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China Comprehensive Survey, Group "B", Summer 2008


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Following is a sample itinerary for Dragons' “China: The Modern Miracle” summer program. Our sample itineraries are based on past courses; in order to meet instructor team goals, as well as the goals and interests of particular student groups, itineraries are subject to change. Please keep an eye on the course's Yak board for additional itinerary-related postings and updates.

Week One:
Fly to Kunming, capital of Yunnan. Spend a week exploring Yunnan, a province that remains dramatically undeveloped and is famous for its biodiversity, ethnic minority cultures and stunning landscapes. Begin daily Mandarin instruction. Select Independent Study Project topics and begin work. Village-to-village trekking; visits to Buddhist monasteries; rugged travel through China’s “Wild West.” Classes with Dragons instructors and guest lecturers on Chinese history, politics and economics, Han/minority relations, rural development issues, environmental issues, Chinese medicine and traditional arts, music and culture.

Weeks Two-Three:
Sichuan and Xian. Rural home-stays with ethnic minority families. Experience the joys and hardships of rural Chinese life while working in the fields alongside home-stay family members, learning to cook traditional dishes and participating in a local festival or celebration. Travel to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province. Visit China’s foremost Giant Panda Breeding Center in Chengdu. Explore Buddhist and Daoist temples and learn about how philosophy and religion have influenced political history and economic development in China. Sample local delicacies such as the famous Sichuan hotpot and sip jasmine tea and traditional-style teahouses. Meet with NGO professionals to learn about development initiatives in China and discuss issues that a rapidly developing China may be ignoring or covering up. Barring government restriction, students will visit communities devastated by the May 12, 2008 Sichuan earthquake and collaborate with a local NGO on a multi-day earthquake-relief service project. Train to Xian. See the famous Terracotta Warriors and Xian’s Great Mosque; explore how the legacy of ancient Chinese history continues to affect politics and economics in modern times. Continue with intensive Mandarin instruction and Independent Study Projects.

Week Four:
Train to Beijing. Continue with Mandarin instruction and independent study work. Explore China’s rapidly developing yet fiercely traditional capital city, where the legacy of China’s ancient past meets the aspirations of a modern superpower. Meet with business professionals, journalists and development workers and learn about the ins and outs of doing business in China’s turbo-charged economy. Attend acrobatic performances or watch a Beijing Opera. Feast on Peking duck and Mongolian hotpot. Hike and camp along a remote section of the Great Wall. Marvel at architectural wonders such as the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, the Temple of Heaven, traditional hutong neighborhoods and the whimsical, ultra-modern structures of the Olympic Village.

Week Five:
Train to Shanghai. Possible stopover at Taishan to climb a sacred mountain at sunrise. Explore this booming, ultra-modern mega-city. Continue meetings with business professionals, journalists, and development workers. Tour factories, ports, and local businesses. Visit cutting-edge art galleries. Explore the colonial-era architecture of the French Concession and The Bund, and learn about the tumultuous relationship between China and the West. Discuss the implications that China’s rapid economic development and status as a rising superpower has for China, the US and the world. Possible visit to a charity school for the children of homeless and impoverished migrant workers. Continue with Mandarin instruction and independent study work.

Week Six:
Train to Guangdong province. Possible stopover in Anhui or Jiangxi to visit a poor, underdeveloped village that supplies the boomtowns of China’s east coast with large quantities of migrant workers. Discuss relevant socio-economic issues. Introduction to the cultural, political and economic differences of China's Cantonese-speaking people, the history of imperialism, and China's opening to the West. Visit the Pearl River Delta region and Special Economic Zones of Guangzhou and Shenzhen where goods are manufactured and shipped to the West. Educational tours of factories and ports. Train to Hong Kong. Discuss China’s "One Country, Two Systems" policy; explore the British legacy by visiting Victoria Peak, Victoria Harbor and the famous Star Ferry; press through the crowds at the Temple Street Night Markets and in hi-tech Mongkok; be overwhelmed at the unbridled conspicuous consumption that makes Hong Kong property the most expensive in the world. Wrap up Mandarin study and present on Independent Study Projects. Final banquet and end-of-program celebration.

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China Comprehensive Survey, Group "B", Summer 2008

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China Modern Miracle: Sample Itinerary

Dragons Administration,China Comprehensive Survey, Group "B", Summer 2008

Description

Following is a sample itinerary for Dragons’ “China: The Modern Miracle” summer program. Our sample itineraries are based on past courses; in order to meet instructor team goals, as well as the goals and interests of particular student groups, itineraries are subject to change. Please keep an eye on the course’s Yak board for additional […]

Posted On

10/15/08

Author

Dragons Administration

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Despite the fact that Justin was horribly terrified that we wouldn't make our bus to Xi Chang, I wasn't surprised that as I skidded through the marbled floor of the station to catch up with him, that the bus and its driver were casually waiting there, not planning on leaving until the vacant 15 spots we would soon fill up, were occupied. That said, I think Justin might have had a hernia if we didn't make it on time, and would have come up with a worse alternative of van-ing it for the 14 something hour drive to Xi Chang. We made it though, and all piled on, sweaty, cramped from running with our lopsided backpacks, and grateful that this was one of the few modes of transportation we've used that didn't risk us losing a seat or two, or that at least half of us had to stand. Unfortunately for us, and me as I had begun to catch a nasty bug, the bus drive turned from a windy roady, to a bus ride easily comparable to a mixture of the bus ride in the movie BABEL, and the shaky rides in Indiana Jones. Thankfully, my stomach and the stomachs of the rest of the Dragons, were sturdy enough to withstand such a ride where we were trying to ignore the jostling by watching the amazing scenery pass. The river we were alongside was one that was to be flooded, wiping out the somewhat prepared and dissheveled village at the base of the valley. It was odd to see the preparation of such destruction that would rush through the road we were taking advantage of, in a short while.

I fell asleep multiple times, and woke up around 8 PM to a dizzy headache and an even more congested nose. While I had avoided sleep the night before by staying awake in Chengdu for as long as possible (and subsequently posting a yak yak, equivalent to an epic poem), my cold had finally caught up to me, and I was left to waddle and sniffle to our broken down, bug-ridded hostel in Xi Chang. I couldn't complain too much though, while everyone else was prepping their smaller bags for our trip the next day and heading out to dinner, I crashed... literally onto the bed and slept in a semi-concious state of runny noses, blowing my boogers out into a diminishing roll of toilet paper, and coughing and wheezing so much that I profusely apologized to Annie the next day who was unlucky enough to have to room with me.

The next day wasn't much better health-wise. I managed to waddle around through the city for breakfast before I fell asleep on a park bench near the lake while the rambuncous boys in the group paid to be stuck in large inflated plastic balls and roll around into eachother beside the lake. Meanwhile, Annie and Andrew had hiked up to our next destination, the not-so-far-away Yi village that would be our home for 3 1/2 days. I opted to head back to the hostel to nap, and slept for the rest of the day until everyone (sans Annie and Andrew) came back and we all headed out to the village.

