China Team Journal

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Team158- Xi'an, Mar 15-Apr 5

(Photograph: Team 160Members)
Sunday, March 16th, 2008

Thought for the day: “If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place. --Stephen Covey

After a sound sleep, a good breakfast, the team consisting of five volunteers and Baoli walked to the Global Volunteer office just a short distance from the hotel. On the way, we stopped to look at the memorial tablet erected by the city to honor the 100th Global Volunteer team. (We are team # 158) This is our first day together and Baoli is giving a lecture on the historical development of GV in China. She then has us go around and tell a little about ourselves and why we choose to come to China as volunteers.

Baoli: from a small village, her parents are farmers. Had three daughters prior to the one child only policy, but wanted a son. Finally a boy for whom they paid money as the policy was in place. Baoli passed the exam allowing her to attend a public university. Her English was good and she enjoyed working with volunteer internationals; consequently, GV was a good fit for her.

Alex the youngest member of the team (2/93) is presently attending a military school in Pennsylvania. He enjoy steaching English and volunteering. This is his third time with GV in China. The past two experiences have been in the small village of AnShang where he became very much a part of the community. He is hoping that this experience will be similar.

John is from northern Pennsylvania and has both an engineering and a law degree and has experience working with the cell phone industry. While in the military serving in the Pacific, he had opportunities to volunteer with the community and as a result, got to know the people in the community. He understands that volunteering is a shared experience and has accompanied his son Alex to China with GV for the past two years. This will be their third time.

Dick was an educational psychologist prior to retirement. His love of learning and desire to volunteer with students from other countries who are learning English has brought him to GV for the second time. After retirement, he returned to the university where he received a master’s degree in Medieval History. He has known many Chinese students who have come to the University of Wisconsin and has wished to travel in China even before Nixon opened China, so is very please to be volunteering here.

Nancy is trained as a school social worker and enjoys working with students in a school setting. She also enjoys traveling and volunteering. In Madison she and Dick host many international students and this combination brings her to GV. This is her fourth experience with GV as she has volunteered in Peru, Spain and Italy.

Joel referred to himself as “the clean-up man” making a baseball reference and because he was the last to speak. He has volunteered in many capacities both within the United States and other countries including Bolivia and Nicaragua. This work has been mainly physical and he is looking forward to teaching young people rather than building houses.

Our attention was then turned to back to Baoli who helped us look at the relationship between GV and the community partners. Next the team developed our team goals. They are:

  1. To see China’s sights
  2. To relate to one another and the Chinese students and teachers.
  3. To teach English to Chinese students
  4. To understand the Chinese culture.

Lastly we developed 15 elements of a good team.

We all decided we had worked hard and accomplished much. That afternoon we met the teachers and students of the Xi’an Biomedical Technical College where we were going to be volunteering. Baoli introduced the team to everyone and also told the story of Lei Feng who overcoming great obstacles was able to help his Chinese people. He is a national hero. GV volunteers were likened to him. Then some of the teachers and students performed, we had tea and discussed the weekly schedule. We then departed, after the group picture, in high spirits.

Later during dinner, we completed our discussion regarding the expectations of GV. Five “jobs” were assigned: John (teaching supervisor), Dick and Joel (free time and good-bye ceremony) Alex (safety) and Nancy (gen mgr) It has been a lo-o-o-ng day and everyone is looking tired. So we departed to get together again at 7:20 for breakfast and the first day of teaching.

Nancy Schultz, recorder

(Photograph: welcome by the host school teachers and students)

Monday, March 17th, 2008

Thought for the Day:

Become what is in you (Facere quod in se est) St. Bonaventure

We began today with the excitement about our first day of teaching. The bus from the Xi’an Biotechnical and Medical College picked us up at 8:20, and with the bus, some teachers and assistants who would help us in our classrooms. There were no formal classes today, so our teaching consisted mainly of getting acquainted.

