Since today was a travel day – from Xi’an to Beijing – and much of the time was spent on the plane and in transition, I’m going to share a little bit about the people I’m traveling with. Not only has this shadowing experience opened my eyes to a world I could only imagine, reminded me of my priorities – professionally and personally, and changed my perception on several levels, it’s given me opportunity to form or in some cases deepen friendships and professional relationships with not only my colleagues in China, but also with the diverse group of American educators, administrators, of which I’m privileged to travel. There are 21 of us who have chosen to begin our journey together in Xi’an representing school systems – comprehensive k-12 school districts and vocational technical high schools from Indiana, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. I can state unequivocally that every one of my fellow travelers takes their responsibilities seriously, is passionate about their schools and students, and dreams of broadening the opportunities for those they have the pleasure of working with and for. Each one has brought dimension to our group and added to our experiences. The conversations we’ve had about our districts or systems, the questions we’ve asked and challenges we’ve shared, our visions and the innovative ideas we’re growing have been priceless; I for one look forward to further conversations and collaboration. It’s difficult, when you’re spending so much time with others and sharing private moments to not form a bond – I mean how often do you get to laugh over sharing another ‘squatty potty’, or a quiet smile over a new found ‘ah ha’ moment – or a tear over the life circumstances of a stranger and then a celebration in reflection; after all not only are we learning more about the world we live in and each other, together we’re learning more about ourselves. Today was the last day for our groups to be together until we get to Shanghai in two weeks – I’m definitely going to miss our new found friends.
Tonight after arriving in Beijing and checking into our hotel, we had dinner at a local restaurant where I had my first experience eating a fish that was looking back at me! Once you get past that head though, I have to tell you, it was pretty good! After dinner we walked to a local bazaar – the colors were amazing – bright lights, orange and red globes, flashing signs, and brightly colored fruits and vegetables. The smells, well, let’s just say some were interesting and some were quite stinky! There were deep fried bats, ducklings (both with their heads still on), scorpions, squid, eels, and kabobs of virtually any meat you can imagine – beef, mutton, chicken, pork… I was brave and tried some peanut candy a vendor was making as we watched, rolling and then pounding the candy flat with heavy mallets that two men were wielding. That too, was quite good, a bit more peppery than what our peanut brittle would be (and softer), but definitely something I would try again.
I thought, tonight, I’d share some faces of the children from the village Pangliu (yesterday’s blog). They are beautiful – enjoy!