Saturday June 26, 2010

Thought for the day: True education makes for inequality; the inequality of individuality, the inequality of success; the glorious inequality of talent, of genius; for inequality, not mediocrity, individual superiority, not standardization, is the measure of the progress of the world.” — Felix Emmanuel Schelling, American educator and scholar (1858–1945)

A journey of a thousand miles may begin with a single step, as Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu, declared. (But he lived between 604 BC and 531 BC.) The philosopher may have begun that journey in the Western Hills of Kunming, where Jim, Esther, and I, plus students Zoe and Yen, and their friend, Yu Wei, discovered that a single step past Dragon’s Gate began a journey of a thousand more steps: up past a temple, up and along a narrow precipice where the view of Lake Dian and the city were spectacular, up through a cave-like tunnel, up more steps that twisted and turned, until we reached the cable cars — really, a chair lift — that gently and quietly carried us just over the trees on the hillside, back down to the parking lot.

Then our guide hired what turned out to be a rattletrap of a van to ride down the rest of the hill. The doors were barely attached, the interior was ragged, and part of the dashboard wasn’t operational. The driver was careful, though, and eased us onto a boulevard and kept driving. And driving. But we were ready for lunch, the time being after 2 o’clock. It seems there had been miscommunication about our destination, both between our companions and us, and between our companions and the woman negotiating the transportation. After turning around and taking a modern open-air conveyance to an ethnic village complex we hadn’t planned to visit, we decided just to take a bus back into the city. The 9:00 to 5:00 adventure included relaxed strolling, effortful climbing, almost scary moments, and camaraderie with our Chinese companions.

Other volunteers enjoyed Green Lake Park, the Provincial Museum, and exploring the contents of the resource room. What adventures will tomorrow bring?


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