At the college, the teachers had hot water and sweets for us. Before we went to the classroom, we met more faculty and the President of the College, Mr. Liu Jin Tian. We were introduced to the group and spoke briefly about ourselves and our teaching goals.

We went to our rooms, and were warmly greeted by our students. We talked about ourselves, and we learned from our students about families and about Chinese culture. At 12 noon we again met with Mr. Liu, and then came back to the hotel for lunch. Everyone was very tired.

In the afternoon, we walked towards the South Gate. It was beautiful and warm outside. There were many people in the park, walking, flying kites, singing opera and playing cards. John, Alex and Baoli went on to the South Gate, while Joel, Nancy and Dick walked back on the other side of the wall. Those who went on the South Gate found out about where to rent bikes, and then walked back on top of the wall all the way to the East Gate. Those inside the wall got a gift of three oranges from a passerby, and saw a wonderful market area. People played Mah Jiong, and Chinese chess in the streets.

When we returned home to the hotel, we had a Chinese lesson from Baoli, but all felt it was a complex language which could surely not be learned in a short time. After dinner, we looked for ice cream from a street shop, but were disappointed. A few moments to consider plans for tomorrow, and then a night’s rest for all.

Dick Schultz

(Photographs: 1)Nancy was invited to play Mah Jiong by the local people on the street; 2)The birds in the city wall park)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Thought for the Day: Ignorance breeds poverty. Poverty sucks. Go teach.

The overnight shift was quite active – in the middle of the night (4am) hammering and banging near the hotel was loud and clear.

We rise and shine for our 7:20 am breakfast initiated by Dick Schultz’s profound Thought of the Day. Our plan for today includes the customary teaching schedule plus a 5 pm pitch from a local travel agent who will suggest weekend travel action options.

Again, our ride to the school is harrowing and it seems almost purposefully aimed at getting blood and adrenaline pumping. Near hits with other cars and street-crossers abound. What is the pedestrian fatality rate in Xi’an? Or is there a secret genetic immunity against getting struck in the street? If there is, it could be China’s greatest export!

At school – safely – we gather briefly at the volunteer office for hot water and a sweet before hustling off to class. My students today are younger and are dressed smartly in camouflage uniforms. They are shy and not as proficient in English as our first day group.

I elect to chuck the text book and, because they are fresh faces, go into my personal history which, by now, I am getting tired of reciting for the 4th time in three days. Surely, I will meet myself as a character in a dream tonight.

I showed my class of 11 or 12, just 3 of them boys, pictures of my family and famous places around Washington, DC. When I put out a picture of the Lincoln Memorial, they showed they had heard of Abraham Lincoln but had to work hard on reciting his historical significance. This was a jumping off point for basic stuff about the US political system. They learned that our Congress makes laws and the president enforces them.

I also showed pictures of my house and my neighborhood in Potomac, MD. One girl called the kitchen the “chicken room”. We all laughed and realized she was just struggling to pronounce “kitchen.”

After class, we posed for pictures outside in front of the statue of Confucius in the courtyard. What a rogue’s gallery these photos will make! Lunch back at the Gaosu Shenzhou Hotel featured a first for all Anglos: fresh raw pumpkin slices. The other high point for me, at least, was the dish of beef breaded in peanuts.

At 5 o’clock, we got our travel agent briefing and heard 6 plans for possible weekend travel. Decisions to come later.

After dinner, we headed out for a walk and got a big, free surprise – a drum and cymbal concert by the City Wall across the street. Dozens of people marched around and did calisthenics to the loud, steady beat. I intend to take lots of photos here tomorrow night. For now, though, it’s off to journal.

Joel Albert

(Photogaphs: 1)Joel teaching in the classroom; 2)Xi'an City wall at night )

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Thought for the Day: “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”

This morning everyone met downstairs at the western dining room fro breakfast. The weather outside was cold and looked as if it was going to rain but it never did.

After breakfast everyone got into the van to go to the collage. After a couple near hits we arrived at the school.

