life but once, if therefore, there be any kindness I can show or any good thing I can do any fellow being, let me do it now and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.”

Thanks to Claudia and her “Google” skills we found the “real thing” instead of many paraphrases of this quote.

Sally and Craig began our meeting with the Journal readings from the two previous days. Class discussion centered on the China Culture Day with the students. We wished more advance notice had been given regarding the plans. As it stands we will lunch with the students and each class will pursue their own day trip but we must leave school no later than 11:30 and return to our hotel by 3:00 pm. We meet at six pm for dinner and our Minorities Performance to which we will walk, beginning at 8:00pm. So we meet in the bobby at 7:15. On our ride to school some of us reminisced about this being the 4th of July and all the wonderful parades and entertainments of various sorts that are held all over the country on this day. We talked about the old TV and radio shows and entertainers such as Sophie Tucker, Kate Smith, Ed Sullivan, etc. We sang Yankee Doodle Dandy and a few bars from others. We discussed the pros and cons about our national anthem. As usual, the main problem voiced regarding our Star Spangled Banner is the difficult range for voices. Better received were America the Beautiful and My Country Tis of Thee. For me, however, it is still a thrill to hear and sing “The Star Spangled Banner”.

Gloria Islander
Thursday, July 5

We returned to the hotel after the Festival and went to a very nice restaurant called MaMaFu which serves international cuisine. A change from the Yunnan Province menu was welcomed by many of the volunteers who enjoyed entrees ranging from duck, T-bone steak, Italian pizza, and side dishes of Israel salads, milkshakes, and orange juice. HuDi had to leave the dinner early to visit Susan Johnson. After the meal ended the group broke up to return to the hotel although many of them went shopping at Wal-Mart and the Bird and Flower Market. Tomorrow is the end of the teaching week and many of the volunteers are looking forward to a weekend excursion to Lijiang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Kathleen Choy

Friday, July 6

Once upon a special time came volunteer team 1-4-9
From all across the USA
Each different in a unique way
First we set goals and made a plan
All with HuDi, our “big boss man”.
We then pulled out our bags of tricks,
Determined English flaws to fix
We danced, we played, we talked “real Slow”
Then off on field trips, we all did go.
And after classes on free time,
We ventured out to help unwind.
Karaoke like we had no sense
Like stray cats howling on a fence
Bought vests and outfits
Made to order
And tried to bargain down a quarter.
Dropped objects from the window sill-
-Slurped noodles until green at the gill.
Now homeward bound, I must fly,
But I’ll not bid you “adios-goodbye”
Indeed I end this journal rhyme
And just say,
“ya’ll come and see me sometime”
Ya Hear! Brenda Clark
Saturday, July 7 and Sunday, July 8, 2007
Thought for the Day:
“Gentleness, patience and a sense of humor will help you get through almost anything.”

I awake at 6:30 a.m. with a nurse who wants another blood sample as well as my temperature. You might ask if this is the right journal entry for team 149 at Kunming. Yes. I have had the unusual opportunity to spend two days in a hospital in Kunming as well as one day in the emergency room. After finding that Cipro was not solving my problem, I was given the unique opportunity to see what hospitals are like in Kunming. Fortunately, a bed was available in the emergency room, so I did not have to lie on a mattress on the floor as many people did after me. An antibiotic and glucose/vitamins were given to me as well as an alcohol wipe on my face for my fever. My fever came down but the medication as well as an overnight stay in the emergency room still did not provide the relief I sought so I signed in to the hospital on Friday, where more antibiotics, and vitamins were administered. There was a little improvement and Friday night was spent in the hospital with more antibiotics and vitamins administered to me on Saturday. Since the problem seemed partially solved, and due to the fact that I was a foreigner, I was able to sign myself out of the hospital and spend the night at the hotel. After the last 2 nights sleeping on a steel-frame bed with steel slats and a 2-inch mattress and bedding that was cumbersome, the hotel bed and the western bathroom was heaven. I had to be back at the hospital by 8 a.m. for more IV’s until the results of my tests came back. Some say it will be one day and some say it will be three to four days. The hospital is growing a culture to see exactly what kind of bacteria is in my system.

