blog 87: In which I go to CHINA – PART ONE.

I’ve been very fortunate in recent years (with the expert help of BOOKED OUT SPEAKER’S AGENCY ) to have had the chance to do overseas school visits at the Jakarta International School (twice), The British International School of Jakarta and The American Community School of Abu Dhabi (see blog 33).

100_6012   100_6083

In January this year I was given the wonderful opportunity to do talks and workshops at three schools in Southern China.

These overseas visits first started when I met Dianne and Kate in 2006, two lovely librarians from the Jakarta International School, at a CBCA conference in Sydney. After hearing me talk, they asked if I’d ever thought about doing school visits overseas. I said I hadn’t, but I certainly would!

That conversation resulted in two  very enjoyable and rewarding trips to Jakarta. A few years later when Dianne got a new position in Abu Dhabi she contacted me about going there and then last year she emailed me from her new location, the Nansha College Preparatory School in China and asked, “Are you still doing overseas school visits?”. To which I replied, “Only when you contact me!”. So I owe all my school globe-trotting to Dianne and for that, and our friendship,  I am very grateful.

Dianne at NCPA

Dianne at NCPA

Anyway, what follows (along with of course some poetic and writerly licence) is the first part of how my China trip went …

Well I left Brisbane bright and early on the morning of January 5th. So lucky to have all the family at the airport to see me off!

CAM04227

After an 8 hour flight (see blog 20 for helpful plane travel advice!) I arrived in Changi Airport in Singapore. I passed the next 5 hours there by visiting London and the butterfly house …

CAM04230 CAM04242

… and trying not to stare for too long at the carpet.

IPADMINI 226

After another 4 hour flight and then an hour’s taxi ride from Guangzhou airport, I arrived at the Nansha College Preparatory Academy teachers’ apartment just after 2 o’clock in the morning. I was tired but looking forward to the weeks ahead.

CAM04250

My apartment was on the second floor of the middle building.

CAM04247

View from my apartment looking towards the school.

After a late sleep in, I had the rest of my first day in China (Wednesday 6th Jan) to relax, find Dianne, meet people and check out the library and the school.

CAM04388

IPADMINI 199  IPADMINI 197

CAM04259 CAM04265

I started the next day with a presentation on the morning assembly to the years 9 to 12s. It mainly covered my incredible life’s journey from being raised by a pack of wild wombats right through to my ascendancy as a modern Australian icon. I think they were duly impressed!

IPADMINI 215

Overall I had 7 days of presentations and workshops at NCPA with classes ranging from year 7 through to 12. All the students and teachers were very welcoming and great to work with.

IPADMINI 208  IPADMINI 203

ms.author.m.bauer-4857 ms.author.m.bauer-4558

ms.author.m.bauer-4761 michael.bauer.visitingauthor-0026

ms.visiting.author.m.bauer-0673  michael.bauer.visitingauthor-0178

NCPA was different from the other two schools I was visiting, in that basically all the students there are Chinese with English as a second language which did make communication slightly more of a challenge on occasions.

The subjects at NCPA are taught in English to prepare the students to go on to English-speaking Universities in England, the USA and Australia.

When students enroll at the College they automatically give up their right to ever attend a University in China, so it’s quite a decision and commitment that they and their families make particularly if they enroll in year 7.

I have to say that I think the students coped remarkably well with having a crazy Australian with a strange accent in the class with them.

michael.bauer.visitingauthor-0098 michael.bauer.visitingauthor-0239a

All the classes went well but one of the highlights of my time at NCPA were the sessions with the Years 7 & 8s on Writing Funny. The challenge I gave them was to take a normally very serious situation (eg a Bank Robbery) and turn it into comedy by adding the element of surprise to Characters, Action and eventually Language Use.

First we needed to make sure the students understood the fine art Robbing Banks (I hasten to add that I did urge them not to put their new-found knowledge into practice and never to play with real guns!)

To help out, Dianne and the wonderful Year 7 and 8 teachers and teacher aids acted out a typically serious robbery scene for me (which the kids of course found hugely hilarious and entertaining. As did I).

ms.author.m.bauer-4581a   ms.author.m.bauer-5132a  ms.author.m.bauer-5122ams.author.m.bauer-5158a ms.author.m.bauer-4617

Sadly, all the attention eventually went to the teachers’ heads and they started making excessive demands for increased pay as well as ridiculously unreasonable requests for things like luxury trailers, gourmet catering and personal assistants. So after three outstanding performances for three different sessions, it all came to an end.

