Thursday September 16, 2010

Thought for the day: A proper attitude conquers all evil.

Today was the most exciting day to date for our team. Teaching went very well – we had interested and enthusiastic students. Claudia presented a technical lecture to the nursing students. Baoli joined us and visited our classrooms and took pictures of us with our students. We returned to the hotel for a working lunch. The teaching experiences were reviewed and we then planned the rest of the day. Tony and Marcella headed for the huge electronics store to purchase a laptop replacement for her IPad – which died – but could not find a suitable replacement. Claudia stayed at the hotel to research additional material for a lecture. Maggie and Wally left to visit the Small Wild Goose Pagoda and managed to find a bus that stopped a block from the North Gate – quite a feat! The team rejoined at 6PM, meeting Baoli for a fantastic Peking Duck dinner.

The carver arrived with a beautiful roasted duck which he artfully carved onto three plates. Hoisin sauce and the thin wrappers were quickly snatched up and married with the scallion slivers to create a delicious duck roll. It was during this feast that Marcella informed us that Chinese characters and English words were not the same?? The team shows no mercy for such clairvoyance. When we thought dinner was complete, a fabulous basket of steamed sticky rice and spare ribs arrived which was quickly attacked. During a lull, waiting for the duck soup, Baoli drilled us on the team goals. It seems her professionalism never rests!

All of Baoli’s meals have been excellent but this dinner will be exceedingly tough to top.

The duck soup arrived and we devoured that as well. Marcella observed that it tasted too much like duck – two in one evening sets a team record – but we are a forgiving bunch.

After dinner Tony and Marcella headed back to the hotel – another bus adventure – while Claudia, Maggie and Wally waited for 15 minutes trying to hail a cab. Baoli stayed with us and we finally captured a cab during a very busy time. The three of us headed for the International Studies University to visit the English Corner. This proved to be a fascinating evening. The English majors, as well as other students and graduates, gather on the University Terrace to speak English, hopefully meet Americans or other English speakers and engage in what must be termed a free for all. Each of us had a large group of students around us who were not a bit shy about asking questions on everything from the Opium War to 9/11 and Americans opinion on building a mosque near ground zero. The enthusiasm and dedication to learning was palpable. These students engaged us from 8 until 9:30 and it appeared that they would have continued as long as we could stay. Many of the students want us to come back next Thursday but it is a National Holiday so we will probably not have this opportunity again. However, I feel certain that if we go, there will still be a crowd of students anxious to practice their English.

The students found a taxi for us and we returned to the hotel at 10PM – tired, hot, but thrilled to have had this opportunity. It is these somewhat impromptus engagements that make volunteerism a truly meaningful experience.

– Wally

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