China Team Journal

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Field Trip!

The health and safety report was given at breakfast, and then the journal for yesterday was read by Fran. We planned our day and were told more about the field trip we took this afternoon.

Geni and I taught Geni’s class while Tom taught my class yesterday.  We switched classes today and Geni and I were going to teach the same thing today. The only thing we planned differently was the song we were going to teach them. It ended up taking my class longer to learn the song. My class is louder and more open then yesterday’s class so we played the fly swatter game longer. We ended class with a few rounds of “Ride that Pony”. The game and song took so much longer we didn’t have a chance to teach them cards or look at a few books we brought. Fran and Dia’s class learned about money and pretended to order from restaurants. Dia led some songs and dances. At the end, they talked about Friday’s closing ceremony. Tom was serious today because Geni and my class were very loud. His class read newspapers and discussed them. Not to mention the tongue twisters they practiced.

This afternoon, instead of the usual lectures, we went on a field trip to the Hump Memorial Park. This was the memorial for the “Flying Tigers”. We took many pictures and climbed many stairs. At the end, we all played “Ride that Pony” and a rigorous game of Simon Says.

After resting for a bit, we went to a restaurant across the street for dinner. It was nice to eat in a different place once in a while. I like the second noodle dish and I liked the dumplings the best.

Monday, July 30, 2012


It’s Monday and Team 203 had its usual breakfast and lunch meeting to plan for the upcoming week. No class was held in the morning so the team was able to spend extra time on lesson plans after their weekend away in Lijiang.

Nora gave the weekly journal assignments while Geni reviewed current health and safety issues during lunch. The team is happy to be back in Kunming eating our usual healthy Chinese diet with lots of vegetables and fruit.

Geni and Nora will lead Ali and Nora’s secondary school teacher’s group this week. Today they quizzed students on pronunciation issues and engaged students in a fun game of identifying and naming animals - a version of the Fly Swatter game. Teachers were rewarded with emory boards, combs, shower caps and other hotel room give-aways. Games and chants followed in a rowdy and fun manner.

Tom led his group in pronunciation exercises, vocabulary games and common expressions and phrases. The class was visited by Nora who reviewed games and chants with the group. Dia and Fran’s group spent the majority of the class time identifying their hometowns on the Yunnan Province map and their favorite vacation sites on the China map. Next the class worked on idioms and Dia led the class in songs and chants. “I’m a little teapot” was a big hit.

At dinner the group listened to Baoli’s review of the Flying Tiger’s history and the importance of the field trip on Tuesday afternoon to the site of the Flying Tigers Memorial. We also discussed other class ideas for Tuesday afternoon.

- Fran

Friday, July 27, 2012

Interviews, Games and Goodbyes

Today was Ali's last day.  So, after lessons, reading passages, and defining words that the class didn't understand and writing teaching goals, Nora and Ali engaged in a dolorous version of the Hokey Pokey, took class photos and said goodbyes.   At lunch, Ali showed us her fabulous scarf, and Baoli decided she wanted one too. Everyone gave Ali a big hug, and then she flew off to face the floods in Beijing.

In Frances and Dia's class, they discussed class goals, and Dia was interviewed about what primary school is like in the US. Of course, Dia’s vision of primary school may or may not resemble what grammar schools really like, but the class enjoyed her answers anyway. Then the teams divided up and answered questions. Dia led a session of Simon Says, and Heads Up, Seven Up. Then they discussed next week's goals and Friday's closing ceremony.

Tom and Geni asked their class what they wanted to do, and they asked for ways to study vocabulary. So we divided up into the usual two teams, and played some different word games. The first was the fluency game, naming as many words as one could that began with a certain letter. The second was jeopardy, and the teams would fill the letters to make words from a common phrase. We were able to do idioms again, like "jump down your throat," and "out of your mind."  We also did a spirited version of the Hokey Pokey.

