May 5, 2011 Volunteering in China – Global Volunteers

Journal by: Peace Gardiner

First day in China…

Since I didn’t have a meeting until 12:30, I decided to walk along the city walls and explore a park I could see from my 11th floor hotel room. I also had directions to a large supermarket nearby. I walked and explored, and as happens so often in China, I saw so many new and wonderful things. As I approached the park I heard loud rhythmic popping sounds and saw a group of maybe two dozen men and maybe two women. They were cracking whips! They had giant 8-10 feet long bullwhips and seemed to be seeing who could do the most continuous cracks. There was a talented younger man who was helping others. Some people were only able to do 2 cracks, while others kept going for several minutes. Even after such an achievement there was no applause, but you could feel the approval of the crowd.

For lunch Katrina & I met with Wang Baoli, our Global Volunteers coordinator. She took us to a Sichuan style restaurant near the hotel. She ordered us rice, stewed eggplant, bok choi, and some sort of cashew chicken sort of dish. It was very good. Katrina had never had eggplant before, but she is such a trooper, she seems to try everything without complaint. We tried to get a taxi to the school that we had meeting at, but there was a wedding letting out and 20 or more people in line for taxis, so we started walking. We made it to the school where Katrina will be teaching, a private school for autistic children. We had meetings until dinner time with Global Volunteers policy review & such, and then met staff for both of our schools. Several nursing students from the college I will be teaching at came to meet us too.

They asked each of us to introduce ourselves in English as much as possible, and the students had prepared notes. They did quite well and we all applauded each other’s efforts. They each had a question prepared too. In some cases it was “Do you like Xi’an?”, “Have you been to Xi’an before?”, or “Does the hot weather here make you feel short of air?” One girl asked us for our favorite singers. Katrina and I started trying to name somebody we thought they might have heard of, although I drew a blank for quite a while.

Us: Justin Beiber?
Them: Justin Beiber?

Us: Frank Sinatra?
Them: blank stare

Us: Elvis Presley?
Them: blank stare

Me: Lady Gaga?
Them: LADY GAGA!!!

Man, I love China.

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