September 11, 2008
Laura, Ya and Keren have finished their trip and are back with their families in Shanghai. But that doesn't mean our relationship ends here.
Yesterday Keren sent an email alerting us to the Chinese Teacher's Day and here is what she wrote:
Today is teachers' day in China! Happy teachers' day!
It has alredy been tweleve days since we left Illinois but the wonderful memory of those days spent with you is still fresh in my mind.
Through this trip, we were accompanied by you to many places to experience 4H and got lots of inspirations from the various programs you are working on and the way you work. And thanks to you, we've also got this valuable chance to get to know your way of life and to taste your yummy food. I have already locked up those wonderful memories in my mind with a click and they will remain my lifetime treasure for sure.
Ps: you can find some photos of the mooncakes I bought yesterday for the Mid-autumn festival, September 14th, a day for family members and friends to gather to admire the bright mid-autumn harvest moon, and eat mooncakes together. I hope next time you come to Shanghai, we can sit together in a yard, enjoying the full moon and mooncakes together. Looking forward to seeing you soon in Shanghai!
August 19, 2008
Reflections of last week's adventures by Keren:
The first impression New York left on me is that the city is crowded with high rises and the subway is really not so good. Right on the first day Laura and I bought unlimited tickets for one day and began our adventure in Manhattan just with a map in hand. Almost all the buildings are quite famous as we have read a lot about them in books and movies. Therefore, "ah, this is …" almost became our tag in New York. Most excitingly, we watched the opening ceremony of the Olympics in TV when we were having dinner in Rockfeller CafĂ??©. At that moment, I was moved and really missed home.
In Springfield, we were hosted by Judy, who has a big and beautiful farm. When we arrived at her house, we were all amazed by the terrific landscape outside and the antiques in her house. The next morning, Judy drove us to State Fair, which we have heard about for long. The moment when I got there, I found although I have been to several county fairs, no wonder none of those is bigger than this one. You can see almost everything here, even the butter cow, which is extremely lifelike. We attended the clover bud celebration, during which we enjoyed the fashion show and met a lady who has been in 4h for more than 60 years, amazing! I can't help wondering if I continue working for our community program in China for 60 years, how old am I going to be then? : ）
The first day we arrived at the state fair is undoubtedly a big day for us because we've got the chance to meet with Chancellor Herman and Dean Easter, who are very nice and know a lot about China. And we even got the chance to see the governor bid in auction place. So many VIPs the whole afternoon! That day is also the first time for us to meet Ryan who is so nice to drive us by his golf cart to and from ethnic village where we had dinner together with Judy and Patti. We all tried kim chi, very spicy Korean food and we all liked it.
Jane picked us up in Champaign and drove us to Tinley. The afternoon when we arrived, Greg invited us to his house for dinner with his brothers and sisters. Before I went to his house, I had already expected many beautiful flowers. But I bet I never expected to see tens of frogs with various poses in front of his gate and an unbelievably large collection of Mickey Mouse in his house. He is also very creative in cooking. He made us a very special and yummy dessert --- grilled peach ice cream.
Next morning, we five kids stepped on the way to Chicago. This trip to Chicago is very fruitful. During the meetings with extension educators and community workers, we exchanged our ideas and got many inspirations for our program. I realized there is a great necessity for us to reach out to the parents who send their children to our program and thus they will be aware of the important role they play in children's life and then create a better study environment for their children, or they can also be educated to apply for positions in job market and find their own sense of belonging. We've also got to learn about the program of "Readers are Leaders", which is quite similar to our reading program.
This trip is just wonderful. We lived in a wonderful hotel. Jane and Greg brought us to some nice restaurants, like Park Grill, Garden Restaurant, and Dixie Kitchen, a typical Southern restaurant, where I ordered Southern sampler consisting of rice, gumbo, jambalaya, red bean and rice, so yummy! One of the restaurants we went to called Parrot Cage in South Shore Cultural Center is very unique not because of its food but because of its waiters and waitresses who are mostly young people coming here to be trained for jobs. And the food there is just wonderful.
