One of Andy's sisters is a kindergarten teacher (in China, kindergarten includes ages 3 to 5) at a private boarding school in Ciyao. Banish your American notions of expensive “boarding” schools in the USA. I learned that boarding schools in China are a basic necessity required because their parents work long hours in factories often a long distance from their own village. I was glad to accept the invitation to visit the school, so the first stop this morning was at this kindergarten where I was welcomed as a special “American” guest (that's what I'm told it says in Chinese on the board):...
We were given a tour by both the founder/owner and her husband, pictured above, and her principal (pictured below). Andy surmised that my visit would be the first American/white contact for most, perhaps all the children and it was clear from the warm smiles and eager handshakes that I was most welcome by staff as well as students.
Most of the morning I felt I was channeling my own dad who had been an elementary educator/administrator – as I went from room to room and greeted each child in each classroom individually with a handshake and a “Hello, pleased to meet you” – encouraging a similar response.
It was a morning of much energy and excitement as I also joined in with following along on a exercise dance led by some of the teachers and led a song (with Carol's help in translating) of my standard “everybody touch your nose, everybody touch your toes...etc etc – including other body parts and throwing a kiss and showing a smile.
I even attempted to sing a song while playing the electronic piano in the room – but didn't complete it as I couldn't find the volume control on the piano and it was loud!
I tried to greet every teacher – and happily agreed to all the photos they wished. It was very touching to be treated so specially by everyone – but I kept my happy tears in check – though they would flow before the end of the day.
The founder/owner insisted she provide breakfast and while I requested a simple meal, I was obviously battling tradition and much food flowed. It was all delicious including the hard boiled quail eggs that I was encouraged to try.
To Be Continued When I Post Part 2