Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Weekend Update from China

Friday, March 7 – It's Friday evening and we are all tired - it's been a full week without (it seems) a moment to rest. Today we continued our meetings with students in Grades 7 and 8 - a Q&A format in small groups after having shown our Nativity video. The sessions end with "group reports on what we learned about America/China" and the Kung Fu video produced by the 8th grade group for the Lasagna Film Festival. We visited a "traditional Chinese painting class" - much different than the process Mrs. Burger with much less creativity. Perhaps that's not the point when learning traditional Chinese painting. What we don't see is student art displayed - but in all fairness there is not good way to do that. All the corridors are outside. Anything displayed would have to be under glass for it to last. This afternoon we visited a shop class were students cut designs from balsa wood (e.g., swan, rooster, etc.) using a saw made for kids. No safety issues here at all. We followed that with a visit to a traditional Chinese music class were students had the opportunity to play a Chinese version of an auto harp / table harp. Beautiful instruments with a great sound. We ended the class visits with the "Chinese pronunciation class" and tried to say a Chinese tongue twister. The Chinese students attempted "How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood" and "Sally sells seashells ...." Lots of laughter all around. We ended the day with a Team USA Meeting before breaking for the weekend - reminding students to save money for Shanghai, do some final taping at home for the documentary video, etc. Crunch time begins Monday for the video. Now is the time to start putting the content together into a video we plan to show the Long Cheng students Friday afternoon and the host families Friday evening at the Farewell Party. Students will be working with Ed in groups of 2 to edit the final version. Andy and I have been asked to teach a lesson to the Nativity students so the Chinese teachers could observe how classes are taught in the USA / at Nativity. They are very interested in the methods we use with a class of +/- 22 vs. their classes of 50 or more. Andy will teach a lesson on the writing process; I'll teach one on an overview of Chinese history. The principal will free as many teachers as possible to observe the class - not just the teachers of English. Jillian will translate / summarize at the end. It should be a lot of fun. The weather has turned and is just a bit colder - good sweatshirt / sweater weather - after a light shower today. Tomorrow some families are going hiking in the mountains; there is talk of a picnic on Sunday. We'll see how plans evolve / shape up. Nancy should be getting in touch with you to confirm your intent to host a Chinese student. We need to find an American host family for the student hosting Ed and the student hosting Andy. My student is not coming. The Chinese principal and vice principal are coming but do not speak English. An English speaking tour guide will accompany them. Jillian will be the 4th and there to interpret for one of the administrators. So, we need a family that can host 2 adults one of whom speaks English. Reminder: the visit of the Finns overlaps with the visit of the Chinese. We'll have for about10 days a three nation summit and will plan activities that will involve the students from all three nations. It's something we'll never forget! Sunday, March 9 – Not much news to report this Sunday evening. There was no whole group activity scheduled. We'll get a report tomorrow (Monday morning) on the weekend's activities. It tried to rain today but only managed to drizzle a bit. Crunch time begins tomorrow with the need to finish the video by Friday noon. Students will be working with Ed individually or in small groups to edit, etc. In two groups we will be visiting classrooms and distributing the "Friendship Journey" pencils we brought. Time is flying by - it's hard to believe that our trip is over half over. Monday, March 10— Weekend activities included hiking in the mountains / local park, picnic for many / most students. Monday we broke into two groups and visited English classes to observe and then interact with students. Went very well. The afternoon we were scheduled to go to the museum but it was closed. Plan B was a trip to the "souvenir flea market" - seemed like a thousand stalls in a huge building that sold anything you could think of. Many gifts for family and friends were purchased. Monday evening everyone - host families, many teachers, etc went on a boat ride on the river - beautiful evening! Back in class today.

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