Yuxi Day 1
Trip Start Jun 07, 2013
21Trip End Jun 24, 2013
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Ring Ring! - 7.15am and Rocky the Rocky theme is starting to annoy me! I called round the boys to wake them up and there were a lot of sleepy voices on the other end of the phone. Breakfast was at 8am and everyone gathered there at 8am, prompt as usual. Having been at this hotel I knew the breakfast was on a large buffet style one, but Chinese style, with soups and noodles the main dishes on offer. They also have an egg station cooking fresh fried eggs, and there are different fruits in abundance. I was not wrong – it had not changed. Watermelon was the order of the day for the majority of the group and the more adventurous trying some of the Chinese foods on offer. As a European who prides himself as someone who really enjoys taking part in the full cultural experience of the country I am in, I really find it difficult to eat hot noodle soup and hot orange juice for breakfast
We finished breakfast and met down stairs at 8.40am to be picked up by the bus to take us to No3 Middle School. This is the bit I have been looking forward to, meeting the pupils in the classroom and interacting with them. Quingli (pronounced Ching-lee) met us at the hotel and we headed to the school. When we arrived the large screen welcomed Bo'ness Academy to No3 Middle School and we were greeted by the head teacher. As we assembled it was time for the official photo shoot. I tried to hide at the back as I look like Man Mountain beside the smaller Chinese! However, I got dragged to the front but managed to sneak back round before they took it – It is the best part of being the photographer – I don’t need to be in them! By the way, the new head teacher is the man standing next to Mrs Thomson, Mr Xue (pronounced Shoo).
After the photo’s – Quingli took us on a tour of the school – It was great to see the excitement of the Chinese pupils when we walked by their classrooms. We really did cause quite a commotion! It was also interesting to see that they have a large swimming pool but they cannot fill it as there has been a drought for the past 4 years and it would be too expensive for the water
We were split into two groups and each visited two classes, a Senior 1 class and a Senior 2 English class. I went to the senior 2 class with half the group. The first thing that really hits home when you walk in is the amount of pupils in the class. 58 pupils all with their books in front of them in two large piles as the teachers come to them, they don’t move from class to class. When we got there the class was so excited to see us and it really was a genuine warmness mixed with curiosity. We sat at the back of the class as there was not much room between the rows of seats. The English teacher did a brief intro to the Beijing Opera, I think for our benefit. I reckon it must be really nerve racking for a Chinese teacher of English having 2 teachers in her class, but her English was really good. They students then did an exercise where they had to put in order a series of 8 cards about how to make a proper cup of tea. There was not much opportunity or room for the group to interact but Lynsey volunteered to be our spokesperson and wrote our groups order on the board. Thank goodness we were right and the teacher had the same order as us – now that would have been embarrassing had we got it wrong! After the lesson we moved to a central courtyard and had a break. During our time outside we were able to see that there was an assembly being held on the sports field with every student lined up in neat rows, standing to attention, listening to the head teacher.
We then moved to the Senior 2 class which was quite different. Firstly we learned a song in Chinese and then the teacher asked if one of our group could lead the class in a lesson on grammar, model verbs to be exact. Lynsey rose to the challenge again and stood like a teacher in front of a class of 65 pupils
After the classes we were taken to one of the school dining halls and were given a buffet style lunch – these types of lunch/dinner are the best for the group as they can pick and choose what they like and sample a tiny amount of new foods. I have put a couple of picture up of the lunch. After lunch we headed back to the hotel for 2 hours and when we got back everyone had to practice their dances and song for the afternoon’s activities – they then headed to their rooms for an afternoon siesta
We were picked up by the bus at 2pm and headed back to the school. We were then taken to their large games hall and shown to our seats by teachers and pupils. The senior 1 & Senior 2 class we had been in were there along with some other students so the hall was quite full, close on 200 people.
