May 22 – 29, 2010: The third week of volunteering

Thought of the week:
There are many chances that you only encounter once in a life-time. Do not miss those chances and make your damn best shot at them so that you will never regret later in life.
– Yibo

Saturday May 22
Today is the day that three of my volunteering teammates, Allison, Bob, and Karen, are leaving Xian for Hong Kong, where Bob and Karen will stay briefly before flying back to San Francisco, while Allison is going on another exciting trip to Taiwan but I believe she is also going through Hong Kong first. It is indeed very sad to see them leaving, after two weeks of eating breakfast and dinner together and all those other times we spent together as a team. I will certainly miss them and hopefully fate will allow us to meet again somehow (probably not all of us at once because we all live quite far away from each other in North America). Maybe we will all return to Xi’an to do some more volunteering together? That is totally possible.
Anyways, after sending them all around lunch time, I spent the rest of the afternoon studying. It was too hot to go out anywhere.

Sunday May 23
I originally planned (or at least thought about it) to go see the Terracotta Warriors. But it was another extremely hot day and I woke up really late at around 11 AM, so I guess I will just have to leave Xian without seeing these awesome immortal warriors of China who are still, to this day, guarding the First Emperor of China’s tomb. Instead, I went to the center of the old Xi’an city to see the Bell Tower and Drum Tower. The bus I took there was very crowded and extremely hot inside. After 30 minutes of unpleasant bus ride, I arrived at the Bell Tower. The underground passageway to get to the Bell Tower is circular and in my opinion, inadequately labeled. It took me a good ten minutes to find the entrance to the bell tower. The view of the old city is indeed spectacular on the top floor of tower, but other than that, there wasn’t too much to see in the tower. I then went to the Bell Tower, and there were much more interesting artifacts to see. I then walked to the shopping district close by to look for a thank-you card that I can give to the La La Shou teachers. Unfortunately I was unable to purchase one, but I did find a Wal-Mart hidden inside the mall. I have to say it is quite different from the ones in Canada, as it is tailored for the local people. That’s about all I did today. One more thing, I had ducks for dinner and it was quite tasty.

Monday May 24
Another ordinary but always fun day at La La Shou today. In the morning we viewed the pictures we took on our trip to the Zoo last Friday. For the rest of the day we followed the regular schedule. I told my fellow teaching assistants that I will switch with them to take care of the dish washing duties while they sweep and mop the floor. Surprisingly, washing dishes was actually not as bad as I thought it would be. I never washed dishes for so many people at once before. I decided to have dumplings tonight again (I had it for lunch last Saturday), and it was good as expected.

Tuesday May 25,
We had art class in the morning today. I was assigned a student called Xinyi, an extremely cute little chubby girl, to work on a dry oil painting. Together, we drew a beautiful picture of two little kids holding hands in the sky with moons and stars. I think we were both very proud of our painting, as the teacher agreed also. Nothing out of ordinary happened in the afternoon.

Wednesday May 26,
Today I woke up with a blocked nose and a headache. Probably should have turned the air conditioning to low or off last night.
It was another fun and exciting day at the school. We just followed the regular class schedules. After washing the dishes, I went and took a nap with the kids at lunch time with hopes to help with my headache, and it did help quite a bit actually.

Thursday May 27,
It rained really heavily today. We had math class in the morning and Baoli came to the school to take more pictures of me with the kids while I worked with a student called Kaiyuan. My assignment was to teach him the number “2” and make sure he is able to use it in various settings including recognize and write the actual number as well as being able to count the two objects. I think he got a pretty good grasp of “2” by the end of my lesson with him. In the afternoon I then went shopping again near the Bell Tower area for gifts and food to take home. I found a sushi place near the mall and had dinner and it was really delicious.

Friday May 28, 2010
Today is my last day volunteering at La La Shou. It is hard to believe that three weeks have past already, and I found that it is very difficult to say goodbye to these kids and the teachers. In the morning we had art class and in the afternoon we watched some TV. Before I left the school for the last time, the students and teachers hosted a little goodbye party for me. The kids sang a couple songs for me and gave me warm hearty hugs. The teachers also gave me a little gift and a group photo of the class, and I’m sure I will treasure them both well.
I was going to walk on top of the city wall and maybe even bike around it for the rest of the evening, but unfortunately I decided not to and come back to the hotel and get ready to leave for tomorrow.

A little conclusion:
My past three weeks’ of experience at La La Shou had been extraordinarily good, and I’m very pleased and impressed with Global Volunteers and the Xi’an coordinator Baoli Wang, as well as everyone at La La Shou who helped organize this wonderful opportunity for me. I am therefore very thankful to all of the people I have mentioned above and I will most certainly consider returning to do more volunteering as well as recommending to others who might be interested.


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