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!
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…
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….
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!