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    [post_date] => 2009-07-19 00:00:00
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Last Friday we were treated to a Jiao Zi (Chinese dumpling) partyby Karen's homestay family. Their house itself was a really plush one compared to mine, located in the prestigious Green Lake neighborhood and having amazing views over the Kunming skyline. As for the dumplings, what a feast. We each got to make some of our own, which definitely didn't look nearly as good as the ones that were already made by the host parents! If anything it reinforced the fact that I possess no skills in this area (or any culinary area, except ramen)whatsoever, although most of mine didn't turn out as bad as the one which looked more like a round pancake than an actual dumpling. Eating our hand-stuffed creations was definitely the highlight of the evening, and even though the meat ones were more popular than the egg ones, every plateful that was brought before us was gobbled down in an instant. Having consumed enough jiao zi to last us months before we next indulge in them, we trundled over to a nearby KTV lounge for a karaoke session, giving us the chance to burn off the calories we just consumed by yelling our hearts out to some crazy tunes. Multiple Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears (!!) and of course Michael Jackson songs were included, as were the obligatory Barbie Girl and Dancing Queen. I must say that singing all these songs I never would listen to was a lot funner than I had expected.

Besides jiao zi and karaoke, my internship as a volunteer and group assistant at Camp Hope, a summer camp for migrant children from rural areas, has been really fun and rewarding so far. I also take Chinese classes for an hour per day with my Chinese tutor, which, combined with the 7-hour internship, makes for a really long day. Nevertheless, I'm surethere's still loads of energy within me and I am looking forward to continuing my internship this week.

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China Internship, Summer 2009

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Jiao zi anyone?

Derek Cheah,China Internship, Summer 2009

Description

Last Friday we were treated to a Jiao Zi (Chinese dumpling) partyby Karen’s homestay family. Their house itself was a really plush one compared to mine, located in the prestigious Green Lake neighborhood and having amazing views over the Kunming skyline. As for the dumplings, what a feast. We each got to make some of […]

Posted On

07/19/09

Author

Derek Cheah

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Last week 5 students, instructors, and a Chinese NGO, travelled to the remote area of Wuding in Yunnan province to conduct a service project. The day before we departed from Kunming required a lot of preparation. This involved students going to the wholesale book market to buy gifts for rural Chinese students, writing a survey to be conducted in the villages and preparing English lessons.

The scenery on the way to Wuding was nothing short of spectacular. On arrival we had a feast of local delicacies including fried mushroom dishes, jasmine flower omelettes and spicy mashed potato. Following this we made our way to a more remote village where we were to teach in the local school that afternoon. We were introduced to the school body, which then performed a number of minority songs and dances for us to the sounds of a piano accordion played by a teacher. Our students then sang a few English songs before breaking up into classes. The students rotated around the classrooms, introducing themselves and teaching a short English lesson each. It was no easy task as none of the Chinese students had started learning English yet. Wuding country is one of the most impoverished in Yunnan province. Students here lack the quality of education that can be found elsewhere in the province because of limited resources, access to good teachers and little support from families. School supplies and books were then distributed to all the Chinese students who received them with glowing smiles.

The next day we split into two groups, each with an instructor, a local guide and a member of the NGO. After a 3 hour hike through mountains and forests we arrived at a village where we enjoyed another banquet of locally grown vegetables and meat. Farmers here do not earn a salary because they do not have enough to sell. This makes it hard for them to support their children with school and medical costs. Dragons students went around the village, met the locals and conducted a survey that they had written themselves to ascertain the needs of the village. Through this survey we learnt about the hardships faced such as lack of water because of a mine upstream, or the discrimination that comes with being an Ethnic minority in China. A number of other problems were discovered in the village, such as a badly burnt boy. Dragon’s students have been allocated a budget that can be used for needy causes. It is hoped that some of the issues in the villages can be alleviated through the work done there by the students.

The final day saw us all travel home through vineyards where we picked our own grapes before the arriving back at our home stay families.

