China Team Journal

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Host Partner Plea for 2009

On behalf of all the teachers and students in Xi'an Biomedical Technical College, we wish to express both our sincere appreciation for Global Volunteers' generous contributions and sincere wish for volunteers' continuous service to our college in the future.

When we heard the bad economy may affect future numbers of volunteers, we feel sad, disappointed. We want to shout loud to the other side of the world “please help us”, but we know our voice can not reach that far. Would you please help to tell all the volunteers we need them here?

We can still remember how excited the students and the teachers were when the news came that Global Volunteers would come back to teach again. Till now, we both have spent some time with volunteers. We know the real reason why there are so many unforgettable stories about them. For many students, their coming has become their first time to talk to teachers from the other side of the Pacific Ocean, who have different colored skin, eyes and hair. Before they came, it was common that many students feared English, because for them, the study of English meant endless and tedious vocabularies, grammar and tests.

However, the volunteer teachers are like a fresh spring stream, giving the students enthusiasm to learn English well. Not merely because of their fresh appearance and their interactive way of teaching. Their patience, patience and encouragement also gave the students courage, which is likely to influence not only their English learning but even their whole life. Moreover, their sincerity, respect, frankness, honesty, dedication and good sense of humor are all life lessons for us.

The most valuable gaining for both the volunteers and us is the same... the love. The seed of love has been sowed by volunteers here, and also been brought back to the U.S. It’s hard for me to make a long list to measure how much the volunteers warm our hearts. It is also love to make us sad when farewell time comes. I cried bitterly when Jim, a nice teacher who has been remembered by many people, left. It's love that binds us and makes us want to see each other again. We cannot imagine how we can get through the next year without volunteers coming to help! Sincerely,
-Sunshine (English teacher) and Julia Dong (Director of Foreign Affairs Office)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Report from Kunming - Team 162

United Nations Millennium Goals Addressed by this Team: (Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.) Eight volunteers provided 210 hours of conversational English language instruction to 45 teachers and 72 secondary school students.

Reflections On Week One:
The teachers whom we are teaching begin gestures of respect and friendship. Several stop us in the hallways or stairways to thank us for our comments in Tuesday’s afternoon’s lecture. Others ask if we could go get a bowl of noodles with them for lunch. Still others invite us to come to their home villages. We learn much more of the challenges they face in their packed classrooms, of the disparate salaries and working conditions for the private school teachers Kerri and Natalie talked to on Tuesday afternoon. One asked, “Can you tell me how to get the government to change things?” Across town at Kunming Teacher’s Training College, another wrote to us “How do we change the world?” We stand in awe. We are humbled.

Since we have all been having great English classes, let me share with you some English we have encountered in Kunming thus far…

  • Hi! Just for You! Do you like it?

  • No Smoking –for your safety, please do not smoke on the bed

  • Lanky Nursing (cosmetic product)

  • I’m a Love - Aholic

  • Please You Go Out (exit sign)

  • Be Pleasing Wait for a While in the Pure Field

  • So Sweet – make yourself at home, cut and come again.

  • Please help yourself suiting your own taste.

  • In Case of Emergency, Use Fugitive Route (hotel map)

  • Shoplifting is a Crime, Cherish Your Future, Don’t Do It
    Am I Cute? Please Remember Me (sign in taxi)

  • Drifting Fragrance Chicken

  • Passengers: Get on or Get off

  • Be a Party Hottie

  • Care Land Slip

These phrases remind each of us how much we have to learn and explore in Kunming and really shows how Chinese culture has evolved and developed. These new experiences remind us to always strive for the extraordinary.

Reflections On Week Two:
At lunch, we discussed the difficulties that China has faced this year and it is important to remember and respect the sacrifices of our hardy host nation. Understanding these tragedies brings me closer to one of my personal goals of being humbled—my troubles at home are almost meaningless when compared to the struggles the people of China have faced this year—to think that I thought I was having a rough year. We must remember that we are part of something called “Project Peace,” and that matters now more than ever. (journal entry by James)

Both Kerri and Natalie take on class assignments single-handed. Rob, Sue, James and Sabrina work in two-person teams, although it falls chiefly to Sabrina to acquaint Chinese students with American music, including that inscrutable product of the Occident—the heavy metal band.

All of us note a change in our classes. Students are more verbal, more assertive, and much more at ease. There is a growing focus on the demands of the upcoming speech festival. Students also want to share what they know about yesterday’s bus bombings. To their credit, both Hu Di and Chris share information readily: this is what happened. This is how it happened. This is the unhappy result. Their candor is the best possible antidote to any anxiety we may feel as strangers in this strange land.

Following morning classes on Wednesday, the volunteer teachers had lunch and spent time with their classes in a friendship activity. Some enjoyed Across the Bridge Noodles, others Dai cuisine. Green Lack was a popular spot for walking, enjoying the views and the lotus blossoms at their peak, even seeing an impromptu concert of traditional folk dance and songs by a group of retired dancers, singers and musicians who meet each Wednesday at the park to make music.

Finally, a night of karaoke that we will never forget. Philip and Hu Di put the westerners to shame with their Chinese songs. None of us will ever forget Sue rocking out to the Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Rob and his Blue Suede Shoes, Sabrina and Natalie as Barbie Girls, James trying to sing like a Chinese woman or Kerri playing the tambourine. All in all, fun was had by everyone. As we have spent the past two weeks teaching our students American says and idioms it seems only fitting that I end this journal with an American saying which sums up our karaoke performance ~ “Don’t quit your day jobs!”

I know that we have accomplished a great deal and we should be proud and honored that we all had this opportunity. I cannot wait for yet another new teaching experience on Monday with the “fantastic four” Kerri, Natalie, James and I. I will hesitantly call us that, with Hu Di as the real power behind us all, as we cruise – albeit cautiously- into our third and last week in Kunming! (journal reflection by Sabrina)

Reflections On Week Three:
We all swap tales of naughty primary school students and time-outs in our new teaching assignment, but more importantly, Kerri and Natalie mention that they see real progress in their kids’ English, especially in understanding what we are saying! I find that my kids’ English is very low, but then that allows me to do fun activities with them, such as singing “Old McDonald” and teaching them animal names, and never forget, the old stand-by of doing the hokey pokey.

We all had a fun time wit h our classes and in our discussion it seems we are making progress. What a shame it’s only 1 week! Imagine the development if this program was longer. I have been able to introduce movement and learning away from the tables to my classes and the students like to play games and join in the fun. They are doing so well!

Our last action packed day was a catch-up day, different from our other teaching days, it was very moving, sometimes difficult. Every student, it seems, gave us a huge variety of gifts. It was very touching and we knew how much the students appreciated us through their kind words, beautiful drawings and thoughtful gifts. It was very emotional and sad to say goodbye. I know we have made even the smallest, significant difference. So safe journey, happy hearts and keep in touch as we scatter to the world – But our hearts are in Kunming.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Team 161, Kunming, July 11

By Brent

Thought for the Day: I have been blessed by God. And if I am blessed, there is one reason and one reason only, and that is to help others. By Akiane (9 years old)

Photos for the day: (1) Asian bear. (2) Panda enjoying breakfast. (3) Brent with Josh, Rachel & cousin Hu Di.

Today is a wonderful day. We went the Yunnan wild animal park this morning. In the zoo, at first we saw three bears. They stood up wanted to be fed, but it's a pity we had no food. Then we took the electrical car because we wanted to get the panda garden as soon as possible. On the way, we saw some deer, giraffes, ostriches and camels.

Our first stop was the Lake of swan. There were a lot of swans and white crane on the lake. I also saw another kind of bird with long legs and a big beak, but I do not know their name. Then we got to the grassland, and the pandas. The first one looks plump and cute, then another panda named DiDi came out .It looks lovely, especially when it grabs a bamboo and eats .When I saw some staff chase pandas onto a platform and make the tourists take a picture with them in order to earn money, I felt a little sad. I think we should give the pandas a free space because they are our friends. After that, we saw other three smaller pandas.They are very active keep rolling and play with each other. We took a lot of pictures of them. It's my first time to be with panda so close. Before, I saw pandas through glass and pandas always sleep on the ground. In my impression, the pandas are lazy bones. But today I saw a different picture of panda. We were happy to be close to these lovely animals.

The last stop was the park of peacocks. In there, we saw all kinds of peacocks. They are all very beautiful. At half past 12 we left for the hotel.
Today is the last day of your staying here. I felt very lucky that I had a chance to spend some time with you. I had learned something from each of you, especially Carole and Josh. I hope you will have a good journey home. I will miss you.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Team 161, Kunming, July 10

By Dixie

Thought for the day:
"If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of a  
year, plant trees; if in terms of a hundred years, teach the people."

Photos for the day: (1) Example of the certificates received by students completing the 3-weeks of training. (2) The volunteers sing "If I Had a Hammer" at the closing ceremony.

I believe we are all feeling spent but satisfied, here at the end of the three week program.  Two more rides today to school on the bus driven by Mr. Qui: a last morning class, and then the afternoon Celebration Ceremony and Sharing with all 70 of us in the Teacher Training Program.

Corrine's and my class engaged themselves in "Twenty Questions" and a "Dear Abby" kind of activity.  How responsive and lively the students are!  Ours brought in orange drinks, longan and lichees, peanuts and sunflower seeds for a mini-party at one of our breaks today. Outside in the Quadrangle we folk danced with another class.   
Then we returned to the classroom for a review of "Miss Mary Mack" and "The Noble Duke of York."

For a quiet Finale, Corinne re-read to them a simple and charming book about "what is a friend?"

