Mr. S. had been on a whirlwind of visiting schools. It has been so hard to keep them all straight especially with the internet being very inconsistent. One of the highlights for Mr. S. was visiting a Kung-Fu University. We saw thousands of people all practicing their Kung-Fu and had an amazing performance by the school's troop. Truly professional!
I have been asked a lot about food. After the performance, we were taken to a special restaurant in the mountains that served vegetarian food. The special things about this was is that they changed the vegetables to resemble meat dishes. Many times, you thought you were eating chicken or beef!
We also go to visit the famous Shaolin Temple. This temple dates back 1,500 years! Shaolin is the site where Kung-Fu has been taught and practiced by Buddhist monks. It was amazing to walk through this historic site. In the video, you can hear the chanting in a part of the temple by the monks. The first picture in the slideshow is the cemetery for the monks of the past.
We also had a wonderful welcome speech. The "big potato" from the school spoke to us. What was AMAZING WAS that his student translated ON THE SPOT as she heard what she had to say. Not only was that incredible but what he had to say was important as well. I wanted to share that with you all.
As the trip came to a close, I couldn't help feel like I was given such a precious gift to visit China, meet students from across the globe and understand a little bit more about the culture you all are learning about. It was remarkable. I thank College Board, Han Ban Institute and Dr. H. for all letting me be a part of this. Also, I thank you for coming on the journey with me! The trip home was long. I am very exhausted now - and must sleep! See you on Monday! Mr. S .
So, I want you to know that Mr. S. has had very, very long days while he has been in China. Every day, we are on the road usually starting at 7:30 a.m. We go until lunch time and then keep going. Many times, we don’t get back to the hotel until 9:30 p.m.! There has been little time to catch a breath. The reason for this is because we have to drive usually an hour and a half in one direction to get to our destination. It is a march of a different kind.
Mr. S. signed up to visit primary schools because that is our kind of school. I wanted to see as many kids and schools that have kids just like you! Our first stop was at Henan Experimental School, Zhengdong Primary School. There, we saw many classrooms observations. They have about 2,000 students but buildings that only teach dance and music! Or, another that teaches art and Science! We were able to visit classrooms in action and see the kids fully engaged in their fun learning. In every room we visited, we were given a little artifact from the lesson they were learning about.
It was so much fun visiting the different classrooms at this school. While their days are very, very long – they are filled with so many activities. There is little time to rest and relax in a Chinese student’s life. The classrooms were all neat, orderly and everybody was totally on task trying their very best!
From there, we went to lunch and then off to Zhengdong Zhongyi Road Primary School. This school was a public school. All of the schools that we had visited so far were private and their parents have to pay money for them to attend the school. This was a different kind of environment; however, it was a VERY big deal. This was the first time ANYBODY internationally had ever visited this school. While the other schools had larger classes sizes than we usually see. This school had SIXTY kids in a classroom with ONE teacher. You better believe the kids had to be orderly! It was amazing to see so many kids in such a small space. But, it worked! We visted classrooms and viewed from the outside. However, we were allowed to step into a first grade English class. And man.. the kids were so delicious. I wanted to take one home!
We were also given the most adorable Kung-fu demonstration. The kids were on point! Exact! And ready to take their positions. This was an amazing performance and we could tell that they tried to hard to prepare! Totes adorbs!
Today was fully of more learning, kids and love. Who could ask for anything more!
After that, we were taken to another lunch full of delicious Chinese staples. Orange chicken, rice, sautéed vegetables and tea all surrounded us on a lazy susan that we used to eat what we wished.
From there, we were taken to two of the most impressive and world renoun sites in China – Tianamen Square and the Forbidden City! Both of these locations are major landmarks known throughout the world.
One thing to notice in the plaza was the amount of security cameras watching EVERYTHING. If there was something not moving, it had at least 6 cameras pointing in every directions watching to make sure someone wasn’t doing something wrong. Mr. S. wasn’t going to make any mistakes here! There were lots o people in the square and in many ways, Mr. S. and the other delegates were treated like rock stars. The people in China are not used to seeing “non-Chinese” people. They routinely came up to all of us to take selfies and were so sweet to say hello. They were legitimately excited to see us.
From there, we took a bus back to our hotel and had another wonderful dinner of Chinese cuisine. I am practicing using my chopsticks! Though, I do give up and use normal silverware at some point. Mr. S. is tired!!!! They keep us running over here. Night!
I have to say something about my interaction with Lynn and Shaw. They spoke English BEAUTIFULLY. They were 13 years old but had such a good ability to speak in a language that was very different than their own.
After those demonstrations, we were given a show by several of the student clubs performing various forms of dance, kung fu fighting and drumming. The kids were so good.
One thing that I want you to know is that the kids wanted to know what YOUR school day was like. The reason for this is because their day is VERY different. Their schedule follows this kind of routine… They get to school at about 7. They have studies and school until 4:00. Then they get home, have supper and then the next round begins. They do homework and student until about 9 p.m. Then, they go to bed. Many students go to school also on Saturday and Sunday.
What do you think of that?
After that, we returned to our bus. It was a bit of a hike back to our hotel and then dinner. We are tired after a long day and most of our days start at 7 a.m. and go until about 10 at night. So, Mr. S. says, “Good night and sleep tight.”
From there, Mr. S. had to go through customs – which was another LONG line of standing and shuffling. That went on for ever. Then to claim my bags and then… meet up with the other delegates. I was supposed to look for a person holding a blue paddle that said, “College Board” on it. I looked and looked. There was no one around. I continued to looked. Did I get lost? So, I took my baggage, went through security and then had to figure out how to take the train to the exit areas. Don’t forget, everything is in Chinese. Everything is strange. I have no one to even ask questions.
I made my way to the place and exited customs. Still no one was there. What to do? I call one of the numbers I have in case we have a problem. I am told that all of the people are still back in the long lines getting their visas checked and then was asked, “Why didn’t you follow directions.”
Where have I heard that before?
So, today we woke up very early with the knowledge that we were going to be climbing one of the Seven Wonders of the World – the Great Wall. It is hard to tell you how exciting it is just waking up knowing that you are about to see something like that.
We had to be ready and fully packed – early. Ate breakfast and then gathered onto our buses to make the drive to the outskirts of Beijing. Beijing is known for having five roads that run in circles through the center to the outskirts of the city. We would be calling what they call the “sixth ringold” to get to our destination. This took about 45 minutes because traffic is ALWAYS terrible in Beijing. Pretty much, every drive takes about an hour.
After The Great Wall, we then had lunch and then got ready to go to the train station to take a bullet train to go to another province (or state) in China – Henan. A bullet train is called that because it goes super duper fast! (not as fast as a bullet – but you know). We were all exited. This normal train ride would usually take 14 hours. But, this train would make the journey in about 3! Whoa! Maybe it is fast as a bullet!
After some maneuvering, we found our seat and the train took off! The train was very different than our normal trains in Chicago. First, it was clean. Second, there were attendants selling food and cleaning the whole time. In the three hours, I saw someone mop the floor of the train three times. People seemed to have respect for the train itself. The attendances were in special uniforms selling food and drinks. We settled in and let the train take us to our destination.
Okay – off to bed. We climbed The Great Wall, went 304 kilometers per hour by train and then ate a massive dinner! Off to bed!
Student Quick Question: How fast IS 304 kilometers per hour in miles per hour! Figure that out
Blogger Question for the Kids: Why am I flying towards Santa Claus right now to get to China and not across the belly of the globe? Do some research on this my love bugs!