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October 19, 2011

Xichong

Three students are here in Xichong, less than an hour’s drive north of Nanchong.  In 2008, SSTers also taught in Xichong but at a different school than where we are this year.

October 19, 2011

Yilong

Six students moved here on Saturday.  This is the first time we have had students at Yilong and school officials welcomed us warmly.  A long and winding road took us into increasingly hilly country northeast of Nanchong.  Enroute we passed through the new population center being created for Yilong County at a lower elevation.  We still had about 30 km to go before reaching the original population center where our school’s campus is located.

October 19, 2011

Off to service

On the weekend of Oct. 15 & 16, students traveled to their new service locations. All are now safely at the places that will be “home” until Nov. 20. The group is divided among four “middle schools” (grades 7-12) across the northern part of Nanchong prefecture. Here are a few pictures from our Nanchong departure. We will post separate blog entries to group pictures from each of the different schools. The setup is slightly different at each school, but all SSTers will be assisting with the English-language instruction in the schools. Many of the new host families are teachers at…

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October 17, 2011

Farewell party

Friday, Oct. 14.  Language exam is over.  We spent all- day at Sea Turtle Center getting ready to enter Chinese middle school (grades 7-12) classrooms to teach English.  Can we transform our careless “Whaddya wanna do” to more careful “What do you want to do”?  What kind of activities can we devise to keep our students focused on learning?  Interspersed with sessions of the language-teaching workshop were periods of planning and practice for the evening farewell party. At 4 p.m. we headed over to a nearby hotel to set up the room for the farewell party.  We lugged cookies, cake,…

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October 17, 2011

Our final week of classes in Nanchong ranged from Chinese demographics, to traditional medicine, music and calligraphy.  During the afternoons we continued reviewing for our Thursday language exam.  Although we took no pictures at the lecture on traditional medicine, it was one of the most interesting lectures we have had.  Professor Zhou gave good information about both the history of medical practices and current research into the underlying science. The music lecture introduced us to the range of wind, string (bowed & plucked) and percussion instruments used in China.  Able performers demonstrated the beauty of many instruments and helped us…

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October 11, 2011

On Oct. 6, we undertook a miscellany of cultural activities in Nanchong.  Andrew S.’s host brother met us in Beihu park for some very public tai ji.  Not only was the China West student film crew back with us, but a good-sized crowd of morning park visitors surrounded us as well.  Some of the onlookers offered enhancements to what we were doing.  Two men wanted to demonstrate how to transfer the force from another person through their  bodies to the ground.  To do this they asked first one, then two students from our group to try to push them over….

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October 11, 2011

Another day, another trip:  Oct. 5 found us headed to Jincheng Mountain.  We wound along through many small villages and farm compounds.  Every once in a while we would pass a concentration of new homes being built—evidence of China’s efforts to “build a new countryside”.  The narrow roads and switchback curves, gave us lots of opportunities to witness how to handle a bus when encountering pedestrians, motorbikes, cars, and buses coming from the other direction. Once on top, we broke into groups of 3 or 4 and were handed compasses and hand-drawn maps with different points of interest circled.  We…

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October 11, 2011

Deng Xiaoping

On Oct. 4, we took a day trip east to Guang’an, the birthplace of influential Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping (1904-1997) who led China into the era of “Reform and Opening”. The China we are visiting today might look very different had Deng not charted the course he did.  A large park built on the site of Deng’s home village includes his parents’ home and a major museum dedicated to Deng’s life and accomplishments. The museum’s roof lines, three descending and three ascending (not all visible in our photo) supposedly represent the three major setbacks and three recoveries in Deng’s political…

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October 10, 2011

Langzhong

On Oct. 2 we boarded a bus for a 2 ½ hour trip to Langzhong. In existence for more than two millennia, the small city has a picturesque, preserved/restored old quarter that attracts many visitors. The city is deemed to have an ideal feng shui location, nestled inside a meander of the Jialing River and with mountains and propitious stone formations surrounding it at four compass points. We had a nice meal before checking into our overnight lodging, an old wharf building. We joined the throngs of other visitors strolling about in a light rain to climb various towers, visit…

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October 1, 2011

Taiji

This week we’ll document Monday’s introduction to taiji, a form of exercise that many Chinese people engage in regularly. Passing through parks or other public spaces, our morning landscape is populated with groups or individuals moving through one of several popular series of motions generally described as taiji. Many practice this for its health and stress-reduction benefits. Others concentrate on its longer historical association with the martial arts. We had an excellent teacher who guided us through initial stretching exercises. Then, very patiently, she helped us through a series of 24 movements that constitute one of the most widely-practiced forms…

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