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China Internship, Summer 2009

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Service project to rural village

Matt Burton,China Internship, Summer 2009

Description

Last week 5 students, instructors, and a Chinese NGO, travelled to the remote area of Wuding in Yunnan province to conduct a service project. The day before we departed from Kunming required a lot of preparation. This involved students going to the wholesale book market to buy gifts for rural Chinese students, writing a survey […]

Posted On

07/18/09

Author

Matt Burton

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Dear China Parents and Friends,

I am so glad to hear that so many China parents and friends have been enjoying reading our student and instructor Yak Yak postings. It has been wonderful reading so many thoughtful Yaks from students. Although I have been in China for many years, it is always wonderful to see the people and places that I know and love through the eyes of young people who are experiencing China for the first time. I have been pleased to see that many of the China student Yak postings clearly convey the depth of the experience that our instructors, administrators and local contacts are working hard to facilitate for our students in China.

Some parents have mentioned that they feel anxious and distressed when several days go by without a Yak posting from their child’s group. While we would like to have groups post Yaks every day, sometimes it can be difficult for groups to do so, given that internet cafes are often few and far between in rural China. Also, although we’re making a sincere effort to keep the photos coming, sometimes posting a photo is too much to ask of a lone, antiquated computer from the Chinese countryside. I have asked all China groups to keep the Yaks coming when they are in cities and towns. I also asked instructors to post a “departure Yaks” before embarking on rural home-stays, treks, or any other activities that will involve being out of email contact for more than three days. This Yak should give details on their trekking/home-stay plan and should also indicate when they will be back in contact again and that they will be posting plenty of Yaks upon their return. If you haven’t heard from your son or daughter for a few days, please check the Yak board for a “departure Yak” and please understand that lack of access to the internet is a reality of travel in the developing world. If you are still worried and would like to check in with a Dragons administrator, please feel free to email me.

I also wanted to give you all an update on the recent Yunnan earthquake and how it may or may not affect our groups’ travel plans. At this time, we do not anticipate that the recent earthquake will affect our China group’s travel plans. Although aftershocks are always a possibility immediately after a quake, there has been no significant seismic activity in this area since July 9 and we do not feel that the risk of aftershocks warrants re-routing any of our programs out of Yunnan.

I also wanted to provide you with some details on our capacity for emergency communication. All of our China instructors carry mobile phones. These phones are always on and are always charged. I also carry a mobile phone at all times, including an emergency phone that is always on and always charged. Only Boulder has this number so that they will always be able to reach me in the event of an emergency. Mobile phone coverage is excellent in China (much better than in the US), so in the event of a natural disaster or other incident, we can usually “circle the wagons” and call all of our students together in a very short span of time. I am on the ground here in China, so I can always provide support to any group whose program is affected by a natural disaster or international incident. I also have Boulder’s full support in managing any emergencies that may occur in China.

I also thought that parents would appreciate more information on how we ommunicate with students and home-stay families and ensure student safety during home-stays. During rural home-stays in China, students and instructors are placed in homes that are very close together, so instructors can round students up quite quickly. During urban home-stays in Kunming, students never leave the Program House or their home-stays without carrying cards with contact phone numbers and addresses for their instructors, their home-stay families, the Program House, and me. All home-stay parents carry cell phones. Instructors are never without addresses and contact info for the home-stay families. All home-stay families have been screened by a Dragons representative and have been informed of Dragons safety protocols and guidelines. For example, families are required to inform instructors of their weekend plans and are not allowed to take the student on overnight trips without first contacting an instructor, who must obtain permission from me. That way, we know where all of our students are at all times. Instructors remind families of these safety policies and guidelines when the parents come to pick up the students for the home-stays. Our home-stay families tend to be VERY cautious and conservative, often imposing very early curfews on the students and calling instructors regularly to ask permission to take the student on outings—even outings within Kunming.

We can’t predict natural disasters and international incidents, which are always a very real possibility when traveling in the developing world. However, we can do our best to keep our students safe by carefully managing the risks involved in travel in China. All of our instructors have emergency medical training, our emergency services provider, International SOS, is on call 24 hours a day, we have good communication links and we have solid emergency response plans in place. We encourage our instructors to err on the side of caution and to check in with Boulder before attempting travel in a potentially risky area. Our instructors are supported by administrative staff with dozens of years of combined experience with risk management who are on call 24 hours a day.

Please feel free to contact additional questions or concerns about communication, the recent Yunnan earthquake, or if you would like me to ask your child to call or email you. Thank you very much for sending your sons and daughters to us. We are all doing our best to keep them safe and provide them with rewarding, challenging and, hopefully, life-changing experiences in China this summer.

