China Team Journal

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Team 150 CHI0707A1

Global Volunteers Team 150 Journal
July 14 to August 4, 2007
Kunming, China

July 15, 2007 (by Olly)
Thought for the day: If you are not living on the edge, you are taking up too much space.

Sunday, July 15th, the team members assembled in a conference room on the 20th floor of the Golden Springs Hotel. The 1st order of business was to complete the team member background info sessions which had been carried forward from Saturday evening. Once the individual info sessions completed, Team Leader, Hu Di, began the orientation. Areas covered included:
1. A brief history of the Global Volunteers China Program
2. An overview of program philosophy. Included were
· A program is only initiated at the invitation of a local sponsor
· The objective is to serve
· Learn from the locals
· Listen to them
· Activities are at the command of the host

3. In the next step, each team member identified 3 personal goals they had for the program. Each goal was written on separate sheet of brightly colored paper,stated as a simple verb phrase.

Hu Di and the group then batched the individual goals into like categories. The goals broke down into the following 5 categories:
· To Build Positive Relationships
· To Serve
· To Learn
· To Have Fun
· To Grow

4. In the next step, the group identified the following 19 characteristics needed to insure a successful project.
· Trust
· Be Positive
· Open Minded
· Flexible
· Sense of humor
· Sharing Ideas
· Conflict Management
· Respect Differences
· A Good Leader
· Share Responsibilities & Goals
· Motivation
· Time Management
· Cooperation
· Support Each Other
· Stay Healthy
· Innovation/Creativity
· Tolerance
· Friendliness
· Have Fun

5. In the final step completed before lunch, Hu Di indicated she needed team members to volunteer to act as supporting managers/coordinators in 5 areas. The areas and the manager/coordinators are:
· Journal Managers – Dorothy & Jane
· Health & Safety Coordinators – Saul & Nancy
· Teaching Coordinators – Gretchen & Karen
· Freetime Coordinators – Kerri, Joanne, Ann & Diane
· Final Celebration Coordinators – Carmen, Vanessa & family, Christine & Diane

6. After lunch Hu Di reviewed Global Volunteer’s Policies & Guidelines. The following 6 items comprise the Policy section:
· No personal gifts during or post program
· No intimate physical contact
· Obey local laws
· Work hand-in-hand with locals
· No one-on-one contact with individuals under 18 except in a public setting
· No use of illicit drugs or abuse of alcohol

The following are guideline items
· Do not make promises on behalf of Global Volunteers
· Travel in groups of two or larger
· No photos for 3 days
· Hold off on any discussion of controversial subjects for at least 3 days

7. Following the Policies & Guidelines review, Hu Di reviewed the Welcome Volunteers Document. See document for content detail.

8. A language lesson was the final component of the overview. Hu Di handed out a basic vocabulary list and drilled the group in correct pronunciation of the items on the 1st & last pages.

July 16, 2007 (by Karen)
Thought for the Day: "Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused". Unknown

After a night of tossing and turning, waking up thinking of topics to encourage conversation (I am sure many of you can relate) we all met in the meeting/dining room to enjoy breakfast and hear Ollie's account of the previous orientation day.

Looking forward to meeting our group of teachers, we later boarded the bus and drove to Kunming Normal University to be met by our local host representatives for photos and speeches. Mr Li Yunzhon welcomed us and Hu Di spoke about Global Volunteers, easily switching between Chinese and English, then inviting each of us to say a few words to our awaiting students. I was especially impressed with Mr Xu Xiaochuan who gave a heartfelt speech in excellent English!

Then Chris gave us our room assignments and announced student assignments. As everyone started to move, the press zeroed in on Vanessa and the boys - eager to interview them and get their thoughts on Global Volunteers. ( Note to Self - we need to find out when and on what channel the interview will be shown.)

In room 3301 Vanessa, Ben and I wrote our names on the board, and our 12 students wrote their names in Chinese and English. We heroically tried - again and again - to pronounce their names correctly amid much laughter and, " Yes - Yes". (Our homework will definitely be to practice their Chinese names tonight). The introductions flowed easily and interest seemed high. In fact, our conversation was interrupted by a bell and sudden realization that it was past 11.30. We packed up, eager to continue tomorrow.

On the bus back to Golden Springs, I realized I had learned quite a bit about Yang Ya-he (Rachel) and Shi Li-huz (Nancy) AND Vanessa and Ben - all in a very short period of time. It's a good beginning.

Christine and I spent the afternoon exploring a few stores in Kunming and looking for the illusive local postcards. We never did find them, even with Anne's help. Tonight was the Spicy table Vs the Bland table at dinner. Hands down....the Spicy table won.

July 17, 2007 (by Vanessa)
Thought for the Day:
“People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered; Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; It was never between you and them anyway.”
Mother Teresa

I came here with my two sons, Ben and Alex, and their friend Graham, to experience another part of life. A part of the world I’ve only heard about on TV or in the newspaper since I’ve not been fortunate to have had any Chinese friends.

We began our collective adventure on Saturday, our team of 18 arriving from earlier travels in China or from faraway lands such as the remote corners of Boston or even Australia. Over the last few days we’ve shared brief accounts of our own lives; always I am amazed by the depth and breadth of life experiences and compassion of my teammates on GV journeys - this team being no exception.

We’re beginning our third day of teaching this morning. The schedule is already settling into a comfortable routine. We get up, eat. Go to work, eat. Spend an afternoon at rest or at an assembly, eat. It’s no wonder many of our stomachs are churning and burning regardless of whether we sat at the spicy table the night before. Fortunately we have a doctor in the group who doubles as our health and safety officer. And he takes his job very seriously. Even more fortunately, many of our group are seasoned world travelers with lots of tips on how to stay and get healthy.

