Team Journal ~ The Final Day

”We came, we saw, we loved, we treasured, we gave, we received, we will never forget.” Kunming Team 189

November 19, 2010

Thought for the day: “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” Kahlil Gibran ‘On Giving’.

In a way, the morning program we were invited to attend was also a morning of giving…from the school administration of all of us….first as a group and then individually.

We arrived at school and were ushered into what had been Mary and Joe’s classroom. A wide space was given over for the two groups of students, all girls (with one solo male with the older group), who performed two tribal dances, complete with beautiful costumes and accompanying music via a recording. The school’s principals, vice-principals, assistant principals along with our English teachers were all present, when we were asked to take a seat on the front rows. Water and those delicious Clementine’s were placed in front of us. In no time, cameras were ablaze as Serena translated the thank yous from the administration. Phyllis reciprocated by presenting to Mr. Dai a photo of this particular group standing in front of the school along with the logo of Global Volunteers superimposed at the bottom and with our signatures affixed. Phyllis also presented a card written by us expressing the warmth and enthusiasm we felt from both students and teachers during our two week stay. Phyllis further captured the moment of all of us by expressing our feelings of acceptance and friendship we’ve felt being amongst them. Lastly we were asked to come to front and center for more photo ops and a presentation by their art teacher to each one of us…a handsome ‘poster’; each one different. Some related a story while others set out to explain a way of learning; of gaining knowledge; something we have all endeavored to get across to our students.

The program ended and we all met outside for one huge group photo, complete with our dancers. It was then time to say our good-byes, which, for some of us brought tears to not only our eyes, but to the eyes of a few of those dear teachers who could not accompany us to the planned luncheon. After all, there were classes yet to be taught and plenty of students to fill those rooms.

Annie and Lily along with dear Mr. Dai accompanied us to a lovely restaurant featuring ‘across the bridge noodles’, a local dish in which the noodles continue to cook in the hot broth while other items are added. The bowls are huge. We were met there by Shirley, Owen, Chris, the PE Teacher, Assistant Principal Wang and a lady at our table, unknown to me. We needed two tables to accommodate our crowd. It was during this meal, I learned the value of ‘slurping’ and it was essential form; even for those accustomed to the chopsticks; so I slurped with the best of them. Served next to this large bowl of soup was a much smaller bowl of what Shirley told us was another Yunnan specialty – steamed chicken soup. It was quite tasty.

We departed the restaurant to allow everybody to get back to school aned we were accompanied back to the hotel for the last time. Goodbyes were said; some teary eyes appeared; and then last minute plans for tomorrow morning and getting to the airport. Mary and Joe and been taken back to the hotel prior to the luncheon so they might make their mid-afternoon flight home. Curtis will be departing early tomorrow morning, even before breakfast time for a few more days in Dali. Barbara and Anita will be picked up by the school van around nine and Phyllis a bit later.

Back to our rooms for more packing and tidying up and then Barbara, Curtis, Phyllis and I walked over to Mama Fu’s Restaurant nearby for a last dinner. We had planned to eat there earlier in the week but the rain threw a damper on any walk and so we left it for tonight. Nice meal and I can see why previous teams have suggested it. Not in the same league as previous wonderful minority dinners, mind you, but pleasant–especially their ribs.

So this is how our last school day in Kunming was spent. It did not seem possible that these two weeks have literally flown by the way they have. We’ve seen so many things, while in this most unusual place. We learned more from the students and their teachers than we possibly taught them and we had a feeling that would be the case. I for one feel all the richer for this experience and will forever have a soft spot in my heart for this Kunming experience.

Submitted by, Anita Verbeke

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