On the trip, sometimes nice things just happened unexpectedly. For example, on the first evening, we had originally planned to go to some place but when we by chance learned that a jazz concert would be held in Millennium Park, all of us preferred to go to the park. Apparently, that's a wise choice! Everyone enjoyed the powerful and moving jazz music. I found a little girl dressed in black dress also enjoyed it very much, dancing alone all the way to the stage along the aisle, just like an angel. The only pity is that chairs were put in front of the stage and many people sit there; otherwise, everybody could dance with the music. Another unexpected beauty of Chicago was discovered on the way to the University of Chicago. Along the road when I beheld the clear sky, blue sea and white beach, my heart leapt up. After touring around the university and visiting the smart house, which in my opinion is still not smart enough to enable most people to afford such a house worth $ 450,000, we headed for the beach. We took off our shoes, raced with waves that were going to break on the shore and picked up stones and shells of beautiful shapes. The air show also happened to be on, and in the evening we went to a place with a good view to see the fireworks show, transient but very brilliant.
On the last day, we lost no time in seeing and experiencing more about Chicago. We went to American Girl store, where we saw many little cute girls with American Girls in the same dress in their arms. Sometimes, I just could not tell which was the doll and which was the real girl. They all looked so delicate and adorable. We also went to the Art Institute of Chicago to see the exhibition of Impressionism and American art. In the gift shop, thanks to Jane's membership card, we got a very very considerable discount on the souvenirs we bought there. Then, our wonderful trip to Chicago was ended with a wonderful dot --- a yummy dinner and a bonfire at the Higgins.
Through this second trip to Chicago, I know for sure that I like Chicago much more than New York. Chicago is such a magnificent and neat city that I have already been missing it on the way back to Champaign and we all enjoy the time with Jane and Greg, who are so nice and humorous.
August 11, 2008
I'm very sorry that I haven't kept the blog updated since we left Champaign. I'll try to make it up. We were hosted by Steve in St. Louis; and by Donna and JoAn in Chicago. I'm very grateful to them. Every day was well arranged; we were busy but had a lot of fun.
At the first afternoon in St. Louis, we were given an informative and interesting presentation by Wilbon, a coworker of Steve. Wilbon taught us how to make robot in the presentation. It was very cool. In the rest of our stay, we visited two local schools, went to Bond Community fair, Union Station, city museum, the Arch, St. Louis Botanic Garden, etc…We also went shopping, drank beers, had witty and humorous discussions on cultures. It was so much fun to be with Steve who has been thoughtful to us and made us relax. In the morning we were leaving, we felt the time just flied and hard to part from him.
After six hours on the train, JoAn and Donna met us at the Chicago Station. After lunch, we took a wonderful water tour in which we were fully exposed to the uniqueness of the city, especially its architectures. Then we walked to the Sears tower where I got a very thrilling experience in my life. We were on the top floor of the building, enjoying the beautiful night view of the city. Everything was gorgeous until it started lightening and the building began to shake! JoAn and I were not comfortable with the shaking and decided to leave first, even though we knew the place was safe. The waiting for the elevator was probably the longest one in my life. Finally we got to the ground floor, finding people rushing into the hall from outside, all wet. Then we were told the windows on the 49th floor blew off and the storm was probably a tornado. Once we five got together, we decided to change our plan, skip the dinner in the restaurant, and go immediately back to Donna's house. The next morning, we saw trees were cut down by the storm and some areas lost electricity. What an unforgettable night! Now I start wondering what would be the next unexpected experience in my America tour.
I should apologize for my previous stereotype that people in Chicago are indifferent to others. In my stay in Chicago, I was impressed by people here who constantly showed their friendliness to us. The recent one came when we were in Ravinia Festival with JoAn, Donna and her husband, enjoying the pavilion of Chicago Symphony Orchestra at lawn. A gentlemen and a lady offered us two free tickets for indoor watching. What a wonderful surprise! JoAn generously gave her chance to us; Keren, Laura and me watched the performance by turn. I don't know what to say, though I do know I should be very grateful to the people who hosted us and helped us in our visit. They also taught me how to understand and appreciate others. What else would the trip bring to my life? I am seriously curious.
July 31, 2008
This has been written by Laura:
Shelbyville County Fair From this week on, we begin to travel to different places, experiencing 4H programs. I have never seen the real 4H work before. On Monday (I have never been able to remember the date since I was in the U.S.), we went to the Shelbyville county fair. Jim, the director of the county fair, guided us a tour. We saw livestock, hand made stuff like book shelves. We met with judges. It seems to me that the kids are very skillful. They are all good at making things with their own hands. What impressed me most is a little girl who comes to a 4H fair for the first time. She answered the judge's question with great confidence. She also had good logic to explain and describe things. I noticed that the judge would always ask one question like "what would you do if you are going to do it again next year?" It is always good to know one's weaknesses as well as strengths. Later at noon, we had a special kind of food for lunch. I still have the difficulty figuring out the names of those foods, like sloppy Joes? In the afternoon, we saw the rocket launch. We were standing in the cornfield waiting and watching the rocket up in the air. I have passed cornfield many times, but have never been so close to it. I was matching the place with what I have seen in the movies. It is a very interesting experience.
