Team Journal ~ And So We Begin…

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Thought for the Day: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” –Maya Angelou, poet; b.1928

None of us had any difficulty in making it down to breakfast at 8 am– this in spite of our having pushed dinner last night from 5 pm to 7 pm, an executive decision made by Phyllis AND deeply appreciated by Barbara and myself: late-comers due to a canceled flight from Hangzhou.

Breakfast is a grand affair, buffet style with an interesting array of breakfast fare. I could tell I wasn’t ‘in Kansas anymore’ when I realized Corn Flakes and Raisin Bran were not only among the missing, but at the very end of the table, sandwiched in between the pineapple juice and coffee/tea in three dainty bowls I found some Rice Crispies, Cheerios and Muesli. Well, it made my day along with vanilla yogurt, fresh fruit and coffee. I noticed others with their egg white omelets, miss soup, french fries and sautéed vegetables. We even had our own carafe of coffee with hot milk in our private dining room. We met for the first of our meetings up on the 20th floor in the conference room; a large sign greeting Global Volunteers across from the elevator and a smiling young hotel employee showing us into the room.

We spent a good deal of time discussing ourselves in more detail than last night at our first dinner. We’re a small group of five; with most interesting and diverse backgrounds and along with our country manager that no doubt will add much to our group’s dynamic these next two weeks. ‘Housekeeping chores’ were discussed and volunteers stepped up for: Anita to remind us who will be keeping the journal along with the thought for the day; Curtis to collate the journals and pass them on to Phyllis before we all depart; Barbara to serve as our ‘social director and see who might be interested in sharing a group outing over the week-end and then contact Chris at tonight’s Banquet and ask him if he might have a guide in mind for us. Mary and Joe will co- ordinate our last evening’s ‘wrap party’ on Thursday the 18th when we come back from dinner with our teachers. Phyllis’s only suggestion was a ‘surprise us!’

Broke for an immediate lunch–whose menu had been decided upon by the group at breakfast. We thought three dishes [two vegetables and one meat] in addition to their tasty rice dish would tide us over until tonight’s dinner. It did!

Afternoon meeting at 1:30 discussed Global Volunteers objectives in our own words along with characteristics of an effective team. Touched upon a master schedule from our English teacher and the policies/guidelines of Global Volunteers i.e. we’ll not bring cameras to school until the second Monday. Curtis will be doing a solo teaching job while Mary and Joe will team teach as will Barbara and Anita.

After a short break, Serena and Lily came at 3:30 for an hour’s Chinese lesson. It was a most intriguing hour of Chinese basics. It also became crystal clear who was our most challenged volunteer, Anita. Our instructors were not only charming but patient—two attributes I will try my best to emulate while I am here with the roles reversed with our students. We also learned our students will range in age from nine to thirteen and our school is the Kunming Heavy Industry Middle School with a thousand students.

Here it is, 7:45 and we’re back from our Banquet hosted by principal, assistant principals and the English teachers from our school. We were split between two tables, drank many a toast welcoming us to their city and school. Our lazy susans were filled with [by my count] fourteen dishes including two soups. My palate and I agreed wholeheartedly how one of the soups, a pork-mushroom-tofu plate, and the bread were terrific. Everybody else agreed that the rest of the meal was an event and delicious.

Tomorrow is Monday, the start of our reason for being here.

Submitted by Anita Verbeke

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