Wednesday July 14, 2010

Thought for the day (after observing the relationship between GV team members and their students at Kunming University): Youth is a wonderful thing; it is a shame that it is wasted on the young (paraphrased from Mark Twain).

Today was a turning point in the student/teacher relationships in our class. The students were at ease, asked questions, gave opinions, and in general appeared interested in the program. After a routine journal reading by one of the students, essentially a copy of our daily GV exercise, comments were given from me, Martin and the students regarding grammar, syntax, pronunciation, body language and anything else that might contribute to improved English written and conversational skills.

We then spent some time commenting about yesterday’s presentation by Baoli and the GV about volunteerism. Each of the students gave their opinion about the presentation and how much they had learned about volunteerism and the motivation to participate. Their interest was stimulated and they appreciated the opportunity to learn about a cultural phenomenon not often seen in Asian cultures.

We went through a variety of exercises including team role model playing, instant creative responses to open-ended questions, vocabulary building, pronunciation exercises, singing, and public speaking techniques. By 11:30 both students and GV were ready for lunch and some rest from a full morning.

After the usual delicious and nutritious lunch at the hotel, three members of the team returned to school to give cultural enrichment talks: (1) Dick spoke about American History, (2) Carol discussed Special Education and Disability, and (3) Bob talked about Jewish culture and religion. All the talks were well received by the students as evidenced by a prolonged ovation to all the speakers.

My husband and I underwent a different adventure as we had to go to the local police department, named the Public Security Bureau in China, in order to extend our China visas. Although I speak fluent Mandarin, without Baoli accompanying us to the Exit & Entry Certificates Service Office where they issue visas in cities without consulates, we might be there for the rest of the afternoon or given a run around to return with additional documents, pictures, credit cards, hotel statements, etc. Several GV in Xi’an had to do the same and they experienced nothing but grief until they got their visa extension. The process went very smoothly in Kunming with Baoli’s guidance and with luck. We will get our new visas after a week.

On our return walk home, the afternoon heat had its effect on me after a few blocks but we were fortunate enough to get a taxi for all of us back to the hotel. After a brief rest the entire tea met for an evening dinner and show at the Yunnan Flavor Restaurant where the quality and quantity of food was memorable. Just when we could not eat anything more, individual bowls of Across the Bridge Noodles, a Kunming specialty, was served to each of us. After the meal, a thoroughly enjoyed show demonstrating the various dances of many Yunnan minority groups was presented with singers, acrobats, and even sword walkers involved. At the end of the show, the audience was encouraged to come on stage to meet the performers and get pictures taken.

And so ended another day in Kunming with too many activities, too much food, a lot of work but at the end of the day, it was thoroughly enjoyable and I look forward to tomorrow for more of the same after a good night’s rest..

– Kathy

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