Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thought for the Day: There is nothing we like to see so much as the gleam of pleasure in a person’s eye when he feels that we have understood him. At these moments something fine and spiritual passes between two friends. These are the moments worth living.

We had our usual morning routine of breakfast and team meeting at the hotel. As we were driving to KU, I was daydreaming and watching the cars, scooters and people move about the streets. I realized that it was like a flowing river; where someone stopped another moved on… as long as you had the flow, you moved. If you slowed down or stopped you were the rock in the river and everything flowed around you… It all seems to work. Somehow it is natural. Earlier this week I mentioned to Marissa that I thought I could ride a scooter around Kunming – how hard could it be? Thousands of Kunmingese ride about the streets every day. Surely I could too. Now I’m not so sure.

We arrived safely at KU and headed to our last full day of teaching. We quickly reviewed for the whole class some of the keys to public speaking: don’t read your speech, make eye contact with your audience, speak slowly and remember to breathe! We were pretty flexible in class today – the teachers wanted to go through the final handout of tongue twisters. We ran a little long on this section and consequently had a late break. As the break period was ending the students started practicing a song they will sing at tomorrow’s closing ceremony. It was a lovely and soothing melody. We told them that they could continue to practice as long as they sang in Chinese but spoke only in English. It was a bit of a challenge but they did a good job using their English skills.

The class broke into small groups as several teachers had specific questions regarding pronunciations and this afternoon’s speeches. Soon the volleyball made it from the podium and was being volleyed back and forth. After a close call with breaking the ceiling lights, we put the ball away but started jump roping. James is quite good! We were ready for some fun and adjourned to the great outdoors to play volleyball, throw the Frisbee, wiggle the hula hoop, and jump rope. It was good to see all the teachers out participating and trying something new.

I’d been curious all week about the school’s cafeteria and so we walked over with James, Kathleen and Erin to see what was happening. We recognized over half of our combined teaching group sitting at tables eating lunch. After a few minutes we hurried along to the van for our ride back to the hotel for lunch and then returned for the afternoon Speech Festival.

We had 21 teachers present their English speeches – the topics ranged from Travel in China, Chinese Festivals and My Home Town to Pollution, a Mother’s Love and Thank You’s. Each of the teachers did a great job and all of the volunteers were very proud of their students – those that spoke at the Festival as well as each teacher that presented within our respective classrooms. Public speaking is stressful in and of itself – let alone in a foreign language.

After the Speech Festival we visited the East and West Pagodas in the southeast part of Kunming and then shared dinner at Seeing the Dragon restaurant. It’s been a long, tiring, rewarding and successful two weeks with our new friends – both volunteers and teachers. It has gone by quickly. We achieved all of our group’s goals as stated at our first team meeting. Thanks Baoli!

– Bill

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