Riding the bus in the afternoon, we Global Volunteers practiced singing "If I had a Hammer," and virtually reviewed the pattern of dance steps for "Les Saluts," a French-Canadian fiddle tune. Our hope is that the room that Chris is arranging will be of suitable size for all to take part in dancing.

At the Ceremony, Chris translated for the Dignitaries.  Hu Di did her usual amazing alternation of Chinese and English paragraphs of speech. Each Volunteer briefly expressed his/her appreciation and heartfelt thanks to everyone who organized, sponsored and participated in the program at Kunming Teachers College. Scrolls of fine calligraphy with unique and personalized prose were presented to each Volunteer.

The seven classes were prepared to share their talents. 
Glenda's class (all women), modeled beautiful colorful costumes representing some of the minority peoples of Yunnan.  Leon/Kathleen's class told jokes in pairs.  John's class sang "I Can Fly," which they  
had translated into English from the original Chinese.  Josh/Carole's class presented a skit about rascals (Jack and Daniel) who went into a French Restaurant.  Roles of other diners, waiters and Restaurant Manager were acted by the other students, with roles for Josh and Hu Di's cousin Brent. Rachel/Margaret's class sang Frere Jacques in French, English and Chinese. Rachel had worked hard to change the students' pronunciation to "vous" from "wu."  With a yellow paper prop constructed by Margaret and Rachel, the class sang "Yellow Submarine," too.
 Martin's class sang several songs, with members taking turns as Conductor.
 Corrine's and my class sang "Blowin' in the Wind," with a harmony part.

A surprise for the Volunteers was a song about friendship from the students, in Chinese.

 Then the Volunteers shared their rendition of “If I had a Hammer."  
They led the folkdance, "Les Saluts," inviting everyone to join the dance in three concentric circles.

We parted from the students warmly and regretfully, as it was time to enjoy a last GV dinner together at an attractive restaurant across from Green Lake Park.  Tomorrow and Saturday we bid farewell to each other, but it ain't over yet: Hu Di is kindly taking us on an outing to the "Wild Animal Park" of Kunming!  Hello, Pandas!

Team 161, Kunming, July 9

By Carole

Thought For the Day: After the game, the king and the pawn go back into the same box. Italian Proverb

Photo for the day: The Dumpling Team with their hosts

Only two days of classes left. All good things must come to an end. Still, now it seems our end is coming too abruptly.

What are some of the expected joys I found here in China? First off, I think about our students. In this I can only speak directly of the students of Josh and mine. Our students were enthusiastic, fun, bright, cooperative and fairly proficient in English. It has honestly been fun working with them. It has not been so much a teacher- student situation but more a team approach to the classes. They have been anxious both to share their culture and life stories with us and also to hear about what life is like for an American.

Having lived in big cities in America, I’m afraid I have become cynical. When a stranger approaches me on the street, my first reaction is caution that perhaps they want to beg something from me. I’ve learned to walk down the street, taking everything in but appearing to not look at anyone. To be that way here is a grand mistake. More often than not, we receive smiles and friendly gestures on the streets in China. It’s not unusual for children, adults and old people to approach us for the simple purpose of sharing a brief conversation in English.

Every time I’ve been on a crowded bus here, someone has jumped up to offer me their seat. Such simple courtesies have been a delight.

Another true pleasure has been the Chinese massages. One night we received a pedicure, which in fact, was a foot and leg massage. Lasting for 70 minutes it cost about $10. I thought nothing could be more luxurious, but found that idea contradicted the next day. Josh and I were treated by our students to lunch at a restaurant. You won’t believe it! A massage was included with the meal. For about 15 minutes while we waited for our food, a waitress gave each of us a back massage.

A benefit of this trip has been the cultural talks which Hu Di gives us each day. Today’s theme was politics in China. It went like this.

The Communist Party of China (CPC) is the founding and ruling party in China and the world’s biggest political party. Its paramount position as the supreme political authority in China is guaranteed by "Constitution of the People's Republic of China" China's constitution and realized through control of all state apparatus. The CPC has both central and local organizations. At the top is the Central Committee and, while when it is not in session, the Political Bureau and its Standing Committee exercise the power of the Central Committee. Both the Political Bureau and its Standing Committee are elected by the plenary session of the Central Committee.

The CPC is a unified entity organized according to its program, constitution and the principle of democratic centralism. The Constitution of the Communist Party of China stipulates that any Chinese worker, farmer, member of the armed forces, intellectual and any advanced element of other social strata who has reached the age of 18 and who accepts the program and constitution of the CPC and is willing to join and work in one of the Party organizations, carry out the Party's decisions and pay membership dues regularly may apply for membership in the CPC. The party's 70 million members constitute 5.5% of the total population of China.

The CPPCC is an organization of the patriotic united front of the Chinese people. It is an important organization of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC.

The organization consists of both Party members and non-Party members, who discuss Chinese communism's principles. The members are chosen by the Communist Party of China, but are from a somewhat broader range of people than normally chosen for government office. It is composed of the CPC, other political parties, mass organizations, different ethnic groups and representative public personages from all walks of life, representatives of compatriots of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao as well as of returned overseas Chinese and other specially invited people.

Other parties: China Revolutionary Committee of the Kuomintang, China Democratic League, China Democratic National Construction Association, China Association for the Promotion of Democracy, Chinese Peasants' and Workers' Democratic Party, China Zhi Gong Dang, Jiusan Society, Taiwan Democratic Self-government League, Public personages without party affiliation, Communist League of China, All-China Federation of Trade Unions, All-China Federation of Women, All-China Federation of Youth, All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, China Association of Science and Technology, All-China Friendship Federation of Taiwan Compatriots, All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese,

The CPPCC typically holds a yearly meeting at the same time as plenary sessions of the National People's Congress (NCP). Both CPPCC and NPC are often called the Lianghui (Two Meetings), making important national level political decisions. In March, the First Session of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the country's top political advisory body, just took place and lasted 11 days.

The National People's Congress, abbreviated NPC, is the highest state body and only legislative house in the People's Republic of China. Although the membership of the NPC is still largely determined by the Communist Party of China, since the early 1990s it has moved away from its previous role as a symbolic but powerless rubber-stamp legislature, and has become a forum for mediating policy differences between different parts of the Party and the government. For the NPC to formally defeat a proposal put before them is a rare, but not non-existent event, and the NPC has been quite active in being the forum in which legislation is debated before being put to a vote.

The National People's Congress is held in the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, capital of the People's Republic of China. NCP is held each year along with the People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) whose members are from a broader background.

The day ended with a visit to an administrator’s condominium apartment The apartment itself has about 1600 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, a large family room, and two balconies and is beautifully decorated in a modern style. Condominiums go for about $100,000, with a monthly maintenance fee of $20. Because of lack of housing in the city of Kunming, a decision was made to build up a “new” city in the outskirts. In the last 3 years 100,000 apartments have been constructed in buildings of about 20 floors each. There appears to have been much planning since there are also parks, shopping centers, underground parking, schools, playgrounds, flowers, trees, etc.

It was in the apartment where we practiced making dumplings and spring rolls. I learned that the dipping sauce can include vinegar, soy sauce, hot sauce, cilantro and garlic. We may not be masters at preparing Chinese food, but we have greatly improved our techniques in the use of chopsticks.

We’re all looking forward to our final day tomorrow where teachers and students will surprise each other with special activities for the closing ceremony.

Team 161, Kunming, July 8

By Martin

Thought for the day: Traveler’s Prayer: Lord, put your arm around my shoulder and your hand across my mouth….Amen.

Picture for the day: Andy with his guitar rehearsing Martin's class

As we enter the final week of our service program, I am impressed and pleased by the conviviality and camaraderie of our class members. They have become much more self-confident in their casual conversation, have improved greatly in their public speaking ability, and have increased their English speaking conversational skills. They treat each other as members of an extended family and feel a responsibility to their classmates to support and help each other.

Our schedule today includes the usual morning teaching session and then lunch hosted by the students followed by a friendship activity. Lunch is at a charming restaurant near Yunnan University in a private room Aside from an exceptional menu, we have unexpected after lunch entertainment by our student, Andy, who has brought his guitar with him. Andy is a talented composer as well as being a performing artist with vocal and instrumental skills. He entertains us with several of his original compositions which he sings accompanied by his guitar. Several of the women tease him unmercifully about his single marital status which he accepts with good humor. But Andy gives as good as he gets and the lunch turns out to be a festive culinary feast with much frivolity..

We then proceeded to the Kunming train Station to take a train ride around the city but learn to our dismay that the next train is not until 4:30 pm. Plan B is immediately put into effect and we all convoy out to a tea room in the northern part of the city. This tea room is unlike any tea room I have ever been to and is more like a KTV or karaoke room in Kunming. The decor however is out of Somerset Maugham with large fan-shaped wicker back chairs out of the Raffles Hotel in Singapore. Custom brewed teas with snacks are served on low tables and music is supplied by Andy and his friend, Nick, who sing out of songbooks. The rest of the class members and I play a card game which I cannot comprehend other than recognizing some elements of rummy and pinochle. The main goal of the game is to get the loser of each hand to perform a penalty act, mainly singing or dancing, with the aim to humiliate him or her to much laughter and applause. The class enjoys this three ring circus of singing, telling jokes, making fun and humiliating the loser of each hand, drinking tea, eating snacks, and taking endless photos to document the festivities and making fools of one selves. Time flies rapidly before I realize it is 5:30 pm and I play party pooper by making an excuse that I must leave to attend dinner with my fellow Volunteers. The class sends me off by taxi and I assume they will end the festivities shortly but the ultimate test will be to see who shows up in class tomorrow and in what condition.