Sincerely,

Katie Hagel

China Program Director

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China Internship, Summer 2009

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Earthquake Update and a Note on Communication

Katie Hagel,China Internship, Summer 2009

Description

Dear China Parents and Friends, I am so glad to hear that so many China parents and friends have been enjoying reading our student and instructor Yak Yak postings. It has been wonderful reading so many thoughtful Yaks from students. Although I have been in China for many years, it is always wonderful to see […]

Posted On

07/14/09

Author

Katie Hagel

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Greetings, friends and family. Currently, we are residing in the opulent penthouse suite that is the predecessor of our regular haunt; the other Dragons program house. We have been submerged in the ocean that is Kunming for nigh a fortnight.

We have been subject tocultural undercurrents and the tides of communication; the waves of our experience have been lapping at our feet. We have just arrived at the shores of our evening sustenance. We take our leave of you.

[post_title] => Musings of World-Weary Travelers [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => musings-of-world-weary-travelers [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2009-07-14 00:00:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://yakyak.chandigarhsoftware.com/?p=50855 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 416 [name] => China Internship, Summer 2009 [slug] => china-internship-summer-2009 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 416 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 249 [count] => 39 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 25.1 [cat_ID] => 416 [category_count] => 39 [category_description] => [cat_name] => China Internship, Summer 2009 [category_nicename] => china-internship-summer-2009 [category_parent] => 249 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/summer-2009/china-internship-summer-2009/ ) ) [category_links] => China Internship, Summer 2009 )

China Internship, Summer 2009

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Musings of World-Weary Travelers

Noah Wynn Derek Mateo Lanier Karen,China Internship, Summer 2009

Description

Greetings, friends and family. Currently, we are residing in the opulent penthouse suite that is the predecessor of our regular haunt; the other Dragons program house. We have been submerged in the ocean that is Kunming for nigh a fortnight. We have been subject tocultural undercurrents and the tides of communication; the waves of our […]

Posted On

07/14/09

Author

Noah Wynn Derek Mateo Lanier Karen

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    [post_date] => 2009-07-13 00:00:00
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It's been over a week since our arrival in Kunming, and I think it's safe to say I'm close to mastering the art of dining with my Chinese family. It hasn't been easy. At my first dinner with them, I ate like I would in America, trying to fill my stomach at my own pace. However, I soon heard 4 inauspicious words, "Chi bao le ma?" My family was asking if I was full. I figured that I was close to being full, but not quite there yet, so I told them that I was still a little hungry. My bowl wasthen piled with avery hearty amount of food.

A short while later, I had eaten much more than I had initially planned on, and I laid my chopsticks down, hoping to convey a message of fullness. I was asked again, "Chi bao le ma?" This time, I said I was full. It was too late. Their immediate response was "Chi yi dian" ("Eat some more"). Needless to say, I'm learning my dining lessons the hard way.

I think I've come up with a reasonable plan of action. When asked "Chi bao le ma," one must answer "Chi bao le" (I'm full). Whichever way you answer, you will be eating more food. Although, if you do indeed make the same mistakes I did, the worst case scenario is you're forced to eat more delicious food (Incidentally, mushroom season is in full swing).

In short, I've been well fed in Kunming, I'm really enjoyingmy internship, and my family has been amazingly accomodating. It's been a good week.

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China Internship, Summer 2009

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Chi Bao Le

Wynn Tucker,China Internship, Summer 2009

Description

It’s been over a week since our arrival in Kunming, and I think it’s safe to say I’m close to mastering the art of dining with my Chinese family. It hasn’t been easy. At my first dinner with them, I ate like I would in America, trying to fill my stomach at my own pace. […]

Posted On

07/13/09

Author

Wynn Tucker

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    [post_date] => 2009-07-12 00:00:00
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    [post_content] => The first few days in Beijing flew past without a chance to post any photos of our trip to the Great Wall. It was a longer than expected hike, but very much worth the effort. These few photos don't do the wall justice, but hopefully provide a small glimpse into its sheer size and majesty. The day after we fit in another trip to the silk market for some last minute bargains before saying goodbye to Beijing and heading off to the cool oasis of Kunming.
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China Internship, Summer 2009

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Conquering the Great Wall

Instructor team,China Internship, Summer 2009

Description

The first few days in Beijing flew past without a chance to post any photos of our trip to the Great Wall. It was a longer than expected hike, but very much worth the effort. These few photos don’t do the wall justice, but hopefully provide a small glimpse into its sheer size and majesty. […]

Posted On

07/12/09

Author

Instructor team

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    [post_date] => 2009-07-11 00:00:00
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We are here in Kunming and just about finishing up our first full week here! It's already gone by so quickly.

