Another Good day of Teaching and Learning

China Team Journal for Tuesday October 20, 2015

Message of the day: A university graduate sent here to work just last year always had his headphone on. It was only after I got close enough that I discovered he was learning English.  Gao Xingjian “Soul Mountain”

Carolyn and her students in Xi'an Hi-tech College

Carolyn and her students in Xi’an Hi-tech College

Jo Carol and Carolyn found today’s students had, in a general, some of the lowest skills to date. Carolyn’s first class was all boys – turgid is the word that comes to mind. I divided 2 touchy-feely guys, told another he was “special” so I brought him to front of table by me. I, immediately discarded the lesson plans , after formal introductions where each spoke, went to game of Brainstorm Rummy. I was sorry not to get to the section where I was from (USA, NYC) because one of the students had a shirt with NYC on it. I had found earlier that another did not know that NYC stood for New York City. Classroom management (changing seat, confiscating cellphones, quiet until individual focused) kept the class on track. Jo Carol had student who couldn’t keep his eyes open – some students work so hard. There is no dorm supervision, so students study until midnight- even I am! Mary and Claudia felt their classes were ok. The need to be flexible was evident as classes were rescheduled and a teacher workshop was substituted for a class.

Carolyn rides on the subway in Xi'an

Carolyn rides on the subway in Xi’an

Claudia and Mary had an afternoon to run errand while Carolyn and Jo Carol were treated to an excursion to a Happy Farm Dinner with teachers, Lei Shuya and Miao. Due to Metropolitan sprawl what was a farming village with a hot springs become a designated tourist spot. Although pollution was heavy, we could make out mountains so you could imagine what a beautiful spot it was on a clear day. We walked around the village, meeting families, viewing the almost completed Hot Springs hotel and new upscale townhouse type homes being built with each surrounded by a wall decorated with rectangular plaster relief plaque.

We came upon a Buddhist temple under construction, entered and embarked on a very special experience for each of the four of us. A monk greeted us, was taken with our questions and interest. The temple is dedicated to a spiritual master who died 3 years ago. A stupa is being built to house the remains. This holy man had had to disguise himself as a single peasant during the Cultural Revolution but survived. His teaching and spirituality attracted many students and disciples. The monk encouraged us to enter further into the grounds (fengshui used) and we visited the hall decorated with Chinese calligraphy – Um MA NI PA MI (chant). We entered, viewed the altar and were honored when the head invited us into his chamber that was about 10 x 8. He was sitting on a raised area surrounded by hundred of books. He gave all of us beads, bracelets and booklets.

Carolyn and Jo Carol visit a Buddist temple

Carolyn and Jo Carol visit a Buddist temple

He used a magnify glass to read Lei Shuya and Miao’s palms.  United in our conviction we had experienced a special event. Lei Shuya observed she is a supporter of Buddhism and Communist Party because both espoused kindness and giving (or donations) to others so growth can occur. We went to a restaurant run by the son of the person Shuya had anticipated visiting. An excellent meal was enjoyed composed of 8 delicious vegetable dishes, thick slices of country   bread backed with scallion and leeks completed by red wine. We learned Ganbei, is the Chinese toast (the equivalent of bottoms up!) We arrived back at our own hotel at 8:00 and thanked our hosts and driver for organizing such as delightful afternoon during which we all agreed that we had learned a great deal from each other.


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