China Team Journal

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Report from Hainan - Team 168

United Nations Millennium Goals Addressed by this Team: (Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.) Seven volunteers provided 227 hours of conversational English language instruction to 46 teachers and 475 primary and secondary school students.

Reflections On Week One:
The fourth Global Volunteers group to come to Hainan Island, a.k.a. “The Hawaii of China” officially coalesced as a team during breakfast on Sunday. We are a small group but hope to leave a big impression on the local teachers.

At 8 a.m. on Monday, we were driven to the Haikou Educational Research and Training Academy where we attended an opening ceremony with a welcome address by Ms. Lin Jue, the president. Afterwards, we started teaching our first class with our assigned groups.

This is work. But it seems like everyone is enjoying the challenge, is effectively teaching, and is happy to be here. We began the day working at breakfast. During the teaching morning the dynamic duo – Leo and Jim – had their students answer various questions they put in “the hat”. The questions must have been powerful since the activity seemed to keep the students interested most of the morning. Victoria’s themes of dating and winter solstice with singing and story reading engaged her students. Albert and Cathy used a number system to keep things rolling and get students talking. Jim and Carolyn’s students wrote and told stories from pictures, watched home movies about Thanksgiving, and played bingo.

Thursday was a very special day. After teaching for the first half of the morning everyone assembled in the main lecture hall for a holiday celebration. We had the students make and hang paper chains and snow flakes. The program began with Leo as the M.C. He told students about a typical family Christmas at his parent’s house – a combination of Polish, Italian, and German traditions. He also told about Posadas, a typical holiday tradition celebrated by many Latinos in the USA. We then sang some Christmas songs, followed by Victoria’s students who shone as they sang several rounds of “Deck the Halls”. The celebration cumulated with a conga line to the beat of Gloria Estafan’s “Conga” which Albert had downloaded. Afterwards the students each received a gift bag with a miniature Santa and candy.Then everyone was treated by their students to lunch at a local restaurant. I am sure that this was a Christmas day that none of us will ever forget.

Friday morning Drill Sergeant Wang Bao Li had reviewed with us our team goals and the characteristics of an effective team. Most of us gave ourselves a 4.8 out of 5 for meeting our team goals.

We have listed 16 team characteristics. But as with any team, on any given day none of us will ever have all 16 characteristics. That is why the team as a whole is so important to our success here in Haikou, and to the Global Volunteers programs. Every day and night each of us will be either be less flexible, less friendly, less respectful, less punctual and so one down the list.

Each day/night some of us will feel less motivated, and so the rest of the team must become more motivated. Each day/night some of us will feel less creative, that’s why we share our ideas and teaching methods.

Over the past week we have transformed from complete strangers to a well oiled teaching machine. A team. And at the end of each day as we lay down upon our cotton wrapped plywood mattress, we know that we as a team have reached our goals together. For sure there will be bumps in the road again next week, but week two will be just as successful.

Reflections On Week Two:
We are in the swing of it now. We can teach just about any level of conversational English for a short period of time at any given moment. The mornings were filled teaching our classes at the teacher’s Academy.

Qiongshan No. 2 Middle School invited us to meet with 8th graders and 9th graders in the afternoon on Monday. We were given a warmly welcome by Principle Fu, staff and students, who presented us with Chinese Calligraphy by the teachers and crafts by the students. Then we chatted with the students who were very curious about life in the U.S. and asked many questions. We were treated like celebrities, with students asking for autographs, photos, emails, etc.
Principle Fu hosted an appreciation dinner for us at the “Best” seafood restaurant in town. A highlight of the evening was Leo’s rendition of a Tony Bennett song.

Tuesday was a good day too. In the afternoon, we taught grade 2 high school students at No. 1 Haikou Middle School. Each of us had 10-20 very bright, articulate English speaking high school students. After one hour of teaching, answering questions, and enjoying the students, we had an evening meal in the school cafeteria.

Wednesday was the last day of class and the last day of 2008, and we finished both with a flourish. In the closing ceremonies, we had warm speeches by the academy, Bao Li, and each of the volunteers followed by some of the students. Then Albert and Cathy’s group performed the rabbit dance and sang “The more we get together”. Jim and Carolyn’s group sang a beautiful rendition of “Edelweiss” and Victoria’s group sang “If I had a hammer” and recited Robert Frost’s poem “Stopping by the woods on a snowy evening” Leo’s group recited the lyrics of “Fragile” by Sting and sang “That’s life” by Frank Sinatra. We finished by singing “Auld Lang Syne” together. It was a touching and moving experience with tears flowing all around.

On the last two days of the program, we worked with about 30 hotel staff from various departments of the hotel. They work at the Front Desk, Sales, H-R, House-keeping and other departments. The groups were small and intimate.

BaoLi surprised us on Thursday with our own copies of the daily local newspaper which had printed our photo and story. We also received 2 DVDs of our activities at the Teaching Academy. Famous at last!!!

Team 168 was indeed a great success!