I'm having a really good time. Other than my awesome homestay family, my favorite thing about Kunming so far has been the fruit. You just can't go wrong with the produce here. Everything is delicious and perfectly ripe. I love it.

I'm also looking forward to my internship. It hasn't started yet but I have definitely been busy. Yesterday I returned (along with 4 other students who had not started their internship) from a 3 day trip to several small towns just outside of Kunming. We were there from Wednesday to Friday and I personally had an great time. The first day we taught english to children who had never seen foreigners, and although we were the teachers I felt as though I learned more than they did. During the school year these children walk up to 3 hours just to go to school. Their school has very limited access to books and other supplies. Just to see this way of live was fascinating and really put into perspective the immense priveleges I have taken for granted all my life.

The second day we climbed a moutain up to an even smaller village (population 162 ifIremember correctly). It was something straight out of National Geographic. We went around to several homes and asked questions from a servey we had created in order to determine what the villigers needed most. With the average income being around 80 yuan per month, healthcare was most likely the biggest issue. Every single person we talked to was so welcoming and generous, it really was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The third day we picked our own grapes and traveled along a gorgeous road back to Kunming. It's good to be back but I'm so glad I wenton the trip.

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China Internship, Summer 2009

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Kunming So Far

Lanier Hagerty,China Internship, Summer 2009

Description

We are here in Kunming and just about finishing up our first full week here! It’s already gone by so quickly. I’m having a really good time. Other than my awesome homestay family, my favorite thing about Kunming so far has been the fruit. You just can’t go wrong with the produce here. Everything is […]

Posted On

07/11/09

Author

Lanier Hagerty

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So the group of five (Eric, Mateo, Aubrey, Lanier and myself) has returned from an eye-opening experience to some nearby ethnic minority villags around Kunming.

Day 1 of the service tripstarted off witha scenic car ride through the mountains and valleys of Yunnan to the town of Wuding, our base for the next few days. After a filling lunch that consisted of weird black-skin chicken and delicious old-granny's potatoes among other delicacies, we set out on a very bumpy road for a village set up in the highlands. Upon arrival we were met at the local village school by the principal, and much to our surprise were offered cigarettes on multiple occassions. After a seemingly endless briefing on the day's activities, we set out to introduce ourselves and our culture to the children, teach them some English and play some games with them. The English teaching component was by far the most challenging, since the children came in with absoutely no background in English whatsoever. Most had never seen foreigners before. Nevertheless, we persisted and at least some children walked away knowing some basic English words and phrases. Although my futile attempts to teach them something seemingly as basic as "How are you?" were frustrating, seeing the smiles on their faces and knowing that our humble presence made their day was really pleasing.

The next day's plans were more ambitious, involving a 3-hour trek through the mountains and jungle to reach another smaller village. The day started off badly, a fatal car accident having blocked the entire road, delaying our start by an hour. Once back in the village we were at the day before, we split up into two groups and began our treks. Although the lack of real hiking shoes caused the terrain to become especially slippery for meat certain parts, the breathtaking scenery more than made up for it. Once at the village, we visited the homes of a number of families for a brief chat with each and a survey of each family's needs and concerns, and we ate a simple (luxurious by village standards) but delicious lunch at one home. In one of the homes that we visited, we came across a young boy (5 at most) who had scars fromsevere burns on his chest and left arm over a year ago. Unable to afford treatment, his skin has somehow deformed grossly and the mobility of his left arm has been compromised. I was extremelyshocked by this and pitied the poor boy; hopefully something will eventually be done about his condition. Another worry that was shared by all villagers was the presence of a nearby mine that has contaminated and sometimes even cut off their water supply, which in turn affects their farming (everyone there is a farmer) and their income. So far the government has turned a deaf ear to the villagers' voices and even advocated mining in the area. The appalling treatment and prejudice the minorities face against the Han, coupled with the desire for a better future for their children, struck me greatly.