School was out at noontime, and after lunch the Gualtieri's got ready for their fabulous trip. It was definitely a last-minute affair, but at 830 we finally left the hotel to go to the train station.  We were off to LiJiang.  Baoli decided to stay in Kunming and work.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Practice Makes Perfect

At school, my group learned a little bit about multiple intelligences. Ali wanted to give her students the heads up on what this afternoon’s lecture was going to be on. They also reviewed yesterday’s “Ride That Pony”. The class needed a review. The more practice they got, the more people sang along. The group got better and better with each round, they were able to keep up when we gradually went faster. Two teachers in our class have children. When Tom’s class next door sang “Ride That Pony”, one of the kids was singing the song and dancing to it. Tom’s class also did readings and talked about idioms.  Fran’s class was supposed to interview Dia and review the songs we learned yesterday. With Dia out, they worked on vocabulary and played games. They wanted to play “Little Sally Walker” but Fran didn’t know it. She only knew the lyrics, luckily Tom and Geni came in at that time. Fran gave Tom a bottle of water in exchange for Geni helping with class songs. Geni played “Little Sally Walker” and the other camp songs we taught yesterday. Fran’s assistant Bo, came to Ali’s class today.

 Ali gave this afternoon’s lecture on Multiple Intelligences. It was about the way people learn. There are the social learners who learn from talking to each other, nature learner who like the outdoors. The rest were kinesthetic learners, verbal/linguistic , visual/spatial, logical/mathematical, musical/harmonic, interpersonal/intrapersonal. Chris summarized Ali’s lectures into Chinese for the teachers.

Tom and Geni walked back to the hotel. Most everyone walked to a restaurant for dinner which specialized in Yunnan favorites. Ali was able to enjoy her eggplant dish and we all enjoyed the beautiful presentations. Friday is the end to the first week’s session and time has really flown by.

 - Nora

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Lots of Dancing!

Today, in Nora's class, we learned the Macarena, reviewed the stories the students had written, and worked on translations. In Dia's class, we also studied the Macarena, played Simon says, and head, shoulders, knees and toes. In Geni's class, we also learned the Macarena, some other songs, and we read stories and poems. We learned that enunciation is a big problem among the English language teachers in Kunming, and we need to emphasize pronunciation training in future sessions.

After lunch, we had a dance/singing session, led by Dia, Nora and Geni. Ali was able to hook up her computer to a speaker, for special dancing. It was surprising to discover how useful are Songs and dances were even among elementary and middle school teachers. In fact, the camp routines were the most popular items during the session. People seem to like to get up and move. They really like the Macarena too, although Tom still can't seem to get moves right.

Tom and Frances walked home from school, the girls took the bus, and visited the stationary store to get new supplies.  After dinner, we were all so tired we went to bed early.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Classroom Teaching

After a heavy downpour last night, we woke to clear blue skies and balmy weather. The group shared breakfast in our special dining room, and, I’d like to add, my roasted sweet potato was excellent! Fran read her journal entry for yesterday, and soon we were on our way, whisked off to Kunming University for the Primary and Secondary Teachers program.

Fran and Dia taught their class the ever-popular “Macarena” group dance, among other things in the morning.  Tom and Geni split their students into two groups for some competitive language games.  Nora and I worked with 14 middle school teachers—some of them quite experienced, having taught English from four to 13 years at their respective schools. Their schools are varied in size and location, with several teachers teaching at small rural schools and most teaching at large urban schools in the area. In addition to learning the “Hokey Pokey,” the group worked on speaking and listening skills, and enjoyed a collaborative writing exercise.

After a delicious lunch and mid-day break, Fran, Tom and I headed back to the classroom while Geni, Nora, and Dia spent the afternoon shopping and exploring the town with local teenage hosts.

Tom gave a fascinating presentation about ADD to the three combined classes. The presentation offered a wealth of information as well as interactive features.  Ali gave a short introduction to her upcoming presentation on Multiple Intelligences, and the classes were dismissed for the day.

Dinner was at a local noodle restaurant, and featured the local specialty of chicken and noodles cooked tableside with optional spices galore.

- Ali

Monday, July 23, 2012

First Day

How better can we describe our first day of our volunteer project.  We were welcomed enthusiastically and warmly to the Kunming Teachers Training Center in the opening session this morning. Much appreciation was expressed to Global Volunteers and the 203 Team Members for their participation with the School.

