China Team Journal

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thought for the Day: "You will miss 100% of your shots you don't shoot..."

Journal by: Anna Morgan

It seems to me Thursdays and Fridays are the hardest days for me to wake up. Somehow I managed to wake up around 6:30 to get ready for breakfast. At 7 o'clock I'm down to our little room and hungry. Once breakfast is finished we are off to teach the English teachers the knowledge we know.

For my mom and me we were ready to teach them fun and exciting activities. We answered questions then wrote a note to Anne saying " Our students would appreciate it if you came in and sang some songs in a free time." Seconds after she got that note she was in our room singing away! The teachers loved it!! When my mom and I squeaked and squawked trying to sing along, our students somehow covered up our furious singing with their angel like voices. Once that was done we were doing many different skits and paper activities. In the afternoon the whole team came to play some games with the teachers.

We had basketball, charades, and "can't say yes can't say no". Many of the female teachers were wearing high heels but still played perfectly fine. These games went on for 2 hours. In the end, the students gathered together to say their good byes to Anne and Lynn. Then everyone was off for the weekend.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Journal by: Claudia Bailey

After a hearty breakfast and journal reading by Lynn, we made a quick stop in our respective rooms to gather our teaching materials. Sunny weather greeted us as we boarded the bus and we again marveled at Mr. Fonges ability to find new routes to campus in record time. We dispersed to the 3rd floor classrooms to await our teachers/students. Lynn began class with dictation from a CHINA DAILY article about exploding watermelons. This led to a short discussion centered on chemical treatments of crops. Our main discussion topic focused on teacheres responsibilities, student attitudes, and freedom of activities for students during campus life at commuter vs. boarding campuses. We also encouraged the teachers to work on selecting topics for their speech to be given next week and making an outline. A few songs rounded out the morning.

After lunching at the hotel, we returned to campus for a short lecture by Susan and Anna. Susan related regulations and events associated with adoption of Chinese babies by non-Chinese. Pictures and comments poignantly documented the development of her loving family which welcomed 2 orphans from China. Anna also shared some of her experiences in welcoming her little sister. to the family, some humorous moments when her American classmates discovered her parents. were not Chinese, and discovering her 2 siblings, also adopted and now living with other adoptive families in the US. After a few Q and Aes, the team had a little time to devote to shopping and headed off to the Bird and Flower Market. Entering the jade market, we were overwhelmed by the multiple floors crammed with booths displaying jade in every imaginable form.

Between our limited time frame and the prices, we were soon exiting this area and moving on. We dispersed into the Bird and Flower Market proper and Susan, Anne, and Lynn made selections from various booths: a beautiful figurine, colorful shadow puppets, an other items. I noted that business must be good. since many of the proprietors were seated in front of laptops.
Catching a cab for our return to the hotel was a challenge but we all made it back safely in time to enjoy yet another good meal. Planning for our morning of group learning and afternoon of games. kept us occupied until we fell into bed for a nightes sleep

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Thought for the day: Peace begins at home, but it can be infectious.

Journal by: Lynn Murry

We met for a quick breakfast at seven AM and Warren gave a synopsis of our planned activities. Ann read the journal entry for Tuesday and we scattered to pick up our materials for class. Mr. Fong was right at the door at 8AM to whisk us to the university and so began our day.

Claudia and I went through a wealth of material beginning with charades (at which they excel), proceeding to contractions, pronunciation and discussion, and ending with a word puzzle that ends by providing a phrase describing a picture that appears below the puzzle. Since it took me a while to solve the puzzle, my guess is most of them will spend quite a bit of time on it. One student explained that this puzzle type was not new to them because such puzzles appear in their newspapers as they do ours.

We had lunch in the porridge restaurant on the first floor—excellent as usual (potatoes, tofu, BBQ, beef and egg, dumplings and soup. There was a little time for shopping, lecture prep, and rest before returning to the university to go on our field trip.

We visited the Flying Tigers Memorial. It is very close to the city and 6800 feet above sea level. The memorial consisted of two parts, spires and a separate piece of marble that explained the reason d‘etre.

Warren spoke a few words in honor of the fallen pilots, saluted and placed a bouquet of flowers at the base of the spires. The rest of the group also laid flowers down before the memorial. Chris
translated for the students in case they were not following all the words.

The mountains in which the memorial is located were very green with pines, spruce, laurels, peaches, etc. and very moist as evidenced by at least two types of mushrooms growing among the grasses.

All of us walked to an open area in the trees and learned to dance with our Yi and other indigenous peoples. Although it was hot and humid, there was great participation; and a good time was had by all.

Volunteers had dinner at a very fine Moslem restaurant. We had lots of lamb, fresh tofu, mushrooms and bok choi, sweet pumpkin, and a very good cabbage and chicken broth soup.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Thought for the Day:

To Learn of the Pine, Go to the Pine.