At the school we saw everyone cleaning for an inspection. We all helped to clean until 10 o’clock. At that time the students went to their classes and so did we.

Today was the best day so far. We had the nursing students whose English was the best I’ve heard from the kids yet. After our introduction the kids introduced themselves as well. At the end of class we all sang you are my sun shine.

After another exciting bus ride back to the hotel we went to the first floor to have lunch.

After lunch John, Nancy, and Dick went to the Muslim market while Joel typed his journal and I watched a movie.

At 5:30 everyone met in the lobby to go to the hot pot restaurant for some spicy and not so spicy food. We all sat and conversed and ate.

After leaving around 8:00 my dad and I went to get ice cream and band aids. Nancy, Dick, and Joel went to dancing lessons in the hotel lobby before going to dance in the park. My dad went down stairs to write some e-mails and think. At around 11 he returned and we fell sleep.


(Photographs: 1)Alex with his students; 2)The dancing group in the City Wall park every evening)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thought of The Day: “Always tell the truth, but keep one foot n the stirrup.”

-- Arab Proverb

Today began as the usual overcast and chilly morning but before we arrived at our school a light rain had begun to fall. It grew into a steady rain as the day went on and continued into nightfall – a pleasant change from the dusty conditions since our arrival.

There were no surprises at our school today such as an emergency cleaning procedure. We did, however, have a photo op with the Vice Superintendent (or was it the Vice President?) of the school – a brief interruption from classes.

Classes proceeded normally and a new teaching paradigm was established: “just show up and talk English”.

A delicious treat awaited us at lunch as we stayed near the school and were treated by the School at a local restaurant. Some of the teachers as well as Julia were in attendance; the food featured whole squirrel fish (otherwise identified as locally caught carp) and it was all delicious.

After lunch we were driven again the approximately .2 km back to the school and found a tour arranged for us of the School’s laboratory facilities. These included the physics, optics, health, anatomy, DNA, medicine and organics labs. There were plenty of school photos taken of the appreciative Global Volunteers viewing the facilities.

We departed late in the day around 4 PM and proceeded through the rain back to the hotel. We all collected our cash to pay the tour guide for the weekend tours the Team members had scheduled and rendezvoused for a later than usual dinner.

Everyone stayed in the hotel tonight due to the rain.

(Photographs: John and his students)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Thought for the day:

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

-Peter F. Drucker

It’s the end of the school week (TGIF) and I think we would all agree we have enjoyed the students and they us. Also, we would agree that our English teaching has generally been successful as we have become friends both with the students and with the teachers and, perhaps, taught them some new concepts while becoming friends. Today we are teaching the non-class students who come for extra help and perhaps, to see what those curious Americans are doing. Baoli came with us to take pictures.

After classes, Robinson, or Liu Jin Tian, invited us out for lunch where we enjoyed another plentiful, delicious meal. We especially enjoyed the dates soaked in honey and stuffed with cashews which we found out was a Muslim specialty. (Food in the Shaanxi Province is especially spicy hot) Robinson regaled us with the story of his life, his education, how he met and married Julia, and how he started the Bio-medical Technical College. He is a born story teller and we were all enthralled. After several picture-taking sessions, we returned to the hotel. That afternoon Alex and John went searching for the “magic” that would fix their walkie-talkies, Dick typed his journal, Joel rested and Nancy went searching for money. That evening we gathered with Baoli for dinner.

Following dinner Dick, Nancy, Joel and Baoli walked over to the nearby park where we discovered three separate singing groups. The largest group was accompanied by instruments, two recorders and an Eh Hu (Chinese 2 stringed violin) singing songs of longing and reminiscence of bygone days. A smaller group was singing songs of revolutionary times including Mao’s long march and the Cultural Revolution. The third group composed on only women was accompanied by an accordion and seemed to be singing folk songs. We decided that we would not encounter such a sight in a park in the States. John and Alex stayed at to work on the computer. It has been a delightful day, but we are looking forward to the free weekend.