While our van had taken us up most of the hill, and past a prison which was ironically friendly and waved to us when we'd walk past, we were hardly close to our destination. Sure the hike up the hill and over fairly treacherous rocks might not have been that bad, I personally found it more grueling and disgruntling than our fabled hike up Tai Shan because of my cold. I was not only oozing from my nose and coughing constantly, but now I was physically weak and broiling from the bug. But, nothing was more satifsying than the success we all felt when we plopped down in the main house and met the villagers, brimming with curious excitement to welcome us into their houses.

We were handed off, one by one to families, and I (whom everyone had supposed would be chosen as one of the first because of my blond hair) was the second to last one picked. My family, a sweet girl and a boy whose parents I only really ever met when it was late at night, and I was too unconcious to really recognize them. As the girl led me to their house, I was preparing myself to be led around with her, to be shown her life in the village.. instead, she plopped down on her couch with a shy smile and turned on the tv. I was a little taken aback, and though I appreciated this down-time later when I was feeling crummy, I was surprised at how nice the tvs were. I thought we were in a rural village! It turned out to be in my favor, as while my brother and sister enjoyed the respite from the heat outside, I was able to either cower inside the main house and converse with Annie, or I tromped through the rice patties with Emma and Sam... while occasionally falling into the gloppy mud clumsily. All three of us couldn't avoid the mud and the scrapes from our adventure through the rice fields. Emma and I located wild strawberries, and Sam B. gazed majestically over the horizon to the first clear blue sky we had seen in weeks. Sure I sustained a nasty sunburn after from my confidence in the smog I was used to, but I would gladly sacifice my pale, freckly complexion for the breathtaking views I witness in the clearing.

Later, when I was curled up in a ball at the main house, groaning and moaning my misfortune with Andrew who had caught a bad bought of stomach problems, I was able to watch and talk to many of the villagers (namely the little boys) who seemed intrigued with both the nice coating of blond hair on my legs which they would affectionately stroke, and the fact that I was still oozing boogers and using up all the toilet paper in a 3 mile radius. I couldn't blame them, now I would laugh at how stupid I must have looked, huddled and clutching my knees to my chest with a bucket hat curled around my head to vainly protect myself from the sun.

While my day was spent wallowing, my night was much more productive. Andrew, in all his genius ideas, had managed to find us a chinese minority village to visit precisely the time of one of their most important festivals of the year. All of us gathered our yi family members, and hiked down into the packed city for the Torch Festival of 2008. As the light left the sky, we drew nearer and nearer to the festival, lit up by floating flame-filled lanterns and an impressive light show. Eric, Emma, Sam H, Morgan, James, Emma, and I stuck together with our families, and neared the festival confidently.

Little did we know that we needed tickets to get into the festival.

But, as our group tends to do, we somehow managed to have our convincing wai guo ren, Eric, not only speak to someone about letting us in, but the general. We were not only allowed into the festival with our shocked families, but later led into the VIP front section of the show... Emma and I maintain that this was the first and last time we'd ever be able to say that we got into a place because we were white, i dually noted that, although the two of us were wearing sweaty tees and sports shorts, that I had never felt more overdressed ever, simply by the way we stuck out like sore thumbs. Policemen were falling over themselves to let our group in, and we loyally pulled our family members inside, where they sat, in awe at the performances.

At this point, my decongestant, which was keeping me on a loopy high, was starting to wear up, and my voice was starting to get wheezy again. That and we were late for our meet up with the rest of the group, so Emma and I rushed out of the festival, making a quick detour to a food stand to buy muffins and kettle corn to persuade Justin into not killing us for being late, and dashed to our predetermined meeting area. Surprisingly, Justin was neither angry about us being late (after we told him about what had happened), AND he didn't want a muffin or kettle corn. So, triumphantly, our group headed back to the village, allowing the others to lag back at the festival for our families to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We were even able to buy Yi minority objects on our trek back as gifts to our biuological families when we would return to the States.

I slept well that night, and woke up with an anticipated headache. But, it was our last day there, and finishing up with all of our duties, our group packed up, lugged 14 watermelons up from the city, and bid our goodbyes to our families before heading off to the bus station. Overall, the experiences were memorable, and though I feel as if I blew out a 1/3 of my body weight in boogers into tissues during that time, I enjoyed wallowing in my sickness in such a cool village. And I'm feeling much better now!

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China Comprehensive Survey, Group "B", Summer 2008

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Justin, hand me the decongestant and no one gets hurt

Christie Kliewer,China Comprehensive Survey, Group "B", Summer 2008

Description

Despite the fact that Justin was horribly terrified that we wouldn’t make our bus to Xi Chang, I wasn’t surprised that as I skidded through the marbled floor of the station to catch up with him, that the bus and its driver were casually waiting there, not planning on leaving until the vacant 15 spots […]

Posted On

08/1/08

Author

Christie Kliewer

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The third school was very fun as well as I found some new friends whom I will possibly keep in touch with. We traveled to this school, but we saw the city before hand. The city was a ghost town essentially, the hospital was destroyed, and most buildings had serious damage. Seeing this I realized that this school probably suffered a lot as well. Max, our driver who happened to teach at the school for a bit, mentioned as we passed the school that over 100 students died the day of the earthquake. I didn't know what to expect, but fortunately we were welcomed by the students and the volunteers; a group of volunteers from several parts of China were there as well to help out for 2 weeks. The group of volunteers helped teach and also helped clean, and rebuild the temple that was right next to the tent school. We once again had English games, and music much like the other school. We played some "intense" games of Heads Up 7-Up which was a hit with the kids and the volunteers. We once again signed kid's notebooks, but we also signed the shirts of the volunteers. However I exchanged e-mails with one of the volunteers from Beijing who will be attending CSU Long Beach this fall, so I do intend to keep in touch with him and

In our lives there are moments where we need time, not to get to school or work or everyday things. However there is always the opportunity to place some time towards helping others, time that helps people get past the hard parts of life. An opportunity we had as a group to take, we didn't help rebuild the cities or the villages, but we gave our time to make people have the chance to be happy and remember the good things in life.

Our final days in the Sichuan province have proved (in my opinion) the strongest and the probably the most impacting by far. The tragedy these people experienced was far from what anyone can truly see through TV, news papers, or even the Internet. None of us were there to feel the earthquake, but seeing these places first-hand has given me a lasting impression that I won't forget in my life. Whether it was destroyed buildings, cleared out areas, or the temporary housing/tents the images are much clearer when you're there.

We visited 3 schools, all of which were fun, but the connections that were made were definitely long lasting even if future communication is unlikely in some cases.

The first school we went to was relatively well off as it had temporary buildings and in general was pretty nice considering their school had suffered damage. The swarms of kids trying to get our signatures or simply trying to speak in English with us was quite the experience. We had art, we had music, and we played plenty of Chinese Hacky Sack. I think this was just a small glimpse of what the other two schools would have us experience. I personally felt that I didn't make nearly enough connections as I would have hoped, but everyone had fun.