Japanese Poet: Basho

Journal by: Gretchen Webster

Monday morning brought us all back together for an 8 oeclock breakfast. As we were discussing the plan for the day and Warren told us we would have a free morning, his cell phone rang. Chris was in the lobby. Suddenly our free time turned into: Give us 10 minutes . Weell be right down!

Taking off in the van we spent the morning walking around the new Kunming University, driving around the new Yunnan University and the New City with Chris pointing our all the places of interest, including the wholesale district for global exports, the offices and apartments for dignitaries and important political people, plus the very new and beautiful middle school for their children. It was all very interesting. We had been looking forward to this tour and had it on our Important things to do list. We returned to the hotel for lunch in the Porridge Restaurant and then gathered our materials for afternoon classes of Group Instruction.

Warren visited each class and discussed the field trip to the Hump Memorial for Flying Tigers that would be Tuesday afternoon. He handed out a short paper explaining the significance and history so the students could have an introduction to this special place that honors the volunteer Flying Tigers during WW II.

We returned to the hotel after our classes that ended about 5:00. We had a short meeting at 6:00 in the library to discuss the programes progress so far and what is coming up in the next couple weeks.

A short walk with umbrellas in hand, took us to Mama Fues . a favorite dinner place for Global Volunteers. Most of us enjoyed Pizza and Wine and a couple adventurous teammates enjoyed/endured a SPICY Thai Salad.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Thought for the day:

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. -Lao Tzu


Today was a free day, so we pursued various interests at our personal choice of energy level. Warrenes cold was --about 70%. better, so he took it easy most of the day. Claudia and Gretchen discovered a pastry shop and a scarf store and discovered the road theyed been searching for to Mama Fues Restaurant. Susan and Gretchen used their coffee coupons in the hotel coffee shop and had a nice long chat.

Lynn and I went to the Stone Forest. Our driver didnet speak English and our Chinese was about the same, so he stopped en route and picked up his teenage daughter, who served as translator. They dropped us at the entrance to the SF, where we wandered happily for several hours, taking many photos. The day was overcast with occasional drizzles until about noon, so we were quite comfortable walking around.

The many rock formations were large and dramatically colored in various shades and patterns of white, grey, and black. From a distance they seemed to resemble buildings or creatures. Our guides had already eaten when we returned, but they recommended a nearby restaurant and we had a good lunch, seated at a low table on elementary-school-size stools. After we left Stone Forest, we visited one of Lynnes students, May, and her husband and niece for tea, apples, and cookies. They were great hosts and we had a fine time. Our guides took us home around 4:30 and we all had dinner together at 6:00 as usual except for Anna and Susan, who were out with friends. It was a lovely weekend.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Thought for the day: "O' call back yesterday. Bid time return." -Shakespeare

Journal by: Susan Morgan

Despite still feeling a bit "under the weather," I was eagerly anticipating our free time visit to the Yunnan Jiu Xiang scenic area. Listed as a national scenic spot and historical site, national AAAA tourist area, national geological park and a member of International Association of Caves, Jiu Xiang Scenic spot covers a total area of 167,014 square kilometers. It is 90 kilometers away from the provincial capital Kunming and only 34 kilometers away from the famous Stone Forest. Ann, Anna, and I had decided earlier in the week to travel to the caves together.

Ann worked hard making all of the arrangements through the hotel's travel agency with help from Colin, Bella, and the other extremely capable Assistant Managers of the Golden Spring Hotel.

The three of us "adventurers" left the hotel lobby about 8:30 am. Our young driver, speaking no English, drove us a short distance away before stopping the car and motioning for all of us to get out. We were ushered towards a small group of men standing together where money was exchanged. After a brief conversation among the group, we followed an older driver to his car, a grey Honda, and got in. He also spoke no English but I introduced the three of us, the best I could manage, as Americans who were in China as English teachers. He seemed very nice and was an excellent driver, the heavy car giving a smooth ride like a hot knife through butter. The long drive to the cave area was filled with bumper to bumper traffic, rough roads,
and smells of exhaust from all of the heavy trucks traveling the same route. After a while, traffic thinned out and we moved along the highway at a good clip. Finally arriving at the cave area, our driver parked the car.

After a much needed "pit stop," we rejoined our driver who handed us three entrance tickets. I asked what time we should meet him for lunch in one of the many small restaurants fronting the gate and he replied "one o'clock". Ann, Anna, and I set off eagerly on our great cave adventure. We followed the walkways through increasingly green and forest-like surroundings until coming to a section where a sign indicated a long set of steps down to the rivers edge or a "glass elevator" for the infirm or handicapped sight seer. Fortunately, we chose the elevator, thus saving our feet for the many steps unknown to us yet to come.

