Back to School, Monday April 16th: We arrived this morning to see 1200 students, plus our 18, at morning announcements on the blacktop. As they followed their classmates, in step, we distributed the usual Pepto, allergy medications, and said our hellos. Itching is our new “ailment” for a few. The teachers were able to observe some classes as the children went through their daily routine. After two days of sightseeing I am sure a “normal” day felt good, even though our exploring days are wonderful and well received.
The sun tried to peek through today! We haven’t seen the sun since the afternoon arrival in Beijing, but the weather has been somewhat warm with a few sprinkles here and there.
The ISTP teachers were invited to a tea with the Hangzhou 5th grade teachers. Having afternoon tea is quite different from the states. It was an array of fruits, nuts, and noodles. Divine. It was dinner. It was a tea time that lasted about two hours or more with constant little plates coming forward and flowery teas being poured. We ate some unusual fruits, all very tasty, some more difficult to get the reward inside than others. Hopefully the children are experiencing these wonderful foods in their host families. Our contingent of four went to visit Catrina and Victoria’s host family after “tea”.
This particular host family lived in a high-rise apartment building in the school neighborhood, as do many of the families attending the school. We were greeted by a one-year old black poodle who spoke English… tongue licking, tail wagging; it’s universal! We were supplied various slippers to put on as we came in the door. We learned that most families have one child. There are activities after school and then homework for about two hours. Many children take more activities on the weekend such as this host student. The families have washing machines, but no dryers. Clothes are hung outside here in Hangzhou. The family gave us more tea, and we waddled out of there about an hour later.
The school neighborhood is in a maze of apartment buildings. There’s little parking on the narrow streets, but I noticed a huge underground parking area for the apartments. The streets are wide enough for one car or one motorcycle and pedestrians. Cars, not pedestrians, have the right of way. Many people are out and about at night- young and old. It seems like a very safe, friendly neighborhood. Closer to the school are open air markets, fruit and vegetable stores , restaurants, tea rooms, and of course, a pharmacy (to purchase bug spray). At the entrance of the school there is a pull-in minute-or-two parking spot to unload, maybe for two cars, and there is a manned security booth. At the entrance to the road itself there is another security guard and motorized passage is limited. Our hotel, for the teachers, is a couple of blocks from the street entrance.
Back to School Tuesday, April 17, 2012: It is fairly amazing to me that on a campus of 1200 children, our little group of eighteen always seems to know when we are around and where we can be located. It’s not as if we are trying to hide, we are looking for them, but it is interesting that in such a populated school that we do find each other easily. We saw the children at morning announcements, watched the children do morning exercises, well, some of them, watched some tai chi, some gymnastics, and later the children were doing some paper-cutting. The children are, of course, also in Chinese class as well as other activities depending on the day. The morning starts at 8:10, but it is not until 8:40 that the first classroom class takes place.
Tomorrow Carol and I will be teaching an English class, first class at 8:40, with some translation help from Cindy. It will be our last day in Hangzhou as Thursday morning we leave for Shanghai.