Xi'an Travel Blog

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I would say that I woke up this morning but that would just not be true. I don't think I ever really slept. I probably woke up every half hour or so and realized I was on a moving train. Finally around 6am I gave up and started reading. One of the train conductors knocked on our door to tell us that the kids had been running up and down the halls, ripping curtains off the wall. Jill and I made a vow never to do middle school again.

          When we got off the train, we met our local delegation manager, Michael.

He took us straight to the hotel to shower and change. Jill started to feel sick so she didn't go to our days activities. First we went to the entrance to the city wall. The local people put on a welcome ceremony for us. They gave us a key to the city and a passport in Chinese. The performance was pretty neat. Everyone was dressed in traditional clothing. The women were very beautiful. One man was spinning a giant pot on his head. He kept throwing it up and catching it on his head. Very impressive! Then, once again, they took our picture and tried to charge us for it. I think the kids are starting to catch on because only three of them bought it this time.

          We had about 20 minutes to walk along the top of the wall.

Cheryl and I took some photos with these giant cartoon figures. I guess they light up at night.

          After the wall we went back to the hotel for lunch. I checked on Jill but she was pretty much cashed out. We then headed to a local middle school. When we first got there they led us into a room where a ton of uniformed little Chinese students were sitting. They put the students into groups and they sat amongst each other. At first they were all pretty shy. Some of the bolder students introduced themselves. The teacher spoke about the school and then a few of the Chinese students got up and recited a small speech they had prepared in English. After that two of our brave girls got up and recited their own short speech.

Then the teacher had the Chinese students get up one at a time to showcase their talents. Some sang, some played instruments. It was cute at first but lasted waaaaay too long. They sort-of put us on the spot by asking our students to get up and showcase their talents. It was horrifying. Some of our kids sang karaoke to "We are the World". The problem was they were tone deaf and the lyrics were all wrong. We were all laughing pretty hard. Then the teacher asked some of our kids to got up and dance to Michael Jackson. Again it was funny but also slightly embarrassing. One girl played the violin but was way off because the strings were different than she was used to. I had to get up there at one point and make a speech. They presented me with some Chinese Calligraphy as a gift. A couple of the students also gave me some little trinkets and toys. Finally it was over and we all headed outside to the ball fields. The students were able to play sports together outside. Most of them played soccer but a few played badminton, jump rope and basketball. And let me just say one thing that bugged me a bit about the basketball game.
The whole time we were inside there was one classful of Chinese kids that were interacting with our students. Then once the sports commenced other students came from no where. The basketball game had these two boys or I might say "men" who were probably in their 20's and were both about 8 feet tall! Needless to say, they killed our kids in the basketball game. All I want to know is, where did those Amazonian giants come from?! I call shenanigans on the whole thing!

          After sports we proceeded to the school cafeteria where we had the worst meal of the trip so far. Let's be honest cafeteria food is not know to be good in any country, but this way beyond gross. First of all, they gave us a tall glass of hot tea to drink after we were sweating our butts off playing sports.

Then we had slimy chicken and all sorts of rice dishes that were quite soggy. Honestly, I ate the watermelon and went and bought a warm Pepsi from the store.

          It was cute seeing all the Chinese and American kiddos exchange their emails and phone numbers. Our students really didn't want to leave. I think some of our students who haven't really found their niche in our delegation really thrived while interacting with the Chinese students. I talked to one of their teachers to see if they have younger students at the school that my class could possibly write to next year but she said the youngest was 12. Bummer.

          When we got back to the hotel, I took a group of kids to the pool.

They had been great all day and deserved it. It was funny because they all had to buy swimming caps to go in the pool. The boys all chose the pink polka-dot ones. They looked pretty silly. I wished I would have brought my camera.

          After bed checks, Jill, Cheryl and I finally had enough energy to hit the hotel bar for a drink. I usually like to try the local beers but there really wasn't any. They had a tall cooler with Heineken, Budweiser and Carlsberg (which we had last year in Ireland). So we were boring and went for the Bud. While we were relaxing in the lounge, there was a Chinese man in the lobby yelling and screaming about something. He was clearly mad and very drunk. People would go over there to try and calm him down, and he would just be more pissed. He was swinging his arms and getting up in people's faces. Cheryl asked the waitress why they the hotel staff wasn't kicking him out and she said, "Okay, I will tell them." I quickly said, "No, no, no." I did not want to be involved!

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photo by: Deats