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Published: December 28th 2011
My legs ache with a dull and heavy throb. My ears buzz with the echoing sound of 240 excited students. Today was the Autumn School Trip. I am officially exhausted, not one drop of energy is left in body.
We walked from school about 7km to a new park on the far side of the city. The children following their class flags. Although it was not so much walking as running and by the time we got there I already had enough and wanted to sleep. Then the students gathered in their classes and performed for each other; comedy routines, circus tricks, singing and dancing. The day was grey but the children brought an excited light to park. Passersby stopped and smiled watching them play.
Lunch brought oily vegetables and tough meat , one reason I'd stopped eating at the school cafeteria, but it was warm and we were hungry. After lunch I walked with a small group of students around the lake and they asked me innumberable questions; what music do I like? What sports do I like? How long have I been in China? Do I have a boyfriend, a husband, children?
We posed for photos
together on the bridges, in pagodas by the last blooms of the year. It was a peaceful and relaxing wander through the park. Of course I knew not what was to come!
Then the call came and we gathered our things and began the long climb up the hillside. The students formed a giant human snake slithering its way steadily up the steps towards the temple. Many of the boys racing eachother, the girls arm in arm whispering encouragement. A few groups of students were counting the steps.
I was amongst the first at the top and I watched red faced and breathless as they arrived cheering or hunting for a place to sit. It had taken a good 30 minutes at an incline I can only describe as "urgh no more" and we were all tired.
At the top I could imagine the views of the city were beautiful on clear days but today it seemed smothered by a cool grey fog, only the dirty yellow river surrounded by a few high rises was visible in the distance.
Then a group of boys from class one grabbed and took me to explore, explaining everything to
me as we went and again asking me questions about England, music, China etc.
It was a long day but spending it with the students made it all seem worth getting to know their characters out of the classroom. The bravest daring to talk to me and the smartest recording our conversations, the class clowns waving and pulling faces for the camera.
Enjoy the photos!
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