After descending the elevator to the narrow river bounded on both sides by steep rock cliffs, we clambered aboard a row boat wearing padded life vests. About eight Chinese young people also climbed in before we set off down the river. The stillness of the surroundings was punctuated by the hum of insects. It reminded me of the cicadas in the States that one often hears on a mid-summer's day. The air was humid and occasionally a drop of water from the greenery above was noticeable. River water, a deep green, reflected the vegetation, overhanging tree limbs, and steep, craggy sides of the gorge. Unfortunately, our idyllic boat ride soon came to an end.

Upon reaching the boat "dock", we clambered out and followed the red arrows along the path. The scenery was jus gorgeous! After awhile, we came to descending paths and narrow steps leading to the caves. It was like entering a gigantic mouth, craggy rock formations looming ahead like giant teeth. Colored lights inside the caverns highlighted the various textures and formations of the ancient rocks. We made frequent "rest stops", especially as we made our way out of the caves.

One of the most memorable spots was a double waterfall, the flowing cascade of water tumbling over the rocky cliff with a deafening roar. I hoped that, as it was nearing two o'clock (an hour later than planned), our driver could still be found. We finally emerged from the caves, then walked many steps (over 300) to the light above. What a joyful sight that was for our aching feet! Our next adventure was taking a cable car ski-lift high above the mountain valley amid fir covered mountains back to the park entrance. It was just glorious despite my fear of heights.

We found our driver waiting for us and then had a nice lunch in one of the many restaurants nearby where he seemed to know everyone. We ordered delicious fried egg, fried rice, and a tasty green vegetable whose name we did not know. Yummy!!

The ride back to Kunming was smooth and quick. An hour and a half before our scheduled meeting in the lobby at 6, we arrived at the hotel and enjoyed a little R & R. Another wonderful meal at Jerome's Cafe, a short walk from the hotel, followed. "Wan an!" to all and to all a good night!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Journal by: Anna Morgan

I woke up from an enjoyable sleep around 4 in the morning. Trying to figure out what happen to my retainer. I finally found it under my leg. Then fell asleep again. What felt like 20 minutes was 2 hours I was awoken again. This time by my mom saying "wakey wakey". Being a 14 year old I mumbled something like I'm up, and then dozed off again. After a repeat of my morning alarm I stumbled out of bed and got ready for breakfast. When mom and I got to our little dinning room we were greeted by the other volunteers. Warren our team leader would start of the day by saying "it‘s going to be a great day".

Then the whole team would discuss the plan of the day, of teaching in the morning, having lunch at a restaurant, then free time until dinner. We headed out Around 7:40 everyone went to their rooms and got ready for teaching. About 8:00 we climbed into our little bus and headed to school. Once we got there we scurried to the 4th floor. Going to our classrooms there were students already in there waiting. For the next five to ten minutes the rest trickled in.

We started the day by reviewing their homework. They had to tell us one rule they would change if they could. Some were about school, others were about family. Many of their thoughts were very interesting. Next we paired them up and handed them a picture. They had to create a story combining the two. Every story was different, but related to the characters celebrating a holiday or a kid being very naughty. It was funny to hear the stories.

I could tell that the students were tired from the long week of learning English. Many were Yawning and putting their head on the table. Mom and I were able to keep them awake until 11:30. It reminded me of how I felt in school. After saying that class is dismissed we left to catch our little bus.

Warren told the six of us that he didn't feel good so he dropped us off at the restaurant. We sat outside since it was a beautiful day. Claudia order fried rice and eggplant, Susan (my mom) and Gretchen ordered wanton soup and steam broccoli. Lynn and I ordered spicy rice for our hotness we craved. Lastly Anne was happy with what we ordered. When we were waiting for our food a Chinese woman and son was stopped because her Canadian husband stopped to talk to us. He talked about how he wished he could find somewhere his son could learn English. We gave him several ideas and told him about Global Volunteers. Information was swapped then we said our goodbyes. Shortly after our food arrived and was ready to eat. We realized that there was an extra dish of chicken. We all had our share and enjoyed it very much.

Once we were stuffed we headed out to the Green Lake. It was so beautiful. With kids in colorful inflated balls on water to painters painting sceneries, we all enjoyed the relaxing afternoon. Claudia and my mom stayed a little longer, while the rest of us traveled back to the hotel. At six we had a delicious dinner like always. Once that was done we went to our rooms to wait for our fruit. We had leeche then fell fast asleep.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Thought for the day: Actions speak louder than words.


After another rainy night we were treated to a pleasantly cool morning. Breakfast was followed by Lynnes journal reading; then off to Kunming University.

There we met our 16 teachers from various schools in the city and surrounding environs assembled in the 3rd floor classroom. We employed a warm-up exercise to get the adrenalin flowing. Teams made new words by changing letters in a 3-letter word. Excitement mounted to see which team had formed the most words. A short written assignment followed: describe a favorite novel, movie, or TV program and why you would recommend it to someone.