I hope Shannon was able to climb Western Hills this weekend, Joel’s wooden plaque should be finished and maybe Craig went to the cultural program a second time. Five of our team were off on a trip to Lijiang this weekend and they will have to add their experiences. My Sunday will probably be like my Saturday, so someone may be reading this to you.

Although my circumstance is regrettable, I can not tell you how helpful the Global Volunteers Organization is being, and the caring and loving attention Hu Di and Chris have given to me during this time. Chris has even sat through the administration of many of my IV’s, adjusted the rate of the drip and given me hot bottles of water to hold when the IV drip was painful.

If you are interested in the time of China’s history in the 1980’s when farmers had nothing to eat but corn and sometimes potatoes and each member of the family was given one ticket for a new suit of clothes that had to last for one year, take some time for a discussion with Chris. He has experienced it all.

I hope everyone will add some happy events from the weekend to my journal so your thoughts and experiences can be remembered by all. Hope to be with you soon.

Susan Johnson

Saturday July 7 and Sunday July 8
Thought for the day:
“If an earthquake occurs during the night and you woke up with a start from a deep sleep, don’t be flurried! The best way is to wrap yourself in a quilt and hide under some solid furniture such as a writing desk, bed and so on or hide into a small-span toilet”
From: Common Knowledge of Protecting Against and Avoiding Earthquakes at Guesthouses and Hotels.

LiJiang was a small agriculture-based city until 1996 when an earthquake destroyed most of the area except for the buildings in the “Old Town”. Engineers architects and builders flocked there to study how these buildings were able to survive the earthquake. An entire new tourist industry developed from the ruins of the earthquake. Today 80% of the people in Lijiang earn their living in tourism and 20% in agriculture. In the Old Town of Lijiang there are over 3,000 shops, all selling very similar merchandise. Because of the number of businesses in the Old Town competition among the merchants is intense.

Claudia, Curt, Gloria, Sally and I met our guide, Jean at the Lijiang airport. Last year the Global Volunteers who went to Lijiang sung the praises of our guild, Jean on so many levels including her ability in communication in English, her understanding of local history and customs, and her willingness to accommodate all requests. Jean did not disappoint us; she more than lived up to her advance billings. Her understanding of both Tibetan and Han Buddhism is outstanding. Her insights into the Naxi culture is superior. Not only was she able to explain complex traditions to us she was very well versed in the artistic symbolism at the monasteries and other religious sites we visited.

Special thanks to Mr. Ma for his efforts in organizing this trip for us.

After a buffet breakfast on Saturday morning we traveled to the transportation center at Yulong Snow Mountain and our expedition to the Yak Meadow. To cut down on the number of cars and lessen pollution, everyone travels the area in busses. To reach first our destinations we went up the mountain in a covered two-person chair lift. We ascended the top of the mountain through the clouds, all the while listening to the sounds of silence, occasionally broken by the songs of the birds that inhabit the area.

After a stop for a potato and corn snack and the first of more than the 500 photos taken on Saturday we went to the Yufeng Lamist Temple. Here Jean told us about the living Buddhas who live in the Lijang and Kunming areas. She told us about the significance and meanings of the prayer wheels, prayer flags and other sacred symbols. We made donations and were given white scarves as thanks.

Leaving the Yak Meadow the sun broke through the clouds and we boarded our bus and began our trip down a series of 180 degree switch back turns on the mountain road. At every S-turn our driver loudly sounded his horn and yes, there were no guard rails.

At the mid-way stop we posed for more pictures but this time Curt and I had our pictures taken on one of the Yaks. Twenty yuan if you wanted to “rent” the Yak for a photo op or 50 yuan if you wanted to venture into the middle of the glacier lake for a longer Yak ride and a more extensive series of photographs. We chose the less expensive option but we got many pictures! Many more pictures and then it was time to go.

