China Team Journal

Monday, June 30, 2008

Team 161, Kunming, June 28

By Dixie

Thought for the Day: When you come to a fork in the road, take it. By Yogi Berra

First Photo for the Day: A Yi lady, 64-year-old, who has spent her whole life in Stone Village. She has six children and she was proud to tell us her son-in-law was the Principal of the village elmentary school.

Ah..., the end of our first week of teaching in Kunming. But today, Saturday, was our fullest day yet: We 13, Hu Di, two Chinese middle-school teachers and a child, departed from the hotel in our bus to see and experience the flavor of rural life. Chris, one of our G.V. Program's Hosts, was our Guide.

We drove Eastward over 3-lane highways, through 4 tunnels, and past fields of green. After about two hours we made a stop, stretched, and re-embarked for the morning's destination: the Stone Village. Yi people of this village met us: School Administrators and male singers. We heard rousing songs of welcome. We reciprocated with a rendition of "Do, a Deer," which they seemed to know.

We walked the stone streets, up the hills, noticing that every building was constructed of the local stone, from dwellings to smokehouses for curing tobacco, to pigsties, to goat enclosures, to bee hives made of stone. At the top of the hill we entered the courtyard of a very attractive Restaurant and Guesthouse. We sat at low tables on tiny stools and were served many courses of delicious vegetables and meat. Warm, salted peanuts and pumpkin seeds were much appreciated after the long hot climb up the hill. We drained our personal bottles of water and also drank the local "wild tea."

The Singers from our Morning Welcome re-appeared in brilliant blue Yi dress and sang again, this time performing a few drinking songs. Our enthusiastic response to this musical display encouraged the young couple who had been serving the meal to offer two of their own songs. Everyone parted warmly as we said "Zaijian" to the Villagers and continued our day's journey.

Second Photo for the Day: When we handed out the roses to the earthquake survivors, we knew they may not remember our faces, but we hope the warmth of friendship will last.

The second destination of the day was the Tian Qi Hospital, about 40 minutes away, in the Stone Forest County Town. We had come to offer sympathy and cheer to patients who are being treated there for injuries suffered in the Sichuan Earthquake of May 12. The patients and their attending family members seemed glad to see us and hear our brief statements of goodwill. We visited in small groups, with Hu Di and Chris translating our words. Many of the particular patients whom we saw are to be sent home (a 19-hour journey), in the coming weeks. The more grievously injured patients are being treated on another floor of the hospital. The day before our visit, we had spoken among ourselves about the plight of the earthquake victims and had taken up a collection amounting to 2,500 Yuan (about 370 USD). This donation was turned over to the Yunnan Red Cross, to be used for toiletries and other basic supplies that the patients will need on their journey home. We Global Volunteers felt very much moved, and I believe that the patients and their family members, and the doctors, were touched, and perhaps heartened by our visit.

Third Photo for the Day: We put our arms around their shoulders, because we are supporting them from the other side of the world.

The third destination on the day's tour was the Stone Forest. All day we had been seeing examples of grey/white/tan colored Karst (limestone) rock formations, scattered about the landscape, with crops cultivated in the red earth around them. The layers of limestone sediment were from a time, 270 million years ago, when a sea had covered this area. Anyway, at the Stone Forest Tourist Area we left our bus and boarded a tram. We viewed Karst shaped like warriors, elephants, stone screens, as well as a very tall peak resembling the maiden of the Sani nationality called Ashima.

At 7:00 PM we travelers arrived back at the hotel, met for dinner and recounted the day's events: it had been a very special and heart-warming day indeed.


N-Pync said...

Wow. What a moving story! That's what Global Volunteers is about - building bridges of peace between countries. I believe you did exactly that, and all those involved (including the volunteers) will never forget that day.

Thanks for sharing such an inspiring story!