At Dr. Campion's house Whenever we mentioned that Dr. Campion has invited us for dinner, people would say 'I am so envious of you.' We were there on Monday evening! His house is huge! Rita, his wife is very nice. I like her at the first sight. She must be a real beauty. She is very elegant and humorous. When Dennis told her he had been talking about her with us on the way home, she fell back as if she had been hit by something unexpected. We had chicken, rice with broccoli, cheesecake and above all a very good chat.
At Decatur with Phyllis I have never been clear about the date since we arrived in America. When Richard was here knocking at the door at 8:15 on Tuesday , we were all getting ready to go. We were going to Decatur to meet with Phyllis whom we have had the pleasure to meet in Shanghai. We first went to a church to sit in an ESL class. All of us were students reading the newspaper article. I have never been in a church before. There is a day-care center, an ESL class, the special aid and so on. I also found clerks working in the office in the church. Everything is so different from what I have expected. We had very tasty Chinese food for lunch in the church which was prepared by Sherry from Asian House. Getting out of church, we went to the Old King Orchard Community Center. We met with kids and joined their nutrition class. It is also a surprise to know that American communities provide free lunch and dinner. The kids would come to the center right after school doing homework and having supper.
In the afternoon, we got to see the great 4H junior leaders. They gave us a fantastic presentation about SNAP (Super Nutrition Activity Programs), then and now. Miss Amy, one of the educators has worked closely with the 4 kids. I appreciated their energy and enthusiasm very much. I believe students in Sanda University can also develop such a leadership. In the evening, we went to a Mexican restaurant for supper. We three taught them to speak Chinese such as 'I love you', and we also gave them each a Chinese name. They are Temeisan, Cory, Ashley, Julien. We name them 邰美千，柯瑞，艾西里，珠连。They were expecting to meet us again the next day.
Something unexpected happened when Phyllis sent us to Richard's car. The cloud was gathering. That evening when we drove back to Champaign, we were running with the storm. It was very hard to see the road clearly. Richard decided to drive to his home first to seek shelter.
July 31, 2008
Here some more impressions by Ya:
It was an unforgettable experience to me of going to Memorial Camp. The Allerton park is a wonderful location that provides a tranquil surrounding for the young people to be embraced by the nature. My first glance when I arrived there was a group of young people who were apparently in different ages playing soccer in the green grass lightheartedly. It reminded me of my childhood, which was a little plain compared to theirs. In the camp, we experienced a lot of things, such as zip line, rowing, challenging course, etc. We ate in the big dinning hall with all of the kids. It was really fun, and we called it experiential learning.
"Planting the seeds of hope. Working together to make a difference one life at a time." The sentence I found on the wall of the Old King Orchard community center is what I'd like to use in our China's program. I was very impressed by Joyce and her words, "There are got to be someone to do something for these kids." Joyce is a life long volunteer in O.K.O community center taking care of inner city children. Most of the children in our program are from low income families. One of our goals is to ensure them equal access to educational resource and empower them. I believe it shares the equal importance with "to make the best better." Today I'm very glad to see the variety of the 4-H. I believe these varieties will help the Illinois 4-H become stronger.
July 28, 2008
Laura, Keren and Ya have now been in Illinois for over a week. Here are Keren's impressions of these first days away from home:
As the Chinese saying goes, long distance separates no bosom friends. We took a flight which lasts for nearly 14 hours and in a wink, we stepped on the land of Chicago. After claiming luggage, we walked out of the terminal building and then began to search for the sign with Chinese characters on it. All of a sudden I spotted familiar faces, Jane, Greg and Donna holding three fancy balloons instead of signs, very warm welcome！
--- First impression of Illinois
As I sit in the car heading for Donna's house, I find Chicago bears some resemblance to Shanghai in the aspects of modern buildings and broad highways. The only difference I have found so far is that most residence houses here are 2 stories high while those in Shanghai are at least 6 stories high. And that is probably the reason why the sky in Illinois looks closer to us compared with that in Shanghai. Another thing I found amazed about Illinois when Richard drove us from Donna's house to Champaign is miles and miles of cornfields, even taller than men! One more thing, I am just fascinated with the clouds here. You can hardly find so many clouds of different shapes in Shanghai.