Students volunteered to read their work and there was good variety among their selections. JANE EYRE, Forest Gump, biographical sketches of Chinese notables, comedy shows, a Chinese equivalent of I've got Talent, etc. The teachers related that each selection offered advice for living, values and qualities to help get through life: perseverance, strength of character, humor, etc. Other activities included charades and practicing our song for the afternoon session. Several teachers requested work with the pronunciation of difficult English sounds such as the zhu in usually, bed vs. bad, t vs. d and so on. Why study English?. . a question teachers often have to deal with, was discussed followed by their questions about the US.

Lunch restored our energy reserves and we returned to campus. Lynn gave an overview of the work of Project Helping Hands which sends medical missions to many countries. She related her experience in Bolivia where volunteer medical personnel from the US joined Bolivian doctors and translators to bring health care to poor mountain villages near Cochabamba yearly. Also their assistance has enabled some villages to become self-sufficient. Her presentation generated interest in bringing such a program to China.

Anne then directed a program of songs led by the volunteers and team leader. The local teachers participated with gusto, especially in the rounds. Warrenes rendition of Sheell be comine round the mountain., complete with gestures, rated an encore. We adjourned to the outside patio area and, to the delight of several older women and other on-lookers, we sang a few more songs and Warren led us in the Hokey-Pokey. For dinner we returned to the din of the restaurant we affectionately call Chipped Plate Special.. There we enjoyed dumplings and other delectable dishes.

This was the night we had tickets for a special show. Dynamic Yunnan.. With our address cards in hand and with the help of a bell-boy, we piled into cabs and headed for the theater.

Choreography based on dances of the Dai, Yi, and Han minorities conveyed aspects of their life, customs and religious beliefs. These performances were mesmerizing and often humorous. From the opening dramatic scene featuring (loud) precision drumming , elaborately costumed singers and vigorous dancing to the elegant and graceful Peacock dance finale, the audience sat enthralled. Catching a cab to the hotel was easier than expected and we all retired after a productive and stimulating day .

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Thought for the day:

Education is the solution.

Journal by: Lynn Murry

The air this morning after the rain was refreshingly cool. Perhaps the seasonal rains make the difference, but I think that Kunming is the cleanest of the Chinese cities that I have visited. We rarely see paper or other litter flying down the streets; and so far, all the people we have seen appear to be adequately nourished, healthy and spry.

After breakfast in our special room at the hotel, we hopped in Mr. Fong's bus and headed for the university. Our class was waiting and came roaring to life after a four-way competitive chain game of substituting letters into the word sun. We had a lesson on bacterial versus viral diseases and antibiotic efficiency. After some phonics training, the students, again grouped in fours, wrote stories about a cartoon, and one volunteer shared them to the class.

At lunch time, we rode down the street of plane trees (sycamores) and marveled at how they could grow as large as they are given the lack of root space and available ground for collecting water to support the plant. Then we enjoyed a lovely repast at the hotel and headed back to the university for afternoon lectures.

Anne gave a presentation on ―US immigration through history and Claudia, on ―panda conservation. The baby pandas were very cute. The late day free hours were filled with buying tickets to ―Dynamic Yunnan for tomorrow night and preparation for tomorrow‘s lesson. About six, we went to dinner at a fabulous restaurant around the corner from the hotel. We enjoyed a wonderful repast of rice (plain and sweet), a wonderful potato pie, vegetable soup, dumplings, excellent eggplant and, my favorite--very spicy, fried mushrooms. A walk through the neighborhood and preparation for tomorrow‘s sing and dance exercise completed our day.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Thought for the Day from The Lorax by Dr. Seuss: 

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."

Journal by: Gretchen Webster

Tuesday A.M. began with the usual breakfast meeting and journal reading, then onto the bus and off to class. Students ready and waiting, our class began with a Thought for the Day discussion on a quote by Mahatma Gandhi: "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." Anne led us in the alphabet song: "A You're Adorable."

Then students talked about their families using information, photos or pictures they had been instructed to bring as a homework assignment. Next up was an activity on Lost and Found, including a story and dictation for multi-level abilities with emphasis on listening and writing.
Returning tired and hungry we agreed lunch was delicious and all gave Warren a big thumbs-up and permission to order all of the same for any meal in the future.

During afternoon lecture Warren talked about his experiences volunteering for GV and Gretchen discussed some of the other volunteer programs that are in the U. S. at home and abroad. Dinner time finally saw the opening of the bottle of Chinese Wine contributed by Anne. It tasted mighty good after a long hard day. And our fuwuyuan made sure it lasted a good long time as she doled it out one swallow at a time.

Over wine we waited for Collin to come help with free time activity ideas. Finally arriving for all of 30 seconds with a few books and pamphlets and what we thought was a promise to return. After dinner Anne , Susan and Gretchen walked to Wal-Mart and took the grand tour. spending most of the time trying to find correct up and down escalators.Our next mission was to find the Friendship Store which remained incomplete, settling for Magnum ice-cream bars instead!!

We headed back . feeling great to get out and walk. We should all sleep well tonight!!

