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.
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.
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.
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.
(this report was written the
evening of July 9)
We left from the Hilton Hotel
on Sunday, July 7 about
in the morning. We had no problems at the
airport and arrived in
on time at about
. 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
, the capital of
. That plane was to leave at
and arrive at
. When we got down to the gate, we learned that the plane was delayed
and the estimated time of departure was
Soon, we were taken to a hotel to wait. The interesting thing about
Chinese airports, even in
, 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
we were taken back to the airport. We left about
and arrived about
. 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
. 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
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
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
tomorrow afternoon. When there, I hope to be able to find a way to go see
the grasslands, for which
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
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.