Zigen Rural English Teacher Training Program, Huangping County, July 2012

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July 23rd 2012
Published: July 23rd 2012
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Today is the first day of the second week of the training program. We have a wonderful group of teachers this year who have been quite patient given the circumstances. Our materials did not arrive until thursday last week so we have been trying to piece together a program of study for this these teachers with some chapters from a teacher training workbook and some lessons and materials downloaded from the Internet. It was not exactly easy putting all this together but since the materials have arrived it's been easier to draw from some of the exercises to present new ideas for activiites. Unfortunately the program is only 2 weeks long this year instead of 4 so we will not be able to achieve all that we were able to do in the past 2 summers.

I'm afraid that the model lessons will not be possible this year. No time.

The local Education Bureau has put us up this year in a hotel in downtown Huangping County. The hotel is supposed to be the best in the county but we were spoiled last year when we were placed in a government hotel. There was a lot of light in that room and that is very important to me. This year I am facing a wall.

The weather has also been challenging. Last week the first 4 days it rained without stopping. We are in a monsoon of sorts. The weekend we got a break from the rain but today Monday morning, it began again and it poured at lunchtime -- rained cats and dogs.

this past weekend we took a trip out of the city to LongDongHotSprings...a natural hot springs in the mountains about 40 kilometers outside of Huangping County. ONe of the students called Mountain is actually from the villagge and has a car and he and another student drove us up to the hot springs and we had dinner at his brother's and then checked into the spa/hotel resort. The view was magnificent and the rooms were quite nice, complete with internet, which is always a plus in in order to get some work done.

It's late tonight, July 23rd into July 24th. It's been a long day but I feel that I should write something about what's been happening. I have been so non-reflective since I arrived, almost in a daze.

I arrived in China on July 15, 2012, on a flight from NYC to Guangzhou connecting to Guiyang. Mr. Xiao Ni met me in Guiyang and we took a bus to Kaili and from there we drove to HuangPing County where the program is taking place. I made a big mistake -- I told Mr. Ni that I would be arriving on July 14, thinking that China is behind NYC but actually NYC is behind China and I arrived on July 15th instead of July 14th. Unfortunately someone waited about 2 hours for me. I am very sorry.

We are staying in a hotel in downtown Huangping County. This is a county, not a city as they explained. A county is formed of smaller townships or neighborhoods, perhaps...it's smaller or a different zone than a city, which is somehow larger. Yoyo tried to explain it but I'm still not sure. I seem to be in a fog about what is going on, most of the time. This year there are several young people and most of them speak Chinese (Im the only one who doesn't since Judy understands a great deal): Yoyo, Wenxin, Zoe, Jeremy, Emily He, Judy, and me. Emily was raised in Boston and is currently living in Beijing. She's going to start an international development master's program in September in Beijing. That's the university that I visited Tsing Hwa in summer 2010 with my student and her sister. Emily's been my assistant and she's quite remarkable as a young person -- very attentive and very dynamic. (She's also a dragon). Zoe is the granddaughter of Pat Wang, the president of Zigen, and she currently lives in Singapore. She is a senior in high school but has a certificate in teaching ESL and taught EFL for 1 week in Cambodia last year so she has some experience. Emily has also been teaching EFL in Beijing this past year. Yoyo has taught Chinese/Mandarin to foreigners for a few years now and she was one of the teachers last year in Linxian. She was introduced to the program through Colin who taught with us for 2 weeks last summer. Since then Yoyo left EF the franchise private school and is teaching somewhere else (not sure where). Wenxin the niece of the Chinese poet that lived with Judy for 6 years is back with us this year...she's our office assistant and handles the food, the xerox copies, the money, and the supplies....she just finished her first year at college and her English seems to have improved. Jeremy was here for the first week but left esterday...he's on his way back to Hong Kong where his family lives and then back to Choate -- he's in his senior year in high school and making applicaitons to college.

We are currently planning our trips after the program ends this weekend. We will go first on a day trip up to the Wuyonghu River/lake. We thought at first we would go on the river rafting but it has been raining here for almost every day over the past week so the river may be quite rough and not safe. If we don't go rafting we'll visit the lake. On Sunday 7/29 we'll go to Majiang, a Miao village -- the Miao are an ethnic minority that has a very strongly define culture, dress, etc. Hopefully we'll stay the night there and on 7/30 go on to Kaili where there is an ethnic minority museum, a part with a Dong tower, and we're hoping to stay at the Petroleum Hotel. After Kaili, we'll stop in Xijiang and stay at the Ukea Inn where they have a sit down toilet. Apparently Xijiang has become quite commercial and filled with tourists who are seeking to visit a Miao village but according to Mr. Ni, it's worth the visit. On 8/1 we're headed to Leisha where Judy taught the first couple of years of the program. She loves that town -- beautiful rice terraces and mountains and lush scenery and she still has connections there -- former students. We hope to take a bus to Anshun on 8/2. Anshun is 2 hours from Guiyang, which we'll have to pass through to get there. From Ancun we'll visit the largest waterfall Huang guishu falls, Long gong caves, and Zhijin cave before taking a bus to Guiyang on 8/5 to catch a flight ot nanning on 8/6 via China Southern Airlines. We'll visit Sally who was an assistant last year. She is from Guanxi Province and will meet us in Nanning.

This is the plan.


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