China Team Journal

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