Mr Xue, the Head Teacher gave a welcome speech translated by Quingli, which reflected on building the partnership more and saying we were always welcome to his school. Mrs Bryce then stood up to rapturous applause and cheers from the Bo’ness contingency to give her speech. She thanked Mr Xue for his hospitality and welcoming us into his school. We then exchanged gifts and sat back down to watch some performances of dancing and singing by the Yuxi students. Our group then had their chance to show off their talents. Lynsey yet again offered to be the spokesperson for our group and introduced what we were doing. We first did a traditional Scottish dance and then sang Flower of Scotland. Lynsey then invited the group down to take part and each one of our group went into the audience to choose a partner. Lynsey then took the whole group through the moves first and off they set dancing their wee hearts out. It was a brilliant atmosphere with everyone having great fun
Lynsey then gave the CD to the school and Quingli translated that it was music from her mother’s band. Well done again Lynsey, if ever there was a day you grew in confidence it was today! – you did yourself and the school proud. It was then time for more photos with the students. It was funny to see the girls run to get their photos taken with the boys and seeing them overwhelmed with all the attention they were getting.
After the performances the boys were challenged to a game of basketball by the seniors and they were well up for it. The teachers were invited to the teachers’ lounge for tea and a chat. From what I heard, the basketball match was exciting with our boys holding their own and not being beaten by too much. In the teachers’ lounge, Yuxi staff told us that the lounge had only just opened and was a new initiative by Mr Xue, the Head Teacher. He had created this lovely relaxing area with two tea tables for staff to sit around and chat when they did not have classes and drink free tea. He had even employed someone to make the tea. However, this was no 'tea lady’
We all met at the dining room for dinner which again was a buffet style one again, with different foods from lunch-time. Favourite of this meal for the group was barbequed ham and chicken wings! At one point Mrs Bryce had chosen a dish that she did not like so I suggested she get rid of the plate, take another and start again – which she did. Moments later I went up to get some more rice and a lovely sweet and sour dish they had, putting the bones and bits I did not want in the plate that Mrs Bryce had left. After a few minutes Quingli piped up – ‘who’s plate it this?’ holding up the offending plate – deadly silence prevailed until Mrs Bryce raised her hand like a scorned child admitting it was her plate. Quingli then gave her it back but by this time others in the room had seemed to have the same idea as me putting items they could not eat in the bowl. So by the time Quingli handed it back to Mrs Bryce there was twice the amount of food in it. Her face was a picture and the whole table bust out laughing – I had tears running down my face – it really was one of those moments that you needed to have been there but nonetheless, really funny.
After dinner we were taken by bus to Nieer Square, to experience some Chinese cultural night life. As we walked through you begin to realize just how big park life is for Chinese people and families. The place was really busy with people walking, dancing and practicing Tia Chi. As we walked through the park we were clearly an unusual spectacle – 17 Scottish people walking in a group – it is kind of hard to blend in
As a 6ft 2inch 20 stone man walking about with what my daughter calls my ‘cowboy hat’ I do kind of stick out in these situations more than the average person. It is clear that small kids either like how I look or are terrified by the beard and hat ! However, I also seem to attract small old men who would like their picture taken with me. At most they are about 5 feet tall, rarely have teeth, and look like they have spent a large amount of their life drinking! They are always lovely and this time one of the Yuxi students was there to translate for me. It is a really enjoyable experience and a funny one too. Our group took part in dancing and Tai Chi and whenever they stopped to dance it drew huge crowds of on-lookers. At the end of the night we took the compulsory group photo and we then invited on-lookers to join in on the photo – they just kept coming, I think there must have been close on 100 people in the last photo that was taken.
We then headed back to the hotel and everyone was saying it was the best day of the trip so far. I am sure when they are home it is these kind of days that they will talk about the most. Off to bed now as we have a 7.15am early rise again before we head to Fujian Lake for a day – More on that later. I’ve uploaded some pictures for you to look at. I’m gathering up more blogs form your children and I will post them soon – keep the comments coming as I do know they are seeing them