Our National Week field trip just completed, we began the final week of classes with two big events quickly approaching – a thank you party for our host families on Thursday evening, and the departure on Saturday for teaching internships.

Afternoon sessions included an extra group meeting to prepare for teaching, and talks on the structure and philosophy of the Chinese Community Party and the development of modern technology in China. On Thursday afternoon we met with a professor of English to discuss teaching methods. Concepts such as deductive and inductive presentation methods, guided discovery, mechanical vs. meaningful practice, and production of knowledge filled our notebooks.

Thursday night’s family thank you party featured speeches by Amy, Skye, Andrew N, and Matthew, a game that had families guessing which unusual fact matched each student, the group singing Praise God from whom all blessings flow, and a performance of the fan dance we learned earlier this term.

Friday brought language class final exams, a group lunch and final meeting, and a lecture on traditional musical instruments. Music professors and students arrived to our classroom with numerous instruments in hand – the pipa, guzheng, dizi, erhu, guqin, xiao, suona, yangqin and more. We heard wonderful demonstrations and enjoyed time to try these historic instruments ourselves.

On Saturday at 8 a.m. Goshen SSTers met at new campus to leave for service. It was a rainy goodbye at the main gate as students were quickly ushered into cars to stay dry and promptly depart. Sadly, we were missing one student at the sendoff because Christian broke his ankle Friday evening. He is staying in Nanchong with us as he awaits surgery and recovery before joining his group in Guang’an. Sometimes we learn about things we did not anticipate; the medical care system in China and a crash course in orthopedics are among these new areas of study for Christian and his unit leaders. We are grateful for expertise and care in China and back home to help us meet this challenge.

The service portion of China Study-Service Term has each SSTer teaching English in a middle or high school. As Goshen English professor and former China SST leader Skip Barnett told us last May term in a preparation session, SSTers have a real job to do in these internships. They will have demanding schedules and manage large classrooms. Our group of 15 became three groups of 4-6 relocated to three smaller cities within Nanchong county: Guang’an to the southeast, and Yilong and Langzhong to the northeast. Each group was accompanied by a staff person from China West Normal University’s Foreign Affairs Office, who helped them get settled with their new host families (see Mia above with one of the five-month old twins in her Guang’an home) and meet personnel from their schools. This transition is one that requires great adaptability and a confident spirit as students learn about the new environments and teaching assignments. We’re proud of our group of strong adapters!

Here in Nanchong we look forward to visiting the students a couple times during the next five weeks, to catching up on administrative work for the SST program, and to preparing our final big field trip at the end of the term to Chengdu, Xian, and Beijing.