Martina showed us around the campus on a very very warm afternoon. Thank you! Living on such a campus with modern facilities, the students here must be the luckiest and the happiest. Nevertheless, I guess living on such a huge campus, the students must have a strong sense of direction to ensure they can find the classroom. J
In the Lincoln Hall, after being told by our campus tour guides that it would bring us good luck to touch Lincoln's nose, we all did that although we had already got a lot of good luck, like the opportunity of being here in Illinois, meeting old friends and getting to know new friends. Such good luck can never be too much.
Dr. Clark designed a compact and interesting training schedule for us. We all experienced a different working style here --- inspirations and good ideas are usually achieved during the process of enjoying doing something. In 4-H memorial camp, I strongly experienced the difference again. Usually in China, teachers and parents are more willing to have their children study in the classroom or at home, working hard on school subjects all day long. But the situation here is of great difference. In the camp, those kids apparently did have a lot of fun both indoors and outdoors while learning knowledge. We also had a lot of fun there, teaching some simple Chinese words and the way to use chopsticks to the kids in a foreign language club. They enjoyed that and really learned very quickly, which is just amazing! In addition, we attended the CSI club. The kids in that club are really cool. They played the role of detectives and managed to catch the suspected criminal with the evidence of fingerprints, footprints and hair. We even tried zip line, a really very thrilling activity and rowed a boat, a really very relaxing activity. If only I could come back to my childhood and then I would definitely take part in 4-H camp having a lot of fun and meanwhile learning. And I strongly believe the kids in our program will also love these interesting and instructive activities.
Martina and her husband hosted us on Friday. And during the dinner time, we had such a happy and wonderful chatting with each other that when we realized it might be a little bit late, we found it was already 10 pm. The next morning, we three cooked the breakfast and we are so glad they like it. Her husband drove us to Indianapolis, leaving Henry alone at home. Sorry, Henry~~ (PS: Henry is their dog). The first destination is the Civil War Museum, which exhibits many vivid pictures and descriptions about the war that I could only learn from books before. Therefore, we did take a lot of pictures in order that we can show them to our students and that must be very helpful when explaining to them about the Civil War. Then we bought some books at a book store and went shopping. The last destination is just wonderful. The Italian restaurant looks common from outside but when we got inside we found the wall decorated with hundreds of fancy and funny pictures. And most importantly the food tastes very good.
Here, many thanks go to Richard for thoughtfully arranging such a wonderful training for us and also for inviting us to your house for a nice and tasty dinner, to Donna for kindly hosting us in your house, to Madonna who showed us around the local farmer's market, to Jane and Greg for taking us to a nice local restaurant called Long Branch, to Steve for showing us around Champaign county fair where we were interviewed for a radio program and the wonderful dinner in a Chinese restaurant, whose owner is also from Shanghai! And thanks also go to all of you who have been so kind and generous to us that we just feel like at home. I find people here do cherish their family value and traditions a lot. They keep the things inherited from the older generation, decorate the house with them and pass them down to the younger generation as a kind of valuable memory. I really like such cozy and warm feelings in the family.
Up till now, I have just been here for about one week, so still a lot more fresh new things to experience. To be continued…
July 25, 2008
For all of you who would like to meet with our visitors from China, here is their itinerary for the next few weeks!
Sanda University Visitor Itinerary
July 16-Aug 28, 2008
- July 16- Delegation Arrives at O'hare Airport – Donna Nuger meets, lodging at Donna's House
- July 17 – Richard Clark picks up delegation in morning and brings to Champaign – Attend 4-H Foundation Board Meeting in afternoon – Lodging at Eastland Suites
- July 18 – Morning orientation at State 4-H office; Afternoon tour of Campus with Martina Mohrbacher- lodging Eastland Suites
- July 19-20- Relax and sightsee in Champaign area – lodging Eastland Suites
- July 21- Orientation in State 4-H Office- lodging Eastland Suites
- July 22- Training in morning at State 4-H office, Visit Doris Christopher Center with Patti Faughn in afternoon – lodging at Eastland Suites
- July 23- Memorial 4-H Camp – lodging at camp
- July 24- Passport to the World camp in morning; travel to Champaign County Fair with Steve Ayers in afternoon- lodging at Eastland Suites
- July 25-27 – Down time/library time/sightseeing in Champaign area – lodging at Eastland Suites
- July 28- Shelby County Fair- Hosted by Jim Looft – Lodging Eastland Suites
- July 29 -30- Decatur for EFNEP and Teen Leadership with Phyllis Herring- lodging 29th and 30th in Decatur
- July 31- Aug 3- Visit in St. Louis Metro area with Steve Wagoner – Lodging in St. Louis area. Travel to Chicago area in afternoon of Aug 3.
