Apr 24

Day 4, 5, 6 and Coming Back

Dear All,

As we all come back to Boston, continue with our daily routine here, but the days at CuoZhen Zhongxue still in my mind, so vivid, warm memories! I know our students all wrote great journals and we will encourage them to put together as a post-trip summary. Here is just my brief summary on those wonderful days!

Day 4

Today we are going out of the classroom for a change to visit students’ families. Our team was split into two groups. Principal Liang leads a group of 6 kids and I have 6 kids. We each visited 4 families/houses. I can talk about our trip. Although the school is very considerate to find those who live closer for us to visit, some part of the road to those families are quite bumpy and took 30 minutes to drive, and you really know it is in 农村,  the fresh air and open field in spring make it all up for us. The best part was we have two students from the local school in our car. During the car ride, they introduced to us about their family situation and how they got the sponsorship from us and how thankful they are. They chatted in English and Chinese, with smiles on them, all the way. very beautiful and touching. You will see many pictures in the photo albums (about the albums, that is Cuozhen school’s gifts to each of us! They spent quite some money to have the speedy service to print so many pictures for us! How thoughtful they are!!!) Our students got to see the real home life in the country side: using well water, simple setting, nice parents, grandparents, etc. Almost in each house, they have their proud students’ 奖状on the wall as decoration, very beautiful and that touches my heart. Most of these students have a tough life, either parents are ill or working very hard still not able to afford their tuition. But, all of them are so strong and optimistic, really great role models for those kids and to us. We can feel their warm heart and appreciation. Some of our students said, without this trip, they do not see much of difference of these students at school and now they know that they have to work hard on their own and also carry the burden from the family. Not easy! Our students happily left lots of candies to the families we visited as a small token.

In the afternoon, the School thoughtfully invited a skilful Tai Ji master to teach us Taiji. Wow, he has real gongfu and our students were astonished and learned so much! Then, the best part yet to come! Fly kites! Many of us forgot when was the last time we did that! There is an open field to be constructed and our kids, teamed up with local students in a 2 or 3 people group, enjoyed the flying kite so long and so joyfully! Freedom, young spirit, flying high, just beautiful scene to watch! The sky looks dark with lots of winds and cloudy, but that can not stop these young hearts! 自由飞翔的感觉真好!

During that time, Emily Liu had visitors coming to see her! What a joyful moment she shared with us, not only her cousin, but also her uncle and aunt, who haven’t seen her for 9 years, happened to be visiting Hefei this week and came to see her! Emily was so proud to tell me that during their visit of 2 hours, she chatted with them all in CHINESE!!! Great! They brought lots of snacks for Emily and Emily was so sweet to share with others and smart enough to save some for the airport later!

Then, the kids went to play ping pong with local teacher and students. We have Bryan who is expert in this sport. They played for long time and really fun. Other kids, like Andrew, Tony and Sam, were outside teaching local kids how to do the Break dance and Kong Fu. Just wonderful to see our kids blend in with them.

The evening program was to see a real performance show nearby at the real 农村社区. It is amazing how those 业余演员(平时都是农民)so devoted to their dance and singing and really awesome to watch. Only that night was really cold…

Day 5

Today, instead of our students teaching English in their classroom, we are students to sit through their regular classes. They sent the best teachers to teach 3 blocks and they are Chinese, History and Geography. Although it is hard for our students to understand each single word, they do experience the real classroom setting and see how great their students perform. I learned a lot as a teacher and all these topics are quite helpful for our students who take AP Chinese and I think they really learned a lot. After three classes, our students are very kind to accept the invitation from a class who were not able to see our presentation the other day (think about a big school with 3000 students, only 250 seats in the auditorium) to give another round of presentation. They did better and better, some even without the notes in their hand! 🙂 Bravo! I am so proud of them!

Remember the other day, our basketball team of 5 lost badly to the local school? well, a team of 3 of us competed with them 3 and won big today! (play half court, which is good for us, because our kids not used to run in the cement floor). It was fun to watch them play!