I am not a teacher, but many others on our team are, and fortunately for me they are very willing to dispense advice upon request. I have to admit I’m nervous about what looms before us. I’m nervous about having enough material to keep my 12 teachers interested and active in our conversations. I’m nervous about whether they’ll look back on their experiences here with fondness or derision.

I may not a teacher by trade, yet I’ve found a way to communicate with my students, even after only a few short hours. And in return, they’ve laughed and sung and welcomed us warmly.

And I’m learning something about China already. I’ve learned to watch out for the bathroom faucet, lest it shoots water up into my face unexpectedly. I’ve learned parents don’t routinely hug their children after the ages of 7 or so. I’ve learned to stay away from pigs ears at dinner. I’ve learned older Chinese women give to beggars on the street just as older women do in New York. And I’ve learned that four people really can ride on a bicycle at one time.

As I ride to school in the mornings watching so many young and old people dancing with fans in the park, noticing a line of young women all dressed in pink being reviewed by their boss as they stand at attention outside their shop door, and gazing at the multitude of large brightly colored street signs in a language I know I will never call my own, I realize I am indeed lucky to be here. I know I might never have this opportunity again to travel to such a place. But that’s OK because we take today and yesterday with us into tomorrow.

Miriam Beard wrote:
Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.

Many years from now, who knows what stories my children will tell of this trip. Whatever lands these three children see or experiences they have, I know that I’ve been fortunate to have shared this one with them today.

You have brains in your head, and feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own and you know what you know. And you are the one who’ll decide where to go.
Dr. Seuss

July 18, 2008 (by Alex)
Thought for the Day:
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Whose woods these are I think I know. His house is in the village, though; He will not see me stopping here To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer To stop without a farmhouse near Between the woods and frozen lake The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake To ask if there's some mistake. The only other sound's the sweep Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.
What can I say? As I sat down to write this journal entry, every bit of me disliked the concept. I was tired. It was 10:00 at night, I had been moving about for the entirety of the day, and I was still a lesson plan away from sleep.

However, then I started thinking. That tends to work out.

The day started simply with an early awakening and a simple yet delicious pseudo western breakfast. With my gut satisfied, it was time to set out for work.

The drive through the city was harrowing, as always. Every day both Graham and I marvel at how the bus driver seems to thread the proverbial through a horde of pedestrians, bikes, and cars. Although, in this case, the needle is a multi-ton bus. I suppose that makes everything all the more interesting.

However, the many near collisions are not what I notice most about these bus rides. As I took to gazing out the window into space, as any teen is obligated to do once a day, I could not help but notice the stares. A girl, perhaps only a few years older than me, was looking, wide eyed, at the bus, or rather its occupants. I really cant lay out a conclusion, wrapped in words of wisdom, here, as I don’t really know how I feel about this. Perhaps it is still a time of observation, both for me and those we pass. However, I digress.

School was school. And by that I mean, it was brilliant… and exhausting. Though I grudgingly acknowledge the importance of vocabulary and grammar to my students, I still find the simple learning and teaching our respective cultures most rewarding. Who knew explaining and making sense of the society and culture that passes invisibly before me every day in the United States could be so fun, both for me and my students. Anyway, school ended.

Lunch began, it was tasty. I then went back to school, so I guess it hadn’t really ended.

My second excursion into school that day was a bit more nerve wracking. Though we may not all agree that more spicy is more delicious, I think we can all agree that more spectators is more absolutely terrifying.

Graham and I talked about America, and though Graham has already forgotten the hours of school operation with it just a few months in the rear view mirror, things went swimmingly.

It was back to the streets for the return voyage to the hotel. I only say voyage, because for the first time it seems as if the rainy season is living up to its name. As the road sloshed beneath the bus, more alien sights passed before my window. A motor bike speeds past, a tremendous poncho blanketing a mother and a child. The child’s presence is only revealed by a pair of short legs protruding from beneath the neon orange.

Arrive at hotel. Rest momentarily. Go insane. Regain sanity. Return to group for dinner.

Dinner was fantastic. Dinner was large. After Graham and I struggled through the equivalent of a full meal at the hotel, a massive soup was put before us. I swear to god, when I saw the first bowl go down, I though it was for the whole table. I was wrong. I soon had my own giant bowl. I agreed with Graham when he said it was a giant bowl of crazy.

Speaking of crazy, one act caught my attention. I am referring to the fire… wielders. Who, grabbed their fire, ate their fire, and scratched their nether regions with their fire. Now I may have attributed this to “weak fire”. However, said weak fire burned a hole straight through one performers pants. Yea, I kind of freaked out at that moment. To say the least, I was impressed.

We then departed, and returned to the hotel. I was tired.

So, I guess that was the day. Sure, it was long. Sure, I am dead tired, and still have some lessons to plan. Sure, it would have been easier to just go to sleep and leaves these words unwritten.

However, my exhaustion is also sign of a good day, and if there is anything worth writing about it’s those precious few truly good days. And tiring or not, a good day is all one can ask for. So let’s have a good day, today.

July 19, 2007 (by Ann)
Thought for the Day: "To thine own self be true and it will follow, as night the day, thou canst not be false to any man" Shakespeare from Hamlet; Leartes to his son.

Raindrops keep falling on my head.... for the second day in a row, but they don’t seem to mar my spirits or those of the other committed volunteers. So - Hi Ho, Hi Ho - it's off to work we go.......

