Saturday, October 23, 2010
On our final night in Shanghai, we gathered for a farewell dinner at the Hotel Riverside on the Bund. See photos of the Shanghai freeway system on our way to dinner. We shared a delicious Shanghai style meal where our again stretched my culinary experience by trying some jellyfish. This delicacy will probably not become a staple of my diet. After dinner we had the opportunity to share our reflections about the experience. It was a fitting end to the experience. Page Keeley was our delegation leader and her leadership had a lot to do with the success of the exchange. Our national guide, Meng Liangliang, was another major factor in making this such a successful experience. He is representative of the young generation in China. He is educated at the university and hopes to visit the states sometime. A third factor was the delegation itself. It is rare to have the opportunity for such talented and diverse professionals to have the opportunity to spend such extended time together, sharing common professional and social experiences. It was a definite growth experience for me. Page plans to organize a reunion at the March NSTA conference in San Francisco and many of us are looking forward to that!
Arrived back in San Francisco this morning. We left Shanghai at 1:00 PM on Saturday and arrived in SF at 7:30 AM on Saturday. The whole time thing is a strange thing. I had never crossed the international dateline in travel before and it is interesting. Now we'll see how long it takes to readjust. I am staying with my dauughter and family tonight before heading back to Iowa tomorrow. It is my goal to stay up all day and then try to get back on schedule that way. I only slept a couple hours on this flight. Happened to next to the fli8ght attendants' serving station so a lot of activity. I am looking forward to getting home.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Thought I’d write a little about getting around in China. We have found traffic to be a huge problem in all the cities we have been in. With this many people, I guess it is unavoidable. Our guide said that the government is trying to implement policies to discourage cars. The registration fees are very high and they are trying to expand mass transit. It also does not seem that people follow traffic laws. It has been very harrowing to be a pedestrian in all three cities. They just do not stop for people crossing the street. Our guide suggested that we cross in a group with a number of Chinese people. Pretty weird to have walk lights and crosswalks that drivers ignore. I used to think of large numbers of Chinese people on bicycles on the streets. Still quite a few bikes, but scooters have replaced the bikes. Also was disturbing to see infants and little kids riding on the scooters with their parents but without helmets. I am posting some photos to give you an idea of the various forms of transportation I have seen. Some of these are taken through the bus window and not always as clear as I'd like, but hopefully they will give you an idea.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
I want to go back and share what was, for me, one of the greatest highlights of this trip. In the afternoon on Wednesday, October 20 we visited the school at Tanxia Town Center. Tanxia Town is made up of 14 village communities and one neighborhood committee. The school was established in 1908. This school has 1081 students and 67 teaching faculty. The class size is around 50 and has pre-K through grade 6. When we arrived, the principal was at the entrance gate to meet us with a student marching band. They greeted us with a rousing marching band song. They then marched into the school yard. All the students were out on the balconies or at the classroom doors (3 floors- courtyard style buildings) waving and cheering to us. Many of us had tears, myself included. They were so genuinely excited to have American visitors, their was an electricity in the air. We climbed the three flights of outdoor stairs, each level stopping to wave at the students. Although I can’t capture this for you, it was truly a memorable experience for all of us. The students had actually extended their day for a couple hours to accommodate our schedule. That means parents met their students later and were also very excited to greet the American delegation. We met with the teachers first and then saw either a science class or an English class. I went to the 4th grade science class where they were investigating filtration systems to clean particles out of water. The students were pretty engaged given they have 48 kids in the class! They were seated in groups of 6. One student seemed to be the lab leader. Students did not collect data or write anything down. They simply observed and participated in the teacher led discussion. I think many of us will want to keep in touch with this school.
Last night we went to the Shanghai Acrobats Show. As I said in a previous post it was very entertaining, the performers were amazing athletes and the show was visually stunning. However, last Thursday night in Beijing, we had the option of attending the Legend of Kung Fu. This was not included as part of the tour activities, so only about 8 of us went. I am so glad that I chose to go. This was the ancient story of the little monk who arrives at the monastry as a small boy and travels his journey through life until he becomes the master. It was more visually stunning than last night’s show. I was so impressed with the performers. It was like attending an operatic ballet. It was amazing and I will include a couple photos from that experience here. The Red Theater is where the show is performed.
Today was our final school visit of the trip. It was a completely different experience from any of the previous experiences. This was the Shanghai American School(SAS). It is a private, non-profit school serving approximately 2900 students on two campuses on opposite sides of the city. We visited the Puxi campus where we were lunch guests of the school. We ate lunch on a plaza outside the Performing Arts building overlooking the campus, which was quite beautiful. The school is governed by the parents who are mostly expatriates, including corporate people and diplomats. This is a very culturally diverse population, but all of a high socio-economic level. All students are on college track. We visited middle school and high school classes. I have to say it was pretty traditional teaching in most of the classes I observed. They do, however, have a lot of resources. They have a one to one student to laptop policy, so I did see that in some classes, everything was paperless. The teacher’s course was on moodle and the kids did all their written lab work on the computer. Then they submit their completed work to the teacher who scores it and returns it to the students electronically. One teacher talked to us and described the students as Third culture kids: Their family culture, the culture from the country they live in and the SAS culture. The school campus serves as a community for the students since they do not have a lot of opportunity for community beyond the school. I have included photos of the school name at the gate, the outside of the middle school building and the entrance area to one of the buildings on campus.
Middle School Students working on science invesitigations
|Two middle school soccer players heading to practice|