In the afternoon, the school invited our students and their students to make dumplings together. One of their English teacher who taught us paper cutting the other day, even thoughtfully brought her own juice machine to use fresh vegetable to make different colored juice and blend in the flour to have 5 different colored dough/wrappers! So beautiful! Green (celery), red (tomato), yellowish (carrot), purple (purple cabbage) and original color. More than 30 people work in the cafeteria with laughs and singing, can not  be more joyful to watch! During that time, another group invited our students to give another round of presentation and our students delivered again in a high notes…

We enjoyed the jiaozi so much and forgot that another big banquet waiting for us!! The school prepared two big round table of yummy food for us! Our students learned how to cheer with their juice and enjoyed all the food! So delicious and so much!

That night we had a last round of celebration with those 21 students. Wendy played the beautiful flute. Wendy also trained Ethan to become an instant Magician to play a cup trick. After that the cups are used by a group of 4 (Emily, Sarah, Bryan and Chris) playing jazz band with the paper cups and pencil tricks! simple and elegant! Emily and Juliana also each sang a solo song in CHINESE! How wonderful! We had a great night and hard to say good bye! Many local students brought nice gifts to our students, some books (like 唐诗,红楼梦,读者), and handmade stuff and origami to our students, with poems they wrote, very touching and warm hearted. Our students were seeking for stuff to give back to them….

Day 6

Our last day at Hefei and as planned, after breakfast, we left. Nan’s father made great arrangement for us. The best and luxury tour bus in Hefei drove us around the entire day! Brought us to 巢湖, the 5th largest lake in China to see the beautiful sightseeing. We visited a famous temple there as well. Lunch, kids are treated by Professor Liang in a great and yummy 农家乐restaraunt. So happy! Our kids learned and got to practice: 我吃好了, 你们慢慢吃,谢谢! :) In the afternoon, we stopped by 中国科技大学, and took a picture, told them it is just like MIT in Boston. 🙂 Then headed to the commercial street 步行街 to go for some light shopping. Our students were so great to stay in a group and thought about getting some souvenirs for their family, siblings (did you see and like them?)

Before dinner, we got to visit the secured control center of the biggest Hefei Bus Station (like Greyhound). It serves 10,000 passengers a day and 500+ routes to all over the places and all controlled by the super computer and advanced software system. Our students watched the engineers working in the control room and were amazed by the technology! We were treated a fancy dinner at a big dining hall in their company owned restaurant! The table was huge, can sit 20 people comfortably and it turns automatically! They prepared 6 cold dishes and 18 hot dishes!!! So fresh and so delicious. Our students felt so lucky to be treated so nicely! Many thanks to Nan’s father again!

Finally we went to the hotel,it is simple, but with, internet and hot shower!!! Our students were over joyed by that! But, we make sure they go to bed early enough because they have to get up at 5 am to catch the flight in the morning.


Coming back: now you know the rest of story! We got up at 5, found the nearby small store had the freshly made 稀饭和茶叶蛋 and ate them, then head to the airport! Flight was smooth. Once we got to Beijing, students get to use the REAL toilet after a week! hahaha!!! They also enjoyed another round of shopping… Then finally we got home and meet  you all!

It is the end of the journey, but the reflection has just started! I heard our students sharing in the car ride, how nice the local students are, how hard they worked, how much they have in their life, how they should stop wasting resources, etc. etc. Please cultivate good conversation with them and you will find they learned a lot and matured a lot through the trip.

To me, it is a very productive and fruitful trip! I totally enjoyed being with each of them and learned about them more and closer. They are so wonderful! I am thankful to be able to have this great opportunity to lead them and serve the community! And thank you for each of your strong support!


Apr 17

Day Three

OK, This is almost the end of Day 3 now! I was not able to send this out last night. So I will continue with our 3rd day event.