At dinner an informal census reveals that the other Volunteers had a spectacular lunch but Carole and Josh experienced an exceptional predining experience of an upper body massage. Friendship activities included dumpling making, sightseeing, and researching out markets. After dinner the Final Celebration Committee meeting was chaired by Dixie who outlined the proposed agenda including speeches, awarding of the students’ certificates, final words by the Volunteers, performances by each class, and finally a song performed by the Volunteers. The entire group of students and Volunteers would then go to the courtyard to perform a folk dance prior to bidding all farewell.

Team 161, Kunming, July 7

By Margaret

Thought for the Day: KNOWLEDGE IS POWER

Photo for the Day: Margaret using pictures to teach conversational English to her students

Breakfast was when ever you showed up.

Lunch at 12:00 everyone participated. Several hotel staff sang songs to us in appreciation for the English classes we gave them the first week we arrived. The hotel staff had wine in their glasses and we had coke or water. What is wrong with this picture?

Hu Di asked for our flight schedules so she could make arrangements for our departure. We also got the rest of the week’s activities.

We joined our students for an afternoon session. Then we went directly from school for dinner. We ate at The Kitchen in the Neighbor, which is owned by our spectacular driver Mr. Qi or nickname (Tiger).

We wandered into a TCG Nordica which is a gallery/stage/culture education/cafe. We viewed drawings that we could not believe had been drawn by children approximately 5 years old.

Had a safe trip to the hotel. Now it is time to check out the 20th floor. Only John goes to the 4th floor for a massage.

Team 161, Kunming, July 5 & 6 (Kunming Group)

By Corrine

Thought for the day: “Humility is the solid foundation of all the virtues.”  --Confucius

Photo: (1) Corrine with students in the classroom during the week. (2) Lovers watching boaters on Green Lake.

We are the “stay-at-homes”:  Kathleen and Martin, Tim, John, Rhonda, Corrine, along with Hu Di and cousin Brent.

There was the walking, some shopping.  Corrine and John met Mr. Ma at the Sacred Heart Cathedral and visited with Sister Mary Ann who explained much about the status of the Catholic Church in Kunming and in China.  On to the Bird and Flower Market for a look.  Then the RAIN, the rain – a deluge -- and we hoped it was not raining for our teammates in Lijiang.

John and I went to YUNNAN DREAM, the performance at the Yunnan Art Theatre on Saturday evening.  It would rival an extravaganza in Las Vegas!  The theme was of an American Flying Tiger who had crashed in the mountains, was rescued and hidden by various nationalities. Patrons of the theatre were seated at tables and served tea and fruit. Then the music began.  Song and dance, beautiful costumes, people dropping from the ceiling, spectacular lighting effects, acrobats and magic followed.  Even a tiger, a horse and birds were part of the program.  When the spotlight focused on us and John and I were feted with the ceremonial saucer of wine, we drank with great aplomb and to much applause.  Our moment of fame and celebrity had come and soon left.

Tim and his wife, Ming, left early on Sunday morning.

John and I returned to the church at 9 AM where the congregation sings heartily and prays devoutly as the traditional Mass is celebrated.  When leaving we were tapped by a young woman who asked us to join her small group for a discussion.  We soon met Sister Margaret and her class of bible students.  Sister Margaret is here to open a Catholic Social Services Center for Yunnan Province.  She told of her life in Singapore before returning to China. And we learned more about her work here.

Paddling and dancing gave real balance to this fine day as Kathleen and Martin went to Green Lake Park and paddled on the lake while Rhonda danced with the senior citizens there.

Hu Di treated her cousin, Brent, to pizza for the first time.

We await our confreres with their news of Lijiang and its delights.

Team 161, Kunming, July 5 & 6 (Lijiang Group)

By Joshua

Photo for Saturday: Yak in the mist at 12,000 feet above sea level

Photo for Sunday: Jade Dragon Snow Mountain reflected in Black Dragon Pool

Saturday in Lijiang started off with a free massage on our way to Jade Dragon Snow mountain. In actuality, it was just our bus driving along a bumpy road. As we got higher and higher into the foggy mountains, the temperature started dropping. Driving along, our guide Tina explained the common Naxi family names. Hé, the same name as our driver, is the name of the common people. Mù is another which is of higher status. We also passed a large field and were told it was a natural airport which in World War II was used by the Flying Tigers. After an hour on the road we arrived at the foot of a chairlift going up to 3700 meters. As we avoided piles of yak dung, making our way around yak meadow, we saw the wonders of Shangri-la, as James Hilton described it in the Lost Horizon. We arrived out of breath at the highest point of our journey, the iPhone still able to get service, the tallest mountain jutting up in front of us. 

After our ears popped once more, Margaret rode a yak, we saw a turquoise river (one of the wonders of Shangri-la), and the rain started. We took a trip to the home of Dr. Rock, an American who left America in the early 20th century to live with the Naxi people. By the time we were done, the rain had begun pouring and we rushed out. We traveled on to a Buddhist temple, which is known for its 1000 flower camellia. Though not in bloom, the tree, actually two trees grafted together, was beautiful and pictures of the two different shades of red flower stunned us all. 

Afterwards we went to see a fresco which was saved in the Cultural Revolution by having chairman Mao’s picture on top of it. On our way out we bargained with the venders for Batik tablecloths. Dinner was delicious pizza at a restaurant near the hotel, and once we were sated we returned home in the now pounding rain.


Sunday morning was spent on our own. Some went shopping in the old city and some went to the Wan Gu Lao pagoda, the tallest wooden pagoda in China. After lunch we went to a Dongba/Naxi museum where we saw pictographs depicting cultural images, a topological map, clothes and other cultural items of the Naxi people including hunting weaponry and their traditional housing. A Dongba in the Naxi culture is the shaman. Still in the museum, we stopped in a shop where there was a living Dongba rewriting the scriptures. Also at the shop they had jewelry, beautiful porcelain, and other such treasures which were for sale from very little to a lot. I bargained my way out of 1400 Yuan on an item that I can’t name in this journal entry.

After this we went to the Jade Dragon reflecting pool, inside a beautiful park and took the perfect picture of the water with a bridge and the mountain jutting up in the distance. It was a beautiful day. Perfect for ending our trip to Lijiang. 

We left Lijiang Sunday night on the shortest flight of my life and returned that night. 

Team 161, Kunming, July 4

By Glenda

Thought for the Day: The past is history. The future is a mystery. Today is a gift that’s why it is called a present.

Photos for the Day: (1) Glenda gets a surprise birthday cake at breakfast. (2) Naxi Orchestra pi-pa player in Lijiang.

Today is the 4th of July and the teams recognition of their homelands National Holiday. Back in the USA many people would be singing “Yankee Doodle Dandy”, eating hot dogs and towards evening watching a display of fireworks; at least this has been my experience in the past. However, this morning, after the team enjoyed their usual fanfare of Asian and Western cuisine at breakfast we had a birthday cake and song.. Yes, today is my birthday. A special thank you to Hu Di and others who made this a special beginning to the day for me.

After breakfast we all departed for our morning teaching assignments. Two members of our team, Rhonda and Tim, are finishing their 2 week teaching assignment so farewells were in order in their clasrooms and beyond.

In my classroom, the students had discovered it was my birthday and rushed out to purchase a cake….so round 2 of a celebration took place. Wow…what a morning!

After lunch at the hotel, we all scattered in different directions to begin our weekend adventures, Margaret, Carole, Dixie, Leon, Rachel, Joshua and I headed for the Kunming airport for our flight to Lijiang.

Upon arrival in Lijiang, we were greeted by our guide, Wang Li Mei or her English name Tina. In route to the Grand Hotel, Tina informed us about the city of 100,000 mostly Naxi people. Li Jiang means “Beautiful River.” It’s a World Heritage Site with old wooden and stone buildings, cobbled stone streets and streams with willow trees. At an elevation of 2400 m or approx. 7,200 feet, the city is quite charming.

Tina also informed us that Lijiang is a “paradise for men.” The women do all the house and farm work while the men participate in playing music, chess, drawing pictures, drinking tea, smoking and drinking alcohol.

After arriving at our hotel we went to dine at a French Restaurant on bar street. It was a very colorful area in the old city.

We concluded our evening at the Naxi Concert Hall for a superb performance by the Naxi Orchestra. They played ancient music dating back to the Song and Tang Dynasties.

All in all ….a delightful day.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Team 161, Kunming, July 3

By Rachel

Thought for the day: Teamwork means never having to take all the blame yourself.


Photo for the day: Rachel in her classroom.

Today began with our regular breakfast with Yoyo translating our egg orders to the egg chef, and Hu Di giving us our bit of Chinese culture. Today we heard about two more festivals, the Double 9 (9/9) festival, and the Moon Festival. Hu Di gave the routine announcements where we found out that as the day progressed we would be joined by Tim’s wife, and Hu Di’s cousin. We then headed off for our usual teaching morning. As everyday, after we taught four classes, we returned to the hotel for lunch where we met Hu Di’s cousin, Brent.

In the afternoon, ll of us, Brent included, went back to the school where we were to hear speeches from 21 of the selected students, three from each class. The speeches were all very well done. All had a wide variety of topics ranging from dolphins to colors. After hearing all 21 of the speeches, we walked to a restaurant called the Golden Flower Hot Pot, where each of us enjoyed a steaming pot of spicy, non-spicy, sour, or coconut broth to which we added various meats and veggies.  
Towards the end of the meal, we were joined by Tim’s wife, Ren Ning, and then walked back to the school where we met up with our driver who took us back to the hotel for the night.

