Monday, July 11, 2005

The last five days, the time that has elapsed between my last post and this one, have been quite busy for me and I've been neglecting you. Without further delay...

School's EntranceLast Thursday, a day in which I didn't have to teach but had to go to school as a chaperone, our 3rd and 4th grade students took a field trip to an elementary school in a mountain valley outside of Beijing, which I mentioned in my previous post. After a two-hour bus ride through beautiful Badalin with The Great Wall snaking along the highway with us, we pulled the buses over and got out to walk to the school. We walked perhaps a half mile along a dirt road through the village, past farm animals such as sheep and pigs, to reach the school. You can see the entrance of the school in this picture.

Color Guard Raising the FlagWe assembled in a brick-walled (all of the buildings were made of red brick) field behind the school for a flag-raising ceremony, two rusted and bent soccer goals framing the scene. There was a good deal of excitement and most of the students from the school we were visiting were curious about us foreign teachers and stared or smiled at us. Our students were quite shocked at the conditions, which were quite different than those of our school, and I asked some of them if they would want to attend a school like this. Most of them answered with looks of fear or by shaking their heads in the negative.

The students from both schools gathered together in front of a stage, on which all of our foreign teachers were seated, along with, perhaps, the school's principal. We'd come bearing gifts and were additionally making a donation to the school so there was occasion for formality. All of the foreign teachers were introduced and we greeted everyone. Many Chinese speeches followed, none of which I could understand, obviously. While people were talking, I looked around and noticed many gawkers sitting and watching on the wall around the school. This was a big event.

Two SchoolsOnce the ceremony ended, and it wasn't long, we dispersed to the classrooms to participate in what could be considered a talent show. Many students performed songs or dances, and I taught an impromptu English lesson. Their students had given up their desks for our students and I could tell that our students felt honored by the gesture. Following the presentations, we took a tour of the school before saying goodbye and returning to our buses for lunch and the long trip back to Beijing. I believe everyone had fun and most of us learned something, too! To view a number of other pictures from this day, click here.

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