Lunch followed at the Jade Water Village where Claudia and the local Naxi women put on a lunch-time dance performance. Our next stop was the Yuhu Naxi Village. The former home of anthropologist, Joseph Rock, was another stop at this village. Rock spent many years studying Naxi culture and his writings in National Geographic as well as a photographic exhibition were displayed. The novel Lost Horizon by Joseph Conrad describing the legendary Shangri-La was supposed to have been based on the writings and insights of Joseph Rock.

At this stop Curt found a gift to pay Martin back for his kindness in getting the Mao cigarette lighter that played “The East Is Red” for him. Curt is presenting this give to Martin when this journal is read for the group.
Next we viewed the Baisha Murals and a famous 500 year old camellia tree. At both stops local legends where recognized for their efforts against the havoc of the Cultural Revolution.

Returning to LiJiang we had dinner at a five-star restaurant that served a buffet dinner, no pictures here only dinner.

Sally, Claudia and I attended a Dongba Cultural and Religious performance featuring an 82 year old Dongba Shaman and a large case of Naxi musicians and dancers from the Naxi minority.

Curt and Gloria found their way to the Karaoke at the Five Star Hotel where they entertained the guests with their renditions of American popular songs.

We left the hotel at 9:00am on Sunday morning for Black Dragon Park for a walk that featured pictures of Curt with two live peacocks, Claudia and a small money and many other interesting shots. This was the only location where we were able to photograph inside a temple. We saw young minority women working on weaving and embroidery. Our last stop before lunch was to the Dongba Museum, opened last year and were given a tour. A local Shaman was showing the pictographic language of the Naxi people and we were given the opportunity to purchase calligraphies as donations to the continued support of the museum. After lunch at a local Naxi family-owned restaurant we returned to the Old City for two hours of walking, tea tasting, shopping, and watching local Naxi men and women doing traditional dances in the square.

Maureen Tracy

Monday, July 9, 2007
Thought for the Day:
“Life moves pretty fast-if you don’t stop and look around every once in a while, you might miss it”
-Ferris Bueller’s Day off (aka my favorite movie of all times)

It’s hard to believe that there are now only three days left in our program. Though I cannot speak on behalf of all the volunteers, I would like to share a few things that I’ve learned on this trip-14 to be exact which happens to be my lucky number as well as the number of people in our cozy group.
1) Truly great teachers show honest love for their students and absolute self-discipline. The knowledge of the Ohio version of “Sally the camel” is also a necessity.
2) Age is only a number.
3) It is possible to order lunch, accompany people to the hospital, demand air conditioning, and fine the addresses of traditional Chinese dress stores all at the same time.
4) Tequila goes well with Chinese food.
5) The art of winking has not been lost.
6) Learning the local language, even a little, goes far in
bridging cultural gaps. Having a hearty laugh and an enviable sense of human doesn’t hurt much either.
7) Passion.
8) You can never take too many pictures.
9) There is always time for Karoke.
10) Friends can be made on the stairs to a restaurant if you have true love
for people and a pocket Chinese-English dictionary.
11) Never pay 100 yuan if you can bargain for 30 yuan.
12) I should always take the opportunity to flaunt my thirteen years of
public education and my SEC school..
13) My comfort zone expands with every experience.
14) There is always a good time to stop talking.
Shannon Chen

Tuesday, July 10

Today I finally felt restored from the trip to Lijiang. Last night there was no interruption from the “banana lady”. Our class also learned some American idioms such as “my way or the highway”. Donna conducted a quiz where the class competed against each other in two teams and once again the competition was intense. We discussed different states of the United States. When asked where in the US they wanted to go, Monica mentioned that she liked Gone with the Wind and would like to go to Atlanta and that she wanted to learn more about the American Civil War. Paula wanted to learn more about Native American culture and that she would like to visit Massassachusettes. We also suggested New Mexico as a place to visit.