Team 161, Kunming, July 2

By Leon

Thought For the Day:

After observing our 60 students during yesterday's outing in the rain to the Hump Memorial, I have nothing but admiration for their acceptance of their circumstances without whining or complaint. They seem determined to enjoy whatever situation they are in. We can all learn from them, and so, my thought for the day is:


Photos for the day: (1) Joshua and some wet students with Leon in the background at Hump Memorial Park. (2) Rachel and her hairdressers.

Last night brought a thunderstorm that woke many of us up at 3 AM. In the morning there was a flood in the street in front of our hotel that appeared to be about 2 feet deep. Traffic was still passing and for reasons I don't understand, no vehicles stalled out.

Hu Di continued her discussion of Chinese traditional festivals with The Dragon Boat Festival (Duanwu Festival or Double 5th Festival) and the Double Seven Festival.

I particularly enjoyed the bitter-sweet love story behind The Double Seven Festival which is the Chinese Valentine's Day.

We suggested to Hu Di that she look out of the restaurant window and view the condition of the street. She did, with an exclamation of surprise.  Then, after carefully studying the street and the sky, she gave us the weather forecast for the day: rain.

The flooding caused us to arrive about 15 minutes late for our eighth teaching day at Kunming Teachers' College. Kathleen and I arrived at our classroom to find only five of our eleven students. The rest were delayed by the flooding. During the morning all but one of our missing students straggled in. The most interesting story was told by Eileen who arrived two hours late to class: her children had to row her across the flood so she could reach transportation to the school. I later heard stories from other volunteers of students who walked in the rain for two hours in order to catch at least the last half hour of class. What amazing behavior! It is no wonder China's economy is growing so quickly.

Our group of four (Dixie and I and our two grandchildren, Joshua and Rachel) had planned to spend the afternoon at the Wild Animal Zoo, but the rain washed out that plan. So, Dixie and Rachel decided to try out one of the local beauty shops where Dixie got her hair cut and Rachel got xxxxxxxxxx (censored to prevent her parents from knowing) xxxxxxxxxxxx which looks astonishing.  Joshua, meanwhile, spent  the afternoon in the company of Bird and his girl friend, who both work in restaurants at the hotel. They played ping pong, showed Joshua how to make tea and watched videos. 

We ate dinner at a neighborhood restaurant and then met with Mr. Ma (our Kunming tour operator) who collected the money for this weekend's trip to Lijiang which he carried away in his wheelbarrow. 

In the evening our family group of four went with Bird and his girl friend to a KTV called Windsor. This was our first visit to a Karaoke establishment.  There was more chrome and marble in the building than in an entire Trump casino. We chose songs (yes, there were some in English from 45 years ago) from a computer screen and were handed microphones. The visuals behind the Singer were cinema graphic, without the dancing that we associate with MTV in the States. Between songs the big screen showed liquor commercials. The party room held a whole group of Bird's colleagues including his Manager. They were most hospitable but probably thought we were a bit strange when they discovered that our only drink was tonic water. It turns out that the Manager hails from Lijiang and, when we told her that we would be touring her home town this weekend she sang a number of songs for us, a cappella, in the Dongba language. When we took our leave at 10 PM the party was still in full swing and looked like it could go on 'till dawn. We were pleased to have been able to take part in another special experience in China.

Team 161, Kunming, July 1

By Rhonda

Thought for the Day: If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito.

Photo for the Day: Rhonda and John with one of their students.

It seems that every culture and religion aerates rituals many in the form of celebrations, holidays or festivals, I think it is a common way we have of recognizing a season, a new beginning, an ending or passing.

Today, Hu Di spoke to us of 2 important Chinese festivals: The Spring Festival, Guo Nian, and the Pure Festival, Quing Ming , I think Guo Nian is like New Year in America. It is a true when the Chinese "get over the year", leave the bad behind. There is all sorts of customs, or we may them superstitions. For the 1st 3days, no one is to take medicine or bad luck will come in the year. Also, kids must not say 'death' and no one is to throw any garbage away because that would be like throwing away Prosperity and Fortunately. There is a term limit to this.

The real Spring Festival however is Qing Ming, students take off from school to sweep the ancestor's tombs. Relatives also burn paper money at graves so their ancestors have money to spend. I like that to take time to honor and remember who came before us and give the youngsters an opportunity to connect with the past , which is something we seem to separate more in America.

This is my second time as Global Volunteer and third time to teach in China. As usual, when entering the classroom, I learn more from the students about what they have overcome just to get here. I hear their stories and their speeches for our Global Volunteers newer ritual, "The Speech Festival". Perhaps someday our teacher-student children will participate in this newest celebration ¦and perhaps our children will want to celebrate with them! Xie Xie.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Team 161, Kunming, June 30

By Kathleen

Thought for the Day: eat less, exercise more, and drinks lots of liquid.

Photos for the Day: 1) Kathleen is shining her students' faces with beautiful smiles, taken in a field trip. 2)"We are good helpers". taken at a local wholesale flower market.

I started my daily routine getting up before sunrise, showering, taking my medications, and doing some lesson planning. While martin was getting his act together, I went to the western restaurant about 6:30 where I met the other charter member of the early risers club, Corrine McCarthy, we are occasionally joined by the third member of the club, John Doty. All of us spent this pleasant time chatting about anything or everything. A side benefit of the early risers club is that Bird, the hotel staff member in charge of the coffee bar, made a freshly brewed pot of coffee for the three of us.

By seven o'clock we were joined by the rest of the team for breakfast. John read his journal entry followed by my thought of the day. An educational lecture about population changes in china was given by Hu Di. I thought it was interesting that 147 million Chinese are constantly moving, working in areas different from their official residence.

After breakfast 9 Global Vlunteers took a field trip led by Chris Li to the Dounan wholesale flower market in the new Kunming area. Besides seeing all the beautiful cut flowers and plants for the region, the volunteers interacted with many local citizens. I especially enjoyed meeting and playing with the young babies in the market, buying flowers and souvenirs. Then the group returned to the hotel for a short break before an enjoyable non-spicy lunch.

Our teaching session today was in the afternoon. Leon and I continued our usual lesson plans but discussed the major change of the speech festival scheduled for Thursday afternoon our students were little anxious because they realized that they would have to work hard but they also realized that the volunteers would also work hard to get them ready for the festival.

After the teaching session, the team went directly to the 1915 restaurant, a restaurant of historical significance, where we enjoyed a mildly spicy dinner. I was happy to return to the hotel for some personal time before going to sleep.

Team 161, Kunming, June 29

By John

Thought for the Day:
Nothing Gold Can Stay
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her only leaf is a flower;
But only for a hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
---Robert Frost, 1923

Photos for the Day: 1) John is saying with his dear students and teaching partner Rhonda. 2) Peacock dance at Dynamic Yunnan, a local primitive performance show.

So much has happened since last the previous Sunday when team building took place, and after a busy week. Our Team as a whole has achieved more than we expected. Of particular note, we have contributed to a set of goals established by the United Nations. They are known as Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Specifically we have done the following:

MDG #2: Achieve universal primary education: -helped 68 Chinese English teachers with their conversational English skills – providing 260 hours in classroom teaching plus 260 hours of lesson prep time.

Today was restful although the weather warmed up yesterday and remained so today according to Dixie’s weather report, the temperature was over 80 F. This morning, Corrine, Margaret, Glenda, Tim and I walked to a Catholic Church mass conducted by the Bishop. The ritual was familiar: two readings from the Bible, either old or new testaments, a gospel’s reading followed by a sermon, which proved to be long. There were incense, music, and singing. We recognized melodies of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”, “Be Loving in the Wind” and “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”. There was no wine served at communion and no collection. A small child across from us played while adults tried to keep her content. Of course, all words were in Chinese.

At breakfast, martin described his “purchase” (not thought) of the day, a tote bag that folds into a small item. At dinner of the day, Kathleen informed us of the “Flying Tigers” of WWII here in Kunming.

Hu Di and Glenda visited with a former global volunteer teacher who has been teaching here for one year. Corrine continued her reunion with the esteemed Mr. Ma. Joshua, after giving me a computer lesson, played with Bird ( a hotel western restaurant waiter).

Tim, Rhonda, Margaret and Carole went by taxi to the Yunnan Nationalities Village.

Leon abd Dixie found time to enjoy Green Lake Park. At dinner, we heard two journals, Corrine from Friday and Dixie from Saturday. Then we were off to Dynamic Yunnan, a performance of primitive minorities groups with dramatic use lighting, sound, dance, music, and song, culminating with a spectacular peacock dance. The image reflected the role ritual, tradition and beauty playing in a culture.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Team 161, Kunming, June 28

By Dixie

Thought for the Day: When you come to a fork in the road, take it. By Yogi Berra

First Photo for the Day: A Yi lady, 64-year-old, who has spent her whole life in Stone Village. She has six children and she was proud to tell us her son-in-law was the Principal of the village elmentary school.

Ah..., the end of our first week of teaching in Kunming. But today, Saturday, was our fullest day yet: We 13, Hu Di, two Chinese middle-school teachers and a child, departed from the hotel in our bus to see and experience the flavor of rural life. Chris, one of our G.V. Program's Hosts, was our Guide.

We drove Eastward over 3-lane highways, through 4 tunnels, and past fields of green. After about two hours we made a stop, stretched, and re-embarked for the morning's destination: the Stone Village. Yi people of this village met us: School Administrators and male singers. We heard rousing songs of welcome. We reciprocated with a rendition of "Do, a Deer," which they seemed to know.

We walked the stone streets, up the hills, noticing that every building was constructed of the local stone, from dwellings to smokehouses for curing tobacco, to pigsties, to goat enclosures, to bee hives made of stone. At the top of the hill we entered the courtyard of a very attractive Restaurant and Guesthouse. We sat at low tables on tiny stools and were served many courses of delicious vegetables and meat. Warm, salted peanuts and pumpkin seeds were much appreciated after the long hot climb up the hill. We drained our personal bottles of water and also drank the local "wild tea."

