China Team Journal

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 )