Team Journal, October 20

October 20, 2010 – Judith

Thought of the day: “Trying is all, the rest is not our business.” — T.S.Eliot

I’m told that in China 10/20/2010 is not auspicious, but to me since it’s a palindrome, it looks and feels like a very special day indeed. It began with the standard breakfast at which appeared K.C., who told us that the severity of his cold and the pain of his back meant that he wouldn’t be able to continue with his teaching. Our subteam of 5- all more or less healthy and fit- got to the Biotech College with not a single tragedy — no harrowing traffic incidents and no more smog than usual. Everyone reported (at noon) that our second week classes were good. My family pictures were a big hit certainly.

Lunch was especially good — featuring two bean soup and other beautiful dishes. A post-breakfast team meeting and discussion revealed that the four goals we established at the outset of this journey are being met. We agree that we know Xi’an better and have, in truth, established ties in the community and the group.

At 2:30 three of us (Greg, Mary Ellen and I) went with Baoli for a trip to La La Shou, one of the only schools in China for children with special needs. The school is a remarkable place. It occupies several stories of a 5-story building, has a fine central office/library/conference room combination, and a large staff. La La Shou’s primary purpose is to enable children with autism and developmental delays to reach their fullest potential. At present there are about 60 students- 90% of them boys. Every effort is made to support the parents on their challenging journey with their fragile children. It was heart-wrenching for me to see parents and grandparents come by the school to escort the children home. Most of the kids are autistic; almost all are formidably hard to handle.

Currently the school is recipient of a large grant from the German Helfswerk Project, is in the running for a grant from Jet Lee’s charitable organization, and has gained government recognition. This project, started by two brilliant mothers 8 years ago is on the cusp of greatness, I think.

7:00pm found the Haley family, Ginny, Elli, Mary Ellen, Baoli and me heading off (by cab) to the Shaanxi Grand Opera House for a dumpling dinner and musical show. The meal, as Ginny predicted, was delicious and more than ample (and 20 substantial courses including cabbage, shrimp, pork and duck dumplings), a complimentary glass of warm rice wine mellowed the group and made us ready to sing along with the performers. Since Tommy was not there to help us, we refrained.

The Tang Dynasty Show was impressive, with beautiful size 0 dancing maidens skimpy costumes floating with remarkable grace across the stage. Most of the music was westernized. Once Australian man muttered as we left, “I’ll bet traditional Chinese are groaning.” Still, the show was great. The musicians – a group of 18 – filled the hall with lutes, pan pipes bells, drums, cymbals and trumpets as well as several instruments that were rather like marimbas, hammer dulcimers and balaloukas. For me, the most impressive dance was the Spring Dance in which each dancer artfully used diaphanous fabric to illustrate the gentle breezes of Spring. The best instruments were the 8 man who performed the delightfully amusing “Quarrel Between the Ducks.” The piece was richly contrapuntal and full of musical jokes. Quite a tour de force.

In all, QUITE a day.

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