Eager to learn, our students have come prepared each day with the homework assignment Chirstine and I gave them. Each of the students was prepared to talk about some experience they had that was special to them. After each student spoke, we encouraged the group to ask questions while Christine wrote on the board any words they had difficulty pronouncing. Some of the students related early teaching experiences, while others spoke of travel - all of which had made a lasting memory for them, and touched my life as well.

Following this activity we went over some words they had had difficulty with the previous day. We then lightened the session by doing the Hokey Pokey.

Following a short break, I passed out copies of an exercise on Incomplete Sentences, where they had to fill in a blank space with a correct word, available from a multiple choice format. We learned that many of the students had difficulty understanding many of the words in the sentences. We then went over each sentence, defined each difficult word, listed the possible choices, and defined each one on the board.

With 10 minutes left in the session we played a game that was fast paced and fun.As I process this mornings session and record my experience, I find new ways of looking at the world and my place in it.

July 20, 2008 (by) Jane
Thought for the Day: I not only use all the brains I have, but all that I can borrow. Woodrow Wilson

This quote describes oh so well my experience teaching with Global Volunteers. I started preparing at home by reading though all the suggestions in the book we were sent. I gathered materials and packed them away, with mini lessons brewing in my head. Once here I became caught up in all the ideas I heard around me at breakfast and on the bus. My head is often swimming with ideas and I don’t know where to start. Fortunately there is always someone to talk them over with. Some of my class’s favorites so far include doing a play- The Titanic, playing musical chairs, asking the students to give each other clues to guess a particular word, the hokey pokey and the Cha Cha slide done with another class. I am looking forward to doing menus with them, exploring more idioms, more American culture and perhaps a little singing.

After lunch a small group of us headed out to the Bird and Flower market in the rain. What a unique place – I have never seen anything like it. The ground floor was all fish tanks some loaded with some pretty huge fish, fish food and fishing supplies. The next floor up was jewelry. That floor was my personal favorite. Stall after stall of jade pendants and bracelets. I perused and tried on several before deciding on one that came with a 30% discount. I felt pretty sure it was the real thing but was even more pleased when Hu Du wrapped her hair around it and attempted to burn it. Since it did not burn I clearly had the genuine article. The next floor was ethnic crafts. Many costumes, embroidered works and paintings. I found a paper cutting of a rooster which I know my mother will love.

For dinner a group of about 14 of us took off for a Western meal. We went to MaMa Fu’s. We had western pizza, vegetarian pizza, seafood pizza, french fries, apple pie and ice cream. Even Hu Du’s father joined in with our Western theme and had a pizza and ice cream.

Never doubt that a group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead
And when you do it with Global Volunteers you can have fun at the same time. Jane Miller

July 21, 2008 (by Joanne)
Thought for the Day: The best way to learn something is to teach it.

Saturday – Free day! It sounds by all accounts that everyone has had a good first week – more than good great.

Lying in bed Saturday morning, I felt like a little kid, ideas of things to do and places to go swirling around my head much like sugar plums or whatever those things were.

I had a full body massage last night. I remembered the one I had two years ago. Vigorous would be a good word to describe it. Also probably aggressive and combative. I wondered if Father Xu and his staff hated Americans. I thought I could bear it but I finally had to tell my masseuse the pressure was a little too hard. I was discorving that if I tensed my muscles (because of the pain) she would feel that under her hands and knead harder to relax them. I felt like such a wimp, complaining in the face of hundreds of years of honorable Chinese culture.

I charged it to my room hoping to get the small discount for hotel guests. I walked out the salon feeling really good but frankly part of it might have been the feeling you get after a cold shower – it feels so good when it’s over.

I poured myself into bed after a little snack of some fruit and pastries that I had bought down the alley just around the corner. I bought a sharp knife too, for 2 Y, that I will donate to GV when I leave.

Mercifully, after the massage the mass of mush that was my body last night had congealed itself overnight into
human form. But 22 Y for a one hour massage. . . My friends back home will be so jealous. As for myself, I’m going to stick to foot massages. But, of course, what is said in this room stays in this room.

One of my priorities today is to go back to the Bird and Flower Market. I wanted to buy souvenirs for friends and family back home. Also, I seem to be starting a collection of snuff bottles. I bought one in a tiny flea market in Beijing two years ago and realized that I had the collectors bug when I snatched up three more at a small flea market here in Kunming near The Hump Hostel, which, incidentally, is a great place to visit. It’s near the Golden Horse and Jade Rooser Gates and has that funky chart that young tourists of all nationalities always give to a place. There is a lot of Chinese and American WW II memorabilia in the dark cozy cafe.

A couple of random thoughts: I am surprized at the similarities between the Chinese and Italians. Both are eager to help a stranger, generous, love family and love gambling. Another revelation is what a thrill to come back to visit a large foreign city and kind of know your way around.

Wo ai Kunming (which means I love Kunming in Chinese).

July 22, 2007 (by Saul)
Thought for the Day: The two pronged investigation into the nature of the world and the nature of ourselves, it is , I believe, what the human enterprise is about” Carl Sagan,

I awoke this morning on my hard bed and Ann’s cozy company, remembering the wonderfull time we had last night. Let me give you some flashes of memory: Invitation to Ann, Dianne and me for dinner from two teacher- students, half hour taxi ride, for which we were not allowed to pay, Mandy, one of our hosts, spent about 2.5 hours cooking an eight, count ‘em, eight dish, delightfully delicous dinner. Ada, our other host, entertaining us with her dazzling art work and Chinese rock and roll, playing “catch the pillow” and watching “Pinocchio” with Leo, Mandy’s friendly, outgoing eight year old son, everybody, including Leo, taking photo’s of everyone else, the taxi ride back to the hotel, for which we not allowed to pay. It turned out to be more than just a wonderful evening – it was a life experience which I’ll never forget.