The second school was a tent school definitely a differant experience. We had left all our gifts back at the hostel by accident, so we had to stick to English teaching and music. We underestimated the ability of English these kids had, but we ended up answering questions and asking them back. However we struggled as we weren't exactly prepared for the situation so we had to resort to Western music. We were initially split up into two groups one involving toddlers and the group I was involving 10-14 year olds but we managed to somehow get everyone involved. We got a what Justin essentially called a "Dance Circle", and everyone in our group got involved. Cha Cha Slide and random music, and in case you're wondering I did dance quite a bit. I had a solo, but then later on in the day I had the best two dance partners ever in some toddlers who I must say showed me a move or two. Once everyone warmed up we had some parents get involved, the volunteer teachers, and mostly toddlers when it came to students. As we neared the end with our new friends we took pictures with them, they took pictures with us, and all in all I truly felt more connections there.

possibly with the other members of that group.

This experience in the Sichuan province has proved to be amazing. I connected with people in a way that I would never imagine possible, as I've learned that dedicating some time to people helps you learn about them, their home, and also about yourself. The time we spent here in here, especially in the schools, has truly created memories that will stay with me til the day I die. Although I wish I could have experienced this for a longer amount of time, I think that it will change me for the better. My appreciation for what I have has grown, but in all honesty my respect for those people has increased much more. I've learned that all the people who were affected by this no matter how old or how young are resilient beyond anyones belief. Although I didn't understand what most of them said, I think I now have a better understanding of who they truly are individually and as a whole. I just hope that my actions and words these past few days reflected who I really am.

As soon as a I stepped into this country, I knew I was provided the opportunity of a life time. All I needed was to take time in order to honestly experience this world, and I'm beyond glad I did.

This experience truly made me closer to...

Paz, Amor, y Libertad

Peace, Love, and Liberty

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China Comprehensive Survey, Group "B", Summer 2008

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Sichuan EQ Experience

Eddie Fernandez,China Comprehensive Survey, Group "B", Summer 2008

Description

The third school was very fun as well as I found some new friends whom I will possibly keep in touch with. We traveled to this school, but we saw the city before hand. The city was a ghost town essentially, the hospital was destroyed, and most buildings had serious damage. Seeing this I realized […]

Posted On

08/1/08

Author

Eddie Fernandez

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Four days in both Xi'an and Chengdu were dedicated to preparation. What we were supposed to prepare for was a vague idea, one that involved 12 american and british highschool students and hundreds of displaced students from the Sichuan earthquake area. I could hardly contain my excitement for this opportunity, one that involved both community service for those who truly needed some personal interaction, and also children. Preparation was grueling and began at a public park where my partner in crime for arts and crafts, Hiroshi Shinn, and I huddled underneath the umbrella of a table as rain poured down around us and through the holes in the overused fabric. Furthermore, three more hours were spent the next day navigating through the gargantuan wholsesale market in Chengdu in which Hiroshi, Andrew (one of our fearless leaders), and I argued intensely about face paint which one vendor insisted that the one pack we bought (at another vendor and which was the exact same brand) was a fake and we should therefore pay him 4 yuan more for each of the 16 packs we were buying from him. We trudged back to Sim's Cozy Garden Hostel with our arms full of 300 pieces of paper, a large roll of scroll paper, 16 packs of markers, 16 packs of face paint, and other miscellaneous art supplies. Two more hours were spent crawled up on our beds, outlining a generic body onto 200 pieces of paper which the children would draw themselves on the next day. Finally collapsing from exhaustion, our small arts and crafts group (one of three other group activities) settled into a well-needed rest to recouperate for the day to come.

The next morning was started at a much later time than usual, and crawling out of our beds when there was actually light in the sky, we bounced down to the lobby with all our well-prepared art supplies, sports equipment, and games for the children of the first school we were visiting. We started our van ride not long after, one which did not involve seat belts (as per Chinese style) and did involve a no more than one foot wide stool in which I, the smallest of those in our van, was blessed to perch upon for the hour and a half overheated van ride. But, in hindsight, my sacrifice paid off, as while the other 5 in our van snuggled upon each other, I was blessed with the first blue sky in a week and a half, and amazing views of what all of us had been mentally preparing for- the rubble and reconstuction of the Sichuan province. I was startled with the immense beauty of the paradoxical combination of the farmlands and the destruction in which people were living in, without much acknowledgement to what had been around them, and was now underneath them. Yet, as the minutes carried on and we drew closer to the school in Du Jiang Yan, I couldn't help but make a mental note to remember the delighted smiles I received when I'd wave at them from my open window. Their optimism was astounding, and took me completely off guard to compare it to the differing reactions of other communities. Whereas it had taken almost a year for Katrina survivors to become hopeful, these survivors were not only smiling openly to this pale-skinned, blonde-haired wai guo ren (chinese for foreigner), but hailling us down to the school we were heading to. But their optimism was overshadowed by the pure glee that was found in the faces of the 700 children who realized suddenly that 15 foreigners would be spending the day with them.

Despite the fact the headmaster seemed to be a little confused at the reasoning of our visit, we were welcomingly shuffled into an empty classroom until the class period was over. Of course, our interpretation of that was to wander out into what quickly became the huge masses of over-energized children excited with a mixture of adrenaline and sugary popsicles. One child quickly turned into twenty, which turned into fifty, which escalated to hoardes of diary-holding and pen-wielding fans who had us all autograph their notebooks. Not only that, but the moment they realized my camera was not just being idly pointed somewhere, but at them, more kids popped out of the wood work to cheekily scramble into the frame, smiling brightly and sending hopeful peace signs to whoever would look at the images later. All of us were so caught up in signatures, photography, and broken chinglish that we had to be hollered back to our stations which still had to be set up. Hiroshi, Andrew, and I dilligently carried our supplied into the classroom of expectant students.

Despite the fact we accidentally forgot our 16 packs of facepaint, our plans carried on without a hitch, and we were all astounded with how creative the kids were with what were generic outlines of a body. Similarly, some of the students even wrote short descriptions of their characters in english, explaining (in english which was as grammatically incorrect as our chinese was) that their character was "a sporter" or "a super hero". Others spent almost half the class period pondering what exactly to draw, lest their drawings not be suffice to bring home to their families. Only when they had finished their drawings did the real insanity ensue. We had brought three large pieces of scroll paper for them to outline their handprints and write their name within it. But, to the realization that I did not have a chinese name, two girls sat me down and stared intensely for a few minutes before giving me the name 思 静, si jing in pinyin. Of course, as I had never taken chinese before this trip, when students insisted on my signing their papers with both my english name and my chinese name, it took three times the time for me to carefully copy the characters onto their papers, mind you, not in proper stroke order. After three students re-drawing the characters onto my hand, Andrew finally took pity on me and had me practice my stroke order on the black board, only after he had finished making fun of my incompetence.

