Team Journal for March 31, 2015
Message of the day: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts” Winston Churchill
Today was overcast and cooler than predicted. We met Phyllis in the lobby at 7:20 for a quick ride over to the branch (old) campus of Shaanxi College of Communication Technology. As compared to the 11, 000 students at the new location, the old location has about 1000-1200 students. At the campus, we were met by Lily and Cici. Because we arrived before 8, there was time for a walk around the campus. The first building on entering appears similar to those on the new campus (opened in 2001). But behind it is a smaller (single floor) building at one end of a soccer field. Lily said this building was provided by the Russians early in the college’s existence. To the right of the field were dormitories (one women, one men). As we walked around the field we saw a basketball area and a table tennis area.
We headed to the class room building and our room near the college’s library. LuRue and Montana had some table rearranging to do which was made exciting by one table balanced on an end support (as was discovered when moving started. LuRue and Montana used their established agenda and felt the students were about the same as at the new campus, but maybe a bit shyer. Don had two classes of 15-18 students. More seemed to be from rural areas where they might say their father was a worker and their mother was a farmer. However in their self-introductions, their aspirations were as diverse as the larger campus’s students – teachers, doctors, engineers, artist, even a poet! The rest of the program included vocabulary from the first year general text, review of LuRue’s pronunciation chart, the Teapot Song. Don used Simon Says as an entre to giving simple directions: he was told how to get to the toilet and to the computer center – both on upper floors and down halls. Because the second class started early, Lily needed to close it a bit early and we didn’t finish a “numbers” bingo round.
After class, Alice met us and led us to the faculty dining room for lunch. There Tracy joined us for lunch. We then went to meet Theresa at the college’s minivan for the drive to the Museum of the Terra Cotta Soldiers. The Museum is to the east of the city, about a comfortable hour’s drive. On the way we discussed the educational choices have in China and the cost of higher education in China and the US. As I understood it, tuition at a college like Shaanxi is about 30, 000 RMB (about $5, 000 US) a year. I ventured in the US, tuition at a state university might be in the teens (College Board says instate average is a little over $9100 and room and board $9800). A private college/university for tuition (College Boards averages again) is $31, 000 and, room and board $11, 200. In the US case about half the students qualify for financial aid including outright grants, student loans and/or work opportunities (US Dept of Ed says of first year full time students – at public universities 82% qualify for student aid; at private, 89% do). Still many leave school with substantial debt (which LuRue thought might be on the order of $60, 000 on average – the College Board, for 2013 for public universities said 59% of the graduates had average cumulative debt of $25, 600. I didn’t find numbers for private universities.). But all these numbers should be verified before repeating!
At the Museum location, we disembarked at the parking lot and proceeded to the ticket booth. Theresa and Tracy obtained a guide for us and we headed to the first exhibit hall. This site is estimated to contain 6000 terra cotta figures and has had many excavated. Near the entry, to the left, is the location of the well site where farmers first discovered the figures in the early 1970’s. The excavation continues in this hall. We proceeded to the third hall which is estimated to contain 2000 figures. Here only limited excavation has been pursued because many figures show some portion of the original coloring (painting) of the figures. At this point, no method has been established to save the colors after they have been exposed to the air. The second hall showed illustrative selected figures, including an undamaged archer, a middle level officer and a general. In addition, displays of weapons and equipment found at the site were well labeled for viewers. And the two bronze (brass?) reduced size carriages, each with four horses are on display. The final display area included the many awards and acknowledgements the Museum has received and illustration of the many dignitaries who have visited the site.
We left the Museum at 4:30, with an hour’s ride to Xi’an city limits. Shi Laoshi told us that the English competition Wednesday will have about 20 contestants. There will have two rounds (with seven or eight contestants eliminated in the first round. There will be three tests: first, contestants will receive a short story in English which they will have a few minutes to summarize in English. Second will be description of a picture and third will be description of a chart. We will get specific instruction on judging tomorrow. With the rush hour traffic, it was another 45 minutes to the hotel! But it was a very worthwhile excursion and we expressed our appreciation to Shi Laoshi.