by Bethany Barone
Once the day started, I knew it was going to be a little crazy. Everyone needed to get ready, eat, and be packed before we headed out for today’s activities. As everyone started to dwindle out from the rooms, I started to get really excited about our visit to the preschool at the Jiaotong University. Everyone really enjoys interacting with children, so I knew this was going to be a lot of fun!
Upon arriving at the preschool, we were greeted by the staff. They were extremely welcoming and very excited to share and show us their beautiful school. At the preschool, there are 1,300 students and 200 teachers with 44 classes and 30 students in each classroom. In the classrooms there are three teachers, which include two English teachers and one assistant teacher. They also informed us about the different levels at the preschool. In level 1 the ages are three to four, level 2 the ages are four to five, level 3 the ages are five to six, and level 4 the ages are six to seven. Also, the curriculum is heavily based on art, nature, and culture which is different from the rest of the Chinese education system. After the English teacher told us this, it really helped all of us understand this preschool and their mission to educate these children.
Next, we were ushered through the gates and the first thing I noticed were the all these little tiny children exercising. They were the cutest little children and I couldn’t stop watching them. It wasn’t just me either, everyone in the group was smiling ear to ear. Inside the first building, we got to listen to the first class, which was about six year olds, sing to us in English. I have to say, I think my heart melted because they were just so adorable. Their English was great and the way they bounced their heads side to side was just perfect. Again, everyone was so welcoming and they invited us to sing and dance with the children.
During our visit, we got to go several different classrooms and interact with the children. We sat and talked with the kids as they shared all the arts and crafts that they made. A lot of them spoke great English, so it was really fun when we started talking about the crafts they were making. I spoke with this one little girl and she told me about the chicken she was sewing. Let me remind you, she is six years old and she is threading a needle and sewing all by herself! After showing me her almost finished chicken, she asked me to end the last side. Well, after a few stiches I messed up and she wasn’t impressed. However, she was a very sweet girl and fixed it for me. In the other classes we visited, children were playing with puppets, dressing up, painting, and drawing all while having a great time learning about art, nature, and their culture.
Near the end of our visit were given a grand performance by the children. Our first performance was three lovely girls playing together on a Chinese instrument. They played so well and so poised, we all were in shock. They were extremely talented and the music they were creating was magnificent. The next performance was a little more upbeat and with lot of kids. It started out with boys showing us their kung fu skills to some really fun music. They looked like they were having so much and all of us really enjoyed watching the mini kung fu masters. After the boys, the music transitioned and a bundle of little girls ran out from the sides and started to dance. All their hard work paid off because they looked beautiful dancing out there in their white flowing dresses. All of us here blown away by their dancing and kung fu skills that children demonstrated. Before our visit ended, we were invited to watch the raising of the flag that happens each Monday. It was a great honor to be invited and really special to see all the children take park. During this ceremony, the weekly lesson is announced. For this week, the lesson is on safety and ways children can display safe action in their daily lives. I wish we could have spent all day there, the staff and children were so great.
After our visit to the preschool, we were all headed to the Muslim market for last minute shopping and lunch. Our main mission was to try a bunch of different street food and let me tell you, it was delisous! All of us tried a bunch of different food such as, quail eggs with sesame sause, lamb skewers, potatoe spirals, bread desserts, and a Chinese hamburger. Dr. Bischoff told us about the Chinese hamburger I was determined to try one. The line was long, but it was totally worth it. It looked like a pulled pork sandwhich, but it was really lamb with a special spicy sauce.
Once we arrived back on campus, we headed to the gate to leave for the airport. The day was so busy and fun that it was already time to leave for Beijing. We arrived at the airport with no time to spare and all of us were rushing to make our flight. I guess I would say our flight to Beijing was a little chaotic. However, once we relized that we were fine and going to make it, everyone started to relax. After arriving in Beijing, we headed over to our very nice hotel. By this time everyone was hungry and Jenae was in charge of directions to the resturant. Without no problems we made it and had a great dinner. We ended dinner with a discussion on how this trip had impacted us and what we have learned. Everyone had great comments about our time and the cultural awernress that we have gained. It was a perfect ending to a perfect trip.