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Christmas 2006 (1/07)

Basketballs bounce in Xi'an

Zhangye, a deeper look (7/06)

China comes to Virginia (7/06)

Winter Conference 

Happy Birthday, Amity, 
Part 1

Part 2 (11/05)

Bringing Sunshine,
Part 1

Part 2 (10/05)

Summer 2005: (7/05)

Needed: China volunteers

Bluefield College in China

Lantern Festival (2/05)

Village of God (2/05)

Summer 2004:

FBC Richmond (5/20)

Opposites attract (5/26)

Mission Impossible (5/24)

Rules for a new mother (10/24)

Brocade Museum (10/24)

Barbara Diggs at NIM (4/4)

Fujian Earthen Houses (2/14)

Zhangzhou Puppets (2/14)

Merry Christmas

JIE's 50th Anniversary

Oral English Competition

Sam's Page

Virginia Baptists arrive for 2002 SEP, Shanghai - Nanjing

Part 2: in Jining, the program begins

Inner Mongolia's grasslands

Baotou and Wudang Temple

Abby and Sarah in Xi'an

Discovering the Nestorian Pagoda

Eating Zongzi June, 2002

Mary Washington comes to China, Part 1
Part 2 May/June 2002

Xi'an May 2002
Terracotta soldiers
   The Nestorian tablet





Zhangye, a deeper look

Virginia Baptists sent a team to Gansu Province for the third year in a row: to Lanzhou, the provincial capital, in 2004; to Qingyang, an eastern Gansu city, in 2005; and in 2006, a team of four is serving in western Gansu, in Zhangye (pronounced something like jiahng ye, as in 'yes' without the 's'. for a look at the area, click on 'Summer 2005, Zhangye' on the side panel to the left of this column. Those photos were taken in July, 2005, while on a tour of a section of the old Silk Road. For glimpses into this year's Amity Summer English Program (SEP) in Zhangye, see below.

The 2006 Virginia Baptist team, during the Nanjing orientation: back row, from left: team leader, Laura Nuckles, Lynchburg, and her cousin, living in Mississippi, Carolyn White; front row from left, Kathy Allen, Chesapeake, and Sara Hubble, Bluefield College senior.

From the orientation hotel in Nanjing to getting into assigned flats at He Xi (huh she) University in Zhangye required two flights and an eight-hour van ride, beginning at 10:30, when we left the hotel, until 3 a.m. when we finally got into the flat where the team will live for the three-week program. The van ride was long and bumpy; the highway was never smooth for long and sometimes it disappeared entirely, leaving a roadbed not unlike a frozen sea in a storm. Here, in the Xi'an airport, Sara makes friends with Huan Huan, one of the mascots for the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

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On the left is a portion of the apartment building where the team lives. Laura and Carolyn are on the first floor of one stairwell and Kathy and Sara are on the fifth floor of another stairwell of the same building. On the right is a photo of the most modern building on campus, which is where the classes are being held.

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On Saturday, the group had a chance to be out and about, and everywhere they went, they drew attention. Young people liked to "speak to the foreigners," or at least they were urged to do so by their parents. It was fun for all.

Sunday morning, we attended the worship service of the Protestant Church in Zhangye. They have several worship services on the weekend; we attended the 10 a.m. service, after the earlier service had let out. The colorful wall painting was done by a local Christian. The banner at the top reads "Emmanuel," meaning, according to Scripture, "God with us;" the vertical characters to the left of the cross read, "Hallelujah," and the characters to the right of the cross read, "Jesus has risen." This church follows an old practice of having the men sit on one side of the auditorium and the women on the other. There were a few women at the front of the "men's" section, and the women's section was about twice as large as the men's section, but a large number of men attended.

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To say the group is being well fed, would be an understatement; not only is the food quite good, but it is attractively presented. The restaurant personnel's skills extend beyond cuisine to sculpture with various vegetables. In the photo on the right, we are enjoying a banquet hosted by the president of the university, who speaks excellent English.

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After months of preparation, some days of sightseeing in Beijing, four days of orientation in Nanjing, one day of travel, and two days of getting settled, the Summer English Program got underway, with a speech by the president, a participant, and Laura, each participant was interviewed and placed in a group according to level of oral ability, since the purpose of the program is to help primary school and middle school English teachers improve their oral English.

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The first day of classes included getting acquainted activities and English through music and drama. Each morning, the teachers have three classes, with participants rotating among the teachers; in the afternoons, the activities will be less structured and often with everyone together in the activity, or divided into two halves. While the main focus of the SEP is on oral English development, another important purpose is to model activities that the participants can use with their own students. This is difficult for them to do, given the emphasis in China on examination scores, and on class size averaging 50-60, but the idea is to help them to see ways to make English learning more lively. The photos end on the second day of the program, but each team member will be very happy to speak on her experience, and to show photos for a more indepth understanding of just how meaningful these three weeks were.