(Photographs: Nancy teaching in the classroom)

Saturday and Sunday, March 22nd and 23rd

Joel (Sat 3/22):

After lunch at the Warriors site, we toured the Museum of Banpo, preserving a 6,000 year old civilization unearthed in Xian. This ancient people dug a shallow foundation for their tent pole lodges and then descended into their living quarters. It was a structure somewhat similar to the tee-pee of the American Indians, but the houses here were designed to be moiré or less permanent, not transportable. Their village protection was a deep moat to ward off animals and invaders.

Among the relics were bowls painted in designs resembling those of other ancient cultures around the world. It made me thing that the human brain must be wired to create instinctively an artistic statement no matter where we are.

After the tour, Nancy and Joel walked to a nearby park crowded with families and young couples.

At the entrance, we were greeted by vendors of balloons, toys, hot dogs on a stick, kites, and other fun stuff. Inside, blooming spring shrubs and trees, a lake with paddle boats, refreshment stands, and more souvenir vendors. Some sold ceramic items and the supplies to paint them. Youngster gathered at tables to decorate their items. We also have our first encounter with beggars – sad, elderly men at the end of the line. We meet and chat with a family of German tourists, comparing notes on our China travels. And, we are flattered when a group of teens insists on having their pictures taken with us – all flashing the ever-popular “V” sign and proudly telling us hello and thank you in their best English.

We could sleep a bit on Saturday, because our bus didn’t leave until 9:00.

We were met by Andy, and took off for the terra-cotta warrior site and museum. No one could have described what we saw. Not only the scope and size of what has been found, but the scope and size of what hasn’t. It is incomprehensible. It amazed us all. Thanks to our small group and Andy’s excellent knowledge. Our questions could all be answered. We completed our tour of the site with a visit to the museum to see the two bronze chariots. The workmanship and artistry were astounding for such ancient treasures.

At the Farmer Painting Museum on Sunday we saw historical displays of the style called Farmer Painting, and also saw people in training to do it. There were opportunities to buy paintings at the museum, but our guide, Penny, said we should wait until we saw Mr. Zhang’s work. We did, and it was worth the wait. While having lunch at Mr. Zhang’s gallery, we also took a walk around the village, and saw many things, including a small Buddhist temple where 5 nuns lived. One of them graciously told us about the temple and the life they had. In the end, we purchased a painting from Mr. Zhang, and returned to the hotel.

(Joel) 23:

Breakfast at 8 with Dick, Nancy, and John. Alex is temporarily missing but not lost. Afterwards, Dick and Nancy are off to sight-see, headed to the Farmer artist painting show - I bet they will be lured into buying a painting. John and Alex off to An ShangVillage where they have volunteered before.

For me it’s adventure day. First hurdle is to figure out how to tell a drug store clerk that I need the non-drowsy type of allergy medicine to cure me constantly runny nose. I have benadryl but using that will knock me out. Ahh… I get the hotel clerks, who speak a little English, to write it out for me. We have a short give and take with lots of gesturing at the nose and I finally walk away with a Chinese language paragraph (a very lots of words for “allergy medicine” and directions to the Yi Kang drug store just a few blocks away on the main drag.

Five clerks there try to interpret – none speaks English but they are working hard. First thing out is Tylenol. I recognize that as the only English word on the package. Wrong stuff. Next comes Ibuprofen. OK, but not for a runny nose. Bingo on the third try: Contac. 11.5 Yuan about $1.50 which is a fair price. Back at the hotel, I look up Contact on the web to make sure it is really the right stuff and won’t put me to sleep ion the daytime. What the hell, I say, the worst thing that will happen is that I will get sleepy but have no runny nose so I down a pill.

