Saturday, June 30, 2007

Week in Lanzhou

I will describe the four days spent at Ruth's apt. and going to her school by topic rather than day by day. This will cover Tuesday morning until Friday noon.

One of the main activities of the week was going to Ruth's Oral English classes. She was giving final exams to her eight classes. The students had been given a choice of doing a group presentation or having an individual test with Ruth. The group skits were first and they were so fun to watch. Some were variations on fairy tales such as Cinderella or The Three Little Pigs. Others were original skits about family relationships or finding true love.. There were some that were presented as a short debate on topics such as whether there should be a TV in the college dormitories or whether good deeds should be rewarded. Next Ruth would take part of the class to her office for the individual testing and I would talk with the other half. Niel had gotten together about 25 photos before I left and these were the basis for my talk. I shared about my family and the types of activities we do. It was a lot of fun and afterwards I would usually have a small group come and talk more with me. I got some of the most reaction when I explained that my husband and sons also help cook. Niel working for IBM also often got a reaction.

During one morning Ruth had no class. I stayed here in the apt. and helped with domestic chores. It was interesting but time consuming to do laundry as her machine has separate agitator and spin portions and doesn't work quite right so I had to hold a button to agitate. Ruth's sun room has a clothes line so I could hang the laundry there. The fresh fruit here is wonderful! However, it takes a while to to get to eat it after buying it from a street-side vendor. First, the fruit is soaked in bleach water, then rinsed in water that has been boiled, and then dried.

One afternoon, Ruth arranged for a student to show me around town. Roma brought two friends to help and we had a nice time crossing the Yellow River at the Iron Bridge and exploring White Pagoda Hills Park. The students were protective of me and did a good job as tour guides. I observed a ceremony at a Buddhist Temple in the park. The students said that since I was a Christian I could just watch while they lit incense. There were women in robes chanting. It was quite interesting even though I really didn't know what was going on.

Two evenings involved going to fancy restaurants. One was the official farewell dinner for the foreign teachers which I got to attend also. There were about a dozen people and we were seated in a separate room with a couple of attendants who tended to our every need. We were seated at a round table with a lazy susan in the middle. The dishes were presented so beautifully. Some dishes I liked quite well and others not so much. The other dinner was one that Ruth gave for the young Chinese teachers. It was similar to the first dinner but not quite as fancy. I have found that I really like Chrysanthemum tea.

I have had no trouble with stomach or intestinal problems. I try to be careful and am especially cautious about the water. I have eaten food from street vendors but it is always cooked right in front of us.

All for now. My next entry will tell of a visit to a village in the countryside.

Comments:
Hi Beth, The methods of laundry surely reflect the conservation of water and electricity. I remember Ruths shower had limited hot water. We would turn the shower off after getting wet and then on again to rinse. We have adopted that method at the cabin now!!. The clothes dried overnight there. Here it would take days due to the humidity.
Looking forward to the write up on the village visit. Were you the 'main attraction' there? Byrna
 
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