Monday, July 11, 2011

When in Rome, do as the Romans do.


Today we met for breakfast at 7:00 and took a van to Kunming University for our orientation and first class. The buildings at the University struck me as very interesting.pagoda-type roofs and a little park with a book fair going on. We met our students and several dignitaries in a large classroom. On the podium were Mr. Ha, Director of International Affairs KMG University; Mr. Xiong, Director of the Teacher Training Institute; our leader, Warren Williams; Mr. Lu, Party Secretary of the Kunming Municipality Education Board; and Mr. Wang, Director of Kunming Municipality Teacher Training Program.

They talked about the history of Global Volunteers in Kunming (since 2005, 19 teams have come, with very good results) and appreciated our teaching methods. Warren welcomed the students and predicted \a great three weeks. with one requirement: Donet be shy speak up! The last speaker, Mr. Lu, urged the students to forget theyere teachers and work hard as students. He closed with the hope that we would enjoy our stay in Kunming and that the program would be successful.

Then we met our classes. Gretchen and I took the lowest level class and were surprised at how much they knew and how outgoing many of them were speaking English. We had more time than we expected, but fortunately we had plenty of materials and activities, so the time was very productively spent. We found out that they like to sing and many are quite creative with script writing and performing.

We left the university at 11:30 and met for lunch in our usual dining room. It seems like every meal I get to experience something new and ites all delicious. During the afternoon we used the free time to go to Wal-Mart (which turned out to be very different from the stores back home), get acupuncture, nap, and prepare lessons.

At 5:30 we met in the lobby to go to a wonderful ethnic restaurant that was over 100years old.
We were hosted and toasted many times by Messrsw Yong, Wu Yanming, Xiong, Baokun, Chunfu, and Ha. We were seated at two round tables in a room that opened onto a courtyard and were brought many, many dishes.

The most exotic dish I saw was a duck with the head on. Mr. Ha urged us at the beginning of the meal not to think of ourselves as Chinese and American GVs, but as one family. He had spent a year in Missouri and had many interesting opinions about American culture and food as well as about Chinese traffic and minorities. Everyone had a great time.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

July team arrives in Kunming!

Thought for the day "Better to have a friend on the road than gold and silver in your purse."

Journal by: SUSAN MORGAN

Whether from a touch of nervousness or just too many raisin biscuits, I had no appetite for breakfast as I struggled to get ready on time. Our first meal together as a complete team was fast approaching and I just couldn‘t seem to wake up. The evening before, Anna and I had met Warren Williams, our team leader; as well as Anne Benaquist and Gretchen Webster.

Upon arriving at the second floor dining room and meeting the other two volunteers, Claudia Bailey and Lynn Murry, my appetite returned. Te Golden Springs Hotel breakfast buffet offered everything that a hungry Global Volunteer could ever want first thing in the morning. My choice of fried egg, Chinese greens, and tiny boiled potatoes tasted delicious. Topped off with two cups of coffee, I was ready to go.

After breakfast, we regrouped in a conference room and began introducing ourselves. Team leader, Warren Williams, started off with a fascinating account of his life story.

When our team created a list of personal goals (three per volunteer), they read as follows:
1. to form friendships with local people, to meet new friends, to get to know other volunteers, and their experiences, to learn about lives, to be an ambassador;

2. to develop new (teaching) methods, to learn about the schools and education system in China, to share English teaching skills, to assess teachers;

3. to learn more about China, to speak Chinese, to experience Kunming, to see beautiful natural sights, to observe Chinese culture and people; and

4. To change a life, to help others.

The characteristics of a good team/team member read as follows: thoughtful speech, flexibility, respect, open mind, acceptance, listening, focus, humor, sharing, patience, energy, support, non-judgmental, and punctual

Later, just a short walk around the hotel, we shared a wonderful dinner at ―Jordan‘s Café. Beautiful decorated plates of squid, sticky rice shaped as mice (minus the tails), sliced barbequed pork, breaded pumpkin (a team favorite), and a tureen of mutton bubbling in spicy broth. With good food and better company, I was feeling utterly relaxed and enjoying the moment, walking back to the hotel amid the sights and sounds of Kunming in early evening, I was reminded of Warren‘s daily directive, ― It has been a good day…and tomorrow will be a good day too!!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

My last day...

Journal by: Katrina

My last day was sad for me. In just two weeks, I had become attached to the sixth grade boys and all the teachers and students at that beautiful little school with little room and little money.

Donald sang two songs for me, which was his forte, Mickey was going to sing, but he chickened out, and they gave me a beautiful card that said, “May Everyday Be Happy” and “We love you and will miss you!” I also received a pendant that said La La Shou, it was very unique and delicate, something I will keep always!

