China Team Journal

Friday, September 21, 2012

Saying Goodbye

Woke up singing songs to the kids about their last day in Xian. We practiced our "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" song for the final celebration and I made cold medicine for Cormac and I, and we all headed down to breakfast.


For this last breakfast, we all ate our most comforting foods. I had potatoes, Cassidy had a stack of probably 12 banana bread, Cormac had bacon among his other foods, Cindy had her usual fruit and pastry, while Tarik had sausage, hard-boiled egg, and yogurt with cereal, while Tanya's meal was well-rounded with veggies and fruits. In conversation we caught up on the previous day and prepared for the last day, ahead.


On the last ride to the school, with Baoli along, we noticed the Toyota dealership was now covered in Chinese flags. The driver was playing the radio, and as we got close to the school, the radio segment gave an English lesson. Yesterday's lesson was "promise" and "disagree", but today's lesson was "I see" and "count me on", which Tanya and I laughed at because count me on isn't something we'd ever say. We talked with Baoli about "count on me", "count me in" and "count me out."


We went to teach our last class of second year nursing students. Tanya covered vital signs while I chose Unit 11 from their book: Working with the Dying Patient, and I was able to talk with them about my work with hospice, caring for family, and working with the bereaved. We covered dying with dignity, the stages of grief, and the role of the nurse in caring for the dying. Julia stayed in my classroom most of the time, and provided translation of concepts so class went really well sharing stories, although Cormac felt the discussion was morbid and he didn't like the last class as much as basic English lessons where we would play games.


With the last part of class, I spoke about nursing as a noble profession, a service profession, and the students spoke about why they wanted to become nurses. I shared quotes with them, like "What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us, what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal", and we talked about their meaning.


We had a group photo and class was over. Immediately following class we went across the hall to Tanya's room for the final celebration. Mr. Robinson/Liu Yuanzhang was there, as were several classes of students.


Della, the student group leader, and others made some speeches. Tanya and I were called on to talk about our time in Xian, and we thanked our hosts for all they did for us. Cormac also briefly spoke, but he became shy and was feeling low blood sugar, so only spoke a little. Cassidy managed a thank-you and basic answers to questions like "Did you like Xian" and "Did you like the students?" President Liu spoke about the value of Global Volunteers' relationship with the school, and how he is the head of the school and students are growing in the garden under the care of the teachers. The volunteers are like angels helping the school. He presented us with parting gifts: a scroll with 5 monkeys in the shape of the character for longevity, and we were photographed with him holding up the scroll.


Then students began some farewell performances, including Kazakh or Uyghur dancing by my students, singing, kungfu, and they did a group dance to the song Cassidy was practicing in the field yesterday, so she tried to dance along, and soon the celebration was over and we didn't have to perform our song and the students were dismissed for their lunch break.


We gathered our things and went outside to have a group photo with the English teachers and Baoli. We walked to a picturesque locale by the roses, and were singing "Make New Friends" as we posed.


Everyone at the school had been so warm and friendly it was hard to say goodbye. Della gave parting pictures to each of the children, and we climbed into the school van for the last time, waving goodbye.


We returned to the hotel to drop off things and went to Yong Ming Mountain Noodle for a quick lunch. It was a style of noodle Baoli admitted enjoying, and that she eats most days, and it was delicious and spicy, and came either dry or as a soup. Baoli ordered some of both, as well as round bread sandwiches stuffed with spicy meat, and rice in honey. She even brought a bottle of Sprite to the table.


After lunch we took bus #29 to the city wall, and got off to walk in the park along the wall. The kids ran from exercise equipment to exercise equipment, and as the kids were playing tag and running around the rocks I said a classic quote "don't go anywhere that might be a toilet."


We made our way to the South Gate, precariously crossing the street to reach the entrance to the City Wall, and paid 40 yuan/adult, 20 yuan/child to enter. On the wall, Cormac rented a bike for another 40 yuan, and we strolled along admiring the view and the scenery. We spent about 2 hours at the wall.


On exiting, we rented motorized pedicabs to take us to the Beijing Kao Ya (Peking Roast Duck) restaurant, where we met up with Baoli and Cindy for the last meal. We had a nice final get-together, and especially Cassidy enjoyed the meal even though there was no rice!! There were green beans, dragon's mustache (long xu cai), and fried bread pastry that was proclaimed Cindy's favorite food in China, cilantro with wheat flour, and Peking Duck, with scallions and pancakes and hoisin, which all the kids loved. Everyone ate until very full, and the meal together was a fun final bonding and reflection time, which was photographed.


Baoli said we were a fun, unusual group, not only the first with children but the first to want to ride the city bus. So we enjoyed a final bus ride back to the hotel together, and even walked past the noodle shop where we'd eaten earlier.


Back in the room, I borrowed Cindy's hairdryer to blow-dry clothes, and it felt good to think that might be the last time doing that. I said final good-byes to Cindy and Baoli. I would love for Baoli to visit MN and have her visit Yinghua.