“Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.” – H. Jackson Brown Jr.
We volunteers (namely grandmother and granddaughter) are getting better in learning that being “on time” really means being 10 minutes early. The three of us team members met in the hallway of the 6th floor, took the elevator down, and found our escort Tracy there, so we were already on the road by 7:30am. We arrived at the school almost 15 minutes early because the traffic is lighter the earlier it is. Someone had to fetch a man to open the padlock on the entry doors of the school, and then raise a metal door.
Don met first with his tourism group, this being the fourth time with them. He was pleased to be able to continue some activities he had introduced before to them. He also had better maps to work with, so had more success with teaching directions on how to get to various destinations that may prove useful to the students. He is also adapting a Bingo game for various purposes. Hopefully some future volunteers will be able to use the materials. We have been much appreciating the ideas, supplies, and efforts of the previous teams.
Montana and LuRue again met with students that they will see only once, as they do every day, and this time the teachers were new as well. The activities are often two-part lessons: first the teacher must understand what is happening so that he or she can explain to the students. Hearing the group utter at once, “Ooooooh!” and begin to nod their heads is a sign that the lesson is really ready to begin. At times, even the teacher doesn’t understand a word such as “example” or “demonstration” which can lead to some confusion before everyone is “on the same page”. Once underway, though, the activities go extremely well. Montana and LuRue are continuing to fine-tune their techniques, but the basics now seem to be solid. They were lucky once again when a student sang a beautiful solo of “All of Me” by John Legend just before the first session ended.
The second session seemed to be an unusually large class, but we shrugged and carried on as usual. About ten minutes in, Don and one of the teachers appeared at the back of the library…somehow the class hadn’t been divided into 2/3…1/3 as it normally is and Don was left with empty tables. A quick reorganization fixed that.
In the afternoon, we all met again in the hotel lobby about 2:05 (five minutes early!), and of course BaoLi and Ms. Lei were already there. We were whisked away to the High Tech College of Xi’an University of Science and Technology, which had had contact with Global Volunteers once before for 90 minutes last October. On the drive over, Montana and LuRue were frantically separating out Monopoly money to obtain stacks of Ones and Fives in case they were needed for a game they didn’t know, but would use if needed. Fortunately, Don was engaged in conversation with the others about his study of Mandarin.
When we arrived at the school, we were escorted upstairs to a roomful of administrators, teachers, and some of the best English students. After a photo session and introductions from everyone, LuRue expanded her introduction with some Alaska facts and passed around some postcards. Montana followed with 2 out of 3 of her “Around the World in 94 Days” which documents the Global Volunteer programs she and LuRue have just completed in Tanzania and in India. China is yet to come. During the question period following the video, a student asked a question about college life in America which was a nice segue for Don to talk about his areas of interest and expertise. He also entertained the group by teaching “I’m a Little Teapot.”
The students and teachers had opportunities to ask questions. One student even preformed the chorus of “Hey Jude” by the Beatles. The only unfortunate part was that the time was so short. It was clear that there were much left unsaid, but Ms. Lei made it clear that she hopes that there will be more volunteers coming to the school in the future.
At dinner, BaoLi reviewed our team goals with us and, we believe, seemed satisfied that we are all quite happy with our experiences and are achieving our goals, both team and individual. We talked a lot about our time here in China and are inclined to keep doing what we are doing as it seems to be working.
We also talked about our afternoon tomorrow, which will include fantastic demonstrations by some students. The session will conclude with a “skit” by the volunteers, so the last few moments of dinner were devoted to costuming. Some neighboring diners were entertained watching us put napkins around our heads. Oh, well! Just preparing for tomorrow!