Next we divided into the Primary School Teachers’ Session-19 teachers and Fran and Dia for a 90 minute first class.  The 26 Secondary School Teachers were led in their session by Tom, Geni and Nora.  Both sessions began with volunteer and teachers’ introductions of themselves.  Both sessions followed up with ice breakers and getting to know you exercises.  All of which emphasized using English.  Fran was especially embarrassed at one point when she noticed her constant use of Y’all. Slang is a hard thing to leave behind.

Following the morning session 12 University and Global Volunteers went for a many course luncheon at a delightful unique restaurant - the Shiping Assembly Hall. 
Because there is such a variance in the language skills of the volunteers, our Chinese language classes are to be divided, With the 5 beginners enjoying a separate lesson. The rest of the afternoon was completed with individual trips out to drop off laundry, buy some special classroom supplies and enjoy the streets of Kunming.

Ali was able to join us for dinner and we worked on lesson plans and lecture plans for Tuesday at our dinner meeting. The individuals departed to work on Tuesday lesson plans after dinner.

- Fran

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Upon our arrival in Kunming, we enjoyed meeting Chris and Baoli.  Part of the team has ventured into the neighborhood during our free time and have done a lot of window shopping. Today, we spent a long four hours in orientation, however we learned a lot and are eager to start teaching right away. 

What our goals are for this team with almost 20 different goals we consolidated to the following team goals.

- To learn about China

- To be of service

- To make friends

- To grow

- To have fun

Characteristics of an Effective Team

To compromise

To communicate

To trust

To encourage/to support each other

To respect

To accept criticism

To work together

To have common goals

To resolve differences

To have good humor/to relax

To be positive

To be flexible

To be open-minded

To have a sense of adventure

To have fun

- Geni

Friday, July 6, 2012

Goodbyes and Mixed Emotions

Today was a day of mixed feelings for both the volunteers and teachers.  My students told me that they will be happy to be home with their families but sad that our time together is done.  I will be happy to see my friends and family again but sad that I will leave the teachers.  We have become friends and I will miss them very much.

This morning we had class for 1.5 hours.  The closing ceremony started at 10:15. There were speeches from officials, a student representative, Baoli and the volunteers.  We were all happy to receive a polo shirt from the university, a group photo and a CD of pictures throughout the two weeks.  We also received a certificate for our several years of volunteering in Kunming.  Our years of experience in Kunming stretch from three to five years. The volunteers then sang two goodbye songs that Dixie and Nancy had cleverly prepared.

Students received certificates of completion and we had somewhat of an idea of what it was like to be a celebrity after students took pictures of us and asked us to sign their certificates.  Dixie and Nancy led several dances in which volunteers, students and Baoli participated enthusiastically.

We then were whisked away to a wonderful restaurant with some of the university officials.  We were toasted with glasses of Yunnan Red and we feasted on delicious dishes.  The VIP room was dedicated to the American Flying Tigers who “flew the Hump (Himalayas)” from India to Kunming during World War II.

We started to pack and had a light supper.  The two weeks have flown by.  We all agreed we had a wonderful experience and hope to return to Kunming next June. Zaijain!           

- Jim

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Wonderful 2 Weeks

After the morning of teaching, the four classes invited their teachers for a Friendship Activity.

Restaurants in the vicinity of Green Lake Park were the destinations for sumptuous meals, happy conversation, photos, and toasts of mutual appreciation.

We Volunteers returned to the hotel for mid-afternoon naps, and a little shopping. In the evening we had a light supper in the Hotel and then swapped photos and prepared for our last day with our students. It will be a full day.  The midmorning Closing Ceremony will be followed by a luncheon with the V.I.P.’s of the Education Bureau.

It’s been a wonderful two weeks.

Respectfully submitted,


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Out and About

Today we went back to our regular schedule of classes in the morning.  Several of us continued hearing family history stories in our classes.  In my class, a student told how his grandparents did not meet until the day they were married, but nevertheless had nine children.  However, he prefers a more modern approach to finding a wife.  Another student related how her grandmother, who was from a rich family, fell in love with a worker, much to her parents’ dismay.  In another class, a student described her family as once being landowners, but no more!  The morning was rounded out with more songs, games and discussions.  Miss Mary Mack is becoming a favorite with some.