Then it was the students turn to transform serious into funny – and they were seriously funny! Every group came up with a scenario the was unique, clever and contained laugh out loud moments. ( Disclaimer: no students were injured in the performance of these robbery scenes.  And a huge thanks to JEREMIAH for the use of his terrific photos – as well as for his company and conversation.)

ms.author.m.bauer-5412x   ms.author.m.bauer-5393xms.author.m.bauer-4844x    ms.author.m.bauer-5219x ms.author.m.bauer-5263x  ms.author.m.bauer-4956x   ms.author.m.bauer-4976x  ms.author.m.bauer-5342x

But of course, all my time wasn’t spent in the classroom. Back in the apartment I’m proud to say I managed to successfully break the code on the washing machine instructions. Although I do admit that my first attempt at random button pushing resulted in my clothes starting to be spun dry before any water had actually entered the tub. Almost immediately I realised that probably wasn’t right.

IPADMINI 202  IPADMINI 201

I also want to thank Dianne and all the teachers at NCPA and the two other schools who invited me into their homes or took me out to wonderful restaurants and who in many other ways were so kind and generous. A special thank you to Janet at NCPA who had the apartment below me for the beautiful dinners, for supplying the iron/ironing board and other items, and for constantly loading me up with food supplies, including the odd Budweiser. Much appreciated.

Speaking of food, my lunches from the school cafeteria at NCPA were pretty special too. And as for chop sticks, by the time I left China I could pick an ant up by his little toe with those babies!

CAM04387 IPADMINI 152 CAM04411

On my days off at Nansha I managed to get in some great sight-seeing thanks to Dianne and other staff members.

On my first Saturday I went with Dianne, Raymond (IT) and Karen (library assistant) to the Xiqiao Mountain about an hour’s drive from the school.

First stop was the Wong Fei-hung Lion Dance & Martial Arts School. A place with an amazing history. The origin of Kung-fu I believe.

DSC_0012  DSC_0007

COUSINS DAY Jan 2016 003 COUSINS DAY Jan 2016 002a

After that it was on to the bronze Nanhai Kwan-yin Statue – at 62 metres tall and sitting on top of a mountain 290 metres above sea level, it is the biggest seated Buddha statue in the world.

On the way to see it, we passed lovely gardens.

CAM04287

The Buddha statue itself was spectacularly impressive.

DSC_0034DSC_0036 On the quite long climb from where I’m standing in the photo above to the base of the statue are a series of magnificent stone carvings.CAM04296CAM04299CAM04300DSC_0044

This is the view from the Buddha statue. If there was a little less pollution you would be able to see the city in that white background.

CAM04311 CAM04318

Before we left the mountain top I wrote some wishes and threw them into the Wishing Tree. (You can see where the tree is in the photo above. It’s that smudge of red colour at the top centre/right.)

CAM04325   COUSINS DAY Jan 2016 007

After four failed attempts I changed my wish to, “Please let me get this thing to stay in the branches sometime before I die!’

I eventually succeeded and the proof is in the photo below. Mine is the red and yellow one around top centre, just next to the two yellow and red ones.

CAM04330

Our last stop before heading home was beautiful Tianhu Lake …

CAM04343  CAM04337 CAM04336

… where we saw quite a few of these cute little guys …

CAM04341

… and we didn’t do this because … well … we are.

CAM04344

An awesome day and I was so lucky to get to spend it with these lovely people.

COUSINS DAY Jan 2016 005a

The next day (Sunday) Dianne took me to the markets in the old section of town. I loved it. Such an interesting, bustling place with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and other products.

However, the meat and fish sections were no places for vegetarians or passionate animal lovers like my beautiful daughter. Avert your eyes Meg!

CAM04361  CAM04363      CAM04358  CAM04360

CAM04373   CAM04369

And with those images of a whole skinned goat and a bag of live frogs, I think I’ll end PART ONE of my CHINA blog.

I’ve covered the first 11 days up till Friday 15th January. I have a day and a half left in Nansha before I head off on Sunday 17th for my next destination – the International School of DONGGUAN.

Sorry about the overload of photos, but considering I did take hundreds, I’ve actually let you off easy.

PART TWO coming in a few days.

Cheers
Michael

IPADMINI 204

Eric gives Just a Dog a very generous thumbs up.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to blog 87: In which I go to CHINA – PART ONE.

  1. Pingback: blog 89: In which I say ‘see ya’ to February and March. | michael gerard bauer – author

  2. Dimity Powell says:

    And you call this working! Truly spectacular way to pass your time. 🙂

    Like

  3. Sam Eeles says:

    Love it, Michael – looks like a wonderful trip.

    Like

Cot a COMMENT or QUESTION? Love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s