The Singers from our Morning Welcome re-appeared in brilliant blue Yi dress and sang again, this time performing a few drinking songs. Our enthusiastic response to this musical display encouraged the young couple who had been serving the meal to offer two of their own songs. Everyone parted warmly as we said "Zaijian" to the Villagers and continued our day's journey.

Second Photo for the Day: When we handed out the roses to the earthquake survivors, we knew they may not remember our faces, but we hope the warmth of friendship will last.

The second destination of the day was the Tian Qi Hospital, about 40 minutes away, in the Stone Forest County Town. We had come to offer sympathy and cheer to patients who are being treated there for injuries suffered in the Sichuan Earthquake of May 12. The patients and their attending family members seemed glad to see us and hear our brief statements of goodwill. We visited in small groups, with Hu Di and Chris translating our words. Many of the particular patients whom we saw are to be sent home (a 19-hour journey), in the coming weeks. The more grievously injured patients are being treated on another floor of the hospital. The day before our visit, we had spoken among ourselves about the plight of the earthquake victims and had taken up a collection amounting to 2,500 Yuan (about 370 USD). This donation was turned over to the Yunnan Red Cross, to be used for toiletries and other basic supplies that the patients will need on their journey home. We Global Volunteers felt very much moved, and I believe that the patients and their family members, and the doctors, were touched, and perhaps heartened by our visit.

Third Photo for the Day: We put our arms around their shoulders, because we are supporting them from the other side of the world.

The third destination on the day's tour was the Stone Forest. All day we had been seeing examples of grey/white/tan colored Karst (limestone) rock formations, scattered about the landscape, with crops cultivated in the red earth around them. The layers of limestone sediment were from a time, 270 million years ago, when a sea had covered this area. Anyway, at the Stone Forest Tourist Area we left our bus and boarded a tram. We viewed Karst shaped like warriors, elephants, stone screens, as well as a very tall peak resembling the maiden of the Sani nationality called Ashima.

At 7:00 PM we travelers arrived back at the hotel, met for dinner and recounted the day's events: it had been a very special and heart-warming day indeed.

Team 161, Kunming, June 27

By Corrine

Thought for the Day: “Life isn’t about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain.”

Photo for the Day: Corrine was thrilled to meet Mr. Ma, who was an English guide from her bicycling tour in China 25 years ago.

The day for me began, as usual, with coffee at 6:30 AM and a chat with Yo-Yo. We are the early risers and other team members soon join us in the dining room.

At 7:20 Hu Di began the morning meeting. Included in our cultural lesson today was information on the selection of names when a child is born. There is the family name and the given name. The given name reflects the parents’ hopes and dreams for the baby and may relate to family status, such as farmer, merchant or intellectual. For example, a boy may be named dragon, rock, and tiger because it expresses strength. A girl may be named gentle or after a flower, butterfly, clouds because it expresses beauty and gentleness.

It was the last day of our first week and we continue to evaluate the needs of our students. This morning session began with a review, then oral reports from students who had prepared assignments at home. Questions and discussion followed the reports and we tried to help with comprehension, vocabulary and pronunciation in this way. Next we combined our class with the class next door for a period of music and movement activities. My teaching partner, Dixie, is a professional dancer and this is an exercise using many skills. Besides, it is a lot of fun. We encourage our students to try it in their teaching, especially those having problems with discipline, because it releases energy and is calming (hopefully). Returning to our classroom we read and discussed a story and we helped the students set up and play a bingo game using synonyms.

At lunch Hu Di passed out information for a speech festival to be held next week when students will present a 3-5 minute oral report.

Then Hu Di talked to us about the possibility of visiting patients who had survived the Sichuan earthquake. The hospital is near the Stone Forest where we will be tomorrow. We are concerned about appearing as voyeurs but have decided that it will be an expression of sympathy and an opportunity to wish them well in their recovery. Hu Di told us four poignant incidents relating to this tragedy where 70,000 people were killed, 20,000 are still missing and 5,000,000 are homeless. A box is available for personal donations.

Now, a personal anecdote. I was in Kunming in 1985 with a bicycle group and always wanted to return to this land of “eternal spring.” Memories of our guide, Mr. Ma, lingered as I recalled his excellent English, his responses to all our questions about history, government, culture. I recalled his gentle nature as we biked along near Lake Dianchi, the Burma Road and the streets of Kunming. Were there stop lights then? Maybe not. And so, on a Tuesday night in 2008, a Mr. Ma, travel agent, called on team #161 in Kunming, China, to offer options for weekend travel. At meeting’s end I showed him a photo and asked, “Could this be you in 1985?” The answer can only be seen, not described. It was the granddaddy of all bear hugs.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Team 161, Kunming, June 26

By Carole

Thought for the Day: An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. --Martin Luther King

Photo for the Day: In the afternoons, we also offer our time to help the hotel western restaurant staff with their English. Margaret is having fun teaching them new words.

Being on a Global Volunteers trip has many advantages. One major one is the opportunity to meet and learn from a variety of people. Obviously, for us Americans, it is an adventure to learn about and from the Chinese people. Another bonus is that we, Americans, get to know each other. It helps that we volunteers meet and eat our meals together as a group. I find my co-volunteers truly interesting. At these meals Hu Di always gives us brief lessons, which include Chinese culture and language lessons.

Today we learned about some Chinese idioms.
"Play the lute to a cow" comes from a story about a Chinese musician. Without going into the story, the meaning is that a speaker should always consider who his audience is.

"Mark the boat to find the lost sword" means to be flexible and not stick to the old ways. It comes from a ferry passenger who accidentally dropped his sword in the river. The passenger made a mark on the boat exactly where he dropped his sword. Then when the boat docked at the shore, he tried to find the sword in the river at that marked spot on the boat.

We are unbelievably busy on this trip. We do some touristy things. We teach the hotel staff. Our main project, however, is developing and giving lessons to our students. We each have a class of Chinese teachers who themselves teach English. Since we will see the same students for 3 weeks, we have already begun bonding with them. Through our conversations we are beginning to understand a bit about each other's lives.

The teachers here have a long work day, which varies somewhat by school. Generally classes in the primary schools begin about 8:00 and end about 6:00. The secondary schools sometimes also include night classes. Even in primary school, a given teacher only teaches one subject. They do have planning periods. Teachers are assigned to schools based on the needs of the school- which seems similar to public schools in America. However, what is different is that all children begin learning English in primary school. Also, there are very little discipline problems. For instance, children learn that they must always sit up straight at their desk.
When a person needs to see a doctor, they go to the clinic and chose what level of care they want. If they are admitted to the hospital, they must have a friend with them since the hospital staff only deals with direct medical issues. For instance, the friend must bring in food for the patient.

After giving birth, a mother must stay home for about a month. During this time, she shouldn't bath or eat cold things.

Our students have mentioned the need to protect the environment on different occassions. They seem very well informed on the issue. They point out that the goverment is encouraging (by price differentials) the use of a recyclable cotton bag instead of plastic bags.

The clothing of the people in Kunming is similar to that in the States. Men, however, wear their pants higher on their waist. ( I imagine this may be because the people here are slim and do not have bellies like we often do.) More women wear high heels here than in the States. Dyeing your hair black seems to be common. There is a very interesting type of jacket that bicycle riders use. In comes down halfway on the chest. The sleeves are split so that only the top of the arm is covered. It seems very practical as a means of protection from the sun. I hope to find one for myself to use in the States.

If a women is not married by the time she is 25, her parents begin to worry. It's not unusual that the parents suggest she marry the son of friend of theirs. We know that in the States we have had the custom where the husband carries the bride over the threshold into their new home. Here they have something similar, but also different. The husband must go to the bride's home and carry her out of the building. If she lives on the 7th floor of an apartment building, that means he must carry her down all those flights.

Kunming is known for all of their beautiful fresh flowers. You can buy a bouquet of a dozen roses for about half a dollar. You see fantastic flowers here everywhere.
The meals have been fantastic here- both in the hotel and in restaurants. Tonight we hit a particularly high note when we got to try Cross the Bridge rice noodles. We went to a restaurant and had a many course meal (typical of all of our meals here). That in itself would have been more than sufficient. But then these huge (really huge) bowls of hot broth came to each of us. We added raw strips of meat, mushrooms, vegetables,sauces and noodles. Stirring it all together cooked everything and soon we had delicious soup and noodles to eat. Desert was stuffed dates and fruit.

After dinner we were treated to a live show of songs and dances performed by people dressed in the clothes of the many ethnic minorities found in this Yunnan province. A walk home in the comfortable 70 degree night ended another great day.

Team 161, Kunming, June 25

By Tim

Thought for the Day: According to Confucius, he who would secure the good of others has already secured his own

Photo for the Day: Rachel, our beautiful star of today, celebrated her 14th birthday in China.

Today is gray and cool. It would be nice to see the sun more, but the cool temperatures are a nice change from what I and many of my teammates would be enduring in Chicago and other parts of America.

Breakfast ended with another Yunnan cultural lecture from Hu Di. We learned among other things, “Three Yunnan mosquitos make a plate”, that Rachel, just 14 today, would be considered an “old lady” in some parts of the province, “Grannies can climb mountains faster than monkeys,” Buddhist monks can engage in dating, and in a certain minority group the men pack their women lunch and send them off to work while they tend the home front.

On the health and safety area, newly arrived Rhonda decided to get some medical imput today while Josh’s stomach is back in line and Dixie joined us for dinner and is feeling better.