Well, back to Sunday. After breakfast eight of us met with Chris for an all day outing to the Yi native village and the Stone Forest. After a bus ride of about an hour and a quarter, through interesting industrial, agricultural and mountainous country, during which Chris explained what we were seeing, we finally arrived. Chris led us on a walk through the village. Some noteable sights included the colorful murals painted by non-native artists, men fishing in a very muddy pond and several animals of several different species. Then, lucky us, we came to an embroidery shop. I must admit the work was beautiful but I got a little nervous when my wife broke the Asian land-speed record getting to the merchandise. Then I found out she was using Jane’s money to buy the stuff, so I encouraged her to buy as much as possible! I never thought I would hear those words come out of my mouth!!

Then it was lunch time – we walked to a patio furnished with the lowest tables and tiniest, hardest stools I have ever seen. I had to stand up periodically, a challenge in itself, to stretch my legs and rest the part of my anatomy in most intimate contact with the stool. But the meal was amazing. Sixteen different dishes! Now, I didn’t like all of them, I found the clotted pigs blood somewhat less than appealing. I did enjoy some of them, though, the scrambled eggs, sweet potato and goat’s cheese.

After the meal we were toasted melodically, repeatedly and with great volume by our host and her waitresses. This was done with local rice wine. I hereby officially warn all future visitors to this village not to have more than 2 – 3 very tiny sips of this stuff or you will not remember the rest of the day, and awaken on the ground on that part of your anatomy referred to above that was in most initimate contact with the stool.

How can I describe a work of nature like the Stone Forest. It is composed of majestic limestone rock formations sculpted by water, beautiful reflecting ponds and green green grass. It is a magnificent sight and I highly recommend the visit.

I cannot bear witness to anything that happened after dinner at the Hotel between 7.00pm and midnight when my watch ended because I came up to my room after eating to write this. I am now about to fall face first into my bed, by which action I will probably be badly bruised; but al least maybe I will get a good night sleep and I hope you all had the same.

July 23, 2007 (by Ben)
Thought for the Day: “Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have traveled.”- Mohammed

I awoke this morning to my mom’s frantic voice yelling, “It’s ten to ten, wait no it’s ten to six, oh just get up!” which was followed by the crack of a slammed door. I assumed we were late for breakfast. I dreaded this thought because it not only meant I had to rush my morning routine but it also meant I had to leave my very comfortable bed. And yes, I said comfy bed. You see I sleep in a room with Alex and Graham, so when we first arrived they automatically called the two better-looking, larger beds and I got stuck with the cot. However, once they actually felt the beds I think they regretted their decision since they got stuck with rock slabs while I had a nice soft cot. Anyway, I brushed, showered and dressed as quickly as I could and ran down to breakfast.

After breakfast, instead of going to class, all the volunteers were taking a little field trip to a flower market. Once we got there, all the volunteers were immediately immersed in a plethora of wonderfully smelling flowers. What I think excited everyone even a little more was the price of the flowers, or should I say lack of a price.

I definitely regret not bringing my camera because there were so many opportunities to take photos of not only the flowers, but the people as well. I don’t think that this market was a normal tourist destination, so I truly felt like I was experiencing a special part of Chinese culture and not just something fabricated for tourists. After wandering around a little, seeing the sights, and maybe picking up 10 roses for 50 cents, we all headed back to the bus. Right before leaving however, some volunteers indulged on the tasty ding ding candy.

After leaving the market we headed back to the hotel to have lunch, which for me consisted of bananas and peanut butter. Following lunch, all of us went to class to teach. Today, my class merged with Alex and Wanay’s class. The class’s and I enjoyed such things as bingo and planning for the final celebration.

Directly after school, all the volunteers went to dinner at a Muslim restaurant. After sitting down, Hu Di called me over to ask me something. She said and I quote, “You were the one who said you wanted to try food you can show off about eating, right?” Immediately after she said this, I thought to myself and I quote, “Oh bugger!”

I ended up ordering fried worms and some other tasty critters. I sat down, a little scared of the imminent meal. First came some delicious dishes such as duck and a mashed potato like food. Then I saw it. A plate covered in fried worms and something else unidentifiable at the time. I thought to myself, I can’t back out of this now. Finally, I picked up one of the worms, eyed it over a couple of times to make sure it was ok, and plopped it in my mouth. It tasted kind of like something burnt and greasy. However, it was the texture of the food that got me: crunchy on the outside and mushy on the inside.

I then picked up the next morsel and to my delight, realized it was a maggot. I said suck it up, literally, and plopped it in. This one was the worst, by far. I was too concerned with the way it felt in my mouth to actually taste it. It felt exactly how you would expect a maggot to feel… very, very gushy.

Finally came the fried wasp, which surprisingly I liked the most. I picked one up, looked him straight in the eyes, and plopped him in. I can’t really describe what it tasted like; it was completely unique. It tasted like wasp. At the end of dinner, my brother (who also participated in this strange feast) and I convinced Hu Di to try a wasp. Coincidentally, directly after she ate this wasp, we left. All in all, I ate 2 worms, one maggot, and three wasps, and I most definitely have something I can show off about, so Hu Di, I thank you.

After eating dinner, we are all headed home and here I am writing this journal. I’m sure most of you have had enough of this somewhat disgusting journal so I think I’ll end it here.

