First Day – Getting to Know Each Other

Team Journal for Monday November 16, 2015

Message of the Day: Do not ask what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country. – John F Kennedy


Volunteer Schek answers questions from his class

Today was the first day that we actually met our students and started our classes here in Kunming.  We left our hotel about 8:20am to take a short 20 minute drive to the local university.  It would have been a fairly routine rush hour drive except for 1000’s of scooters which seem to zip around like little flies which were attracted to a streetlight.  Finally our driver had to turn and then he was really faced with them.  He had to slowly push his way through this moving scooter mob which then started to drive around all sides of our car.

Once we arrived at the university we greeted with an Orientation / Opening Ceremony.  The Vice Director of the Primary Education Administration, the director of the University and Chris Li, the local program director, all gave short speeches this morning.  The primary messages were welcoming and encouraging to us as volunteers and to the 30 students in attendance.

The primary themes of the speeches were:

  • English was very important to the parents and people of this country as China strives to work more internationally.
  • That primary English teaching could improve and this why the local teachers were here as students
  • And finally, a sincere desire for us to exchange ideas, improve abilities and exchange cultures and feelings of friendship.
A view of the campus from our classroom floor

A view of the campus from our classroom floor

I don’t have any reason to believe we cannot achieve these goals.  When we broke into our separate classes I noticed that the students were very attentive, eager to ask questions and learn not just English but also what it is like to be American.  They also asked questions about American places, life and history.

I believe that I was lucky in that all of my students seemed very proficient in English.  It was easy to carry on a conversation and there was not much need to work on definitions because we lost someone.

I believe that I can work with them using more complicated games to improve their speed in comprehension.  They all were very good English speakers even though they might have been a little shy.  We had lengthy discussions during our introductions and about where I live and about national holidays in China and America.

Later today we bought materials for our classes tomorrow and got a little insight into the Chinese language.  I think Karen and I learned at least enough to understand how difficult it would be to learn this language since many words had multiple means depending on the tone of the speaker or the context of where it is used.

Submitted by Richard

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