China 1985

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan 2018

China 1985

This morning, our Chinese Language teacher and one of the students caught an early morning flight to Hong Kong, but not before she had phoned the group from the airport with a short assignment for the first class of 1986.

Meanwhile, the boys had free time until 11:00am.  Most went shopping and I accompanied one group to the Xidan district.  Then, after a leisurely lunch, a very leisurely drive to the airport and an extremely leisurely wait at the airport, we boarded our Qantas Boeing 747-SP for a 4:45pm departure and an 11 hour return flight to Sydney.

We were fortunate in having no serious health problems on the trip.  Apart from almost universal colds following the visit to the Great Wall and a few cases of the usual headaches and diarrhoea, we had one infected ear lobe and an inflamed cheek where a student had scratched a pimple.  He had to attend the hospital in Shanghai twice a day for three days to receive penicillin injections, which are the mainstay of modern Chinese medicine.

The boys were one of the best groups of students overall I have been away with.  There were very few personality clashes and they all clearly appreciated the experience.  For some, it was the incentive they needed to continue with their (complex) studies of Chinese language.  Several boys are now seriously considering diplomatic careers and one boy told me the trip had made him change his intended occupation – he now wants to become an interpreter.  If the group had one defect, it was their punctuality.  The Chinese are punctual in the extreme, and they expect this of their tour groups.  Unfortunately, no amount of coercion could get every boy in the right place at the right time on every occasion.

From my point of view, I thought it was a tremendous experience. I updated my own knowledge of China for my teaching, I took many new slides which will be used in teaching as well as to share the experience of the trip with others, learned quite a few new Chinese expressions, got to know some new students well, and appreciated the chance of enriching their experience through my own background knowledge.  It was particularly pleasing to see the fruits of almost 18 months of planning and fund raising, and the obvious value the students were deriving from it.  I made several new Chinese friends, notably Ding Zhaoqing in Shanghai and Liang Shuchang in Tangshan, both of whose contacts I would like to maintain.  In summary, it was the experience of a lifetime!

Day 21

Beijing to Sydney

Monday, 23 December 1985