Our final day was mainly a day of leisure, as we went grape-picking in the nearby area and ate a lunch of grilled larvae and some more normal mushrooms among other dishes. For the group riding in the mini-van (all the guys and Matt), however, the "leisure" part of the day very rapidly gave way to adventure when the mini-van ran out of gas on the freeway, thanks to our very intelligent driver (Welcome to China!!). After pushing the (very light thankfully) van for a while and watching cars fly past at 70mph, the thing started after numerous attempts and we hopped back in, and thankfully the nearest gas station was closeby. The whole experience, including watching the driver swear and curse repeatedly in the local dialect, was pretty funny I have to admit.

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China Internship, Summer 2009

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Village Trip

Derek Cheah,China Internship, Summer 2009

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So the group of five (Eric, Mateo, Aubrey, Lanier and myself) has returned from an eye-opening experience to some nearby ethnic minority villags around Kunming. Day 1 of the service tripstarted off witha scenic car ride through the mountains and valleys of Yunnan to the town of Wuding, our base for the next few days. […]

Posted On

07/11/09

Author

Derek Cheah

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Nihao,

I have settled into Kunming and the weather is so much better than Beijing's. I have a nice walk through a park every morning where people are doing taichi or playing music. I can actually see my homestayapartment from my internship. I have been to Yuantong Si a few times for my internship. Kathryn and I took pictures of the fortune tellers outside of the Temple. I also had my forturen told, but as it was in Chinese I only understood a little. I did manage to gather a crowd who were most likely amused by my pantomiming and attempts at Chinese.What I did manage to understand was I am the year of the snake, which is a wood element as is the second month. This somehow affects my work (good or bad, I don't know). I should stay away from rabbit people, or maybe the year of the rabbit, along with the tiger and boar. The ox and rooster year/people are good. Not very helpful, but I am sure lots was lost in translation.

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China Internship, Summer 2009

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Fortune Tellers

Karen Stopka,China Internship, Summer 2009

Description

Nihao, I have settled into Kunming and the weather is so much better than Beijing’s. I have a nice walk through a park every morning where people are doing taichi or playing music. I can actually see my homestayapartment from my internship. I have been to Yuantong Si a few times for my internship. Kathryn […]

Posted On

07/10/09

Author

Karen Stopka

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As I write, I am sitting in Yunnan Magazine's office editing an article and photoshopping pictures that I took earlier this week with Karen. Yunnan Magazine was not my initial internship, but my internship has been delayed and will start next week. I was fortunate enough that Yunnan Magazine gave me the opportunity to join them for this week and learn about the magazine and help out! It has been a lot of fun. Karen and I have had the chance to explore Kunming and take pictures of fortune tellers with a very nice, huge camera. Hopefully everything will go smoothly next Monday and I will be able to start my internship with Yunnan TV.

The weather has been wonderful. The last day of Beijing was hot and humid, making us even more excited to get to Kunming. WHen we arrived, the weather was raining and freezing, but these past few days have been beautiful with basically perfect weather.

My homestay family is beyond welcoming and they are extremely kind and generous. They have fed me delicious Kunming food and have helped me learn Chinese. Every weekday I have a Chinese lesson at 10 am for two hours. I meet with my teacher in a French Cafe and study writing and reading Chinese.

I travel around faround Kunming mostly by bus or walking. Their bus system is terrific and although it can be quite crowded, the price is only 1 yuan per ride, which translates to about 20 cents. I've gotten lost a few times, but that only helps me learn about the setup of Kunming more. Tonight the whole group will be together again and we are going to have dinner at a restaurant called Free Life. I can't believe I've already been here for a week and I am excited to start my internship next week!

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China Internship, Summer 2009

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Hello from Kunming!

Kathryn Yao,China Internship, Summer 2009

Description

As I write, I am sitting in Yunnan Magazine’s office editing an article and photoshopping pictures that I took earlier this week with Karen. Yunnan Magazine was not my initial internship, but my internship has been delayed and will start next week. I was fortunate enough that Yunnan Magazine gave me the opportunity to join […]

Posted On

07/10/09

Author

Kathryn Yao

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