July 24, 2007 (Anne Overbeck)
Thought of the Day: The purpose of human life is to discover our union with the Divine, not by transcending this life, but by becoming fully alive here and now through the giving and receiving of love (Joan Boryensko)

There has been a kaleidoscope of images and impressions since coming to China beginning with the overwhelming, gleaming, modernistic airport of Beijing contrasted to the rather drab-grayness of the Kunming airport. Being found by little Summer within a sea of humanity at the airport was very reassuring. On the ride to the hotel, Summer gave me the first glimpse of what I would have the fortune to see in my students and that is how eager they are. Summer was so enchanted with the fact that I came from the Boston area. Her favorite writers are the transcendental writers such as Emerson, Hawthorne, Louise May Alcott, and she is a devotee of Emily Dickenson.

Through the course of the week I’ve been struck by the color that surrounds us. The buildings and shops display splashes of red, yellow, blue, purple and orange. When the rains come, the streets and sidewalks are ablaze with yellow, red, aqua, green, blue, orchid, purple. All this color is in motion as the umbrellas and bicycles and motorbikes with colorful punchos move along to their destinations. There might be two, three, four people on a single bike beneath one colorful puncho. There is a very bright yellow line running along the sidewalks. I am told that is for blind people to be able to feel the sidewalk. My question is what do they do when they reach the end of a block and must cross the street. Crossing the street is an adventure. If I am exposed as I venture across, I run until I have a Chinese person on either side of me to act as my buffer.

I don’t know how much English our students have learned, but they have been a joy to be with, and we have had a great deal of conversation. There is John with his beautiful shiney face who appears to not understand much of what we say, but is trying oh so hard. He brought in his musical instruments some of which he made himself, and played for us. His headmaster has suggested the possibility of some foreign touring to perform if John would teach and learn English. Candy brought in her daughter’s traditional outfit of her minority group.

They love Dorothy and when we asked them to write about a famous person they would like to be like, one of the students picked Dorothy. Dorthy was in the company of Abe Lincoln, Chairman Mao, Chou En-Lai, Madame Curry and Bill Gates.

The strongest image that stays with me occurred on our visit to a very holy and serence place called the Buddhist Bamboo Temple. I went to the restroom and when I opened the stall door there was a chicken standing next to the squat toilet. I found another stall. She was there first.

I end with the Buddhist Loving Kindness meditation: May you be at peace. May your heart remain open. May you awaken to your own true nature. May you be healed. May you be a source of healing for others.

July 26, 2007 ( by Carmen)
Thought of the Day:
“Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace.
You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will live as one.”
from John Lennon’s “Imagine

After having spent a restless night with the Dynamic Yunnan drums and visions dancing in my head, I woke to another wet day. I quite like the rain. To me it represents nourishment and renewal of all that is green on earth. However, I do appreciate the inconviences it can cause. But as my southern mother says “You’re not suger – you won’t melt!”

Thursday, the second to last day with my students. How am I ever to face Friday and goodbyes. These young men and women are such special individuals and I think represent the best and brightest of a generation in China. They are eager to learn, ( I remember the day they asked for homework) enthusiastic, friendly, warm and sunny. No matter what I am doing at the board I turn around, and I see 11 smiling faces. Wow, what a differnce from American colleges, where I have taught.

Today as I was speaking about some silly idion or slang, Mango just got up and left the room. So I continued with a discussion on “Couch Potato.” What was Mango up to. Well, it was soon apparent. She walked into the class with two huge, I mean huge, bouquets of flowers for Gretchen and me. To say I was overwhelmed is inadequite. I was completely flabberghasted (which I had to spell on the blackboard, of course.) The room was filled with the sweet sell of roses and lilies. But we still had business… It was the day of the Speech Festival and our chosen 2 participants were a little nervous. I do wish they all could have given their speaches. I had been astonished at the heartfelt topics and self-assuredness they had demonstrated.

The Speech Festival was a hit with some touching, informative and comical moments. It was rewarding to see my students Jason and Menria perform so well. But I think the highlight was seeing Hu Di gong a couple of long winded students off the stage.

Then we were off to a BBQ somewhere out of town. The drive was both frustrating because of the traffic, and a little treacherous at times. But as we rolled into the gates the gang exploded into awes and applause. The buildings were traditional architecture with its exquisite carvings and colors. After watching a young man catch some of our dinner from a small pond – we waited and we waited, and we waited some more. Well, dinner was worth waiting for. We had a wonderful time sharing with our Chinese friends who laughed every time I dropped something out of my chopsticks (a common occurance.)

After dinner we were off to the hotel – but surprise – Hu Di was staying behind and to our delight a young Chinese Soldier was going to take her seat for a ride into town. Poor guy! Nancy was sitting next to him, grilled him good-naturedly all the way. He was adorable with his English for which he kept apologizing “So Sorry, So Sorry”. When Nancy started getting into a few off limit areas like where is your base a few of us broke in. None of us wanted to spend our last days in the Chinese Clink!!

The last few weeks have been, surprizing, rewarding, exhilerating, funny, and heartmarming. But I could go on forever.

July 27, 2007 (Dorothy Albee)
Thought of the Day: This one comes from a sign on the highway as you enter Louisiana – COME AS YOU ARE – LEAVE DIFFERENT. Don’t you agree that we will all leave different when we exit from ourGlobal adventures in China?

The day dawned clear and mild, and we 3-weekers are suddenly realizing how much we will miss the 2-weekers, who will leave tomorrow. I will certainly miss my teaching partner, Anne O. who has been full of fruituful teaching ideas. We were expertly driven to he college through the usual chaotic morning traffic. We are so lucky to have that wonderful bus driver! Classes were to be cut short, since there would be a farewell ceremony put on by our sudents, and by us Globals, as a group.

