My Second Tour in China: 2010

For the last 15 months, I’ve lived a fairly normal life here at home although I’ve maintained my interest in China through continuing Mandarin lessons (weekly lessons from my good friend Yi Hao) and by continuing to serve as webmaster for my friend Jessie’s volunteer teaching company in Shanghai. Since Feb, 2009, I’ve also enjoyed teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) at The Connection in Summit. It’s been great fun to spend a few hours a week with wonderful people from places like Brazil, Mexico, Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, Peru, Ecuador and Bosnia – I get the chance to learn more about their countries and cultures and they are so appreciative of the help we give them.  My teaching skills have slowly improved as I become more knowledgeable about why English is difficult. Some of the students I have taught appear in the adjacent photo, which was taken during a Spring outing to the Summit Arboretum. I’ve also been able to use a little Mandarin to help teach a Chinese student from Tianjin who is just starting to learn English – it’s really exciting when she’s able to understand something I say in Mandarin 🙂

I’m happy to say that I will be going back to China to volunteer again in March. This time I will spend the first month teaching at a middle school in Mianyang, Sichuan province. This was actually my first choice destination in 2008, but because of the terrible earthquake that occurred only a few months before my trip, I opted instead for the assignment in Shanghai – which, as you know, turned out to be wonderful!   Mianyang suffered little damage in the quake but became the relief center for refugees from nearby villages and schools which were totally destroyed. Many students from those areas go to school in Mianyang now – I understand the typical class size might be as much as 70 students.

During my four weeks teaching in Mianyang I hope to take in the two Panda reserves in the area as well as a scenic mountain known as Emei Shan.  Following my teaching assignment, I will travel south to Yunnan province for a couple of weeks to explore some of the beautiful scenery and minority ethnic cultures of the area near the border of Myanmar, Vietnam, and Tibet.  I look forward to that for several reasons, one of which is it will be a challenge for my ability to communicate in Mandarin. Actually, it’s a popular tourist area so I can probably get by with just English – still I hope to talk to people who don’t speak English. 

After the Yunnan trip, I’ll return to Shanghai and go back to teach again at the primary school on ChangXing Island for 4 weeks. It will be great to see my dear friends and students again, especially Guoming and Karen, who I have stayed in touch with since leaving.

And, I’m also delighted to announce that Grace will join me in Shanghai at the end of my teaching assignment at ChangXing Primary!  We will spend a week in Shanghai visiting friends such as Jessie and Lisa Wu’s parents. Lisa is a college student who worked for Jessie in Shanghai while I was there in 2008.  She is currently on a one-year foreign-exchange to Northern University in South Dakota.   Lisa and a friend spent the Christmas holidays with us during their holiday breaks and all we had a great time.  Her parents have already bought tickets to EXPO for us – the world’s fair that will be held in Shanghai between May and August.  Actually, Guoming had bought tickets for us about 6 months ago.  We will certainly enjoy the hospitality of these friends!

That’s enough for now – I’ll add more later.

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