I had fallen in love with the students and the teachers. We communicated with our smiles, our laughter, and with our eyes. The translators were from the university and absolutely wonderful. They would bring me water and always tell me to sit! They loved America and President Obama. They all loved seeing pictures of my family and pictures of Abe Lincoln. They were very happy without a lot of material things, except of course their cell phones. They were English majors and they wanted me to be pleased with their English. They worked very hard translating and also helping with the students. They also were very proud to be in college and demonstrating their talents. They seemed to be more motivated and respectful than college students in America. They were very proud to be able to attend college.

China is a country of contrast, old and new. It is a country so vast and varied, yet the people seem to all work together peacefully. They find ways to survive and are very resourceful in a crowded city with 9 million people, and with what they have. It has truly been a life alternating experience. Basically, we all want the same things to be happy. Those students are so sweet and gifted in many, many ways. They love music and I found their choices of songs are the same songs that people in America. We practiced for a sports event they were having on Saturday. “We will, we will rock you,” was the song they were using in their dance routine. They all knew and loved Lady Gaga! They listened and exercised to “The Long Road to Tibet,” a sad and beautiful song that I loved. They also like “Old MacDonald’s Farm” and we sang that song many times during my short time at La La Shou.

I have had an excellent eye opening opportunity to have been invited to La La Shou. The parents and teachers are moving mountains in order for these children to be happy and successful in school. I never once saw any of the teachers become angry with the children. Mr. Tom and Mini, the teacher for sixth grades, (yes, I gave them English names too,) were very professional and caring to the autistic children.

My trip to China will remain with me always. I promised my new friends in China that I will try my best to make it back, but not without learning to speak more Chinese! One of many things I have learned is never to form an opinion about any country unless you have been there and overall try not to form an opinion about the people of a country unless you have worked with them and lived with them. China and especially Xi’an was a dream for me that came true! Thanks to Global Volunteers and my wonderful country team leader, Wang Baoli, it would have not been possible for me to have had this exciting opportunity! Baoli went above and beyond her call of duty to help. She made sure we were taken care of, that we were safe, and comfortable.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Journal by: Peace

From our hotel room on the 11th floor I can see down to the old city walls and the park. In the morning there are a few dozen people out there doing a calisthenics routine or Tai Chi. Living in such small places, it seems to be a treat for them to exercise in open space like that. Mostly it's people over 50. I asked Teacher Della about running yesterday since people do that so much for exercise in the U.S., she said she thinks people don't do it because there is no room. I told her we run on sidewalks and in the streets, she doesn't know why people don't do that here. I've seen an gym advertisement, perhaps this will catch on here, who can say.

No teacher accompanied me today, just the driver who is the father of the baby I held yesterday. Time has taken on a strange quality, it seems like that is a week ago. I don't think he spoke much English, it was a very quiet ride, but quicker than yesterday. The sun has come out. We passed a dental clinic, all glass walls on a busy street, everyone can watch you as you get your teach cleaned or pulled or whatever.

Driving up to the school the gate wasn't working and we had to drive around to the side and be let in by a person. The driver walked me up to the Foreign Affairs Office on the second floor and I met with Della and Julia. My classes were supposed to be held in the library, but there was no power so they asked if I minded walking up to the fifth floor for class. I asked where the materials were, the ones left by other volunteers, but Della said there were none. I had a rough outline and a few materials, so I went with what I had. My class was about 25 people, but only 2 boys! I thought there were more boys that girls in China and yet here I am with a class full of 16 year old girls. A couple of girls in the front row stood out right away, giving every answer, knowing a lot of English. Everybody kept telling me these kids were low level, but several of them have studied English 5 or more years and knew a lot. All the stuff I had for reviewing numbers, time, all way too easy for them. In fact we blew through everything I had in the first hour, with 2 more to go. It was fantastic when the teacher stopped in and led class for a while, she ended up asking me to do the first few exercises in their book with them, and then she assigned the rest as homework. I wish I had taken pictures.

They already knew the alphabet song, although they sing it differently ABCD, EFG, HIJK, LMN,OPQ, RST, UVW, XYZ, Chinese ending. A few of the girls knew Old MacDonald too. At some point I realized they were calling me teacher and we hadn't practiced introductions. I wrote my name on the board and then one of the girls asked if I could write my name on her textbook. This started a rush, and soon I had printed my name in every text in the room. It was a little rough the whole morning though, I really had a beginner lesson plan and they were intermediate students.

For lunch Julia & Della walked over to the cafeteria with me, it is much like college cafeterias everywhere. They asked what kind of soy sauce I like to drink, but with a little translation I figured it was soymilk. I said, "what do you mean what flavor?" and Della said, "you know, green bean, black rice, etc." I said in America the choices are vanilla, chocolate or plain. I let them choose. I got piping hot sesame flavored soymilk and it was good. Grain flavored and weird, but good.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Journal by: Peace Gardiner

First day in China...