As we rolled out of the school an hour or two after arriving, I could see the content smiles of accomplishment on the faces of our group, even as we piled into our respective vans, and I back onto my tiny stool. This sense of accomplishment carried on through the rest of the day as we visited a memorial site to the earthquake where I was explained that my chinese name meant "reflection", and then back to our cozy hostel where more work awaited us in preparation for the next day, and two schools we would visit. Hiroshi and I (along with a larger band of troops this time) outlined 200 more bodies and made sure we packed the face paint for the students the next day, long into the wee hours of the night. Despite their hours of aid in the arts and crafts prep, both Hiroshi, and Emma Sagan (along with 4 others) packed and prepared for a two day long trip into Beichuan to survey the villagers for aid they needed.

With five of us parting their ways, the remaining ten of us woke up early the next day and once again, piled into our vans to drive top the further village of Mianzhu. While I did not have to sit on the stool again, I did happen to wake up half way through our drive and stare at the complete juxtaposition between the city we visited the day before, and the city we were in now. Acres and acres of once were farmlands were now covered by the multi-colored roofs of tent-housing in which the displaced villagers were now calling their home. The drive was eerily different, rather than seeing the pricey CAT machines pulling rubble from demolished sites, I saw the very villagers who once lived there, sorting bricks and rubble into piles which had to be discarded and piles of re-usable bricks which would be used in their own reconstruction of their towns. Even through what we considered misery, the smoldering heat that was contained in our van, we all began to overlook our complaints and stared, jaws-dropped in awe at what we were now witnessing- the recovery of a whole province. Even on the driveway leading up to the first school we were visiting, our minds were not on what we would be teaching to the students, but to the landscape that was left by an 8.3 earthquake. Only now were we really assesing the statistics of the earthquake, that close to 20 million buildings were damaged, making 5 million homeless even after tends of thousands were killed and hundreds of thousands were injured. Out of a country of around 1.5 billion people, we began to realize just how many people could be affected by a natural disaster. It was only because 40,000 soldiers were pulled from the area the day before that our small group was truly able to visit these schools. We were all so startled by the views we saw on our trip that when we arrived at the school, we suddenly realized our huge mistake. We had forgotten all the supplies at the hostel.

Thankfully we weren't expected to teach the students algebra, and we all quickly decided to play english games with them. After a failed attempt at teaching them "the itsy bitsy spider" we successfully taught them "head, shoulders, knees and toes" before following it up with an intense, laughter-filled game of simon-says. These games were quickly overshadowed by, to their request, american rap music and dancing in the makeshift school yard. It was hilarious and beautiful to see these odd-looking white americans beside all these shy chinese children crypt-walking and break dancing. As usual, nothing brought the kids together with our own group as "the cha-cha slide" a song so simple anyone who has a basic understanding of english could follow. It was no surprise that as we were told that our time was up, and we had to head to the next school, that kids were clinging to our legs exclaiming cries of "zai jian!" (goodbye in chinese) as we piled into the vans, waving ecstatically and wishing us to come back soon. Despite the fact we knew we couldn't, we left on a good note, happily heading off to our next site.

Exhausted, we all woke up a half hour later to be stopped in the center of an almost deserted town with buildings left to rubble, and perfect views of the hillside, covered with the remnants of landslides. Standing in the middle of the square was a clock tower, stopped at 2:28, the time at which the earthquake had happened on May 12th. Once again turning our attention back to the larger picture of the earthquake, we were awed by the immense silence and desertion of the city. We ate our lunch there, in almost complete silence as none of us seemed to have the right words to express what we were thinking, or what we wanted to say. It was understood that we couldn't quite word our words properly in the presence of such a site, and we continued this silence until we arrived at the next school.

Our silence couldn't last any longer, as we were almost literally pulled from our cars to the school by eager children and volunteer students. My "I love China" shirt was no longer immaculate as the children discovered I was letting them sign their names on it, and I was immediately pulled down to their level so they could sign their names and doodle flowers, hearts, and butterflies onto the back of my shirt in indellible ink markers and colorful highlighters. Here I was more able to draw with the kids, and was quickly pulled over to sit in the middle of their drawing-session as they excitedly chatted with me in Chinese, none of which I could understand except for generic words such as hua hua, bi, xin zang, and wo yaoying wen mingza! (draw, pen, heart, and I want an english name!) More or less, my afternoon was spent at their own demands, drawing colorful hearts, flowers, and butterflies on the kids arms multiple times, watching them as they'd draw and describe what they'd draw, and giving them english names which then had to be pronounced on multiple occasions so they could read them to others later with delight in their smiles. One particular girl was at my side most of the time, drawing me multiple pictures to bring home and affectionately stroking the blond hair I had on my arms. Later, she was excited to tell others that I had given her the english name "Molly" which she cutely pronounced "mah-li!" and I was too giggly at her cuteness to correct her pronunciation. Her teacher on the other hand, dilligently had her read her name aloud multiple times until she said it a bit more properly. Only a bit later did I learn that her Lao shi (teacher) was my same age. We all were similarly shocked to learn that the teachers were not only merely 18, but were dedicating their summer to volunteer their time to teach these kids instead of living in Beijing or Shanghai. I was humbled by the sacrifice my peers were making through volunteering when i considered my work, a mere two days spent with children, was a big thing.

I discovered that, as I was ushered to the front of the school to help with miming the shapes of the english alphabet with body parts for the kids who would eagerly mimic and exclaim the letter, that I loved the two days spent in the Earthquake region more than I loved any other specific part of my trip thus far. I had enjoyed all of our adventures and misadventures, but the extreme contentment I found in myself as we headed home was warming. While I had always loved the presence of children in any other situation, the opportunity to truly brighten their lives after such an event as the earthquake humbled me and made me force myself to remember these days until I die. We were the only group of teenage foreigners of our size to ever visit the earthquake up until then, and it wasn't just a "community service" project that I was involved in. It was a small part of the large reconstruction of millions of Chinese who had been affected by the quake. I have more to prepare for, the final weeks of my trip in China, the twenty days I have before I have to ship of thousands of miles away from my family to my new university, and then the imminent unknown of college, and life to follow. Regardless I'm left with a final thought, a quote I found in the small spiral notebook Dragon's gave to each of our instructors containing thoughts to reflect on regarding the pure joy I found in playing with these kids.

When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings you joy,

care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.