Next adventure is the Muslim market, a veritable bazaar. Narrow streets, shops on each side, wall to wall, each about 8 to 10 feet wide selling fresh food, fruits, vegetable, meat, fish. Cooked, uncooked. Noodle, fried patties of some type. Cheap souvenirs, cheaper souvenir (otherwise known as junk). I succumbed and bought my wife a Mahjong set with decorated leather (I hope) case and tiles made of ox bone and bamboo. My orders before coming here were to buy nothing because our house is full but she loves Mahjong and the tiles here may be the same ones she actually uses, so I break the rule. If the tiles are not the same, the set is useless except as decoration (for whom?!?). Price was $35, bargained down from$70. They accepted US dollars and gave me change in $USD even though I said I would take Yuan. This has to be it for purchases. Aside: absent from the shops are baseball caps which are standard tourist fare in many other countries. Hmmmmm..perhaps I will stay here and open a concession.


Sunday Dick and Nancy visited Hu County and the museum of the farmer paintings. Later we went to the small village where Mr. Jong the artist lives. At first we were not sure this tour was going to be interesting as we lost our way several times, and neither the guide, Penny, nor the driver seemed to know where they were going. But as we saw more of the paintings and the various scenes were explained to us, we began to enjoy the visit. Farmers were introduced to painting by the government in the early 50’s as a way to help them understand Chinese culture. Culture centers were established in the small villages where the farmers were taught painting, scissor cutting, reading and music. Mr Jong has visited the US to show his painting in an exhibit. Visiting the village we ate a lunch consisting of foods grown in the area and including pigs ear.

We took a small walk in the village where we met some of the residents including an old man and one of the oldest women, and the small Buddhist temple where we talked with the nun who lives there. Later we say the traditional dragon dance. The whole day turned out to be quite delightful.

(Photograph: Terra Cotta Warriors Museum)

Monday, March 24, 2008

The quote for the day: Don’t let today’s disappointments cast a shadow on tomorrow’s dreams.

We all met for breakfast, facing (at least for some of us) our last fw days of teaching. We left for school at the usual time, and arrived to a rather quiet building. Some of us had few students, but teachers evened up class sizes. There were no curriculum students, so all who attended were volunteers.

At 11:30 we left for the ‘Dumpling Party” at Fisher’s home. She had engaged hr younger brother and a former classmate to begin preparations for the dumplings. We all participated in making the dumplings, thanks to instruction from the teachers. We could easily identify those dumplings we made from those made by more experienced hands. In addition to the dumplings were vegetables, noodles, and many condiments. There were many opportunities to exchange jokes and we had a great time, just like a group of old friends. The teachers had to go back to the college for a meeting, so we parted and came back to the hotel.

Evening brought a chance to eat at a Muslim restaurant, with bowls of bread that we had broken up, with a hot broth poured over it. There were also noodles, condiments and sweets. After dinner Baoli shared 10 characteristics of people from this province, such as squatting instead of sitting, marrying within the province and others unique to this area. Some of these characteristics we have observed, but others not. We returned to the hotel for the night.

Dick Schultz

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Thought for the Day: “There is no sweet without sweat” – from the teaching of a Shaanxi farmer to his children as told to me by one of the students in my class..

On this 4th day of spring, we met for the morning drill, augmented by Baoli’s probing over whether we think we have met our team goals. We think we have been doing just fine.

Robinson, president of the Bio Medical Technical College, accompanied us in the van on the ride to school. It’s not clear why he made the trip. In the teacher’s ready room, there was another welcome spread (plus a bouquet of flowers) that included one of my favorites; chunks of hard cakes made of compressed sesame seeds, rice, and honey.

Today, instead of the returning students I expected, there are fresh faces, except for 2. So I can go back to lesson #1; who am I and here is my family and house. We are joined by a new faculty member, a former journalist. Little conversation is possible because he speaks only Chinese. This class has not developed its English skills except for two sort-of participating students.

Back at the hotel, Baoli meets us at 1 pm and we amble down to the corner restaurant. Some new food today includes sweet sticky rice and an eggplant that tastes faintly like French fries.