Today I stopped at the bakery and was encouraged by Dana to try an egg tart. I picked up my photos from Lijiang I tool some excellent photos of Gloria at her Karaoke festival which I threatened to have published unless substantial payment is made.

Curt Cultice

Wednesday, July 11
Thought for the Day:
Chinese proverb for the day: “Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I’ll understand.”
6:00 a.m. – Wake-up call
7:00 a.m. – Breakfast with the team
8:00 a.m. – Board the minibus for our trip to Kunming Teachers College

Day after day, the same routine. But once we see our students’ faces nothing is routine. Every day we are doing our little part to help to make the world a smaller place.

When I first considered going on a volunteer vacation to help ease my transition from full-time teacher to a life of part-time jobs and part-time travel, I had no idea that my two experiences in China with Global Volunteers would change my life. But they have.

I’ve not only made new friends among the Chinese people but I’ve met two extraordinary groups of Americans. These are Americans who happily gave their time, their money and their hearts to share language and cultural experiences in a far-away place hidden from us just three short decades ago.

Although our trip to Kunming is coming to an end, our memories will last a lifetime.

Joel Ferris

Thursday, July 12

As individuals we are lemons, but when we are blended, we become a life force for change in the world. This definitely reflects the philosophy to Global Volunteers founder, Bud Philbrook. What a legacy he is leaving behind when his time on earth has ended. Each of us is doing the same thing, perhaps on a lesser scale, but nonetheless a powerful contribution to mankind.

Breakfast and lunch meeting times were shot-just enough discussion to finalize our part in the closing ceremony this afternoon. Back to our rooms to “dress up” in order to prepare to say goodbye to these wonderful teachers.

Before class began this morning our students gave us such heart warming gifts. They were so carefully chosen with Craig and me in mind. I cannot but compare these precious offerings to those that we receive stateside. In the States they may be more grand, but many times lack the warmth and thoughtfulness that our teachers have shown to us.

Our afternoon festivity was a mixture of these speeches by our College host
followed by an excellent slide presentation that covered al aspects of our three weeks with a mixture of Chinese and American popular songs for background-thunder and rain added background as well!

The teachers from each class did a good job of presenting their skits. Global Volunteers did themselves proud with songs like “Getting to Know You” and
“So Long, Its Been Good to Know You.”

After many teary “goodbyes” we weft for a gourmet dinner. Out in the rain for a taxi search and then home. Thus ends a memorable three weeks. I bid you all adieu and God Speed!

Gloria Islander

Friday, July 13
Thought for the Day:
Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to a divine purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: That we are here for the sake of others...for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy. Many times a day, I realize how much my outer and inner life is built upon the labors of people, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received.Albert Einstein

Team 149 has begun to disband. Soon all will be returning home or journeying elsewhere. Our journal reflects our rewarding time in Kunming – personal observations, shared escapades, cultural encounters and deep emotional farewells. I think we all agreed -

Nothing could be fina
than to teach in Kunming, China
in the mornin’.

We crammed a myriad of activities into our last day – morning exercises in the park, final fittings of elegant garb, museum visits, manicure or massage, goodbye calls to new friends, The “Dynamic Yunnan” show, toasts and laughs, packing.

The members of Team 149 have been enriched by our experiences in Kunming and will take their own individual memories with them. We set and attained our team goals through cooperation and hard work. The young teachers in our “classes” worked diligently, provided cultural information and shared many personal experiences and dreams. And we volunteers gained admiration for our Chinese colleagues as we learned how teachers in China struggle with large classes and long days yet, unstintingly, give their hearts and best efforts to their students.

We were few in number but shared countless smiles with all those around us – our young teachers, the leaders of the host institutions, the college students, the hotel staff, shopkeepers, and people on the street. As Mr. An Wei says – it’s a good way to wage peace.

Claudia Bailey