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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
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In Jining, the program begins

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The long story is below, but here are photos of the guest house where each one has his or her own room. It isn't air conditioned, but they requested and received floor fans. The temperature in Jining is warm, but very dry, so it isn't as hot as if it were humid, as is Nanjing. Jill and David are shown in the very nice reception room attached to Jill's bedroom, giving them a suite in which to do their planning.

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On our first day in Jining, the group met with school officials, toured the school (front shown above), found the restaurant where they will eat all their meals, bought some supplies at an office supply store and print shop, and bought bananas from a cart at the train station.

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The classrooms were fine; the most important thing was that the desks and chairs are movable. In many Chinese classrooms, they are bolted to the floor. Oral English classes do better with movable furniture. The opening ceremony was held on Tuesday morning, where Jill gave a speech. She did very well. The young man sitting at the end of the row is "Ant;" his British foreign teacher thought that because his Chinese name sounded something like the Chinese word for the insect, that it would be a good English name. He is the group's guide, translator, and all-around helper. He is staying at the same guest house, eats with them, and accompanies them wherever they go. He is a very nice young man who just graduated from the local college as an English major. He will go on to Tianjin next fall for further studies.

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On Tuesday afternoon, they interviewed each student for placement. My job was to help the students waiting to be interviewed to choose an English name and to chat with them while they waited for their turn. Below are street scenes from near their guest house. I think Chinese street scenes and markets are endlessly fascinating. What you see here is an intersection which they must cross getting to and from the restaurant. Men attend their three-wheeled vehicles, some pedaled, others motor powered (there are also mule carts) waiting for someone to hire them to move something; to the south is a street market that in the mornings, takes the whole street. In the market, you can buy breakfast, other cooked  food, fruit, clothes, and almost any article you need for daily use.

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(this report was written the evening of July 9)

We left from the Hilton Hotel in Nanjing on Sunday, July 7 about 10:30 in the morning. We had no problems at the Nanjing airport and arrived in Beijing on time at about 2:30 . We had to retrieve our bags and go through the check-in procedure again in order to go to our next stop, which was to be Hohhot , the capital of Inner Mongolia . That plane was to leave at 4:20 and arrive at 5:30 . When we got down to the gate, we learned that the plane was delayed coming from Hohhot and the estimated time of departure was 7:30 p.m. Soon, we were taken to a hotel to wait. The interesting thing about Chinese airports, even in Beijing , is that when things are normal, there is English, but when things go wrong, it's all Chinese, and while you would eventually find out that your plane wasn't going and that you had missed the bus to the hotel, it was easier to be able to read and hear Chinese.

The hotel was nice; we three women had a room and the two men had a room. They fed us a nice supper and about 7:30 we were taken back to the airport. We left about 8:30 and arrived about 9:30 . Unfortunately, I missed my friend John Close who was to meet us. And, the poor people from Jining probably had to wait all that time, unless they had learned ahead of time that the plane was delayed.

By the time we got to our local site, it was after midnight . The little hotel where we are staying in Jining, is very nice. They have rooms on the first floor; one of them has a large sitting room as part of a suite, so they can have meetings in there. The bathrooms are large; the showers are what I call Chinese shower, which means that there is no tub or retaining lip to keep the water from spreading all over the floor. But, each room has its own hot water heater and hot water is freely available 24 hours a day, which is not the case in many Chinese hotels. I got to bed about 2 a.m. I washed the clothes I had worn that day so they would have plenty of time to dry.

Today has been a day to get oriented and a little settled. They will eat at a restaurant fairly near their hotel. This morning we had a sort of hamburger, but it was good. Maybe in the future there will be more typical Chinese fare. We did have boiled eggs. After breakfast, we went to the school building where they will teach. Supposedly it is only about 15 minutes away by foot, but it was quite a long distance by van, due to road construction, which was terrible. The school itself is on a road that is now only dirt. Someday, no doubt, a proper road will be restored.

The school building is fine. The college students haven't quite finished, so there were many students standing around, talking and joking wth each other. A number of English majors enjoyed talking to our teachers, who found that if they would just stand still, students would come talk to them. I think today was one of the last days before they go home for the summer. We learned that the college as about 4,000 students and is building a new campus, which will be larger and nicer.

Their classrooms are on the first floor, which is very nice. The desks and stools are movable, which is especially important for oral English activities. We had a meeting with the an official at the school and discussed a number of issues related to the teaching program. People seem to be very amenable. Remember, that the students for this program are junior high and senior high English teachers, not regular students at this college. Our students will be coming from small towns and villages from outside the city, though some may be local. There are to be about 100 students. The program will begin tomorrow.

We asked to be taken to an office supply store, where they bought some supplies. To do so, we had to pass a school where the college entrance examination was being given. There were clusters of parents gathered around the gate up and down the street for about 100 feet, waiting nervously for their children to come out, maybe for lunch. This goes on for three days. This exam will detemine whether or not their child will be able to go to a four-year college, or a lower one, or be able to go at all. Things are more flexible now than ever before, but it is still a very serious matter. It will have a direct bearing on the rest of their lives, so you can imagine the pressure on these young people.

We went to the train station where I got a ticket to go to Hohhot tomorrow afternoon. When there, I hope to be able to find a way to go see the grasslands, for which Inner Mongolia is so famous.

Lunch was Chinese food, very delicious, but there was too much of it. I was glad that most of the leftovers were taken by the local hosts. We all took a good nap after lunch. The heat here saps your energy and a nap is fairly important. They had a planning meeting after that and I went out looking for a copy shop. I finally found one and made a copy of Jill's speech for tomorrow's opening ceremony so that the young man who must translate it can prepare for that.

Their hotel is in the midst of a thriving and bustling small business district. There are restaurants and shops up and down the streets, going in four directions. They can take a city bus directly to the main business district, so I think when they get settled, they will be able to get around very well.