China Team Journal

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Report from Hainan - Team 169

United Nations Millennium Goals Addressed by our Team: (Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.) During Feb 21- Mar. 7, 2009, 17 volunteers on the team provided 613 hours of conversational English language instruction to 69 local English teachers and about 3100 students.

First Week:

Welcome to the 17 members of the 5th team on Hainan Island.

Our first school day was better than I expected. We started this morning with our ample delicious breakfast, some words of encouragement from Bao Li and into a bus headed for school.

We were welcomed by school officials in an auditorium filled with the smiling, anxious faces of our soon to be students. What a treat they turned out to be.

On the bus ride back to the hotel, we were all chatting about our experiences and, after lunch, one of each pair of volunteers reported on how things went and what new ideas we could try to enrich the lesson plans for future days.

At 6 pm we climbed back into the bus heading for a dinner as guests of our hosts in China. We again fed on exotic foods, only this time, the wine flowed and the conversation in both Chinese and English consisted of toasting one another to friendship between individuals and between our nations.

On Tuesday, after breakfast, Baoli shared Chinese cultural customs with us, such as traditions surrounding marriage and toasting one another.

It appears many of us are getting serious about teaching because, as time goes by, more and more baggage with school supplies and equipment is being loaded onto the bus each morning! I believe this is an exceptional team, in that, there is so much friendliness, helpfulness and openness among the members. We continue to share helpful hints to compliment our class projects.

After lunch, Baoli and the team started working on and putting together the assignments for Haikou High School and the Experimental Foreign Languages School. This effort was finalized after dinner.

Another full and fulfilling day.

Wednesday morning, Baoli gave us a talk about China's one-child per family system at breakfast meeting. The day’s activities included teaching at the English Academy in the morning and at Haikou Sr. HS in the afternoon.

Carole and Don's students/teachers turned a simple discussion on prepositions into a full period creative imagination adventure, which concluded with singing "Mairzy Doats". Cindie and Kim introduced their students to the advantages of catalog shopping. Eleanor worked 1 on 1 with a student who wanted to study Chimpanzee control in Stamford, CT.

The afternoon gave us in intro to China's future movers and shakers. The Haikou School is private, boarding and K - 12, supported entirely by tuition. Students are from affluent families all over Hainan. The buildings are large and impressive.

Donald lectured on the US educational system and Dick on the Chinese immigration experience in the US. After the lectures to teachers we broke into teams of two for conversation with classes of 22-25 students at the high school level. Five classes remained in the auditorium. It was noisy. At times the decibel level was so high that five Global Volun

teers were simply unable to continue interacting with their students. For most of the two hours we volunteers only had real contact with about half of the students present.

At 5:30 Haikou School hosted us to a fabulous meal at the One on One Dumpling Plaza.They serve the best dumplings in Hainan, as we learned by sampling all three varieties: fried, boiled and steamed.

Thursday was another sunny day. All classes convened in Room 701 to watch “Mr. Holland’s Opus”, an interesting, moving story about a musician thrust into a high school as a music teacher, and his subsequent experiences over 30 years, starting in the 60’s. The individual classes then reconvened for the last half hour in their own classrooms and discussed the movie and some of the unfamiliar words and phrases used in the movie. In line with the musical theme of the movie, Don (Maher) played a fast paced, old time American tune and a Mexican love song on his harmonica in his and Carole’s class.

In the afternoon, Bao Li accompanied 12 volunteers who taught at the Haizhinan Experimental Foreign Language School which includes grades K through 7. Each class was scheduled to have about 40 students. The school staff invited the volunteers to dinner.

At the invitation of some of Marilyn’s last year’s students, four other GV’s went out to Wanshee, a small village outside Haikou. Because of heavy traffic, the one hour trip took almost two hours. They visited one of the former student teacher’s home, which is modern and comfortable. They also visited the local village school. There, the volunteers were surrounded by over 200 excited, clamoring kids who apparently had never before seen non-Asian foreigners, especially from America. While there, they made a very interesting visit down an old, unpaved alley to a temple to celebrate the birth of one of the Buddhist gods, GongQi , and had their fortunes told.

Friday: Carol and Baoli presented our weekend options; one being, a one day ecological tour of Hainan, and the other an overnight trip to a village and a beach.

In the Academy. Several teams discussed the final celebration, as well as the movie “Mr. Holland’s Opus”. Some special things that GVs did in class were:

Glenda & Phil took a field trip to a public primary school where one of their student’s teaches and Glenda lead the class in “Head shoulders, knees and toes”.