Since I didn't have a meeting until 12:30, I decided to walk along the city walls and explore a park I could see from my 11th floor hotel room. I also had directions to a large supermarket nearby. I walked and explored, and as happens so often in China, I saw so many new and wonderful things. As I approached the park I heard loud rhythmic popping sounds and saw a group of maybe two dozen men and maybe two women. They were cracking whips! They had giant 8-10 feet long bullwhips and seemed to be seeing who could do the most continuous cracks. There was a talented younger man who was helping others. Some people were only able to do 2 cracks, while others kept going for several minutes. Even after such an achievement there was no applause, but you could feel the approval of the crowd.

For lunch Katrina & I met with Wang Baoli, our Global Volunteers coordinator. She took us to a Sichuan style restaurant near the hotel. She ordered us rice, stewed eggplant, bok choi, and some sort of cashew chicken sort of dish. It was very good. Katrina had never had eggplant before, but she is such a trooper, she seems to try everything without complaint. We tried to get a taxi to the school that we had meeting at, but there was a wedding letting out and 20 or more people in line for taxis, so we started walking. We made it to the school where Katrina will be teaching, a private school for autistic children. We had meetings until dinner time with Global Volunteers policy review & such, and then met staff for both of our schools. Several nursing students from the college I will be teaching at came to meet us too.

They asked each of us to introduce ourselves in English as much as possible, and the students had prepared notes. They did quite well and we all applauded each other’s efforts. They each had a question prepared too. In some cases it was "Do you like Xi'an?", "Have you been to Xi'an before?", or "Does the hot weather here make you feel short of air?" One girl asked us for our favorite singers. Katrina and I started trying to name somebody we thought they might have heard of, although I drew a blank for quite a while.

Us: Justin Beiber?
Them: Justin Beiber?

Us: Frank Sinatra?
Them: blank stare

Us: Elvis Presley?
Them: blank stare

Me: Lady Gaga?
Them: LADY GAGA!!!

Man, I love China.

Working at La La Shou (Xi'an China)

Journal by: Katrina Beattie

We met at my school for autistic children, La La Shou. There was a room full of teachers, speaking in Chinese all at once. I could feel the panic rising up from my feet and sweat dripping down my back! How is this going to work? The room was very humid and everyone was looking at Peace and myself. Baoli, my team leader, began translating in English. I began to relax and a sense of well-being came over me. I knew this is where I was meant to be, here and now, at this moment.

After walking to school, I thought I had seen everything! People were dressed with suits, dresses, ankle length pantyhose, beautiful black haired girls with outfits that would have passed for American dressed girls with the latest attire. People dressed in rags. People with their wares on a towel to sell on the sidewalk, people eating porridge with chopsticks on the sidewalks, reading news, washing their cars, cooking, sitting, and staring at me! The smells were very different. Some were horrible, some were pleasant!

La La Shou means hand in hand in Chinese, One of the parents started the school, as she didn’t know how to educate her autistic son. There is not a special needs program in the schools of China. It operates on donations only. The school is incredible in that the teachers are caring and patient with these children who have short attention spans, can not tolerate loud noises, are obsessive compulsive, cannot stand to have anything wet on their skin and clothes. Most of all, the general population has difficulty accepting them, let alone trying to teach them. With very little money, the teachers and parents have found a way. The students seem very happy, they smile and love to be touched. There are approximately sixty students at La La Shou. They have various difficulties, just like the autistic children in the USA. They can have very atypical social behavior. They are in their own little world and want to stay there.

After meeting with the translators and the head teacher, Global Volunteers, team leader and myself, we decided that I would join the sixth grade. They were all boys and had become oppositional and somewhat aggressive. When I met them, I knew this was the spot for me! One of the students was rubbing his forehead and rocking back and forth. He was not a happy camper! I found out later they were not playing his choice in music.

After one week, when the teachers and I felt they would be comfortable with me. I taught them the English alphabet. They progressed quite well and seemed to be attentive to this strange English teacher from America.

I read them stories. One was “The Three Little Pigs”. THEY LOVED THE STORY AND WANTED TO HAVE IT READ TO THEM SEVERAL TIMES. We said the alphabet and numbers in English and sang songs. They also loved my scrapbook, showing pictures of my family and the museum where I worked, “Abraham Lincoln Museum.”

The boys at the school were a unique and tight little group with their own way of communicating with one another.

They all wanted English names, that was a really big deal. They loved the cartoon, “Tom and Jerry”, so I named them accordingly. Tie Jiawei (Shea Swek), was given the English name, Jerry. He was nonverbal, was in the top spectrum of autism, and would become very agitated if he could not listen to his favorite songs.

Mickey was very intelligent and learned English phrases quicker than I could learn the Chinese language. Periodically, he would want me to sing “Mickey Mouse” or “Chinese Opera.” He would say English sentences that would come up out of nowhere.

Donald was a crooner that would sing beautiful sad songs with a pretend microphone. I wanted to name him Frank Sinatra, but he liked Donald. His voice had perfect pitch.