-Jeanne Shinoda Bolen M.D

[post_title] => Make Room For It In Your Life [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => make-room-for-it-in-your-life [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2008-07-31 00:00:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://yakyak.chandigarhsoftware.com/?p=53550 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 455 [name] => China Comprehensive Survey, Group "B", Summer 2008 [slug] => china-comprehensive-survey-group-b-summer-2008 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 455 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 248 [count] => 84 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 29.1 [cat_ID] => 455 [category_count] => 84 [category_description] => [cat_name] => China Comprehensive Survey, Group "B", Summer 2008 [category_nicename] => china-comprehensive-survey-group-b-summer-2008 [category_parent] => 248 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/summer-2008/china-comprehensive-survey-group-b-summer-2008/ ) ) [category_links] => China Comprehensive Survey, Group "B", Summer 2008 )

China Comprehensive Survey, Group "B", Summer 2008

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Make Room For It In Your Life

Christie Kliewer,China Comprehensive Survey, Group "B", Summer 2008

Description

Four days in both Xi’an and Chengdu were dedicated to preparation. What we were supposed to prepare for was a vague idea, one that involved 12 american and british highschool students and hundreds of displaced students from the Sichuan earthquake area. I could hardly contain my excitement for this opportunity, one that involved both community […]

Posted On

07/31/08

Author

Christie Kliewer

WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 53659
    [post_author] => 39
    [post_date] => 2008-07-27 00:00:00
    [post_date_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00
    [post_content] => Dear China B Fans,  The modern miracle continues, and we wanted to provide a brief checkin.  We are on the last day of our rural homestay in a Yi Minority Village just outside the town of Xichang, Sichuan. The warmth and generosity of the Yi people has been humbling. They have opened up there homes, hearts and lives to us. The experience of the last couple days has been an eye-opening experience for all involved.  I must get back to the village for a last couple hours of playing in rice fields and laughing with old toothless grandmothers. But I leave you with the message that all the students of China B are safe and just might be having the most AMAZING experience EVER. I am sure they will have lots to write in their yak yaks when we arrive in Kunming on monday morning.  be well my friends, 
Justin
[post_title] => The Yi Experience [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => the-yi-experience [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2008-07-27 00:00:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://yakyak.chandigarhsoftware.com/?p=53659 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 455 [name] => China Comprehensive Survey, Group "B", Summer 2008 [slug] => china-comprehensive-survey-group-b-summer-2008 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 455 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 248 [count] => 84 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 29.1 [cat_ID] => 455 [category_count] => 84 [category_description] => [cat_name] => China Comprehensive Survey, Group "B", Summer 2008 [category_nicename] => china-comprehensive-survey-group-b-summer-2008 [category_parent] => 248 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/summer-2008/china-comprehensive-survey-group-b-summer-2008/ ) ) [category_links] => China Comprehensive Survey, Group "B", Summer 2008 )

China Comprehensive Survey, Group "B", Summer 2008

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The Yi Experience

Justin Bedard,China Comprehensive Survey, Group "B", Summer 2008

Description

Dear China B Fans, The modern miracle continues, and we wanted to provide a brief checkin. We are on the last day of our rural homestay in a Yi Minority Village just outside the town of Xichang, Sichuan. The warmth and generosity of the Yi people has been humbling. They have opened up there homes, […]

Posted On

07/27/08

Author

Justin Bedard

WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 53744
    [post_author] => 39
    [post_date] => 2008-07-23 00:00:00
    [post_date_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00
    [post_content] => 

No words or pictures could convey what my mind is trying to proccess, but I will try my best to articulate the thoughts running through my mind...

I've just returned from some very sad and challenging adventures. I and three other students (Hiro, Sam F. and James) along with Andrew our instructor, a translator, and a driver went into the country side with the intentions of surveying the people affected by the earthquake and of getting as close to Beichuan, the epicenter of the earthquake that hit China on march 12, before government officials turned us around.

We visited schools and people along our two day, one night journey to see what supplies were still needed. As we traveled the scenery shifted from the bustling city streets of Chengdu, where on the surface the earthquake appears to have little effect (however mentally I'm sure it has taken it's toll), to the rice patties and crumbled homes of the country side.

I had expected the towns to be small farming areas with little aid, and in dire need of help, but what we found gave me hope. Not only was the country side decorated with government issued blue tents, but the roads had been cleared from the mudslides, and everyone seemed to have food, water, and in some cases for larger populated areas, electricity.

Fungshan, the first village we reached, was in much better quality than expected. The buildings were intact, and although their were holes where buildings once stood, the debris had been cleared and a school rebuilt (out of temporary supplies). We were greeted by the government official who showed us the town. The main street had been untouched by the quake/restored, and the shops were stalked with food and supplies.

We were then taken to the school where we met with the headmaster and discussed if supplies were needed for the future. Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly) he said no and that the government had done a good job to help replenish the school. Andrew then asked us if we believed his answer. Given that the government official was in the room, was the government really doing a good job, or was this yet another case of Chinese propaganda?

I have to applaud the government's fast response, ability to mobilize quickly, and spread as far across the province as they did. It took us over seven hours to reach Fangshan by car, on roads that were clear of debris. It took the Chinese troops five days after the quake to reach the same village on foot; clearing rubble as they went. The man power of the Chinese military is overwhelming, and I respect all the help they've given, but a bigger question remains in my mind. Why has the Chinese government refused a lot of foreign aid, and NGO support?

We discussed it a lot during our crammed car rides from each village. Every where we went, people were sporting "I heart China" shirts, similar to those in NYC. The amount of nationalism and faith in the government right now is overwhelming. Allowing foreign volunteers would detract from the power of the government, but does this new unity and renewed faith amongst the rural and poorer parts of china outweigh the help foreigners could provide?

At the first village it felt as though nothing was really needed anymore. Life had gone back to normal (ish), and that the military had taken care of everything. I was upset that there was nothing we could really do for them, but then I realized just how amazing the situation was. Less than three months ago, a devasting earthquake hit China taking over 70,000 lives, and destroying homes that had been passed down through generations, and now people barely needed our help (or at least claimed they didn't). People will need permanent structures to live, but for now they have sufficient living accomidations. This is great news.

After we left the first village, we ventured closer to Jiangyou (a city that had become a place for supplies to be stored and then later shipped out). We did not want to sleep in Fangshan in the case that there was a rockslide over night and we would not be able to get back.

Once we felt that we were in a safer section of the road we started to scout out a place to set up the tarp we had brought with us to make a shelter for the night. Unfortunately for us, all the land around us was being taken up by rice patties, corn fields, and the little flat land left had been long claimed by the local's new tent homes. Luckily for us, Waiguoren (white people) never blend in, an we soon attracted attention. A family invited us to stay in their former rabit hut, which was a stable, covered shelter in the middle of a rice patty.

The shelter had been finished just before the earthquake, and was in good conditions; however, the earthquake had damaged all of the rabbit cages and was therefore converted into their kitchen as the second floor of their house had been completely destroyed. We lay the tarp we had brought of the floor of the building and attempted to do and watch miscelanious things around the farm. I, loving to cook, immediately became fixated on the "kitchen" and the woman cooking.