Ed & Phyllis had their class tell about their own personal Mr. Holland. Then Phyllis talked about personal hygiene and the benefits of hand washing.

Gail & Nancye’s class played 20 questions about the movie characters and then about their classmates. They also did a listening exercise with follow-up questions. Then they split their class and half discussed what they saw in magazines and the other discussed the Academy Awards.

Judy & Eleanor gave each of their students a word and asked them to make a sentence out of it. They also discussed a Chinese Opera about a girl, who dressed up as a boy to go to school. It was titled Liang and Zhu.

Don & Carole used flip charts with character, setting, and plot choices to have their students to create stories.

Donald took his students to the University of Haikou Park and sampled Dim Sum and listened to some traditional Chinese music.

Thelma & Dick’s class sang songs, did word bingo and some oral reading.

Roy & Marilyn discussed marriage relationships with their students, as well as wedding planning in China.

Cindie & Kim also planned the lesson around relationships. They discussed all types, including grand-parents and grand-children and a woman’s many roles as a wife, mother, daughter-in-law, & sister-in-law often under the same roof in China.

Lunch was back at the hotel. Afterwards, Carole told the group about the wonderful school presentation we witnessed Thursday. Including 3 different dance/martial arts performances and a moving traditional song with gestures done by the children. Marilyn informed us about her group’s trip to a former student’s home and village. I am not sure which group had the better experience.

In the afternoon a few GVs worked with some of the hotel staff on English appropriate for their positions. They thanked them by inviting them to the hotel bar for karaoke later that night.

Baoli lead our troupe on a pleasant 20 minute walk to a lovely dinner at a “hot-pot” restaurant. Carol and I saw some cloth napkins on a lower shelf on a coffee table, so we thought we would help ourselves. They turned out to be stapled together in their fan or duck shapes and were just for decoration. As usual, we just got tissues for napkins. It was another delightful cultural dining experience.

Ahh, the weekend is here.

Second Week:

We started the second week of teaching in Haikou greeted by cooler weather.

In Gail and Nancye's class there was a discussion about what everyone did over the weekend. Since one of the students went to a wedding that led to a discussion of Chinese and American wedding customs. The class also worked in groups planning trips and presenting them to the class. The trips planned were to Sanya, Tibet, Beijing, and Egypt. In Phyllis and Ed's class students made dried flower cards. In Don's class students wrote stories and read them aloud. Eleanor and Judy went out with their class to Haikou Golden Blue Ridge Zoo. They went to the Pearl Plaza and ate lunch at a Chinese fast food restaurant. The students then took them to a supermarket and showed them food not found in the US. and bought them chrysanthemum tea and dragon fruit.

In the afternoon Cindy, Kim, Carole and Gail took "the taxi to nowhere". Arriving at the Hainan Museum, they found it closed. They had to go out on the street and hail a taxi back to the hotel. Thank goodness for those name tags with the name of the hotel written in Chinese. Marilyn and Roy went to the spa where they had their hair washed and Marilyn had a facial and reflexology.

At dinner we were treated to macadamia nut chocolates by Phyllis, California dark chocolate almonds by Don, and dragon fruit by the students of Eleanor and Judy. After a spirited discussion of what songs to sing at the closing program, it was decided to go with "America the Beautiful", It's a Small World", and "Make New Friends and Keep the Old".

Tuesday started with the usual buffet and the reading of the journal. The bus took us to the school where our enthusiastic students waited. Phil and Glenda went out to breakfast with their students followed by a tour of Hainan University. And, Kim and Cindie did American holidays and Phyllis and Ed took a walk through old Haikou. At the request of my students, Dick gave a very informative talk on the construction and history of the Christian Bible. I followed his talk with idioms and general discussion of magazine articles. Nancy and Gail toured Hainan University and shopped with the students. Eleanor and Judy did a vocabulary lesson and Roy and Marilyn went shopping with their students. Donald and Carole also took an extensive city walk.

In the afternoon, five of us went to Hainan Middle School and visited with a large group of English students who were full of questions about life in American and what we thought of China. Following the visit, the teachers treated us to a dinner at a local restaurant.

