China Team Journal

Monday, June 23, 2008

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.