This is a grand day and a full day. I awoke again early, about 4:30AM this morning. I ran through my presentation in my head and reviewed what I should expect and prepare for when meeting Mr. Chen, the president of Anshan Normal University.
Last night Googled for Skype and downloaded onto the computer. This is program that many students in America use for free phone calls to China. I emailed my registered name to Gail and Weiwei so that I could test the process in the morning. It was a great surprise to find that both Gail and Weiwei were ready to try the system this morning and had exchanged pointers throughout the day. At 5:30PM I phoned Weiwei and then Gail and talked to Weiwei as if I was in the same city. Our home computer failed to allowed Gail to talk so she typed messages as I spoke to her. This certainly makes the world much smaller and much much less expensive - free.
I kept breakfast to a pot of green tea in an attempt to not overeat and to let the stomach restablize.
At 9:00 I received a phone call from Robin asking for my passport information so that the next flight to Beijing could be purchased. At 9:30 I arrived at the office to walk with Robin to meet President Chen. There I met Madam Guo (Guo Xianchun), director and dean of the Department of Internation Exchange and Cooperation and School of International Exchange. She, Zhang Ying (Lucy) Section chief of the International Exchange and Cooperation, Robin (Cui Xu), our guide and coordinator and English translator and Jin Dongdong (Jojo) joined meet to walk to meet the president.
These walks are very interesting. I am ushered to the front of the entourage and I am joined by the highest ranking member of the group. Last is Jojo, the student intern in the exchange office for this month. If I have carrying something, we offer to carry it for me to the point of insisting and then it is handed to Jojo. I love my moments when I am alone with Jojo where we can walk side by side and chat informally. At a door I say, "Ladies first in America." Her reply is, "In China teacher first."
The time was formal with a proper exchange of gifts, some statements of welcome and appreciation and quite relaxed. After about 15 minutes the president excused himself and we walked out. Madam Guo and Lucy both went to meetings and soon Robin excused himself after a walk through the art gallery and meeting with the dean and assistant dean of the department of mathematics and computer science. They presented me with a large basket filled with a large bouquet of flowers. They were beautiful and it was a very gracious thought. I only regret that I cannot take them with me so tonight when I was invited to the apartment of Dianna to share supper with her and two other international teachers who live in the same building, I gave her the flowers.
A walk through the building allowed me to see two computer classrooms with 80 large old computer monitors seating side by side as sardines in four rows with almost no room for the students to move down the rows. The class was Photoshop and students seemed to be working independently by reading the directions on a powerpoint. An instructor seemed to be moving among the students answering questions. On this campus of some 20,000 students there are about a thousand computers scattered throughout the campus.
This is the 23rd Annual Teacher Day honoring teachers throughout the country. The honor was demonstrated by signs around campus and special greetings from students but it didn't extend to having the day off. When asked about having the day off the answer was something to the effect that if you don't have a class you can have the day off, but if you have a class you must teach the class.
Lunch was with the dean and assistant dean from the math/computer department. We visited primarily through the interpretations of Robin and Jojo. After lunch we stopped to see the classroom and even though we were an hour early. That was good because their computer rotated the images in the powerpoint and their mounted projector didn't work. So they brought in a temporary projector and we connected it to our Mac laptop. It worked and just in time because the students marched in enmasse about 20 minutes early. After the room was full, the number in teh room was more than 50. The teachers showed up late and left early and represented about 10 in the audience.
We agreed to go for one and a half hours and I believe it went well.
Robin told me that supper would be delivered to my room at 6:00PM. And so it was. It was a great simple meal of rice and a couple stir-frys. After a short visit with John, pronounced Jan by Chinese, Abel, who has been called Cain because he gave the hint to remember his name that Abel came from teh story about Cain and Abel in the Bible, at Dianna's apartment, I worked on this website and tomorrow's presentation.