CHINA JOURNALŠFriday, April 12, 2002

            This is not going to be a single day journal because I have so much to say but rather because I'm going to the office tomorrow (Saturday) and can connect to the Internet there. Our phone is still out. Zhang Jie said it might be back on MondayŠbut that is what she said last weekend. When I found that out I rode my bike back to school to get a big book I sent from California on the millennium where I can find out some more information on famous persons. Not being on the Internet is really cramping my style.

            Two quick reports. The teal capsules seem to have reduced my cough considerably. (I wonder what hour they decided I was born.) Then on Monday I got the first package I have received, from my cousin, and it took the stated ten days. Today I got the package from my sister which was also predicted to arrive in seven to ten days. It arrived in seven days plus one month. (I have just found out that the address should be A-A306 instead of the 308 I wroteŠhowever it is just across the hall so the wrong number isn't what is affecting the delivery.)

            This morning at 10:00 was Ran Heiying's observation class. One row of students' desks is pushed to the next row and chairs are brought in for the observers. The head master, two directors, the other English teacher, the art/music teacher, and the man P.E. teacher were there with their clip boards and very official looking forms on which they took copious notes. These they hand to the headmaster as they leaveŠno chance to clean up your own notes. All of them will then have a meeting with Ran Heiying next week to go over the class. This happens twice a year for every teacher. She is a fun teacher to watchŠputs lots of enthusiasm into it. The students whip out these dialogs lickety split, so fast that I have trouble understanding them. That's the way Chinese is spoken so they carry it over to English. I'm working on that. However if you try to talk with them other than in the exact words of the dialogue, they are usually stuck. I'm working on that too.

            Ren Haiying was saying that she really likes the ``Boy Who Cried Wolf'' but she only got through two lines with her daughter last night so she was worried about it. (I was amazed she even thought of a first grader doing it in a foreign language.) So I rewrote it much shorter and with a more limited vocabulary. Then I recorded it for her. She was really pleased with that. Her daughter is going to come in next week and have me tutor her. I'm anxious to meet her. In her school, she is the ``assistant'' to the third grade English teacher, and she is only in first grade. I'm interested to see if she has the same thick accent as her mother.

            This being Friday the students got to see a video instead of take a nap. I was curious so I joined them. From both floors, every student carries his or her desk chair into one downstairs room where the video machine is. The room is wall too wall little chairs with first grade through fourth grade in thereŠabout 125 students plus teachers (and one exit door.) Gu Xiao Juan, our office mate, who is in charge of all the flag ceremonies and the young people's group (I have to learn more details about this and her), was apparently in charge. The video being shown was an old one which half way through began stuttering, and bouncing back and forth, and repeating like an old broken record. I was at first amused when the video began because it was a story back when the Red Army came in as saviors. The little boy hero was eager to serve the Red Army. He was a bit of a Tom Sawyer in his adventures but in contrast to Tom was very conformist to the `perfect ideal'. I'm not sure if she knew how long the video was but it went for two hours and fifteen minutes before it hung up and kept repeating, and it wasn't over then. They had sat there all that time, missed their naps and first afternoon class. I was really surprised that they would show a video of the sort that was probably used as a propaganda film in the old days. (But then I didn't understand what they said in introducing it.) And I was horrified when the scene that kept repeating at the end showed our little hero pouring gas on the sleeping evil landlord (which in China literally means the lord of the land), lighting it, and taking an ax to him when he rolled out of the flaming covers! I had the second graders for class right after that so we did lots of singing that let us wiggle around and move. They deserved it.

            An interesting thing has been happening. Almost every other day I walk the two blocks down to the supermarket as much as for a walk as to buy a pencil or some film or just look. It has been about six weeks that they have been seeing me and about three weeks that each of the school teacher groups has seen me. Just in the last week I have had three people who have seen me all this time point to my cross and give a thumbs up sign. One, the always happy, friendly man at one of the departments I frequent, indicated that he was the same. Then one of the English teachers in the big group asked if in America anyone could go into a church and could they take pictures. She said that on Christmas most people have parties, but she likes to go to that big church I mentioned. When I asked when they had services, she didn't know... says she doesn't go there much otherwise. She also didn't know what the name of the church group is.

            Liu Yong, the good new man at the office, came over to the house to talk with me at 8:30. Zhang Fu Ling (he calls her Madame Zhang) had asked him to talk with me about the company's ideas and plans. They have lots of big ideas. Besides bringing teachers from the United States here, they want to have teacher exchanges. They would also like to send whole classes of primary and middle school students to the states for summer vacation, hopefully giving them a cultural experience by staying in people's homes part of the time and having some English lessons as well as seeing the life around that community. They would like to have classes of American students come here for the same kind of experience. (I mentioned that I can't imagine American parents sending their primary age child on a trip like that.) They would like to set up training for groups of 10 to 20 people in various fields to help them learn how to adjust the government, laws, industry, agriculture, etc. to the requirements of the World Trade Organization. They are apparently willing to go anywhere in the country, not just California. All these are admirable goals. The sticky point is that they've decided I'm superman (Liu Yong's word) and can give them all the contacts they need to groups, colleges, and organizations who can make these arrangements without finding a middleman organization. Oh, my. I'm trying to get across that this is out of my area of expertise (and interest), but I'm going to the office tomorrow to see if I can locate some good contacts via the Internet and show them how to do it themselvesŠme, who practically never goes on the Internet. Double `Oh, my'.