On Wednesday, our small class of 5, consisting of 1 man 27 years old and 4 women, the oldest being 40 years old, decided on 3/3/09 they wanted to take Eleanor and Judy to a strawberry farm. They were to leave at 8:30 am for the farm this morning to pick strawberries. However, Judy didn’t feel well so they decided to take us to the 40 year old teacher’s school and watch her teach 4th graders. Her name means Muong Sunflower, Kei Huan. She was very dynamic, I thought that did a good job, even though she is a match teacher.

At 4 pm, we boarded a brand new bus that was A/C and had comfortable seats. The bus belongs to the Hainan Overseas Chinese School. We each spoke to a calss with a class of 66-68 students. We spoke to them and they spoke to us very little for 15 minutes. Roy and Eleanor had a class in the 8th grade. They split the class in half, Roy had half and Eleanor had the other half. While we waited for the bus to take us to dinner, many girls and one boy asked us to write my name on their uniform.

Then the volunteers were taken along with teachers in the fancy bus to a

restaurant at the Hainan Yacht Club. The food was abundant and more than anyone could eat. The variety was so much and so good. The seafood was special and so were the meats, lamb, beef, pork, chicken, etc. barbecued. We left the club and beautiful beach about 6:40 pm and headed back to Hainan Overseas Chinese School. The students were waiting anxiously for us seated in chairs they carried from the classroom to the sports area. They had been waiting about an hour for us. They were the brightest selected by their teachers; spoke English well. I had 13 boys and girls. The girls were very aggressive and asked many questions. We sang a couple of songs and they sang one for me and presented me with 3 gifts. They wanted me to stay longer and told me they would miss me, wanted me to come back, etc. They waved continually until the bus pulled away; they boarded the bus and gave me an Orion Pie plus other students gave others on the bus gifts.

Thursday day began splendidly! I was greeted by the biggest, orange disk in the sky! The sun was brilliant and looked stunning over the buildings and harbor! What a way to begin second to last day teaching our students with Global Volunteers.

We boarded the bus, each eager to see our ‘now friends’, our students, and what the morning would bring. In our class, we began by rehearsing the program our students planned to perform at the closing ceremony on Friday. Following the rehearsal, we divided our students in 2 groups and took them out on the street to shop. We went to a large supermarket, with escalators, and while on the 2nd floor, ran into Roy and his students. The students explained all the different foods to us, which was interesting. It was apparent, that the program for Friday was practiced in all the classrooms.

Each set of teachers was asked to sign certificates for the students.

Don and Carol talked about floor plans in homes in the

states and had photos of living rooms, kitchens, etc. Glenda and Phil used Carol’s I-Pod and speakers and had their class sing and read Oklahoma to the music playing on the I-Pod.

Ed and Phyllis divided up their class into ‘tour guides’ and ‘tourists’ – I gather a lively session took place.

In the afternoon, we went to Haikou Middle School #4. Teams were sent to various rooms for questions and answers. I had 200 students view my PowerPoint presentation on Global Volunteers and our travels through China over the past four years. Once we worked out the initial glitch of connecting my computer to their equipment, the presentation went well and questions and answers followed. After a harrowing taxi ride, we arrived back to our hotel, safely –

After another delicious dinner, we briefly went over our program for Fri. closing ceremony – ‘AMERICA THE BEATIFUL’, ‘ITS A SMALL WORLD’ & closing with ‘MAKE NEW FRIENDS, BUT KEEP THE OLD’, many adjourned to their rooms to pack. Several stayed behind to view my PowerPoint presentation, which I felt honored to give.

A very good day indeed! Tomorrow, last teaching day with G.V.

Friday, the last active day

of team 169 commenced with breakfast at 7 am on a rainy-foggy day. At 8:30, teaching in small classes, were interrupted by gifts from our students, English teachers, & exchanging farewells. The remainder of the morning

was a grand closing celebration. There were speeches by the Academy’s leaders. Then the English teachers’ put on a terrific show with songs, dancing & costumes. Each of the 8 classes were very competitive. We all ended, sadly, as the program came to an end.

Our students, class 5, treated us to a sumptuous luncheon at Qiong Gai Wang restaurant. They ordered oysters, shrimp, calamari, Hainan noodles, just to name of few of the delicious foods.

The afternoon was used to prepare departure, after many went & got massages, facials, hair treatments, etc!!!!!!

The grand finale was a dinner hosted by the Academy and all the officials of the school attended. It was a delicious meal, while we were entertained by traditional Chinese dancing & music.

So ended a great two week experience for team 169.