We all go in search of different afternoon diversions then regroup At 5:30 headed off to the Tang Dynasty Dinner show. It is one hour of colorful, graceful dancing and talented percussion and horn playing. It is aimed at the tourists who packed the house which resembled a Las Vegas show seating arrangement. Following the show, it was upstairs to a 3rd floor dining room where we were served 18 or 209 different kinds of dumplings. If this meal is fairly typical, why are there no fat Chinese?

And, tonight, there are two desserts, a sweet cake and fruit. Stuffed again, we head home and call it a day.


(Photograph: The Tang Dynasty Show)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Thought for the day: “you are only remembered by the rules you break.”

-- Douglas Macarthur

Today was the first day of the nursing students. We had group 2 of them who are the students that have the second best English skills that actually aren’t that bad.

After John told the students about my love life we preceded to lunch at the hotel. It was actually nice to be at the hotel for lunch and not spending hours going through laboratories and taking pictures.

At 2 o’clock sharp, John left for his, apparently successful law lecture. He met a man who basically told him to get the whole family to get jobs to pay for our phone bill. While he was talking to his audience of about 100 law students and a couple teachers that included a teacher from the communist party school.

Dick, Nancy, Joel and I went to the big wild goose pagoda and took lots of pictures. At around 6:45 we met Baoli at the stone book. After visiting the opera mask statues we proceeded to an almost death defying road crossing to the peking duck restaurant where we ate lots of spicy food and some delicious duck and fruit salad.

We left soon after so John and I could catch a rickshaw that cost 30 Yuan. At around 9:00 dad went to the business center where he got a free hour because he said he would bring me tomorrow.

And that concludes a long day of teaching and great food we went to sleep.


(Photograph: 1)John lecturing in Xi'an Peihua University; 2)The Qin Opera Park by the Big Wild Goose Pagoda)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Thought For The Day: “Before entering, think of the leaving.” -- Arab Proverb

The weather was good all day with no rain and highs in the 70’s. Alex did not make the scene at breakfast as he suffered a bout of diarhrea and upset stomach overnight. He stayed in bed during the morning and did not come to the morning teaching session, which was a shame because it consisted of a visit to the A Pang Palace with the students (who all asked about him).

The Palace is adjacent to the XBTC so the nursing students walked to meet the volunteers on the Palace grounds. The Palace was sprawling over the land and contained many pagodas, courtyards, a lake with an island, statutes and pavilions. The emperor of this palace united six kingdoms in ancient China and built (or at least started to build) the Great Wall of China. Despite these significant achievements, this magnificent Palace was not in good repair. Maintenance of the grounds and buildings was a huge and ongoing task such that the work in progress diminished the functioning of the exhibits and the concession stands were all closed. There were few visitors and it was mostly deserted.

Upon return to the hotel for lunch we found Alex in improved condition. He attended lunch and ate some rice and bread. The group rehearsed their final celebration songs and pledged to meet at 6 PM for dinner.

Hu Di the Manager of the Global Volunteer offices in China came to dinner with us and Baoli. Alex attended also. It was a 15 minute walk to the People’s Restaurant during which we passed the ice cream store, a significant benefit! The food at the restaurant was delicious and plentiful and included our first ever entrée of alphalpha.

We returned to the hotel around 8 PM and prepared for our last day of teaching tomorrow (except for Joel who will remain because he is on a three week program).


(Photographs: 1) Joel teaching on the field trip; 2)Dick and Nancy with their students on the field trip; 3)The acrobatic show in A Pang Palace)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Thought for the day: To say goodbye is to die a little. French Proverb

This morning at breakfast, we spent some time discussing, deliberating, (with a little angst) and finally agreeing on our presentation for the college at the “goodbye” celebration. We are ready!! We will wear hats and GV t=shirts, sing “Hokey Pokey”, (without turning around) and the Tiger song (“are you sleeping Brother John”)) in English and Chinese. Will let you know how it turns out later.