Last night, we learned calligraphy. Principal Liang’s father was very thoughtful to prepare a nice brush and water writing booklet for our students. They sent a teacher with great calligraphy skills to teach us step by step. Our students really enjoyed this hands-on experience and proud of their own progress after 2 hours of good lesson. We are more touched when the teacher said, he spent the entire day prepared 14 pieces of wonderful calligraphy for each of us and will give us as a keepsake! Wow, that is so precious and each of our students was delighted to pick their favorite and they should have learned what it said, please check out with them. We are asking one of teachers here to get it done nicely (zhuang biao) so it will be easier for you to hang on the wall at home.

Wed. Students had better sleep and jetlegs are almost over. We started rotating in each classrooms for the 4 classes in the morning. Our students not only led local students improving their English pronunciation, but also learning Chinese with them: they are teaching our students how to recite Li Bai’s poem, sing popular songs, etc. Lots of pictures taken,some students made beautiful flowers for us, all are so friendly and nice. Our students are very happy.

This afternoon, instead of visiting some local museum, we requested to have some Lab class with local students. Started with the physics lab. Their lab was very well designed and has hands-on devices. Our students were teamed up with local students and finished some great experiment and learned how to draw the experiment graph and how to calculate V0 (initial velocity). Then they did 3 chemistry lab tests and learned how to measure the temperature change, by different ways, very interesting. Last, they worked in the biology lab, watching the cells from onion, green leave or flowers. Our students did that in 6th or 7th grade, so they handled it well. But, physics and chemistry, they really think it is quite eye opening and fascinating.

Now, we are preparing for tonight’s presentation and performance. We heard the school prepared for it 2 months ago and did “hai xuan” from the 3000 students to select the best of the best performance for us tonight and our students are tryint to do our very best too!

More reports will follow!

In one word, we are doing great, nobody gets sick (knock the wood), all in open mind and positive mood to learn and experience, everybody gets along great! Nan and I fell very thankful to have such a well built team! Thank you for your support!



Apr 17

2nd Day at Cuo Zhen

Dear All,

We started our first day with a high note and ended with a huang mei diao! 🙂 Last program last night was learning how to sing the famous local style of music and was pretty fun for us all. They also sent us experienced teacher teaching us how to do the paper cut as well. In the afternoon, all of our students got a chance to do their presentation to their 6th graders for once and they did great job and audience were really delighted. After that, we were invited to play soccer with local students. The kids who played had lots of fun and all the rest kids were cheering for them.

We also went to take a shower in a nearby shower place. It is quite an experience for our students taking shower in a public place (only us though, no other customer). Oh, it felt great after 3 days without warm shower (and yesterday was 31C). It costs 28RMB a person. They all think it is quite worth it.

OK, today. This morning, we had a brief time using the computer room, but I was not able to log in, only a few students able to send email to their parents and I told them to forward to you all.

We had all our activities in High School area today and the weather was great, with beautiful breeze and blue sky. This morning our students were divided into groups to attend some English classrooms and some of them got to demo and lead the local students how to read and some got to share their personal learning experience with local students. Local students are very friendly and our students are very kind and it really warms my heart watching them communicating each other.

In the noon time, our students took a quick nap. Then some of us were invited to play basketball with them. Our team worked very hard, maybe due to the cement floor and  wind, we lost, pretty big loss. 🙂 Any outdoor opportunity our kids can grab,. they would play football, frisbee, etc.

This afternoon, the school hosted formal ceremony welcoming our team and welcoming the supporting education gesture. Many local leaders came and gave speech, our Principal Liang delivered speech too. Their student representative had a very impressive speech and our kids were very encouraged. The reason our NCLS get to connected with this school is due to Professor Liang  (Nan’s father), who graduated from this school many years ago and who thought about his hometown and would like to find ways to provide better opportunities for students here.

Before dinner, our students played ultimate frisbee, led by expert Bryan Xian. Wow, very intensive game! After watching for a while, some local kids joined us too and it was lots of fun!