One of the student’s was quite low functioning, but understood social behavior well, and was a joy to be around with his continual smile. We named him Shrek. He was a hero in his own sweet way. He also was nonverbal, but somehow was able to communicate with us by pointing and making disjointed sounds.

The last young man was Islo. He was the “assistant principal” of the group. He was constantly making sure his classmates were not wandering off and that they were paying attention in class. Islo was the always smiling as if he were watching a funny play that he was not a part of. He was a tremendous help. He would make sounds and pull us to attract our attention whenever the routine was off schedule or when the other students were doing something they weren’t supposed to be doing.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Join us at 'A Passage to China' at MOA!

If you live in Minnesota or happen to be at the Mall of America this weekend, don't forget to stop by 'A Passage to China' to meet with our wonderful staff and volunteers!!

You can come take part in the fun event activities and learn about our volunteer service programs in Xi'an, Kunming & around the world!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

2011 Photos from Kunming, China

Our 2011 volunteer teams in Kunming and Xi'an, China are off to a wonderful start! Please enjoy the images below and imagine yourself in these wonderful communities teaching conversational English.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Humanitarian Airfare Opportunity

If you're seeking great deals on airfare for a service program later this year or in 2012, check out Fly For Good where you can receive excellent discounts when you travel as a volunteer. Simply contact your Volunteer Coordinator today to learn more about this excellent opportunity (you will need to get an official letter from Global Volunteers to qualify for certain deals)!!

Fly For Good website:

We look forward to speaking with you soon!

Call toll free (800) 487-1074.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Chinese New Year!!

Curious about Chinese New Year?? Read on to learn more!

Chinese New Year starts with the New Moon on the first day of the new year and ends on the full moon 15 days later. The 15th day of the new year is called the Lantern Festival, which is celebrated at night with lantern displays and children carrying lanterns in a parade.

The Chinese calendar is based on a combination of lunar and solar movements. The lunar cycle is about 29.5 days. In order to "catch up" with the solar calendar the Chinese insert an extra month once every few years (seven years out of a 19-yearcycle). This is the same as adding an extra day on leap year. This is why, according to the solar calendar, the Chinese New Year falls on a different date each year.

New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are celebrated as a family affair, a time of reunion and thanksgiving. The celebration was traditionally highlighted with a religious ceremony given in honor of Heaven and Earth, the gods of the household and the family ancestors. The sacrifice to the ancestors, the most vital of all the rituals, united the living members with those who had passed away. Departed relatives are remembered with great respect because they were responsible for laying the foundations for the fortune and glory of the family.


Year 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit by the Chinese calendar.

So what does this mean?!?

"The Rabbit symbolizes graciousness, good manners, sound counsel kindness and sensitivity to beauty. His soft speech and graceful and nimble ways embody all the desirable traits of a successful diplomat or seasoned politician."

Please let us know if you would like to become a Global Volunteer in China this year! We have volunteer teams serving throughout the year in Xi'and Kunming. Call (800) 487 - 0174 today to learn more!

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Holidays are a Time of Giving!

Veteran volunteer Roger Rossman joined Global Volunteers in Kunming, China for the holidays this year (December 2010 - January 2011).

Take a peek at some of his personal photos and consider joining us for your next holiday vacation. An international service program is an excellent way to experience a community and culture in an intimate way AND it gives you a geniune opportunity to give back to the international community. We hope to hear from you soon, and we sincerely thank Roger for his commitment and photos :)

Roger and his class.

Roger 'playing' his violin!

Roger and his student at the Ma Ma Fu Restaurant!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Consider volunteering in China & enjoying a Cultural Event!!

Many volunteers choose their destination and volunteer team based on their schedules AND the cultural events happening in our host countries/communities. Check out this link to read about several events and celebrations in China & select your 2011 volunteer team today!!!


Here is a sample of the Chinese events listed:

** January 5 to mid February: Harbin Ice Lantern Festival

Cold, but spectacular :)

At this annual freeze fest held in China’s northernmost province (-40°F temperatures and Siberian winds), the 2,000 plus intricate icicles carved in honor of the Lunar New Year include ephemeral masterpieces like the Great Wall toboggan ride and a 10-story high Arc de Triomphe.

The most colorful ones are lit from within, making night the ideal time to tour, for those unafraid of a little frostbite.

** February 3rd: Lunar New Year

Chinese people across Asia recognize the Chinese New Year at beginning of the first month of the lunar calendar, in late January or early February.

Their ancestors believed a fierce creature called the Nian would otherwise come down from the mountains to hunt villagers around this time of year. Even now they beat drums or gongs and set off fireworks to symbolically conquer the legendary monster.

Celebrations include festive street parades and illuminated displays of large sculptures of mythical characters like the God of Fortune and Chinese zodiac animals plus a nightly explosion of fireworks to scare off any Nian.

Call your Volunteer Coordinator TODAY & join us in 2011!!