Jumping into the Deep End!

When the first team of Global Volunteers got to Xi’an 18 years ago, they were refered to American “Lei Feng”, a Chinese soilder known by all Chinese who devoted his whole short life helping others. 

March 14, the Month of Learning from Leifeng, the 216th team of Global Volunteers arrived in Xi’an China! Here is the team journal entry for Sunday, the team’s day of orientation and preparing to serve the students of Xi’an:

Message of the day:

“Every piece of the universe, even the tiniest little snow crystal, matters somehow. I have a place in the pattern, and so do you.” T. A. Barron

By 5:00pm LuRue was thinking that events of this morning had happened yesterday. Montana had to remind her that we hadn’t even arrived in Xi’an until yesterday afternoon.

Volunteers Prepare for Teaching Assignment

Volunteers Prepare for Teaching Assignment

Don Marshall, the other member of our Global Volunteer team, was already in the lobby, along with Baoli when Montana and LuRue arrived in time for the 7:40am departure. We are guessing that Don is a natural early-bird while the other two team members are reluctant to leave their warm beds and get themselves moving in the morning.

Baoli hailed a taxi in the street near the hotel to take us to the Global Volunteers “office”, which consists of space provided by Xi’an Biomedical Technical College. We participated in the Orientation meeting, which included establishing personal goals and then grouped into team goals, and learning the philosophies and policies of Global Volunteers. Though the meeting lasted all morning, the time flew by as we became acquainted with the boundaries of our life for the next three weeks, including class schedules.

Before we left, we had the opportunity to look through books and materials left by previous teams of Global Volunteers and took away some things that may help us as we embark on this new adventure.

Baoli led the way to a nearby restaurant. The dishes have been delicious and greatly enjoyed by all.

Back to the hotel we came to have a chance to freshen up and to change our clothes for the Welcome Meeting. A teacher came with a van to drive us to Shaanxi College of Communication Technology, the school where we are assigned for our three weeks here. We were all grateful that

The Warm Welcome from the School

The Warm Welcome from the School

we had dressed in our best when we were ushered into a room, full of seated students, teachers, and school dignitaries. We, including Baoli, sat at a head table in places designated by our names in large letters. People sat quietly for several minutes until it was time to begin, exchanging shy smiles as we made eye contact from time to time. Eventually a gentleman spoke to begin the formal welcome. The President of the school, Mr. Yang, gave a history of the institution and warmly welcomed us to his school. Everything was translated into English so that we knew what he was saying. Baoli gave a background account of the association with Global Volunteers. Then each of us was invited to introduce ourselves and our reasons for being here, as well as express our appreciation for being invited to their school. Baoli found her herself taking lots of notes so that she could repeat everything in Mandarin. LuRue has since learned that she could have paused occasionally, giving Baoli a chance to translate as we went. Sorry, Baoli!!

After the formal welcome ended, we posed for some photos with the school officials, again with the teachers, and again with the students, a few who had stood to speak during the welcome.

The Students are so Eager to Talk to us!

The Students are so Eager to Talk to us!

After Mr. Yang left, we had a much more informal meeting with the teachers and the students. The teachers introduced themselves, including their English names. They explained a bit about their classes and expressed their desire to have us work with their students. The students stood one by one intermittently to welcome us and to say they are excited to have us come to their classes. We volunteers were put at our ease once we learned that our jobs will be to engage the students in informal conversations to allow and to encourage them to speak and listen to English. We have been warned that these students are the most fluent speakers and to expect a much more basic level of understanding. We will adjust accordingly, but it was reassuring to know some of the topics that interest the students. That will help in deciding how to proceed. It will probably take a couple of days to figure it out, but our welcome could not have been warmer, so we will no doubt be forgiven our many mistakes.

Before we left, the students gathered around for conversation, helping to break the ice even more. We are very excited to interact with them.

Back at the hotel, we had a little time for personal matters, including my starting this journal, before meeting for dinner at 6:00pm. We talked over the day and listened carefully as Baoli again warned us that our students will not be as advanced as those we have met. She ordered less food this time and tonight we managed to eat more than half of it.

Our days will begin with a 7:30am departure from the hotel. Tomorrow will be a most interesting day!!


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