It is our last day teaching at BMTC, except for Joel who will be here one more week. We have had a wonderful two weeks, working with a very supportive staff and hard working students. We only taught until 11:00 and then left for our last meal together with the teachers. We went to the same restaurant as before and again had the long, very wide noodles and alfalfa (last night) or as the Chinese word translates, clover. We returned to the school where Alex and Joel talked about American culture during a broadcast session. It was then time for the program. Many students performed, some dancing and some singing. The GV were honored with pins, certificates designating us honorary teachers, flowers and hugs. The students enjoyed our presentation immensely laughing when we did the “hokey pokey” and cheering when we sang about the two little tigers in Chinese.

Liang zhi lao hu, liang zhi lao hu Two little tigers, two little tigers

Pao de kuai, pao de kaui Run very fast, run very fast

Yi zhi mei you er duo One has no ears

Yi zhi mei you wei ba One has no tail

Zhen qi quai Very strange

Zhen qi quai Very strange

We talked about Chinese culture, teachers and students, and at the end of our presentation we turned around to display the words in Chinese: “You are wonderful”.

Finally it was time to say “good bye” to the English teachers. We have become maybe not quite friends, but certainly more than acquaintances during these two weeks. We have enjoyed their caring and support and have felt well taken care of during this time. Joel will have one more week with them.

Our ride back to the hotel in the van was rather quiet as we each had our own thought about the past two weeks. Tonight we will meet for dinner in a restaurant where we will share pictures and say our own goodbyes.

Nancy Schultz, recorder

(Photographs: 1)Alex, Joel and John broadcasting on the school radio; 2)Team 160 singing Chinese song at the final celebration at school)


(following entries by sole remaining volunteer Joel Albert)

Saturday, Mar 29

Breakfast is goodbye time for John & Alex who is now mostly recovered from his intestinal malady. They have 21 hrs of travel ahead of them and we wish them a safe trip.

Dick, Nancy, and Joel are off to the Shaanxi Province Museum which contains a vast collection of local relics marking a history that dates back 7,000 years. Scores of people are waiting in line to get in and we take our place at the back of the line. In a few minutes, a stern–faced guard pulls us out of line. What is up here, we wonder, but he escorts us to the front to a special window for “old and disabled” people. We show our passports and get a free ticket. Just this week, we’re told, the museum has eliminated

the entry fee for everyone.

Guess what is inside? Two actual Terra Cotta Warrior figures up close and personal. Also an excellent replica of the Royal Chariots found at the tomb site in Eastern Shaanxi. There’s no substitute, of course, for the real thing but if you don’t have time to make the trip, come here and get a tiny taste of this wonderful ancient army.

We then walk a few minutes away to take in the 2pm water show at the nearby Wild Goose Pagoda, a long, tiered pavilion with fountains dancing to recorded classical music for 20 fun minutes. The kids love it. Some splash in the chilly waters.

Then, we chance a fast-food lunch, sort of American style at Dico’s across the street. We survived with no stomach problems. Miraculous.

.A scary ride back to the hotel as our driver sped down the wrong side of the street, blowing his horn to assert domain. In the U.S. you’d get arrested for this driving behavior but not here where crazy driving is the norm.

I met Dick for dinner in the lobby for our 7 pm dinner but Nancy, who took off for her last walk on the wall, is missing. She has not contacted Dick and he is worried. It’s very unlike her to do this. I try to re-assure him but it’s obvious he is quite anxious. How are we going to find her? Then, at 7:33, Nancy burst through the door telling us she got lost after descending the wall, wandered around for a while, still lost, and finally hailed a cab. The driver spoke no English, she no Chinese that mattered. After nearly circumnavigating the wall, Nancy is back. Nine miles of driving around the wall and 27 Yuan later. It took them both a while to calm down and then, more relaxed we have a very pleasant dinner.


Breakfast and farewell to the Schultz’s who are now going to tour other China cities. I took a morning tour of the Muslim Market on foot and in the afternoon I did more photography in the park and at a nearby shopping district. At 6, dinner with Baoli.

