China Week 2007


In November 2007, I enjoyed one of those precious educational experiences that make teaching such a wonderful profession.  I accompanied a fantastic group of 16 students from the College on the annual China Week program.  These galleries show just a few snippets from this amazing experience.

Every year, in early November, groups of 1st Year students from Li Po Chun United World College visit various parts of China that are off the tourist trail to perform voluntary service work and engage in personal challenge activities.  In 2007, groups from the College visited such diverse locations as Kunming, Shaoguan, and Yao Tribe and She Tribe village in the remote mountainous fringes of Guangdong province.

Although my previous trips to the region with students have been with me as the sole teacher, this year I was privileged to be joined by another teacher, Ronny Mintjens.  The 18 of us took ground transport from the College across the border to Shenzhen, from where we flew to Kunming before taking a 13 hour overnight bus trip to Zhongdian, a centre of Tibetan culture in northern Yunnan province.  After a day exploring the Tibetan wonders of Zhongdian and adjusting to the high altitude (it was 3600 metres, similar to Lhasa), we drove north to the village of Waka, which lies on the Sichuan side of the Yunnan-Sichuan border, on the upper Yangtze River.

Waka was a major destination for us, as we had agreed to work with the children in an orphanage established there for Tibetan orphans (see the website of the orphanage HERE).  Our students were marvellous as they worked with the children in three teams - singing and dancing, sports and games, and arts and crafts.  We finished our time at the orphanage by performing an international cultural show, not only for the orphans but for the entire primary school that they attend.  The freely flowing tears as we said farewell were testimony to many young lives changed for the better.

We were delayed in leaving Waka because of heavy snow falls on the nearby mountains, but eventually we managed to find three brave minivan drivers who were prepared to take us back to Zhongdian to catch a bus to Qiaotou to the south.  Qiaotou is the gateway to Tiger Leaping Gorge, and it was a wonderful experience to lead the 16 students on the 25 kilometre trek through the Gorge.  It was my 5th time to make the trek, and every experience is uniquely invigorating in this wonderful landscape.

After successfully completing the trek, we took a minibus south to Lijiang, a centre of Naxi culture and a town that deservedly has a UNESCO World Heritage listing.  It was great to wander the old laneways of cobble stones, worn smooth by centuries of traffic, between the old red timber buildings with their distinctive upturned eves.  Some of the students were less impressed with their visit to the market where we saw several dogs being killed and roasted, but China is a country that is always surprising, sometimes confronting but always impressive.

Our group returned to the College tired but justifiably happy with the work done and the experiences shared.

Please enjoy these galleries of images as a way of sharing in our sensational experiences!