“Life is all about discovering things that do matter in the end” Robert Brault
Today, Tuesday, we all headed to the school during rush hour traffic. It is always an experience driving among the mass of humanity on foot, bikes, scooters, cars, taxis and buses all vying for a place in the traffic. It always seemed we narrowly avoided rubbing up against another car but we felt safe with James at the wheel. We arrived a little late and went straight to our classrooms.
Hunter and I were in one classroom together with Victoria the teacher, while Curtis and Jody were in separate classrooms with Lucy and Howard respectively. It felt a little discombobulated at first to Hunter and me, and the students (all girls!) seemed more interested in talking to Hunter in Mandarin and taking selfies with him than learning English. We would speak words and/or sentences and then the students would repeat them back to us in unison. They would speak very loudly as one but would practically whisper if we asked them to speak alone. They were willing to repeat after us but had a difficult time comprehending questions that were not from the book (where they could look up the answer in the back!).
At the end of the morning, we were asked to attend an all school assembly. We were up on stage outside in front of all the teachers and students when Baoli spoke about Global Volunteers and our purpose here. We then each spoke a few words about ourselves and our own reason for coming on the trip. Hunter was the only one who didn’t need his speech translated as he spoke to the whole student body in Chinese! The students and teachers clapped after each speech and then we were on our way back to the hotel for lunch.
We again dined in the second floor restaurant with some dishes selected by Baoli which we all enjoyed. We then decided to brave public transportation by taking the bus to the Muslim Quarter. Curtis joined us as he wanted to visit the Mosque there (and truth be told, I believe he thought he would never see us again if he didn’t at least guide us there). We arrived there after a thirty minute bus ride through the city. Wow, was the market an assault on the senses! It was full of foreign sounds, smells and sights. Hunter got right to work as a tourist and got scammed for 30 Yuan for taking a picture with the Monkey King (a Chinese character). Life Lesson #1. We then started walking through the market and checking out all the food and goods which were crowded into every conceivable space. The response to Hunter speaking Chinese was very entertaining as everyone who spoke with him would break into a huge smile and try to engage him for as long as possible. By the time they were finished, there would be a line of people waiting for their chance to talk with him. They all commented on his excellent accent and one man even checked under his hat to confirm his hair color, not believing someone so young who was not Chinese could speak so well. We called him ‘Justin’ (Justin Beiber) for the rest of the day. We had a great time and picked up some trinkets for friends and family. We were not, however, brave enough to do anything more adventurous than take pictures of some of the foods and meats. We got back on the #43 bus and came back to the hotel for a little rest before dinner. Walking back to the hotel, Hunter bought a “King Kone” at an ice cream cart and again made more local friends (some with teeth, some without).