After another delicious meal at the hotel, we were delighted to have an extra 40 minutes of rest time before leaving for a field trip to the new Kunming University.  Our students traveled separately by bus and met us at the front entrance to the university, at the bottom of a hill topped by a most imposing building.  The campus is huge and well-landscaped, carved out of farmland apparently in pretty much one fell swoop.  We saw students walking everywhere, but really, they would be better off with bikes (or even motorcycles). 

We spent some time looking at projects of design students and then walked past the library (you really have to want to go there since you have to climb many, many stairs).  We were met by Mr. Xiong, Chris’ supervisor last year, who seemed glad to see familiar faces among the volunteers.  He took us to a large model of the new subway system, not exactly to scale but impressive nevertheless.  Afterwards, he presented the volunteers with sets of postcards depicting the university.  Of course, many pictures were taken.

For me, the best part of the afternoon was having a chance to chat informally with some of my students.  We had several interesting conversations about cooking (Do you like to cook?  What do you cook?  How long does it take to make a sandwich?  Really? Only about 5-10 minutes?) and parents’ desires to see their child married (My mother is always telling me that it’s time for me to marry.  Do American parents say that too?)

Our trip back to the heart of Kunming featured the usual interesting driving habits.  We were especially impressed by a young man driving a motorcycle and using his cell phone, while a young woman perched on the back of the cycle, complete with high heels, cell phone to her ear, and NO HANDS!

Dinner was at the dim sum restaurant across the street from the hotel.  Smaller portions were welcome, as well as delicious.  We enjoyed noodles, tender chicken in mushroom sauce, shrimp dumplings, vegetables and a dessert that was something like French toast wrapped around bananas.  Tired after the long day, we all gratefully retired to our rooms to plan for tomorrow and rest.

- Esther

Monday, July 2, 2012

Slowing Down

School wasn't scheduled to start until 2:30 in the afternoon today, so our rural students/teachers would have time to return to the city after the weekend. Jim and Esther negotiated the subway construction zone to go to Parksons downstairs grocery store, where the clerks were helpful as the two browsed the local and imported offerings. Nancy headed in the other direction, to Walmart, where her purchases were easily made because team leader Baoli had kindly written in Chinese characters the names for a thumb drive, dish towel, and 29-layer Yunnan candy. Dixie and Leon remained in the hotel to prepare for their classes.

Lunch in the hotel was, as usual, a tasty variety of dishes, with the special treat of mangoes for dessert.

School in the afternoon, instead of in the morning, was predictably logy, both students and teachers having to make an effort to stay awake. Practicing the hand-clapping pattern of "Miss Mary Mack" helped, as the words and movements required concentration. Coincidentally, "M" was one of the sounds of the day, along with "N." "One Elephant Went out to Play" was another new song. A couple of the teachers introduced vocabulary that will be used on Wednesday during Esther's and Jim's lectures.

If delicious, attractive food is in vogue, the restaurant of that name is the place to go for dinner -- and it's right across the street from the hotel. We ate crisp-skinned goose, yet another type of mushroom we hadn't experienced, perfectly round balls of pork and lotus perched atop cucumber rounds, and soft, molded pumpkin. Flat rice noodles and fingers of papaya-filled flaky pastry completed the meal. Delicious!

At eight o'clock we were still carrying on lively conversations, but it was time to return to our rooms for solitude, rest, and to prepare for Tuesday's lessons.

- Nancy

Sunday, July 1, 2012

More Weekend Fun

Today we were invited to Jesse’s (the young man whose bakery is around the corner) English class.  He teaches in a private school where students come for extra English lessons on Sunday.

We all introduced ourselves by telling our names, where we were from and a little about our home states. Dixie and Nancy both sang the “Hello” song with their ukuleles and students joined in.  Esther then led a rousing game of Simon Says. Four students were so good that Esther declared all four of them the winner. We then sang “If You’re Happy and You Know It…”. We finished up by having a short question and answer session.  Students wanted to know, for example, what we thought of China and Kunming

We were there for almost an hour.  It was obvious that this was a treat for the students and Jesse was most appreciative.