Our class did some American idioms, which they love, and it’s such a delight to hear them use one of idioms in conversation. We also worked om some of the words containing sounds most of them find difficult – TH, L, etc.

Then they rehersed the song they had chosen to sing at the farewell ceremony –
On Top of Old Smokey. And then came John – one of our students who finds English very difficult, presenting Anne with a beautiful whoo-loo-sue flute, which he had made, in a lovely fitted case, which he had bought. He said he would like to play the flute at the ceremony, and would also like to say something in English.

Previousy he had brought several flutes of different kinds which he had made, and demonstrted their special sounds. This morning there had been two flute cases lying on the floor beside him, and I noticed he looked very puzzled as he talked to several of the students at the break. Then Candy came over and said that John was wondering if it would be impolite if he gave me my flute now, since only Anne was leaving. So I, too, am the proud owner a whoo-loo-sue flute. And Jane, who lives in the Stone Forest, gave Anne and me each a paper peacock, a sign of good luck, to hang in our homes. Everyone expressed their gratitude to Anne, and said how much they will miss her.

At the farewell ceremony, all of the 9 classes performed – there was singing and dancing, as well as flute music. Then came the Global performance, in which we sang Waltzing Matilda, but before we sang, Christine expained what many of those Australian words meant.

After we sang, Anne and I recalled the elegant barbecue the Hotel treated us to last night, and we realized that we had EATEN a JollyJumbuck, which in the song means a lamb or a young sheep.

After a free afternoon, when some shopped,some packed, and I did some teaching research, we had dinner at the hotel. Hu Di said that 3 people were having birthdays very soon, - Anne O, Ann G, and Wahana, and she had a surprise. She went into the next room and came out with a big festively decorated cake, which she cut, with a delicious piece of everyone.

Most of the 2-weekers are leaving at the crack of dawn tormorrow, but the rest of us can sleep in. Chris is doing a trip to the hot springs, plus a visit to a school tmorrow, and I signed up for that. So we shall see what delights tomorrow will bring.

July 28, 2007 (Wahana)
Thought of the Day: We must be he change we wish to see in the world. Gandhi

The ten two-week program people left today or will leave soon. The were Vanessa, Alex, Ben, Graham, Saul and Ann, Anne O. Jane, Carmen, and Joanne.

Today five of our volunteers had an adventure with Chris and Hu Di. Kerrie, Gretchen, Dorothy, Nancy and I were taken to An ning City, about 60 kilometers from here, but it is considered a suburb of Kunming. The principal, Mr. Jhang, of Bao Xin School in this city and another driver came to transport us.

Our first stop was at the Bao Xin School which is a middle school, serving an extended area, therefore it is also a boarding school. We were served melon, nectarines, and candy and were told about the school. Mr. Jhang’s daughter, Ann, whom I know from out classes, helped interpret. The principal gave us caligraphy lessons, and we were allowed to experiment with the art, some doing better than others.

After leaving the school, we went to a small restaurant, called Shi Wai Jia Yuan Restaurant. Of course, we were served plenty of food. We especially like some of the food. One of these dishes was potatoes.

The five volunteers sat at one table with guests with whom we could converse in English. Timothy, a teacher, at our table said that our table was “small potatoes” and that the other table was “big potatoes.” He hadn’t talked to a native English speaker in 15 years, but he knew this idiom.

Our next stop was the An ning Hot Springs. Nancy and I had a private room and went into the hot springs, which was really hot. The other volunteers did not wish to go in and waited in a nearby cabin.

After a long, interesting day, Mr. Jhang and Timothy brought us home. However, our day wasn’t over. A group of seven went to the Blue Bird Restaurant, which serves western food. We enjoyed the food but especially the musical duo who played and sang a variety of American songs. We sang some songs along with them.

July 29, 2007 ( Gretchen)
Thought of the Day: “Do your little bit of good Where you are. It’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
As I reflect on the last couple weeks I am saying goodbye to my faithful partner Carmen. Having succombed to the GV bug going around I had to abandon her 2 mornings in a row. We had a great time with our students . Both of us leading and assisting alternating activities.
Today has been a down day for me – resisting a morning Mama Fu experience and afternoon bowling with the group. Still trying to recover from whatever parasite has persisited in attacking us one at a time.

Some of my most memorable experieinces (outside of my class sessions) have been dealing with the post office. The first encounter went fairly smoothly – mailing letters to grandchildren at summer camp. Even the postman was helpful gluing on the stamps with brush and liquid glue. Then the search was on for postcards. Once I managed to find them the next challenge was to get them mailed. Saturday morning I marched confidently off to the post office and was greeted by the armored truck guarded by 3 men with guns - Very big guns!! Now at home when the Brinks Armored truck is parked in front of a building or shop we just walk around it, go in, and do whatever. Sily Me!! I should know things are a bit different here! Also the big guns should have been a clue. But not to be deterred from the Mission in Mind… it seemed as though people were going in and out, so I bravely started to walk up the steps and was quickly shouted at in Chinese and pointed out and over there… somewhere.

I thought: “Never mind I will do this later” and in total embarassment walked back to the hotel. After regaining my confidence I did return later in the afternoon and was greeted by 2 friendly ladies so very willing to help me with my oversized postcards. After much discussion and consulting of others and a phone call – a clipboard of tattered stamps was found. Now – The stamps had to be attached with brush and liquid glue. More Fun. It will be a miracle if all postcards weren’t stuck together and another miracle if stamps stayed attached and all postcards reached their intended destination.
Ahhh! Thank Heaven for email!

I do fear that if I don’t stop getting shouted at by not obeying Chinese rules of behavior Hu Di may put me on a “No Return “ list. Last year as you know it was the camera incident. And I definitely do want to return to Kunming.