- Aug 3 – 7 - Camp Clover in morning with Donna Nuger- sightseeing in Chicago in afternoon/evening with Donna Nuger and JoAn Todd. Lodging Aug 3 – 7 at Donna's House
- Aug 7-10 New York City
- Aug 11-17 – State Fair and Chicago urban programs – details still to be determined
- Aug 18-19 – Springfield, visit Lincoln historic sites with Judy Taylor – lodging with Judy Taylor
- Aug 20- morning meeting on the Forgotten Half in Springfield, afternoon travel with Virginia Kuo to Peoria. Lodging with Virginia
- Aug 21 – China Reunion – Springfield- Travel with Virginia Kuo and return to Peoria, lodging with Virginia Kuo
- Aug 22-25- Visit 4-H clubs in Peoria, 4-H Family Night with Peoria Chiefs Baseball, Character Education Training, Lodging with Virginia Kuo
- Aug 26- Travel to Champaign, Debriefing of visit, departure celebration (?), lodging with Richard Clark
- Aug 27- Travel to Chicago area, lodging with Donna Nuger
- Aug 28- Donna Nuger delivers delegation to O'Hare for departure
July 25, 2008
Welcome Laura (Jing), Ya and Keren from Sanda University in Shanghai, China! The three arrived on July 16 and were welcomed by Jane and Greg at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago. After one night in Chicago, Richard picked them up and brought them to Champaign where they had a hopefully interesting week packed with campus visits, meetings and programs, a night at 4-H Memorial Camp and a visit to the local farmers market. All of us who have the good fortune of living close to Champaign and therefore getting to spend time with them right now where thrilled to see them again!
But I don't want to write too much here, you might be more interested in getting a first short report by one of our visitors. They actually promised to write some more over the coming weeks and also to allow me to publish some photos illustrating their adventures here in Illinois. So here is what Ya wrote for us:
We had the interview for visa application on 10 July and we hadn't bought the ticket until 13 July. All of a sudden, we were on the plane to the U. S.! Everything seemed unreal; maybe it is because the expectation for the journey lasted so long and our departure was done in such a rush.
My anxiety or apprehension was gone once we met Greg, Jane and Donna at the airport. They even brought balloons to welcome us! Stepping out of the airport, with the balloon up and down at my hands, I felt my heart leaping with happiness and excitements. Jing, Keren and me at the O'Hare International Airport.
We spent the first night at Donna's house where I found four lively dogs and an admirable couple. The welcome sign above my head shows the hostess' hospitability that is everywhere in her house.
Martina very nicely gave us a campus tour with two students from the university on Fri. 18 Jul., the second day we have been in Champaign. I was very impressed by the scale and the facility of the university. I would be very proud and contented if I were a student in IL. It was a very hot day; I got all wet after the tour. Thank you again, Martina, Averet, and the girl guide (sorry, I didn't remember her name.)
Saturday morning, Madonna volunteered to drive us to Fresh Market. It was rainy and a little bit humid that day. But people there didn't mind at all. They got together, chatting, laughing, singing, dancing, relaxing, and enjoying. It was a totally new experience to me. People did business in a very different way there. They just enjoyed the process, not caring the selling very much. We got beautiful flowers, some fresh food, and a picture with a happy bread guy that day.
July 15, 2008
On July 6 and 7 Vice Chairman Qiang Lianqing, Vice President Jin Xianghong and Zhong Mingdong (Pauline), Director Office of International Exchange & Cooperation of Sanda University visited University of Illinois Extension. They arrived in the afternoon of July 6 and were welcomed by Virginia and me at their hotel. We really enjoyed seeing our old friends Pauline and Vice President Jin again. The evening was spent pleasantly talking over dinner with Dr. Campion, Richard Clark and Ryan Hobson. Our friends were slightly exhausted, for Illinois wasn't the first stop on their trip to the US, but seemed to enjoy the welcome.