((I suggest she tells GV HQ’s to do a short blog with photos for each team. And that she needs better photo edit software for her computer. It is cheap and some programs are free. What she has is quite basic and clunky. The items on her machine can be downsized so volunteers can send friends and family emails w/pix while they are here – it is good promotion for GV’s))


My first full day with no other volunteers. After breakfast with Baoli and a nearly solo ride to school accompanied by Martina, I was greeted at school by President Big Potato Robinson who has asked me to translate 3 pages of Chinese description of the school and its mission into a commentary that can be posted on the school web site. In the afternoon, I moved many of my photos to Baoli’s computer for her use and to share with the others. Baoli gets a homework assignment to help with the translation. She, too, calls it difficult and her English skills are excellent. Then, we capped the day with dinner at The People’s Kitchen across the street.

Tuesday, Apr 1:

This is April Fool’s Day. After breakfast and a ride to school in the van, my teachers tell me that there are no students for me to teach today. But it is, they say, an April Fool’s Day joke and I fell for it. A crazy little custom that has now spread around the world.

In the morning I taught a class of mostly first-time (for me) students. And we review some American culture items including the use of y’all instead of you all and how to say “Hi, Bro” instead of Hello, Brother. We also reviewed the cost of NBA tickets, at one student’s request, and the cost and names of various game treats such as hot dogs, burgers, popcorn, coke, and beer. I didn’t mention French fries – how could I have forgotten!?

For the last 45 minutes, I got into President Robinson’s translation project, then home for lunch and later dinner with Baoli.

Wednesday, Apr 2

Two of the volunteers for the next team have arrived and I ate breakfast with them. Two women from Colorado, one lives in a very green house with solar heat and power, the other is a graphic designer.

No classes at the school for me today, just the translation work where I did complete the first rough draft. I have set six teachers into three teams doing other translation tasks that President Robinson has requested. He wants to make an English version of the school color brochure. I don’t think I will complete that work before departure. They are struggling and I can’t type fast enough. But it will be a big start for a future English speaker and should make the Big Potato happy!

Thursday, Apr 3

A big day for the lone volunteer. After polishing up the translation, I was taken to lunch by the English teacher staff to celebrate my birthday at a nearby noodle restaurant. Joined by President Liu Jiantang, I am told to see how long a noodle I can lift from the soup bowl. The one I picked appeared to be at least 18 inches, a sign of a good life.

After lunch, he made arrangements for me to record my commentary about the school at the educational TV station downtown. Their equipment is pretty dated and does not include a teleprompter so I have to read looking up and down from the script. Very clumsy and unprofessional but it’s the best we could churn out.

Baoli surprised me at dinner with a birthday cake after dinner, complete with a display of fireworks and candles and happy birthday song player. She lit the top of the plastic contraption. A shower of sparks flew up, plastic flowers petals unfolded revealing candles which the spark thing ignited. Then the running stream of Happy Birthday. We had to take the thing into the hallway to stop the music from driving us batty because it would continue to play for many hours, as long as the batteries lasted.

Back at my room, I heard the BBC report that there is a work stoppage of some Chinese pilots (airline not identified) and worse; United Airlines has grounded its Boeing 777 fleet. I am due to fly home on a Boeing 747 but with last minute equipment changes, who knows what Saturday will bring. We can worry about getting home later.


At school, there is no class for some students. I worked with Fisher on more translation and arranged to record the commentary, this time audio only. It took some finagling but we did it in both the student broadcast room on the 5th floor and later, a record setup right across from the teacher’s room. Again, we did not have up to date recording equipment but I think we have at least one good take and that’s all that is needed.

Fisher surprised me with another birthday gift, a yellow, “cute”, she said, piggy bank. We lunched with my friend Robinson who gave me a large inscription with Chinese characters denoting earth, sky and long friendship. Quite touching.

Tomorrow is, I hope, return home day. We have had a long and satisfying excursion and teaching/learning experience. Team 158 is finished! Knkdnfa