Or, the reason I was sent abroad in the first place.
12.02.2009 - 12.02.2009 -2 °C
Before we arrived in Beijing, our host families were to give us a copy of our activities schedule. The schedule lists out the days that certain activites will take place, such as: our welcome luncheon, first day of school and when the school will be taking us on sightseeing tours around the city. Since the schedule is in Chinese, I had never seen it and was pretty much on a need to know basis with my host family. Before we returned from our 10 day vacacation/China travel tour to see the countryside, we found out that the day after we returned would be our first day to see Jingshan and to meet the teachers. Kristen and I immediately thought:speech. So on the train to Beijing from Shanghai, I composed my speech to the faculty with the help of two of the exchange students. I, of course, wrote it in pin yin and had planned on giving the speech to the faculty in Chinese. Now my Chinese is rudimentary to say the best. A Chinese toddler can run verbal circles around me at this point. But I was determined to say my speech in Chinese. I thought with a little practice, coaching from Miles and use of a cheat sheet, I would be on my way. I, of course wanted to state what I was feeling irregardless of my level of Chinese. Kristen was taking a different, and smarter, tact; she was using phrases that we had learned.
On Wednesday, our train from Shanghai got in at 7am. Mr. Zhang was there to pick me up and make sure I was ok. After each of the students and their host families arrived, Mr. Zhang and I set off towards the apartment. This time we came into the central Beijing train station, where before we left from the West Beijing train station. We were in soft sleepers on both the way down and back. These beds are comfortable and slippers are provided. There are 4 berths in each cabin and on our way back, our group took up two full cabins and Kristen took one for the team by sleeping in the last cabin with three Chinese guys, including an older man whose teeth occupied the night stand while he slept. Mr. Zhang and I took the subway back to the apartment because, as he explained to me, the central railway station is older and has no parking so the subway is the most efficient way of access to the railway station. My bags were pretty heavy and Mr. Zhang took hold of my duffel bag and we went back to the apartment. That whole day I re-organized myself for school and practiced my speech. I was tired, but couldn't sleep. Kristen and I compared notes and I was much more nervous than she. So, with many times practiced, and my speech filling my head, I slept.
On Thursday, Kristen and I met at the school entrance gate at 9am. Our meeting wasn't until 930, but we wanted to get there early just in case we got lost or anything. Miles accompanied me and Kristen's host brother, Alan, was with her. The boys led us through the school and to the VIP conference room where Mrs. Zhang met us.
We also met up with Gao Ying and Wang Chunjie who were the exchange teachers to America in the fall. We were excited to see them again and they read our speeches and gave us one final boost of confidence before leading us into the faculty meeting. Now, dear reader, please understand that Kristen and I had assumed that we would be meeting the English teachers, not the whole staff and not in the auditorium. But here we were, being led into the staff meeting of the entire faculty with Principal Fan and other heads of the school on the stage in front of them. We sat down and waited for our introduction. Finally, Wang Chunjie led us to the stage and handed the microphone to Kristen and she started her speech with "Good Morning" (In chinese, of course) which caused tumultuous applause. When she continued her speech in Chinese, the crowd again erupted in applause causing her to pause and then she finished her speech to more applause. Since I was second (I like to tell myself) the bubble was already burst and I received no such applause until after my speech was finished. This was good anyway, because applause during my speech would have probably broken my concentration and caused me to slip up alot. After our speeches, Principal Fan welcomed us to Jingshan and we headed over to lunch at the hotel across Dengshikou.
After lunch, the students received their uniforms and with excitement turning our stomachs inside out, we all parted ways ready for school on Monday the 16th.