She was an old woman, no taller than five feet, and when she smiled she displayed a toothless yet warm expression on her face. Although she could not understand ANY of my chinese, through our smiles, laughter, and a little help from the interpreter i was able to watch her cook, and attempt to help her. I say attempt because she put me incharge of starting a fire in the brick stove that heated her wok. In the past I have prided myself on my firebuilding abilities, but for some reason I could not for the life of me get the fire started! In the proccess of trying DESPERATELY to appear semi-compitent, I managed to completely cover myself in coals and soot. Not only was I this strange waiguoren who was sleeping in their bunny shed, but I could not build a fire, speak chinese so that she could understand me, and now i was filthy from head to toe! She just looked at me and laughed. Not a dissapproving laugh, but a grandmotherly, loving laugh. It was nice. Given all that I had seen that day, and to be face to face with a woman who had seen so much sorrow over her life time, and to hear laughter softened the mood. I too laughed as she mimed to me that i should clean myself and I semi agreed, although at this point i have embraced being dirty.

Today we woke up early, left the tarp with the family (who was greatful), and gave a ride to the father of house who was heading to Jiangyou to catch a train to Xichang where he is hoping to find work. We continued to survey people and villages as we drove. We also decided that we would try to get as close to Beichuan, the epicenter of the earthquake, as we could before we were turned around by the government.

We actually made it to Beichuan county, but not into the city. Houses were completely leveled, and the amount of rubble was overwhelming. As we drove my first instinct was to take as many photos as possible, but a huge part of me felt that in such tragedy photos are inappropriate. I decided that i would take photos in moderation. People should see what has happened, and as we are the first group of high school volunteers to enter the quake zone, I feel that if i take these photos and use them to help other better understand the tragedy then it is ok.

After we were turned around, we stopped at a tent community and asked how things were going for them. We found that many of the children had left to go to school in the province over, but some had returned because summer vacation has started. There were two kids standing amongst the group, a boy no older than eight, and a girl who was slightly older. The boy was standing off from the group so i went over to talk to him. As my chinese is at the level of a kindergardener, i felt right at home talking to a child. He was shy and looked sullen. I said hello to him and he gave me a blank stare back. The stare i've continually been getting. His father seeing this came over and started to bridge the gap between us. He too didn't speak a word of English, but helped the kid to open up. I asked the child if he liked to color/draw and he shook his head.

We had previously stalked the car with supplies such as markers, paper, soccer balls, and other sporting equipment, so I went over to the van and fished out a couple of markers and a note pad for him.

His face lit up.

Being able to bring joy, if only for a few moment, to a boy who had survived so much, made me feel like something that can't be expressed in the english language. The feeling radiated through my stomach. What I was doing had really helped someone, and maybe even changed their lives. The neccessities had been taken care of by the government, but play, which is so essential to a child, had been forgotten.

I was able to lighten his mood, and provide him with fun.

I felt a little like Santa Clause. I gave the girl paper and markers as well, and we then realized their were more kids within the community (around 100 in total). So i went back into the van and came back with some badmiton sets, a jump rope, and some other things. I truely felt like Santa at that point, and Sam even made a joke about it.

We then preceded to survey another school and drive through more affected areas. Overall it has been a long, eye-opening two days. It has definately been the highlight of my trip so far. I can't help wishing there was more I could do. I want to go back and help clear the rubble and build premanent houses, but time, funding, and the government won't allow us.

As I go to sleep tonight I can't help but think about those who have no home to come back to. Those who will go to sleep tonight after a hard days work of clearing the house they built by hand, and of those who will go to sleep without their loved one next to them.

I am lucky. We are all lucky. Natural disaster is the hardest tragedy to deal with in my mind. There is no reason why one group of people should ever suffer weather it be from natural disaster or human violence, but earthquakes, tsunamis, etc. give no warning, no explanation, and therefore give the mind little closure. My heart and mind go out to all those effected, and if i could, I would give everyone the markers and joy that i gave to the little boy by the side of the road.

[post_title] => Broken homes, and high hopes [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => broken-homes-and-high-hopes [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2008-07-23 00:00:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://yakyak.chandigarhsoftware.com/?p=53744 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 455 [name] => China Comprehensive Survey, Group "B", Summer 2008 [slug] => china-comprehensive-survey-group-b-summer-2008 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 455 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 248 [count] => 84 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 29.1 [cat_ID] => 455 [category_count] => 84 [category_description] => [cat_name] => China Comprehensive Survey, Group "B", Summer 2008 [category_nicename] => china-comprehensive-survey-group-b-summer-2008 [category_parent] => 248 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/summer-2008/china-comprehensive-survey-group-b-summer-2008/ ) ) [category_links] => China Comprehensive Survey, Group "B", Summer 2008 )

China Comprehensive Survey, Group "B", Summer 2008

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Broken homes, and high hopes

Emma Sagan,China Comprehensive Survey, Group "B", Summer 2008

Description

No words or pictures could convey what my mind is trying to proccess, but I will try my best to articulate the thoughts running through my mind… I’ve just returned from some very sad and challenging adventures. I and three other students (Hiro, Sam F. and James) along with Andrew our instructor, a translator, and […]