This afternoon, Martin and YoYo plus Leon lectured the teacher group on their experience as Chinese in America, and the story of an emigrant's journey from Europe to America.

We enjoyed a group dinner at the Western style Che Che Restaurant. The group was ready for a western food fix as steak, pizza, and omelets seemed to be the favorites. In fact, Josh had two dinners.

The highlight of the night was a surprising 14th birthday party for Rachel featuring a beautiful birthday cake, a pyrotechnic Happy Birthday music machine, a light up leí and a laminated birthday card with all the volunteers’ pictures.

Team 161, Kunming, June 24

By Margaret

Thought for the Day: You can give wisdom but someone must use if for the benefit.

Photo for the Day: It is a new custom in China that meals end with fruits. This was the fruit plate we had at Crouching Dragon River Restaurant.

Hi Ho Hi Ho it is off to Kunming Teacher’s College we go.

Here are some of the comments made at lunch for our second day:

Carol/Joshua-Students had a debate if there should be a beauty pageant for men? Carola got our attention by saying NUTIE. She sure did get our attention.

Dixie/Corrine-Students started a story about a frog. Then each student added to the story, but the frog almost got left out at the end of the story.

Glenda-students are teaching her new songs.

Martin/Margaret-Conversation skill if you had 2 weeks off and lots of money where would you go.
Students were interested in Martins’s occupation. If he was an eye surgeon, why do you wear glasses?

Hu Di was talking about the weekend trips and she meant to say tourism, but it came out terrorism.

A good laugh is good for the digestive system. With all this good food, we need a good system.

Yea my roommate has appeared, Rhonda.

Volunteerism was the subject for the afternoon class. Hu Di talked Global Volunteers and John, Tim, Margaret, Corrine talked on other volunteer positions.

We walked to the Crouching Dragon River Restaurant. If we were ducks, it would have been great. It was lightening and pouring down raining all the way to the restaurant. Food was very good. I have not had a bad meal in China. We gained Rhonda and last Dixie, who is having stomach issues.

Meeting with Mr. Ma from Kunming International Travel Service, he did not have all the information. He will have it tomorrow.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Team 161, Kunming, June 23

By Joshua
Thought for the Day: The World is Flat

Photo for the Day: Joshua with a Yi ethnic minority girl from Shi Ping in the south of Yunnan Province.

The day started off as any other; sitting around a large table eating our American style breakfast at the Hotel. I had no idea what the day was to bring. You see, it was the first day that we were going to teach at the Kunming Teacher’s College, and my first Global Volunteers experience.
When we arrived at the College, we first entered into a large room filled with the jubilant faces of the awaiting English teachers. After standing up one at a time and introducing ourselves to our students, we were welcomed in speeches given by Mr. Yao Zhongqing, the President of Kunming Teachers College, Mr. Wu Yanming, the Director of Teachers Training in Kunming Education Bureau, and Ms. Shan Yong, the Vice Director of Foreign Affairs office in Kunming Municipality. The next fifteen minutes were spent taking a group photo with the students following which we dispersed into our specific classrooms.

After our teaching finished, we returned to the hotel where we ate lunch and discussed our days. It seemed that many volunteers took a more interactive approach, testing the level of the students by calling each out individually, asking simple questions. The approach varied, with some volunteers using even dance to try to build the connection with their students. My sister and I found our youth advantageous, as it seemed that the students felt more at ease when a younger volunteer was in the room. The volunteers found that, unlike some prior experiences with Global Volunteers, the level of the students in cases differed drastically, with some nearly fluent and some knowing very little. Yet we found that most students were in the middle area, and in spite of all of their skill differences, all seemed quite ready and willing to spend 3 weeks of their lives learning a strange tongue from barbarians.

Team 161, Kunming June 21-22

by Martin

Thoughts for the day:
(1) Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.
(2) It’s not about how to achieve your dreams. It’s about how to lead your life

Photo for the day:
We had a group photo taken with our Kunming host, after we enjoyed delicious food at the welcoming banquet.

On a lovely Saturday evening our team met for the first time at dinner at the Golden Spring Hotel with the mission of improving the English conversational skills of teachers from Yunnan Province. Our country manager, Hu Di, begins her 4th year leading this successful and popular program at Kunming Teachers College. The majority of the Volunteers are returnees and most have a teaching background but other fields such as science, food service, the arts, and student study are represented. Each of the Volunteers made a brief biographical statement:

(1) Carole , a retired professional educator from The Villages, Florida, spent the majority of her career in Washington DC teaching hospitalized patients and home-bound students. After retirement she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala. This is her first time in China and her first program with Global Volunteers.

(2) Dixie, from New York City has previously served as a Global Volunteer in Xi’an. With a background in music and dance, she comes to Kunming with her husband, Leon Ablon, and two grandchildren. Dixie and Leon are involved in tai chi as practitioners.

(3) Leon from New York City is a retired college professor of mathematics and computer science. Having previously served in the Xi’an program, he enjoys volunteer activities with non-native English speakers.

(4) Rachel is a granddaughter of Dixie Piver and Leon Ablon, from Nashville, Tennessee and is a first time Global Volunteer. She has traveled to China before as a member of her middle school study group.

(5) Joshua, Rachel’s older brother, is a junior in high school who is interested in Ultimate Frisbee. He and his sister have studied cello for many years. This is his first Global Volunteer assignment.

(6) John, a retired teacher from Bisbee, Arizona comes to Kunming for the first time but has served on two prior Global Volunteers programs in Crete and the Ukraine.

(7) Corrine, a professional educator by training, is one of the initial Global Volunteers since the inception of the organization. This is her twelfth program and she brings a wealth of teaching experience to her students in Kunming.

(8) Kathleen from the San Francisco Bay Area returns to Kunming for her third consecutive summer to enjoy the teaching program and cultural enrichment experience in Kunming. She looks forward to meeting another new class of English teachers from Yunnan Province.

(9) Martin, Kathleen’s husband, also returns to Kunming for the third consecutive summer. With each year he looks forward to improving his teaching skills, adding to his database of enjoyable life experiences, and renewing his old and making new acquaintances with the staff at Kunming Teachers College, Global Volunteers, and the wonderful people of Kunming

(10) Tim from Chicago returns as fourth time Global Volunteer, having served on three previous occasions in Xi’an. A former high school teacher and businessman, he has extensive experience in volunteer teaching of English as a second language to Chinese immigrants in America.

(11) Glenda of Denver, a teacher by profession, returns as a sixth time Global Volunteer, having served on three prior programs in Xi’an. Last year she taught at Nanjing University

(12) Margaret, a food service manager for the Columbus, Ohio school system is a sixth time Global Volunteer. This is her first program in China.

(13) Rhonda from the San Francisco Bay Area was not present at the dinner but has previously served in Xi’an. She works as a recruiter for Foothill Junior College in Los Altos Hills, California

On Sunday morning the formal orientation began at 8:00 am with Hu Di covering the history of Globabl Volunteers, the philosophica constructs underlying the organization, and its mission. Individual and team goals were discussed with a listing of those qualities needed to insure a successful project. The next agenda item was setting up supporting managers/coordinators in 5 areas. These are:
(1) Journal managers: Joshua, Martin, Margaret
(2) Health & Safety Coordinators: Glenda, Tim
(3) Free Time Activity Coordinators: Leon, Carole
(4) Final Celebration Coordinators: Dixie, John, Rachel
(5) Official Photographer: Corrine

Hu Di then reviewed the six Global Volunteers’ Policies and 3 Guidelines for team member behavior.

After a delicious lunch at the hotel, the afternoon session began with Hu Di discussing lesson planning, various teaching methodologies, and the composition of our student body of elementary and middle school teachers whose age range is from the mid twenties to early forties. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoons, cultural enrichment lectures will be presented by several volunteers to the entire student body.

The final item of the afternoon agenda was an introductory Mandarin language lesson by Hu Di with instructions in pronunciation, character formation, common everyday expressions, and numbers. Each Volunteer was then given individual instruction in writing his name in Chinese.

The class was dismissed and met again for dinner at the Stone Screen Restaurant hosted by our local hosts from the Bureau of Education. A good meal was enjoyed by all; on the way back to the hotel, Hu Di announced the formation of seven teaching teams:
(1) Glenda
(2) Leon and Kathleen
(3) Dixie and Corrine
(4) Tim and Rachel 
(5) Carole and Joshua
(6) John and Rhonda
(7) Margaret and Martin

A full day was experienced by all who look forward to beginning our teaching sessions in the morning.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Our Tribute

Please enjoy this video tribute to our past, and present, China Global Volunteers. It is played to background music of "Forever Friends"

Forever Are Friends
Friends are not easy to find even you go a thousand miles.
More friends make life easier.
Treat each with honesty and honesty creates miracle.

Let us be friends forever. Loads of gold cannot buy friends.
More friends keep spring around always.
Show your heart and hearts connect.
Let us be friends forever.

Make new friends and do not forget old friends.
New friends become old friends.
The sky is high and the earth is deep.
Water flows when mountain is high.

Hope we have good friends all over.

If you have joined us on a program we'd like to thank you for all the contributions you have made. If you have never joined us, we invite you to do so - we know you can make a difference in China, and perhaps China can make a difference in you!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Nancy Pine Spoke at the 2nd Anshang Folk Art Festival

(Photograph: Nancy Pine with Anshang Villagers)

Governor Gao and Governor Dong, ladies and gentleman,

We, the members of the Global Volunteers Team 160, are grateful to be part of life in An Shang village. From the first day we arrived, we have been welcomed by you.

