Thought for the Day:
Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together. Woodrow Wilson
Today we headed to the university for our last day of teaching – always a somewhat bittersweet day. The first hour and a half was spent with our individual classes. Rachel and I were typical in that we reviewed songs and games that we had previously taught. We also asked the teachers to look at the goals that they had written on their first day to see how they had progressed. One of our team goals was to help these English teachers become more confident with their English. We were gratified that many of them reported feeling much more comfortable with speaking English. Their lively conversation and their willingness to ask questions prove the point.
At 10:00, we all gathered in the first floor space for a final ceremony. Several of the teachers spoke about their experiences in both English and Chinese. Chris made a valiant attempt to translate their unusual phrases! Each volunteer also spoke from the heart about their two weeks in Kunming. The teachers were presented with certificates and, this being the 4th of July, also received some appropriate “party favors, ” supplied generously by Judy.
After two songs, one presented by the volunteers and another by Nancy P’s class, the whole assembly sang “when you’re smiling”. And finally, we pushed back all the chairs and tables for about 45 minutes of international dancing – Israeli, French, American, sort-of German, and the Virginia Reel. Even the administrators participated, and everyone had a great time. The smiles were big and nobody seemed to mind that we ran over our time by about 25 minutes.
The afternoon was spent packing, settling the hotel bill, collecting laundry and last-minute shopping for souvenirs and gifts. The rain having finally departed, Judy and I had a lovely walk at Green Lake and watched many dueling dance groups, music blaring at each other.
Our final meal together was especially enjoyable as we moved into a large, air-conditioned room where all 12 of us could sit together at one huge round table. Many of the dishes that had been favorites appeared on the table, including dumplings and Chinese” tacos.” In spite of an overall low energy level, good humor prevailed over the leisurely meal. Rachel entertained us with “the only thing she ever had to memorize, ” a list of all prepositions in the English language. Now she surely has to come back to Kunming to share this talent with the Chinese English teachers! Wang Baoli topped the evening off by presenting a cake to celebrate the 4th of July.
As we say good-bye to old friends and new, whether other volunteers, our hosts, our Global Volunteers leader, or the Chinese teachers we came to know so well, I think we would agree with Woodrow Wilson that friendship is the key to holding the world together.