Posted On

07/23/08

Author

Emma Sagan

WP_Post Object
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    [ID] => 53766
    [post_author] => 39
    [post_date] => 2008-07-23 00:00:00
    [post_date_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00
    [post_content] => We have been in Chengdu for quite a while now. We are finally done with visiting the major tourist sites, so we now have a chance to see what the real China is like. With my free time I have tried to explore the neighborhood. I have a favorite noodle shop near our hostel, where I eat for about 40 cents (who said the dollar was weak?). There is an amazing bao zi shop right around the corner that when Emma and I first found it, we finished off the six we had bought and when Emma returned to buy more, the owner just laughed. I even now like to hang out in the local mahjong hall. For those who have not played, mahjong amounts to gin rummy with tiles. This may sound simple, but it is actually quite difficult to learn if all your teachers happen to play it every night and speak no English. It was quite an amusing sight the first night when we went to play. Imagine seven Americans walking into to a seedy little mahjong shop and everyone in the shop turning around and staring at us. We hung out by the door till Andrew explained to the owning couple that we wanted to get two tables. The tables at this place are really cool because they are the automatic sorting tables, which means that after you are done with a game, you push all your tiles into to a hole that appears when you press a bottom next to the dice, which causes the dice to rise out of the table on top of a pillar, and you receive a new set. Now this may sound complicated and figuring it out the first time was. However, compared to learning the game, figuring out the table was nothing.  When Andrew finally explained that we needed help learning how to play, laughter rang out from every other table in the place. However, we did eventually get some help, but not one of our teachers spoke a word of English nor did they really want to explain the rules. Needless to say, a lot was lost in translation, as Andrew wasn't quite able to handle the massive amounts of advice, which was not helped by the fact that the people helping us didn’t really take time to actually explain the objective of the game. Ultimately, we pretty much just looked on as our coaches played for us. Over the four hours that we stayed in the game parlor, each of us finally gained some control of our actions, but I kept making moves which annoyed my coaches, the two owners of the place. Sam B, Andrew, Hiroshi, and I were all at the same table and over time we began to realize we each were getting different advice. To be honest, we have no idea why we kept getting strange advice, but we think it might have to deal with the gambling aspect of mahjong, which we haven't even begun to learn. Due to how much fun I have had in the mahjong hall, I am very excited for my independent study project, which is Chinese card and board games, of which mahjong is one.  From visiting a Taoist temple to riding in bumper cars, we have done a lot in Chengdu, but the most rewarding experience has been our service projects. We had a slew of speakers on Saturday to prepare us for our service project. Each of them was tied to service in the area, from Brian Withal from Habitat for Humanity, Marc Young from Hands On Disaster Response, Joanna Wong from Future Generations, Mitch from Earthquake Recovery Center, and Lucy from Sichuan Quake Relief. They discussed the effects of the earthquake, especially in respect to children, as that would be who we would be spending time with for the next days. Sunday, we spent most of the day planning. Little did we know that all our planning would prove to be useless. Monday we went to a school in Duzhongyan, which was not at all what we expected. I am not sure what exactly we had imagined, but it was not a school with fully stocked desks and kids in uniform. We were swarmed by children once we started to walk around with endless stream of kids fighting for autographs. I tried to use my Chinese, but was only laughed at, and then most of the kids began to speak in amazing English. To say the youngest kids shamed me in comparison to my Chinese would not be an exaggeration. We began to play around with a feather hackey-sack toy that is quite popular in China. We were able to slowly get some of the kids to join us, but most of the decided to stay on the fringe. At one point, all the kids suddenly filled into two classrooms, one being devoted to art and the other to English and songs. I decided to help out in the art room. We had planned on dividing up into four groups: art, English and songs, big group games, and sports, but seeing as it quickly became apparent that we would not have the space to play most of the sports that my group, sports, had planned, so I just helped out the art group. In the classroom, Christie and Hiroshi had given the kids some outlines of a nondescript person, which the kids were supposed to fill in. They had also set up a poster where the kids could trace their hands and write their names. What was the most surreal thing about the experience for me was how the class acted exactly like any group of kids in the U.S., albeit maybe a little more behaved. The same group dynamics were there, best friends, girls and guys separated, nervous kids, and just the same whispering between rows, that if it had not been in Chinese I would have totally believed that the class was filled with American kids. After the class, we got to play outside for a little bit, but as the principle said, the kids had more important things to do. On the ride, back we were all commenting on how the school, though it was in temporary buildings, seemed especially nice; we learned that because Duzhongyan was an urban center and had been the first to receive aid after the earthquake due to its location, the school was extremely affluent in comparison to where we would go the next day. After the school, we got to a Confusion temple, which had been destroyed in the earthquake. We wandered around the surrounding complex, which had the nicest garden I think I have ever been in. The endless complex had a raging river to one side and on the other side a more thickly wooded area. Within the garden, there were wonderfully meandering path intersected by waterways, some off which were dry or flowing in the wrong direction due to the earthquake. One of the nicest images from that park, which I regret not having my camera with me, was a pond with some large fish swimming in it. The pond had a beautiful stone carving behind it and a bridge to cross over it. However, what really made the scene perfect was a piece of the rim of the pond had fallen in to give the whole image a neglected feeling, which made it perfect. The next day, we got to see really what the earthquake had done. We spent the day at two schools near Mianyang. As we traveled there, we saw the epic destruction the earthquake had wrought: what used to be someone’s house, now just a pile of rubble, an apartment complex, with the top floors caved in, or an office building with the roof sliding off one side. Trying to imagine my neighborhood torn up like that, I just refused to do so, because the implications would be too painful.  However, even at the base of buildings that were completely wrecked, people had reopened their shops on the sidewalk. Just staring at the buildings, it was amazing that people could collect themselves to restart their lives once again. Two buildings I want to particularly mention are the clock tower and the hospital in Mianyang. First the hospital’s eternal wall had completely collapsed. I could see right into the rooms where patients must have been in when the earthquake struck. It was terrible to imagine the place of recovery and health was destroyed so thoroughly. Next the clock tower, which stands right on the main street was an eerie reminder of what had happened here as it had stopped exactly at 2:28 as the earthquake struck. We were told that it was always going to remain at that time forever, as a memorial to the earthquake.The schools yesterday were much more what I expected. They were tent schools with all the class rooms being nothing more than a 15 by 15 foot tent with a light bulb a small chalk board and seats, the second one did have desks. In the first school, I along with Jessica, Christie, and Ben (though he left after a bit) taught 40 kids, ranging from 8 to 13. However, we had forgotten all the sport and art supplies, after hours of preparation and shopping, so we were forced to resort to songs and teaching English. Their English was not quite as impressive as the kids from Duzhongyan, which was nice because it allowed us to teach them head-shoulder-knees-and-toes. I have to say a group of 40 kids trying to pronounce the words while simultaneously doing the dance is a sight everyone should see. Every time we did the dance, one kids fell down, which made the entire class erupt in laughter. When Christie went around the room asking kids to say numbers in English, I saw myself in the kids squirming whenever they were called on. I sympathized with them instantly, remembering everyday in class when I don’t know the answer. Following a game of Laoshi shuo (teacher says, our version of Simon says), we tried to teach the kids the itzy-bitzy spider song, which I can only describe as an absolute failure. They, after a while, got the itzy-bitzy spider part, but the climbed up the water spout part was completely beyond them. Once they got to that part, they just focused on the hand gesture and ended up cutting “climbed up the water spout” down to 4 syllables. The following dance party was a blast, though I did make a fool of myself and there is a video of it I am ashamed to say.At the third school, I was a big hit with one little girl whom Christie later gave the English name of Lucy. Lucy (I can’t remember her Chinese name) spent the first 20 minutes before we went to teach the classes just rubbing the hair on my legs and the stubble on my face. She wouldn’t move, even while I was talking with the other little kids. What was really fun was trying to write characters on the magnetic boards the boys had. Between me and Eric, we were able to communicate pretty well, not even really needing the boards. When we went to teach a class of 5th and 6th graders, Eddie, Morgan, and I decided to once again go with head-shoulder-knees-and-toes and laoshi shuo, but this time Morgan suggested we teach the Macarena. All the kids got the dance down very quickly, but refused to sing it. They also didn’t particularly want to sing head-shoulder-knees-and-toes, as whenever we tried to call one of them, they all hid under their desks. We had a lot of laughs, but there was one girl who sat in the back of the class, even though there were only 6 kids, who brought showed how devastating the earthquake was. We had seen a lot destruction to buildings, but aside from one other girl with an eye patch, this girl, who we gave the English name of Flora, was the first person I had seen with lasting injuries from the earthquake. Flora’s injuries were not really obvious at first because she hid the huge gash on her forehead with her hair and the scars underneath her chin were not so visible in the dark classroom. However, her injuries were extensive and they looked like they would not fade for many years. Over the day, I had trouble imagining how I would cope if my house was destroyed, but houses can be rebuilt. This girl has to wake up each morning and be reminded of probably what was the worst day of her life. It showed in the way she acted in class in that she was very shy about her injuries; she never wanted to stand up or come to the front of the class. I have no idea how I would be able to deal with such an injury and it made me realize that we often talk in numbers of deaths and property destroyed, but what about the life of the survivors. That aspect is overlooked too often I realize now.Today or actually Yesterday by this point because it is now 1:24 am (as you might guess I am a little tired, so I apologize if this is somewhat incoherent), I spent most of the day working for Sichuan Quake Relief, calling up NGO’s, asking them to write a brief summary of their activities in Sichuan. Eric, Christie, and I met with moderate success, only getting I think about 1 in 7 of the NGO’s to actually pick up the phone and speak some English. However, it felt fantastic to be able to do something that felt at least like it could help get support for the kids we had seen the two days before.One last amusing note, in Chengdu all the street cleaning trucks play a song as they go by, most often Happy Birthday. Its very disorienting as I keep expecting an ice cream truck to be constantly disappointed. On our first night here, Andrew asked the cab driver, who was taking us to the hostel, why they played that song. The cab driver just shrugged and explained that the Chinese just like that song. 
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China Comprehensive Survey, Group "B", Summer 2008

