It was with a little bit of apprehension that I boarded the Southern Airways flight to Guangzhou, on Thursday 14th of April. The weirdest thing was that crossing the threshold of the plane was like arriving in China. Everyone looked Chinese and everyone was speaking Chinese but we were still on the tarmac in Perth!! We had a great flight and the food was fine. Our connecting flight had us disembarking at around 11.30pm in Xi’an, in central China.
Being a very inexperienced traveller I found some aspects of Chinese culture confusing and challenging …
As the teacher on the team, my role was to conduct teacher training at the Lighthouse School and Carer training at Hope Haven Orphanage looking at age and stage childhood development with appropriate teaching and learning activities. My first session was a complete surprise, I faced a room full of parents and was requested to talk about parenting. I basically took my age and stage notes and reworked them to reflect the needs of my audience! I was thankful that I had delivered parenting training in the past, but it was a brief season and very long ago, however, things seemed to go well. After this initial session, I was invited to speak at Bodhi Henga Primary as well.
My next session was with the teachers at the Lighthouse School and, in addition to age and stage training, we also looked at hands-on learning and Jolly Phonics. The teachers had to work in small groups on a Technology and Enterprise, design, make appraise project, creating a silkworm habitat according to criteria. The pedagogy in China is generally chalk and talk, so the teachers were very inexperienced with this type of learning and it was funny to see them make some of the same mistakes students make in producing “pretty homes” instead of habitats informed by criteria!
Our team also volunteered out at various NGO’s providing assistance according to their needs. We took the residents from Warrior House on an excursion to the museum and gave them their first ride on a merry-go-round – it was special!
Volunteering as conversational English group leaders at the university was interesting as it really brought home the different cultural attitudes on our given topics. We had to discuss the quote; “Keep your eyes wide open before marriage and half shut afterwards”!
I didn’t get a lot of time with the children at Hope Haven Orphanage as I was training the carers, looking at different ways to use their environment to foster language skills.
We also visited the terracotta warriors which was fascinating and travelled around the old city wall which was ancient! It was a fantastic trip.