Sunday, July 22, 2018

A Week Around China

Yes, I am still in Singapore -- and no this blog is not about Singapore.  I am getting closer, though.  I really want to record my week of travel around China first, though.  As always with SABEH, once we are completed teaching, we are given a week to tour different parts of the beautiful country we have come to know well.  This year, the trip actually included three cities I have already been to -- Hangzhou, Nanjing, and Shanghai.  I really HAVE been to more places in China than the US.  Anyway, the week was amazing nonetheless.

We started in Hangzhou, which of course is the city where I taught during my first two summers with SABEH.  I naturally felt quite nostalgic as I revisited many of the places I frequented during my time in the beautiful city.  I even managed to see areas that were new, like this mind-blowing lotus field in a hidden corner of West Lake.  The massive flowers seemed to go on forever.

While in Hangzhou, I naturally had to revisit the school where I taught for two summers.  Luckily it is owned by the same corporation as the Zhoushan campus we were at this summer and our names were fresh in the minds of the international department.  The director of the international department and one of my all-time favorite assistants met us at the back gate and gave us a wonderful tour of the campus.  For me, it brought back a flood of memories with both the teachers and students with whom I worked.  For the other SABEH teachers who came along, they were able to see another example of a Chinese private school that, while still beautiful, did not quite live up to the beauty of the Zhoushan campus where we taught this summer.

One thing that was new on campus, and blew my mind, were newly transformed geography classrooms that utilized every space in the room to engage the students.  The ceilings had murals, the walls were massive dry-erase maps, and computerized displays lined the walls to engage the students.  The rooms were truly impressive and like nothing I have seen before.  Experiences like this are a huge reason why I love teaching in China.  The teachers here have just as much to offer us in the way of innovation as we have to offer them.


After strolling down memory lane in Hangzhou, we went to Nanjing, which I was actually able to enjoy this year because it wasn't 120° like it was the last time I was in the city.  We did the same activities as the last time I was there, but I learned a lot more this time.  I even climbed around 350 stairs to Sun Yat-Sen's mausoleum, which was even more interesting this time around because just two months ago they opened the area where he is actually buried.  For those who may not know, Sun Yat-Sen was the founding father of the Republic of China, a democracy that was established in the 1920s.  His ruling and party were short lived once the Communist party, led by Mao, gained popularity and secured power.  We also went to Sun Yat-Sen's office complex and gardens.  Knowing more about the history of China, it was quite alarming how the falling of Sun Yat-Sen's nationalist party was portrayed as a peaceful transition of power....something it most certainly was not.

We also had the opportunity in Nanjing to visit the bloodbath museum which recounted the Japanese massacre that occurred in the city during their occupation of China.  I learned that over 300,000 civilians in Nanjing died in brutal ways at the hands of the Japanese.  The museum told the stories of many of these people along with the foreigners who helped the millions of refugees who had to flee the city as a result of the killings.  Visiting this museum was a somber experience that made me thankful for the consistency and safety I feel living in the United States.

Our beautiful week of travel ended in Shanghai.  Quite possibly my favorite city on the planet.  The magical feelings I always experience when there were not in short supply, even on my third visit.  This time around I even was able to experience a contemporary art museum, which I have never seen before.  The building itself was a work of art!

While we only had time to explore a small portion of the museum, I really enjoyed the artwork we saw. I could have easily spent hours in the museum, but we had a lot to see and do around the city.  Perhaps I will get back there again in the future.


Also, I may have waited for a half hour in a line to get the biggest french fries I have ever seen...worth it!!

Another summer in China is in the books.  At this point, I really can't imagine spending my summer any other way than collaborating with teachers and traveling around a country I have come to love so dearly.  I already cannot wait to return next summer.  For now, though....I am loving Singapore and cannot even express my excitement to travel to Burma in two days!!

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