Friday, June 02, 2006

Day 10 - A Visit to a Village School

I woke up at 5 am. Ms Poh & Mr Sum are going home at 4pm this afternoon. I wished Ms Poh a safe journey & went down for breakfast.

We are setting off at 6.45 am to Qing Yuan County, to visit Da Su He Secondary School. The journey took 2 & a half hours - across rugged & uneven terrain. We went past green mountains, weather-beaten country houses, fields of crops...... I felt nauseous as it was a bumpy ride. I kept hoping for the bus to stop. I tried hard to keep my breakfast down.

When we finally reached the school, everyone was so happy. We were lead to a classroom which the school obviously took great pains to prepare & clean up. Some of us needed to go to the loo. Mrs Er led the girls & I to the loos behind one of the school buildings.

We were prepared for the poor condition of the toilet. Si Hui passed around Tiger Balm Oil. The moment we entered, some girls screamed, rushed out & threw up. I held my breathe & exposed my butt for those who cared to see.

There was just a row of rectangular holes in the floor. Low walls of about 50 cm in height separate each hole. No doors!!!! You can literally see & smell the waste products. I would love to take a picture, but I wouldn't want to spoil your appetite whenever you think about the picture. I want to put that out of my memory.

We went back to the classroom where the principal of the school & county officials addressed us. We were then brought on a tour of the school. They have a computer room with more than 30 new computers. They have a language lab for 30 students. This is a high-tech village school. It excites me to see that the leaders are so concerned for the education of the young villagers.

The kids were sent to different classes to interact with the village children. I followed Jaymes to his class. The children were happy & curious to see our kids. They were neatly dressed. They warmly welcomed us. They gave up their seats to our kids & a boy even brought his seat from the back for me. I sat down, the chair was so old, it creaked & rocked from side to side. I was worried I would break the chair & end up on the floor.

Our kids introduced themselves & wrote their names on the blackboard. Yes! Blackboard ...... & chalks. Very old & worn blackboards. The coarsely done cemented floor of their classroom was damp. The children had washed the floor before we arrived.

There was a 10-minute break for the children.

Some boys invited our boys for a basketball game. The girls & teachers participated in the games of the Chinese too. It was an endearing moment.

Our kids taught the Chinese students to sing an English song.

After the break, our kids were invited to plant some seeds. They were taught to hoe the soil, dig trenches & sow seeds. The city kids enjoyed this whole new experience. The village kids were proud to show off their skills & glad that their visitors enjoy themselves.

At 12 pm, the principal Mr Lui & county official Mr Tian brought us to a restaurant in the village for lunch. We had deep fried eggplant (delicious), braised tofu, braised small fishes, green pepper omelette, fried long beans, fried French beans, wild vegetables & sweet potato dessert (yummy). The rice was cooked with some red beans. A simple & delicious lunch.

It was to the loo after lunch. It was not any better. I was horrified to see the waste products dropping into a river below........ I just ate some tasty fishes at lunch. ha ha ha.......

Scenes of the little village centre.

The kids returned to school at 1.30pm. They went back to their respective classes & were asked to conduct a lesson in English. One class decided to bring their chairs out for a game. Soon all the other classes followed.

The sun was shining so brightly but the smiles on the faces of the children were brighter. The day was so hot, but the hearts of the children were burning hotter. Everyone, including the teachers, were out in the open field, never mind the flaming sun above.

We were supposed to leave at 2.30pm, but the children kept pleading to give them a little more time. Principal Lui went out attempting to stop the activities twice, but came back sheepishly, saying he couldn't bring himself to open his mouth. No one bear to end this joyous occasion.

At 3pm, one of the teachers was forced to make an announcement through the PA system that the guests had to leave. Everyone were sad. A Chinese boy called Li Xiao Long, stood forward & sang song after song. Popular Chinese pop songs. He had a really good voice.

It was time to bade goodbye. The whole school came out to send us. They were reluctant to see us go. We were not willing to leave so soon. A Chinese teacher held my hand for so long when I bade her goodbye. She held my hand tightly as she led me to the bus.

As the bus moved forward slowly, some students wiped off tears from their eyes. The Chinese students & teachers waved hard as we drove off. We might never see one another again but many of us would remember this day for the rest of our lives.

It was another 2 & a half hours back to the hotel. The kids were all sweaty & smelly from the play. The bus smelt like a toilet....he he he..... The kids soon fell asleep after a tiring day....

We reached the hotel a little after six. After a quick trip to deposit our belongings in our room, we came down for dinner.

After dinner, I had my bath & dozed off in front of the TV.........

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