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Head-Shoulders-Knees-and-Toes

William Redden,China Comprehensive Survey, Group "B", Summer 2008

Description

We have been in Chengdu for quite a while now. We are finally done with visiting the major tourist sites, so we now have a chance to see what the real China is like. With my free time I have tried to explore the neighborhood. I have a favorite noodle shop near our hostel, where […]

Posted On

07/23/08

Author

William Redden

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Tonight is our last night in Chengdu... it seems like we got to spend just enough time here for us to be able to safely navigate to and from dinner without getting lost. Still, we have done so much since we've been here. Besides the one school that we went to on Monday, we went to two more yesterday, and then today we all had different internships all directed towards earthquake relief.

It's interesting how you can try and do the same thing two days in a row but take completely different approaches to it and compare what happens. Yesterday when we went deep into the affected areas and spent most of the day with school children, it was incredibly fun and at the same time I got the feeling that we were really making a difference, even if all the supplies that we bought and spent hours putting together got left back at the hostel. Our time at the schools was all about the hands on approach, and even if I was completely exhausted by the end of the day I would have gladly gone back every day for the next to weeks until I had to go back home. Then you look at today's approach, which at least for my internship was much more hands off. I sat at a computer for about 7 hours and tried to compile a list of all non-governmental organizations, international organizations, and foreign governments who are donating money and/or supplies for earthquake relief. Once we had the list of who was doing what, we were supposed to figure out where they were doing it and then mark it on these giant maps that we had of the entire region. All 7 hours went by, and nothing got marked on the maps. Today I truly feel like I wasted my time, even though we compiled a huge list of NGOs, IOs, and governments that were helping out with the relief effort. Still, several organizations will use the lists to figure out where they should direct their own resources, and hopefully more people can be helped now than would have been before. Two very different approaches to one common goal.

But now I'm going to get to sleep so that I can be semi-conscious when I board our 14 hour bus ride to rural Xichan, where we have our first homestay. I'm still kind of anxious about it, but not nearly as nervous about it as I was when I first got to China. I've been in enough awkward situations where my broken chinese has proven ineffective that I'm pretty used to people having no idea what I'm trying to say. Fortunately, I do know the only two words that I'll need to know for any homestay: eat and sleep.

Rumor has it that there's no internet to be had in Xichan, so no more posts are going to be coming for a while. So to you, my dedicated audience of post-readers, you're going to have to figure out another way to kill time in the next week or so. Sorry.

Hasta luego chicos.

[post_title] => Helping Out [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => helping-out [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2008-07-23 00:00:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://yakyak.chandigarhsoftware.com/?p=53768 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 455 [name] => China Comprehensive Survey, Group "B", Summer 2008 [slug] => china-comprehensive-survey-group-b-summer-2008 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 455 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 248 [count] => 84 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 29.1 [cat_ID] => 455 [category_count] => 84 [category_description] => [cat_name] => China Comprehensive Survey, Group "B", Summer 2008 [category_nicename] => china-comprehensive-survey-group-b-summer-2008 [category_parent] => 248 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/summer-2008/china-comprehensive-survey-group-b-summer-2008/ ) ) [category_links] => China Comprehensive Survey, Group "B", Summer 2008 )

China Comprehensive Survey, Group "B", Summer 2008

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Helping Out

Sam Haass,China Comprehensive Survey, Group "B", Summer 2008

Description

Tonight is our last night in Chengdu… it seems like we got to spend just enough time here for us to be able to safely navigate to and from dinner without getting lost. Still, we have done so much since we’ve been here. Besides the one school that we went to on Monday, we went […]

Posted On

07/23/08

Author

Sam Haass

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    [post_content] => For the past two days I have touched the most important part of my Dragons experience.  For two day I was out in the heart of the Sichuan quake zone, filling out reports that will help NGOs coordinate aid shipments to various areas.  Unlike most service projects I have done, where I have simply made beautiful towns more beautiful, this service work felt meaningful, like I might actually make a difference in the lives of some people when NGOs take notice of their area.  But my Dragons was more than that.  We spent the night with a local family who graciously took us in, and let us eat with them, then the next day we gave the husband of that family a ride to Jiang You.  I spend hours playing with a local village boy, not as part of some pre-built visit period, but as a result of spontaneous connection when he took interest in some of the knot work I was doing by the river (the boy actually taught me a thing or two about effective knot work, and without 9 years of Boy Scouts in which to learn it).  We met the head of a local village and learned the story of the village's inspiring recovery.  But most importantly, sometimes we abandoned the plan and just went.  We took an interesting side road of the beaten path, saw an intersting mountain on the side of the road and stopped to climb it, and sometimes we just drove and drove and drove until the people at an army checkpoint told us we could not drive anymore (we made it within 20 km of Beichuan, a city completely demolished by the earthquake and shut down).  You can't do these things sitting in a air conditioned tour bus, viewing the world with priviliged eyes.  You cannot even do this alone, wandering the countryside.  This kind of adventure must be done in a suspension free van, packed with gear and good friends.  This kind of adventure must be done with Dragons.  
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China Comprehensive Survey, Group "B", Summer 2008

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My Dragons

Sam Bieler,China Comprehensive Survey, Group "B", Summer 2008

Description

For the past two days I have touched the most important part of my Dragons experience. For two day I was out in the heart of the Sichuan quake zone, filling out reports that will help NGOs coordinate aid shipments to various areas. Unlike most service projects I have done, where I have simply made […]

Posted On

07/23/08

Author

Sam Bieler

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Hey Everyone!

Here is a little addition to my previous yak yak. Holding a giant panda in the Panda Research Base was really great. Here are some pictures.

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China Comprehensive Survey, Group "B", Summer 2008

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Addedendum

Dr. Rev. Eric Wessan,China Comprehensive Survey, Group "B", Summer 2008

Description

Hey Everyone! Here is a little addition to my previous yak yak. Holding a giant panda in the Panda Research Base was really great. Here are some pictures.

Posted On

07/23/08

Author

Dr. Rev. Eric Wessan

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