A Long but Fullfilling day

China Team 218 Journal for Wednesday October 21, 2015

Message of the day: “Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace.”  Confucius

Mary at her school's Welcome party for new students

Mary at her school’s Welcome party for new students

The car from the Biomedical College was stuck in early morning traffic, so Claudia and Mary were still at the hotel to bid farewell to Jo-Carol and Carolyn as they headed off to the High Tech College, for a morning of teaching and then, in a new activity, for an afternoon session working with the teachers. Mary & Claudia arrived at their college only slightly late for morning classes.  After the classes, where both worked on various vocabulary and pronunciation issues, including the ever present “ah” at the end of words ending in a consonant, we returned with Julia, and teachers Victoria and Michael to the off-campus restaurant where we’d eaten last Thursday.  We had a delicious meal, working to engage Victoria, whose home is near Xi’an and Michael, from Inner Mongolia, in conversation.  Then it was back to the college to catch our breaths for a short while, until Mr. Liu, a college administrator and our intrepid driver, arrived to practice the Chinese song he and Claudia would sing at tonight’s Welcome Ceremony for new students.  Mary was able to sit back and listen to the beautiful voices. Wang Baoli arrived and Julia took all of us to her apartment across from the campus, (with Western bathroom, aah!) where we freshened up and got ready to return for the 6:30 outdoor ceremony.

Tibetan Dance at the welcome ceremony for the new students at Xi'an Biomedical Techinical College

Tibetan Dance at the welcome ceremony for the new students at Xi’an Biomedical Techinical College

As with the event at the High Tech college, this was an extravaganza of singing, dance, comedy, and Kung Fu, done in cute and/or elaborate costumes.  Highlights were students in Arabian Nights costumes doing a Chinese version of a belly dance; a beautiful soloist in Beijing Opera dress, who, again in that Opera’s tradition, turned out to be a young man; Kung Fu movements done by a young woman in red silk, 3 students in military uniform, and a young, very athletic male student.  My favorite was the fashion show finale which had around 10 young women modeling outfits they’d made from recycled materials.  The styrofoam food container dress was especially stunning. But we were not mere spectators, even though we were honored to be seated next to College President Liu:  Mary & Claudia, along with teacher Michael and 6 students, led the audience in a rousing version of “If you’re happy and you know it…” including an initial verse in Chinese.  Claudia & Mr. Liu then wowed the audience with a beautiful Chinese song, students particularly impressed with Claudia’s pronunciation and lovely voice.  Mary was recruited to join the teachers in a lively dance number…she was the tall one in back, one-step off the rest.

Claudia receives "Award of Appreciaton" from Predident of Xi'an Biomedical Techinical College

Claudia receives “Award of Appreciaton” from Predident of Xi’an Biomedical Techinical College

Especially moving was a surprise ceremony in which President Liu presented Claudia with a certificate of appreciation for her 6 years of service to the College and to China.  Comparing her  to Norman Bethune, the Canadian physician, hero to the Chinese, who provided medical care to Mao’s soldiers in the early years of the War Against Japanese Aggression,  President Liu noted that Claudia came to the College not just to teach English but because she loves China.  Claudia’s ex tempore reply was elegant and gracious. The event was followed, of course, by much picture taking, and it was 10:00 pm before we were driven back to our hotel, to get organized and prepare for Thursday, our last “long day” at the College.

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