Day 1 – Report from 2014 Trip Team Leaders Jackie and Peter

On Sun, Apr 20, 2014 at 11:28 PM (Beijing Time), Jackie Zhou wrote:

Hi all,

I am unable to get on WeChat as there is no WiFi.  So we’ll do e-mail update for now.  I’ll type up the Travel Update later.  Here is Day 1 morning update:

Day 1 – 4/21 Morning

We arrived in YiZhong at around midnight and got a few hours of good sleep after quickly unpacking.  The Dorms provided to us were very simple but nice and clean with bunk beds, a living area and our own bathroom.  Although the girls are in a separate section from the boys, we are all in a connected building which makes it convenient for us.  The school prepared everything we need including hot water thermo, slippers, towels, soap and even hangers.  The kids had to get used to the bathroom but everyone was very quick in getting a handle on how it works.

There was no need for alarm clock as the roosters awakened us all at around 5:30am. It is the first time in their lives to hear roosters and some plan to tell their children about this experience in the future.  The kids were all excited about the first day.  After a hearty breakfast of rice noodle with eggs and tofu, we headed out to the classroom building where all are scheduled to make their presentations and teach.  Buddies paired up in the classroom as well.  Except for a few technical gliches, all went well and you can feel the excitement in the air.  Both our kids and the students in YiZhong are curious about each other and eager to get to know one another.  The teachers at YiZhong are so supportive in giving our kids the platform to present, exchange, and communicate.  We are so proud how our kids handled themselves in the classrooms.  They were mature, enthusiastic and engaging.

More to come…

Jackie & Peter

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(on Apr 21, 2014,10:50 PM, Beijing Time)

Hi all,

Here are more updates.  I only have access to internet at the teacher’s office in the moring so I’m typing up and sending what I have.  Enjoy!

Jackie & Peter

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Day 1 – 4/21 Afternoon & Evening

After finishing 3 hours of classroom activities, we were treated for a nice lunch by the Principal of YiZhong. We had some free time between lunch and afternoon agendas but the kids were too excited to take a nap. Instead, everyone did a little bit more unpacking & organizing and played cards.  We huddled to talk about our morning experience and lessons learned or what went well and what can be improved so that future classes can be better. Everyone was happy with their classes although each one is unique. All of our kids instantly gained hundreds of admirers in one morning.

One of the afternoon activities was paper cutting with YiZhong students who are part of the paper cutting club.  We were each paired up with a YiZhong student under the guidance of the art teacher.  The outcome was a deck of masterpieces representing Chinese culture: dancers, snowflakes, flowers, cartoon characters, families.  Our talented Isabelle got everyone’s ahhhs.  It’s going to be a challenge with packing but we’ll make sure that we bring these art pieces back intact for all to admire.

We then had a session introducing Chinese calligraphy: its history, different styles and meanings. Following the introduction is a real practice using a special calligraphy pen that simulates the brushes. The kids had a field day with that.  Even though they got black ink all over their hands, they seemed to be enjoying their very own pieces as it “represents their own character”.  One of the characters written by Michael earned great praise from the teacher.  It didn’t matter that he didn’t know the charater he was writting.  They cheered when told that they get to keep the pen.  So be ware you might be seeing black ink at some unusual places in their luggage.

The kids were invited to watch the school championship basket ball games which happened to be going on this week.  They went out despite the drizzling rain.  With some encouragement, a 3-on-3 basket game was put in place.  Justin, Sam, Ryan, Brian, Savannah and Michael took turns playing.  As hard as our team tried, the YiZhong team won over us 22 – 8.  Well, they have the home court advantage.  It was a lot of fun.

We had dinner at the dining hall.  There were special tables set for our group but the kids prefer to be sitting at regular tables as the other students.  All dishes were specialties representing local favorites. The roasted port dish “hong shao rou” disappeared in just a few minutes.  Everyone including Peter and I also enjoyed the fresh bamboo shoot with shredded pork.  I alone consumed pretty much all of the sweet patato flower chunk “hong shu fen kuai” dish, my childhood favorite.

In the evening, we watched a vedio showing the history of YiZhong to get to learn more about the school. It was a bit challenging for our kids to understand, but we got the essence of it.

After a tiring and exciting day, the kids went to bed early and all fell asleep before 9:00pm.  They were shocked to hear the school bells/music of the night study classes (zi xi ke) and felt lucky that they don’t have to go to school to study at night.

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