July 30, 2007 (Christine Ravenscroft)
Thought of the Day: “ You arrive in the capital city, which is named Yachi (Kunming) and is very great and noble. In it are found merchants and artisans, with a mixed population consisting of idolators, Nestorian Christians and Saracens…” Marco Polo

Today we three weekers face our first day teaching bereft of our 2 week companions. Many of you will, by now, have reached home and familiar surroundings - or will they now seem, initially at least, unfamiliar?
We were to have a short morning teaching – only an hour - and go with our classes to Green Lake for friendship and conversation. However, the Lazy Dragon had other ideas and the trip has been postponed. The Lazy Dragon, I have been told by my students, is part of a saying “ When the lazy dragon comes out of the house it will rain” - it remains to be seen who is the Lazy Dragon - but rain it certainly did! Many students were absent today - Monday - and I was told there is an important meeting in Beijing and some are there.

Some of us went to lunch with our students as it will be their last free afternoon time this week. Green Park will wait as Chris advises that it ..”Can’t rain for the next 4 days…”. My diminished class took me to lunch at a retaurant near the lake – they chose a Chinese meal and were horrified at the ‘tea menu’. There were pots of tea, for two people, for 1800 yuan…we settled for regualr Chinese tea.

This evening we were invited to a Dumpling Making Party at the home of Ann, one of the student. Her father is the head teacher at the schoolsome visitied on the wekend. 3 generations including assorted aunts and uncles lived there, a modern 3 bedroom apartment in a complex hidden behind shops and restaurants. We were shown this art and all had opportunity to attempt to mimic the practiced hands of Ann’s mother and grandmother, and HuDi’s parents. There were many interesting Dumplings made - shaped like chickens and dinosaurs, tortelleni and egg rolls. Most contained meat and vegetable filling but others contained candy – hard to tell which was which from the cooked version. But as in avery other Chinese meal there was not a spare inch on the table as dishes were piled up and the table groaned under the collective weight of dozens of dumplings, grandma potato, soups, chicken, tofu, Chinese pizza plus beer and waters and tea - you get the picture???

After dinner Ann asked us about our Chinese horiscope animals and worked out who was what – “it is a game’ she cried and then dissappeared into another room for several minutes. Many toasts were made in beer and 5 Rice Wine - potent stuff at 68% alcohol and we moved to the comfy chairs. Anne reappeared and produced framed papercuts of our signs, all signed by her in both Chinese and English.

If the noise level is an indicator, everyone had a great time, laughter is a wonderful way to gap the language barrier and all shared in the results - Grandpa, busy in the kitchen mixing and stirring, aunts and mother cooking, the men entertaining with tea and sweets.. There were many many photographs taken and shared on the night. – thak goodness for digital cameras and instant review.

But to another note, I thought I would add some things I have learnt in these short weeks in China:

1) Road Markings: are purley for decoration, to give paint manufactures something to do and road painters a job. They have no function in keeping traffic in lanes or even containing them to the one direction
2) When crossing the road at an intersection with pedestrian crossings, you are third on the pecking order – cars that are moving have first go; followed by bikes that are moving, followed by pedestrians. I have followed HuDi’s advise to cross with a local and try to pick one with a baby
3) Elevators: as you have called for an elevator it is obvously yours; there will be no one already in the elvator wanted to leave so as soon as the doors open – rush it and trap the people ready to leave the car – they love the ride and will go back to your floor just for fun…
4) Hot water can be cold water . Hot water for your own Coffee at breakfast can come as ice cubes, but they will eventually melt so you can make your coffee from them - or just ask again for hot water….
5) It can rain for 10 days in a row.

July 31, 2007 (by Kerri)

Thought for the Day: What if the hokey pokey really is what it’s all about?

Wow this month went fast
I can’t believe that this day
Is one of our last.

I’m sorry I can’t wax poetic
I’ve tried but it’s no use
For I prefer the simpler stylings
Of good old Dr Seuss.

The morning dawned bright and early,
Well maybe not so bright.
We gobbled up our breakfast
Still talking bout last night.

Our usual feast of bananas
Noodles, eggs and cereal
Had a new addition this morning
Left over dumplings made for a unique meal.

Then we climbed on board our bus
And headed off to school
We fought the crazy Kunming traffic
Are there really any rules?

My class took me to lunch today
To try some Yunnan food
Imagine my great surprise
When some of it was good.

Some others went out on trips
To explore this crazy city.
Wahana went to Green Lake
She sure thought it was pretty.

Diane and Karen went back to school
To show Mad Hot Ballroom.
It seemed to be quite a hit
Sparking chatter round the room.

Well, “Don’t quit your day job”
The hotel told Hu Di
For you cannot cross your legs
At the desk for all to see.

Then back in taxis on our way
In our usual traffic jam
We learned its not just foreigners
The drivers like to scam.

We went out for hot pot,
It was a delicious dinner.
It seems like after three years
Hu Di’s finally picked a winner.

The Hu Di, Olly, Kerri and Karen
Went off to see The Man.
As with most things in China,
It didn’t go quite according to plan.

Tickets were sold out
So Hu Di had to Scalp ‘em
Karen and Olly headed home
It was past bedtime for them.

Those of us who stuck around
Hu Di and I and her Mom and Pop
Saw a crazy action movie
The fighting never seemed to stop.

There was lots of Kung Fu
Actors throwing each other through glass
All of the characters seemed to enjoy
Kicking each other in the… Ummm Knee

For a true cultural experience
I had an interesting seat mate.
He and his movie partner
Seemed to be on a hot date.