We have come from many parts of the United States to learn from you and to share with you in building a better world. In the last few days we have watched you work from early morning until late in the evening making improvements on your houses.

As we enjoy the luxury of walking along the new roads we recognize how much effort it has taken to build them. We also see the street lights and the cell phone towers, the Folk Art Gallery, and of course, the impressive school and gardens around it, and we are amazed that you accomplish all of these things while also planting and harvesting your crops, running your businesses, and caring for your families.

Although we do not speak Chinese, we are learning from you –from your kindness and generosity to share your lives with us, from your incredibly hard work, and from your ability to find new ways to improve your lives.

And now we are fortunate enough to be in An Shang village for your second Folk Arts Festival. In the next few days we will deepen our knowledge of Chinese traditions—from Chinese opera to the handicrafts you make.

Many foreigners travel to the cities of China, but few have the privilege of seeing the changes occurring in the countryside and to see the many talents of An Shang villagers. We know you—the farmers of China—are also the heart of China.

Thank you for the privilege of being here. We wish you great success for the Festival and hope it is the beginning of a long tradition.

Nancy Pine,
April 10, 2008

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Team160-Anshang Village, Apr. 17-25

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Thought for the day: A change in the surroundings is good for the soul.

Breakfast at 7:30 and off to school to work with a new group of students. The volunteers used a combination of new and reworked lessons to good effect until the word was passed to assemble in front of the school to greet the officials of the translation college (Fenji).

President Ding Zu Yi, Dean of the translation college, Mr. Yin Yang Gin, and other officials arrived and, with the help of Mr. An Wei gave the students some insight into the value of working hard, the importance of taking full advantage of the volunteers, and gaining a full appreciation of village life.

In the afternoon, the entire speech festival was help with all participants giving excellent presentations of well prepared material.

Following the festival, we walked to the bronze foundry and toured the operation. We watched the wax molds being made through to the polishing of the final pieces. The village economy was significantly strengthened by the volunteers’ purchases of the bronze figures. As dinner was at 6:30, a fast walk home improved the appetites of all.

- Donald McDonald

(Photograph: the workshop of the Bronzeware Reproduction factory)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Thought for the day: “Things work out best for those who make the best of the way things work out.”—anonymous

Second day meeting the students from other classes today. All the teams spent some time on introductions--which the students don’t seem to mind doing over and over. Randy and Marietta got Class 1 singing, and during a shopping spree exercise some students inadvertently bought a lot of Metamucil and stool softener from a drugstore—much hilarity after explanations. Marilyn entertained students with pictures from her daughter’s Jewish wedding. and Team A’s air scrabble reached new heights with today’s students managing 265 words before we had to cut them off at lunchtime. How much further can it go? Everyone is very competitive! The free talk in all classes was termed “awesome,” as all the students have different questions for the teachers. We all have so much to learn from each other, and the idea of switching classes seems to be a success.

On a personal level, I find, rather to my surprise, how much I miss the students from Class I, and although I am enjoying meeting the other classes, I will be very happy to see “mine” again next week. In the meantime hopefully we will have plenty of time to chat with all the kids through the weekend. It’s quite amazing what strong bonds we have created in such a short time.

In the afternoon, “Cinderella and the ugly stepsisters” was performed ably by Jon and Marilyn, followed by their students acting out weddings. There was rip roaring singing and dancing from Randy and Marietta’s group. All the classes seemed a little short of students; there must be something about Friday afternoons. However, there was a tremendous demonstration of Chinese jump-rope in front of the school. Across town, Donald learned how to make brooms from a neighbor.

After supper came the much-awaited showing of Seinfeld in the auditorium. Marietta explained some of the more idiomatic terms to the students while a cluster of volunteers and Blackie tried one computer after another. Apparently there are more cultural differences than we had figured! Finally three was a charm and the show was on. Enjoyed much by the volunteers, with a mixed reception by the students. Maybe next time we should try English subtitles.

A very gloomy and drizzly day today, and everyone is a little anxious as there are several trips planned for Saturday.

-Ginnie Dunlop

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Thought for the day: Nothing happens until something moves.
Albert Einstein.

Saturday dawned cold and rainy. The streets were quiet except for the women who were pushing a heavily loaded cart into the house next Mr. An’s. As most people were going to FuFeng or Da ming, and the students were off to Famen Temple, we expected a quiet day in An Shang.
Breakfast was the usual good food. Our discussion of the closing ceremony centered around the meeting on Sunday after supper to sign the scrolls. We also talked about the songs we will sing –- a Chinasized version of Edelweiss, and “So Long It’s Been Good To Know You.”

If I got this right, Randy, Marietta, Steve, Ginnie and Nancy left for Fufeng and the glories of shopping and eating at Lily’s Sun and Moon Café at 8:45. Their interpreter and travel agent, Stephanie was accompanied my Michelle to handle the translation and local information chores. Lily, famous chef and owner of the Sun and Moon Café, guided Randy to buy a USB drive and others to the nearest restroom that required exact change. She fed them all a hot pot that was cooked with electricity. According to Stephanie, the later is now cheaper than propane.

It’s not clear just when Steve found a massage, (50 Yuan) but he swears the beauty of the 23 year old masseuse had nothing to do with his choice of locations. The rest of the group checked on him frequently to make sure that no liberties were undertaken. Although Steve claims credit for getting Bao Li’s apples, it was actually Randy and Nancy who chose them while he was otherwise engaged.

Nancy found the Fufeng High School, where the local students attend. She was interested in seeing and photographing the building. At first she had to charm the guard into allowing her in. It must have worked as he and a friend escorted her around.

While all of this was going on in the metropolis, Nan and Marta were escorted by students Katherine and Cherry. They were driven to the Catholic Church in Wujin that many of us had seen in the distance. The driver roused a person who was happy to give them an informative tour of the church.. They earlier toured Daming Buddhist Temple, which impressed them as much as other Volunteers who had been there previously. They all needed help in Kow Towing, which the monks were happy to instruct them. They demonstrated the technique at supper and we were suitably impressed. Finally, they visited an upscale neighborhood in Fufeng that turned out to be a resort and conference center. It was perfectly maintained and had an arboretum-like character.

While all this frivolity was occurring, Don worked several hours with Garth, expanding Garth’s understanding of some complexities of English word’s definitions and the context in which they are used.

Marilyn and Jon trudged though the sticky mud to the Taoist Temple south of An Shang. We were greeted by a man who helped us clean our shoes of the several pounds of mud we had accumulated. Marilyn’s shoes had raised her stature by several inches, so she took them off and walked around the courtyard and cave temples in her bare feet. The woman who lives there was happy to model for our photos and insisted that Marilyn wear her slippers. She took us into the cave in which they live and pressed tangerines on us. There was such strong feeling between her and Marilyn that she gave Marilyn a beautiful small jade pendant to wear next to her heart. We left with tears for the closeness of the communication.

-Jon Dungan

(Photograph: the Catholic Church in Wujin town)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Quote of the day:
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints in the sands of time
Henry Longfellow

Today is another exciting day in An Shang. Every day is a new adventure for our team. This AM at Brother #2’s house, an elderly lady, who walks around in our village, fell. Marta saw bruises on her face and got some help for her. You become so attached to our villagers that their pain becomes your pain. She is doing better now.

At 10 AM, Marta held a class at Brother # 2’s house, where she could talk with the students about animals. She has exciting stories about animals, especially one hound dog called Lucky. It happens to be bilingual. It could learn Mandarin easily (Ha Ha).

Sheila, one of our students in Marta and my class, decided to work with the villagers who are constructing a new home. The villagers were very impressed with Sheila. She would carry four bricks at a time and then stack them so the bricklayers could reach them easily. My job was mixing concrete and mortar and keeping the mortar buckets full.

Randy and Marietta went on a walk to one of the temples near the village. Once again after pictures were taken, Randy was pushed aside and Marietta reigned as queen.

Ginnie and Nancy went on their morning walk happily talking with the villagers. Don decided to visit his friends in the village and helped them to make brooms. This afternoon was filled with rest and relaxation.

Don, Nan, Marta, and Bao Li went to the bronze factory west of the village for an exciting afternoon of shopping. Jon, our photographer, once again had the opportunity to shoot photos of the bronze factory.

Jon and Marilyn held a class using the English edition of the Daily News in China. After that, they went on a walk where they discussed various topics that were interesting to the students. Marilyn came back and did laundry. I’ve decided on another business venture. I’ll open the Team 160 Laundromat. I’ll quote Don, Bronze and Brooms” He’s learning the trades quickly.

Have to check with Marta, who is still in An Shang village.

Randy walked with his students in the afternoon. Marietta and Nancy had computer detail. I’ll quote Don, Bronze and Brooms” He’s learning the trades quickly.

At 2:00 PM, our class had a party. It was a blast. The students had snacks and drinks. We played various games. One game we all enjoyed was balloon volleyball. Quite easy, as Ginnie would say. One balloon, two broomsticks or mops, and lots of fun and laughter.

Brother #5 came over after supper and presented the team with a few toasts of Baijiu. This drink has quite a punch. Then our meeting. In the Army a student learns quickly not to volunteer for anything. I disobeyed and it’s official. On Wednesday, I am to be honored with a class of 160 kindergarteners. They’ll even though in a free lunch. I do get to choose Sheila as my interpreter as the team is very busy that day. I’m trying to see if I can get the afternoon in Fu-Feng for a foot massage ( HA HA).

A final task was signing 100 scrolls for our students for the final celebration on Thursday night. Marta supplied the scrolls and the red ribbon. Don, our civil engineer, had the ribbons cut to length precisely Good job, Don.

What a wonderful day, with many more to follow.

