Monday, July 12, 2010

Thought for the day: “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” (Einstein)

After breakfast we left the hotel at 8 AM in a van to travel about 20 minutes to the local college where we will meet our English teacher students for the first time and have our first day of class. Our “teaching day” began with an Opening Ceremony attended by all the English teacher students, team members, and a number of dignitaries. Each of the dignitaries spoke at the ceremony, including our team leader Baoli. All the speakers welcomed us and said how delighted they are that we have come from the United States to assist Chinese English teachers with their conversational English. All of them also said how important a learning opportunity this will be for the English teachers who are present and how important learning English is for the children of China. The ceremony took about 40 minutes. It was followed by a “photo op” in which one of our hosts took a group picture of all those who attended the Opening Ceremony.

We met our three groups of students and went to our respective classrooms. Each of the three groups (as noted previously) is taught by two teachers: Martin and Kathy; JK and Bob; and Carol and Dick. The groups completed a variety of first day activities designed to help everyone meet everyone else and to allow our volunteers to gain a sense of the existing conversational skills of the English teachers (so that we can plan for the best possible classes during the rest of our two weeks here). Creativity in running the class sessions was very evident in each of the classrooms, and everything seemed to go splendidly throughout our first day. Most importantly, all of our students seemed eager and very interested in the activities that we suggested.

At approximately 11:45 AM we got back in the van and traveled back to our hotel for lunch. We spent a good deal of time at lunch talking about the two week teaching schedule and in particular about the “lectures” that team members will give on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons this week. Most mornings we will be teaching from 8:30 until 11:30 AM, and we will have afternoon sessions for two hours each on some days, but not all.

The afternoon was spent on a variety of “free time” activities. The high point of the afternoon was Kathy and JK’s visit to a local craftsman who successfully opened JK’s locked suitcase. In addition, Dick spent an hour talking to a young man who is a third year college student here in Kunming. He hopes to attend graduate school in the United States, and he had numerous questions about what he might expect if he does eventually do so.

After dinner we reviewed our first day’s activities, so each group could learn something about what the other groups are doing. We can be very pleased that our first day of teaching went so well, that our group of six volunteers plus Baoli get along so well together, that we are so enthusiastic about the English teachers who are our students and about the opportunities we will have to help them during days to come, and that we are having fun (as Kathy keeps urging us to do).

Remember: “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”

– Dick

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