She snuggled close, stroked his leg
And made a few calls on her cell.
For after all her friends want to know
If the date is going well.

As for Romeo himself
He struck a sexy pose
Spending the whole movie
With a finger up his nose.

Well I exaggerate a bit
After all his fingers would get numb.
So he took a break every once in a while
To root around his gums.

Now July 31, 2007 is done
It 8 minutes past midnight
So I’ll put this awful poem away
And wish everyone good night.

August 1, 2007 (by Nancy Lopez)

Thought for the Day: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times….”

What can I say about my time in Kunming with Global Volunteers. It has been described much more eloquently and even in poetic form so that I am at a loss for words. I have made some observations:

l We have settled into a breakfast routine with our choices of food seemingly unchanged.
l We sit in the same seats on the bus, some in the front and some in the back. After a few more weeks here we will be like old married couples.
l You are not permitted to drive after you turn 60-65 years of age.
l Don’t turn your back when standing in line or someone will step in front of you
l Taxi prices vary depending on how many and where you are going, but always seem cheaper coming home.
l Donate 2 glue-sticks to the China Post and they seem happy to see you when you return.
l Go to line 2 at the Bank of China where the teller speaks English and she will cash $ 100 in notes for you if you do not have your original passport. No Copies Please.
l China TV is really interesting and has some informative history programs.
l Hu Di is not as naive as I suspected after hearing her toilet paper joke.
l The toilets in Kunming are far superior to any others I have experienced in all of China.
l At the Bird and Flower market they have 2 escalators going up and none going down. Why not convert 1 to going down?
l Umbrellas serve a dual purpose, both for sun and rain. You actually could have a wardrobe of umbrellas.
l Chinese traditional singing could give me migraines.
l The joy of combining 2 classes and hearing them sing in unison.
l Playing Minnie Mouse with my cousin Millie was more than fun, and then being asked for autographs afterwards.
l Chinese medicine works as well as Western medicine, depending on the situation.
l Wahane is a good room mate no matter where, when or your health status.
l It might be suggested that cell phones be attached permanently to the ears of the Chinese.

We have eaten our way through the entire Golden Springs Hotel menu, and so went to Mama Fu’s for dinner. Mama Fu literally means “Mom pays”. Dorothy had her usual entree of apple pie and ice cream for dinner. I think I have discovered her secret, eat dessert first!

As I have been told “don’t try to understand us, just accept us” I certainly have difficulty, at time, understanding the Chinese but I can accept them and their beautiful culture.
This will be my last trip to China and this makes me very sad, but for me age has been a factor and I need to return home to my own Fountain of Youth. I have so many memories that no-one can take from me: the student teachers, the beauty of Kunming, a bright and enthusiastic group of volunteers, and Hu Di - the epitome of a great leader.

Thank you all - and good night.

August 2, 2007 (by Diane)

Thought for the Day: "How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard!" from the musical "Annie".

Though there's a part of me that really does feel this way, there's also another whispering this: "Why can't we get all the people together in the world that we really like and then just stay together? I guess that wouldn't work. Someone would leave. Someone always leaves. Then we would have to say goodbye. I hate goodbyes. I know what I need. I need more hellos." - Charles Shultz (Peanuts)

It was a very wet Hello this morning. Maybe our biggest downpour. On the dark street below I saw the colorful ponchos and umbrellas moving along slowly. The wake of the cars visibly inundating them. Stepping off the 2nd floor elevator, greeted by the ever welcoming staff. The extended arm and another hello.

Our last day of teaching. I brought some extra kleenex, not that it helped. Couldn't find it when I really needed it. Walking into that classroom everyday, seeing those eager, kind, curious faces always made my day. No matter how tired or sick I felt, those faces made me forget myself.

There were the helpers: arranging my papers, erasing the blackboard, carrying my 'way too heavy' backpack. The risk-takers: those who I could count on to break the ice. The expert: with English so clearly advanced he was a model for the class. Then there was Alice who spent the first week with her head down, hand covering her mouth. Tread carefully here I thought. But by Monday, the second week, her face opened up and she started talking and laughing. And she made friends with her desk-mate.

After a "free-form" last lesson, all last requests accepted (please teach us "I love you", and a few other phrases, in Dutch and French). Sorry, their wish was my command, I would have done anything for them at that point. We walked out in the pouring rain on our soggy way to lunch. A lunch among new friends, a perfect way to end the stay.

Back for the final celebration. For those of you who left, much of it was the same. However, the dignitaries from Kunming and the College who had greeted us at the Welcoming Ceremony were there as well and said their goodbyes and thanks. Hu Di gave another one of her inspired speeches. We watched a slide show with pictures of our stay. And, we sang "It's a Small World" and our students sang: ......... help Hu DI? We received our beautiful gifts and it was time to say good-bye.

It was good we had to be at the bus for an early dinner. It made it all so much easier. Outside the steamy windows, there was a large group of teary-eyed students sending us off.

A final dinner at a gorgeous restaurant. Chris joined us, Kerrie couldn't be with us, and we shared our last Kunming meal together. I added another "napkin packet" to my collection of for future reference...should I return - which at this point seems likely. We returned to Golden Springs, said our Goodbyes to Kerrie (who is off to the "Extreme Games" in North Korea), and went up to prepare for our departures.

Thanks to Hu Di for her endless patience, flexibility, honesty, and humor! Thanks to all who made our visit possible: the staff at Global Volunteers, the Kunming local government, the Teacher's College, to Chris, the wonderful staff at Golden Springs, to each other, and to our wonderful students who have become our friends.

In the words of Garrison Keilor: (sp?) "Be well, do good work, and keep in touch!"