The cafeteria here gives too big of portion each meal and our students quickly found their way to solve the problem: either two are sharing or three are sharing and they really get along so well, just like they are old buddies. We are so grateful to see that. Of course, after each meal, they love to have some icecream bars, soda (all bottled and well packed from the store). They said it was yummy.

OK, I got to go to the evening event now and more later.

All kids are doing great! So long!



Apr 14

Safely Arrived and First Day at School

Dear All,

Although due to the airplane delayed at the Beijing airport, we arrived at HeFei 2 hours later than expected, it was almost 1am, students are all in good spirit and very flexible with the arrangement. The CuoZhen School Principal and Admin team were all waiting for us at the school gate (even the school billboard having the English welcome flashing at the mid of the night which made us really feel welcome!). They quickly led us to the dorm, 3 people in a room, with newly purchased bedding sets, and students found their room mates quickly. Then we headed to the cafeterial to have our first free warm meal after spending 40 hours on the road! Yummy! (we found Wei Qian La Mian at the Beijing airport and had a bowl soup noodle there already)

Students all had a short but sound sleep and the alarm clock woke us up at 6am. What a beautiful morning, warm breeze and sunshine! We walked to the cafeterial, students using their 100 RMB meal card purchased their first breakfast, many choices, and warm and fresh. They were super satisfied and said much better than their own school at America! 🙂

Then we walked 15 mins. crossing some morning farm market to the Middle School campus of their school, to attend the Flag Rising Ceremony! Very formal and educational. Their Principal made a welcoming speech in both English and Chinese, our students are impressed.

They are well prepared for our coming and quickly arranged students into 4 groups (3 each group) and sent them to different classrooms (English classroom). They will rotate to different classrooms after each 45 min. block. So, we will spend whole day today at the Middle School campus.

Everybody is in happy mood and can’t wait to jump in and help out. Everybody here is very friendly and nice. Especially Principal Liang’s father came to the airport, stayed with us the entire time till 1:30am and came to greet us again this early morning! Without his thoughtful arrangement, it could have been a more bumpy trip! We are really grateful for that!

Students learned how to use lian pen to wash their face and feet 🙂 And we are getting our way to pick up hot water on our way in and out. I told them the dorm is better than their parents college life 30 years 🙂 Hopefully we are able to find a way to send pictures to you soon.

It is very safe here, the entire school has security guard at the front and only entrance (next door is the police station 24/7). Then, each dorm building is locked at night with security guard living inside. Each room has a lock for us to lock up when we leave the door. So, we are all set for now.

Your packing are very helpful and students seem to find everything they need. 🙂 This is for now and more updates will come (we have to find internet in their school teaching building or teacher’s office, a bit slow internet).

Thank you all and we will have a wonderful time here!


Nan and Jieying

Again, if you need to reach any student, call my cell phone here 13958097099. I am always with them. –Jieying

Apr 12

NCLS Support China Education 2013 Team Diary 12-Apr-2013

We are heading to JFK airport tomorrow, and will take a flight from Air China to go to Beijing.

Here is our packing list:

  1. 护照,签证。交纳护照、签证复印件2份
  2. 洗手液,消毒擦手纸, 卫生纸,zip bag for clean cloth。
  3. 牙刷, 牙膏,毛巾,洗头水,肥皂 , 梳子等洗漱用品。
  4. 朴素舒适的衣物。 鞋(运动鞋,拖鞋,T-shirts, shorts, jeans, socks, underwear, sleeping ware, T-shirts 2 Long-sleeve shirts)
  5. 乐器和乐谱
  6. Insect repellent, sunscreen, first aid
  7. 雨伞
  8. 水杯
  9. 现金(300人民币, 100 美金)
  10. 笔和小记事本
  11. Contact Lens, personal medicine; allergy medicine, such as Claritin, Benadryl, Tylenol, Advil; Airborne
  12. Camera good, make sure extra battery, memory card, 电源转换头。
  13. Candy,American classroom games, some small token to show and tell and give away
  14. No laptop, ipad, DS, PS2, those type of game related electronics on the trip. phone is OK.