During the next morning Virginia and I took our visitors on a tour across campus to give them an impression of what life is like at the U of I. They were stunned by the size of the campus and by the diversity of programs offered. After the tour, we met with members of Extension's administrative staff to discuss future projects, especially the upcoming visit of three of their faculty from the English department. Hua Keren, Gao Jing and Wen Ya will arrive in Chicago tomorrow, July 16 and will stay in Illinois until August 26. Members of our delegation to China together with 4-H colleagues have prepared a detailed schedule for our guests which will enable them to learn about 4-H as well as American education and lifestyle while they are here. Several of our colleagues across the State have graciously offered their homes to our guests for overnight stays while on the road through Illinois. I am sure that will contribute a lot to the cultural experience of Keren, Jing and Ya! I am very curious to see how they will feel about the US and what their impressions are going to be.
The visit of the group of administrators from Sanda ended with a meeting with Dr. Brustein, Associate Provost for International Affairs. We discussed topics like student exchange programs and other forms of cooperations with Dr. Brustein. Afterwards, Virginia and I brought the three back to their hotel and said our goodbyes as they took off again to drive back to Chicago.
This was a very brief visit indeed but we nevertheless were more than happy to see our relationship flourish on different levels. Now we are looking forward to welcome Keren, Jing and Ya. Their visit will be much longer and we will have ample time to catch up with them and hopefully make them feel as welcome and at home away from home as they had made us feel in April!
June 30, 2008
It's been awfully quiet in this blog but now there are new developments and more things are happening to keep our China connection as alive as it was while we were on the road. We are expecting visitors from Sanda University in Shanghai! And not only one group but two different groups will come to Illinois on different missions. One will be a very short one day visit of three highranking delegates from Sanda who will only have a few meetings and then leave again. The second group though will consist of three young faculty members of the English department we met while we were in China and they will stay for one and a haf months! Their mission will be to receive training in how to set up and organize 4-H and they will be participating in many Extension activities across Illinois. So you might get to know them! The first group will be in Urbana-Champaign on July 6 and 7, the second group will arrive on July 16 and stay until August 28. We will make sure to post their schedules here and let you know about their activities and adventures.
But there is one thing I will have to do first before we can start telling new stories - I probably should finish telling the old ones. During the last leg of our trip it proved almost impossible to keep up writing this blog simply because our days started at around 6 am and in some cases didn't end before midnight. My one attempt to put something up during that period ended in a very uncomfortable nap with my face on the computer keyboard.
As mentioned before, our last station was Wenzhou and we were hosted by Wenzhou University. Once more we were received like royalty and felt absolutely honored when we saw all the wonderful activities that the Wenzhou staff had put together for us. Personally, one of the most memorable events in Wenzhou for me was the great welcome we were offered with a huge banner spanning the front of the main building that read: "A warm welcome to our friends from University of Illinois". Also unforgettable the tour through the student area when each of us was accompanied by a Sanda student. That's how I met Echo, an English major with whom I now keep an email communication going. Also the visit of the Hair Embroidery Museum and its grand master professor Wei was phantastic. I had never seen an art like this before where human hair is used to produce unbelievably accurate portraits of heads of state and other important and famous people. You have to look at the pictures!
There were so many other great things that we did and saw during these three days in Wenzhou and they were all wonderful. Most wonderful of all - as at the other places we visited - were the people that hosted us with a graciousness and warmth that was overwhelming. Especially our great guide David contributed greatly to the success of this visit. You can read about him in one of my previous blog entries.
One thing I have to mention: the style of our hosts was different than we had experienced before. It was somehow more relaxed and joyous in a way. I got the impression people in Wenzhou are not only very entrepreneurial but also like to party. On occasions when we were invited for dinner or banquets the food was as excellent as in the other places we visited but the emphasis seemed to be more on drinks and celebration than on nurishment. In short: we had a ball!
When the final day had come and we had to leave China again, many sad faces could be seen in our group. Certainly most participants were looking forward to be reunited with their families and friends but several made the comment that this had been the trip of a lifetime and that they felt sad that it was over. It didn't help the mood that we all felt somewhat tired because we had enjoyed our last feast very much the night before and it also wasn't helpful that we were stuck at the Shanghai airport for about six hours. The flight back was again long but smooth and since it was a night flight, most of us at least slept for a short time.
This wraps up my tale of our journey to China and back but I will continue to keep you updated. Stay tuned and check back in soon!!!