-Steve Faiola

(Photographs: 1) Ginnie talking to the villagers on a walk; 2) Don leaning to make brooms from a villager)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Thought for the day:
This product’s quality is very good, but if there is bad, please contact with shop,
Take charge.
Huifeng Haw

We awoke to a cold, wet, windy day, which never did warm up. We coped as well as we could. .

Classes proceeded on the third day of our rotation schedule. At lunch we learned that Randy and Marietta had put a map of China on their floor and the students had pointed out their home cities. Randy sang a solo of Edelweiss and then put out magazines he and Marietta had brought, covering everything from fashion to music appropriate to this age group. In pairs students were asked to read a caption on a picture and say what interested them and why. Then the magazines were passed on to another pair. This worked well.

Marta and Steve were locked out and did the Hokey Pokey to stay warm until they got into their classroom. Once there, they split into two groups and had free talk.

Nancy and Don introduced themselves and listed all the jobs they had had, and then discussed them with the students.

Nan and Ginnie had students write name tags and speak about their home, hobbies, and dreams. This was followed by Pack My Suitcase, a game in which each student names an item in alphabetic order and remembers what came before. They also played air scrabble and looked at U.S. currency.

Jon and I had our small groups engaged with pictures of our families and home town. Then students chose one or more pictures of Jon’s and each told a real or imagined story based on the pictures. About this time we were all freezing, so we got up, pushed the desks back, and played musical chairs to students’ singing. A ballroom dance class followed (we had some Ray Charles music), so I was able to teach the basics of the cha-cha and waltz. We then sat on the floor and had a short Yoga class, complete with meditation and special breathing. After a few more exercises we were finally warmed up!

After lunch Baoli passed out Global Volunteer evaluation forms which are due by Friday night. She talked about possible tours on Friday and 7 of us decided to go to the Terracotta Warriors.

From 3:00 to 5:00 Steve put his military experience in human terms that all could feel. His presentation covered a range of topics from the dangers and conditions of war to women in the military and his belief that war is a result of failed negotiations; it is not what is pictured in movies or video games. Following his talk there were many good questions from the students. We all learned a great deal from this presentation.

Nan and Ginnie met with their class at 2:30 to work on their project. Ginnie and some students left to attend the lecture and 6 girls stayed with Nan. They worked on vocabulary and customs.

After dinner Baoli opened a long discussion abut the students’ lack of attendance at classes and lectures. Some of the ideas presented were as follows:
1. Maybe rotation of students didn’t work.
2. These students are different from those who came before – more advanced, more technologically oriented, more well-to-do.
3. Phoebe and Gary, their leaders, are not enforcing lights out, though they do try to get the students to class and lectures.
4. In the future, perhaps these leaders should meet with us. We could all have discussions afterwards with the students regarding expectations and the consequences if these are not met.
5. Due to lack of participation in classes and lectures, we will not have an afternoon program tomorrow.
6. We will concentrate on the students who do attend and continue to enjoy working with those who want to learn
After this discussion, we went back out into the cold, ready to face whatever challenges and joys came our way.

-Marilyn Beck

(Photographs: 1) Marilyn teaching the students; 2)Nan teaching the students; 3) Steve giving a lecture to the students)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008 Earth Day

Thought for the day: Dismount the horse and examine the flower; it is not what you see from a galloping horse. -An Wei.

It is Earth Day. We do not inherit the earth from our fathers; we borrow it from our children.
Chief Seattle, as recollected by Nan.

An Shang provides us with dichotomies to consider regarding stewardship of the earth. This is a place where water is precious. I watched An brother #2 scoop rain water from the ditch in front of his house. Yet the water from the faucet is NOT drinkable. Solar heat heats our showers. But coal and cornstalks fuel add to the smog in the air.

This morning the sun greets us with a false promise of a warm day. – 60 degrees outside and our room at 56. We continue to layer in our limited clothes. I’m in 5 layers with two pairs of long pants. Last evening we could see the nearby mountains for the first time. They are now faint on the horizon. Today was the last day of rotating teachers and teams. We now have met all the classes. Ginnie and Nan met with the Teddy/Edward Class (Class 2). They discussed dreams and careers. They played air scrabble with no digital dictionaries, and the suitcase game, followed by idioms and slang. They had a great class.

Marilyn and Jon followed up on the English translation from the package of the Hawthorne berry sweets. They discussed the problems of direct translation word for word. They divided the class into 2 groups to share family and hometown photos. Then they put a new twist on the hometown photos by having students blindly select from the stack of photos and then tell a story from the photos they chose. The results were fictitious romantic tales of Marilyn and Jon’s romance. The switched to active mode, musical chairs, and waltz lessons where Marilyn taught how to lead and how to follow. They concluded with the class teaching Marilyn and Jon the game of Pree. I was pleased, as I was the one who had introduced it.

Nancy and Don had open conversation, sharing of family information, played games, used pictures and magazines and worked on vocabulary. It was revealed that our Scot, Don, plays the bagpipes.

Randy and I sang the An Shang version of Edelweiss with students. Randy on the guitar. The flower was changed to “Mu Dan Hua” (peony) and the word “homeland” to “friends.” Then students were given different US magazines. They were to select a picture and respond to ,”I find this picture interesting because….”

Classes were better attended today as Phoebe and Gary took attendance and roused some students from their beds after a long night of “activities.” At dinner, chocolate was passed around while we brainstormed career options for bilingual speakers. Each person also reported on their afternoons.

Steve gained 96 houses in the game of landlord, making a comeback from being a peasant. Nan and Marta walked to the valley past the Tao cave temple after Marta spend an hour with Teddy looking at his pictures.

Ginnie worked with Garth and then Teddy. Don also worked with Garth. He is getting his money’s worth. Marilyn had a long walk in the country and found much subject matter for photos. Of great interest was her meeting goats and their owners. She was also escorted into a neighbor’s which was under construction.

Jon was easily able to help fix the cement mixer which was out of alignment. He also screened sand for mortar making, receiving much appreciation from the builder.

Nancy visited with students in host homes and had extensive contact with an elderly villager. Then she took a long walk and again met the elderly woman, who loves the foreigners in the village as they are so cheerful.

Marta and Bao li walked to the Buddhist temple in another village, where Bao li saw it for the first time. They found it closed up tight., but there was no sign of the reputed festival. The festival is actually being held in another village 45 minutes’ walk away. That crashed plans to take the students to the festival on Wednesday. They continued to another village, where Marta shoveled two carts full of gravel and one of sand. They wandered along a gravel road where a man racing along in a car finally found Bao li, out in nowhere, whom he had been trying to contact for some time. (Marta, how did you accomplish so much in one afternoon?)

Nancy caught upon computer work. She and Ginnie had had a long, brisk walk in the early morning.

After dinner, we had an amazing question and answer session with Professor An Wei. He gave us explanations and insights on An Shang and China, the political system, and its plans for the future – all within a historical context. An Shang is providing a model for other villages in its methods for collecting funds for improvements in infrastructure and redistributing farming land by contract. He predicts that the village will transition from small family farms to more large scale farming in the next years.

An Wei quoted an ancient expression, “Face powder should be put on the face, not on the hip,” implying that improvements should be easily observable, not hidden. An example is the new concrete road construction.

He evaluated the students we have and their difficulties with the program, saying they had been selected because they are children of the “new rich of China. He says they will not become the future political leaders of China because they have no experience with farmers and workers. The Chinese Communist party is based on the needs of farmers and workers – the great majority of the Chinese population. An Wei encouraged us to stop him in the next few days to ask questions.

-Marietta Quinby

(Photographs: 1) Marietta teaching the students; 2) Randy and Marietta teaching English songs to students; 3) Marta lending a hand to the local people; 4) Mr. An-Wei answering volunteers' questions about China)

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

Thought for the day: Bringing brevity to bear…..R. Quinby

The final day has arrived. After breakfast we moved mistily to our classrooms for the final morning- interface with the students.

Marilyn and Jon broke students into groups of three and started with company/product interviews requiring students to question and answer. After working on square-dancing, they moved on to preparation work for the evening closing celebration. Closure involved free-talking and photos.

Nan and Ginnie opened with the students creating commercials from ads that were provided. After idiomatic expression-work and air scrabble, Ginnie perfected her vocal rendition of “Puff The Magic Dragon” for the students. Partying closed the morning with photo and email sharing.

Nancy and Don started their morning getting the email exchange out of the way. (The sign of a seasoned teacher!) After a session of paragraph translation, all present shared pictures of family and homes. Following idiomatic stories and a rousing game of Chinese hacky-sack, they closed the morning with picture-taking and clean-up.

Steve and Marta were ushered into a session of intensive reading and vocabulary-work by the students. This was material from a class back on campus. They did their best to thrash through the antiquated book-work to help the students. Needing a catharsis badly, they retreated to the outdoors and Marta read the lyrics to the songs, “Lemon Tree” and “The Rose”. Steve and Marta were next nominated for finalist status on American Idol after singing duets to the students.

Randy and Marietta had an extended session of public speaking using the magazines as stimuli that lasted through the first break up to the half-hour recess. Much sharing of emails and photos began to take place as the morning progressed. A well-planned exploration of village impressions was bumped by the need to practice the performances for the upcoming evening. A quiet moment of thanks was shared by all before cleaning the classroom.

The festivities for the evening were extensive, with each class giving performances, dances and dramatic skits. After diploma distribution and short speeches, we sang our way out the door to finish packing for Friday’s 8:00 a.m. departure for Xian and the Terracotta warriors.

-Randy Quinby

(Photographs: 1) Jon interacting with students in the class; 2) Randy teaching the students; 3) Last photo with Anshang cooks and hosts; 4) Sad goodbyes )