16 November 2006

Fall Trip

You are cordially invited to chaos (AKA awesome entertainment)--

Who: The entire Wuxi Oriental International School (including a host of parent chaperones and children)
What: Fall Trip
Where: Suzhou Amusement Park
Why: We're not really sure--maybe because it just sounded fun?!?
When: November 1st, 8 to 3 (The fall trip was originally scheduled for three days--honestly I'm not sure what we could have done with our students for three days. I'm very glad that they made it just a day trip)
How: transportation by charter bus to the location, by foot around the park (we also rode the train)

So I (really the omnipresent collective "we") had no idea what to expect from this field trip to the amusement park. What was the park going to be like? What were the expectations in terms of us as teachers and the students? What is proper procedure for a field trip (esp. in China!!)? I'm not sure if I really ever got answers to any of these questions, but the most important thing was that I enjoyed the field trip and got to know my students better.

The amusement park was comparable to one in the States and was packed with Chinese students who greeted us Americans at every meter. My students were gently reminded how unique it is that they have foreigner teachers. Our general admission got us in the park and onto most rides. We did the normal amusement park stuff, like the swings and the carousel. The highlight of the entire day was riding the roller coaster. We had to pay extra for the ride, but it was totally worth it. The whole school (pretty much except for first grade and a part of third grade) came to watch us ride it. I think most of our students were more excited for us than we were ourselves. Two of my students rode with us, a few of Karri's and Lindsey's and then five of us teachers. It had been a while since I'd been on one and I totally forgot what an adrenaline rush it was. For some of the students it was their first time riding a roller coaster and the look on their faces was priceless at the end (this was totally the corkscrew, go upside down multiple times, and then into a secret tunnel type of roller coaster). When we were walking back to get our stuff, all the Chinese teachers were asking us if we were ok. After talking to them, only one of them had ever been on a roller coaster and they were apparently pretty scared that we did it (and probably even more so since we convinced our students to go along :) It's funny how I take something so simple (ie riding a roller coaster) for granted.

The evidence is as follows:
But first another sign of great Chinese packaging--

I bought this shoe rack to put my t-shirts and sweaters in--the top right corner reads exactly, "convenience iscollected/arrange colthing, good assistant" Hmm...

The entire school, complete with the next generation of students in their mothers' strollers.

The middle and high school--these are my kiddos!!

Beth (the math teacher) with some of our girls at the entrance of the park.

Our Korean middle schoolers enjoying the carousel.

Another highlight was this ride--it took us up to look over the entire park and the city of Suzhou. The park is built around the lake, an absolutely beautiful setting!

Two of my homeroom students, the music teacher and the principal all taking in the view.

The city of Suzhou as seen through the fog/smog/haze (I still really don't know what to call our pathetic excuse for air).

The wonderful lunch that the students brought--apparently it is the food that every Korean has to bring on a field trip. I think I ate more of their lunch than I did my own!

Some of the boys getting their head eaten by a shark!

The stunned look of horror that middle schoolers are so good at.

"The Happy World"--what a great name for an amusement park (The Chinese are obsessed with making sure everyone is happy and the word often turns up in strange places).

Scream has been imported to China--oh, I cannot escape Hollywood, even if I tried!

My sweet girls and I on the Ferris wheel.

Beth, Scary Scream boy (one of our 8th graders), and the rest of the boys next to us on the Ferris wheel.

Our 8th grader and one of the 5th graders trying to navigate their bumper car and scare people, all at the same time.

Our demolished Orange Restaurant--now that is something to be scared about!

They told us they'd be closed for 5 weeks, but they are pushing at least 7 weeks to date, and I don't think they'll be back in business anytime soon. It is a true tragedy and we can't wait for them to open again soon (I'm hopeful they'll be back before Christmas).

The construction project as seen from the other side of the street--I'm not trying to be too crazy about it, but it's hard to show with pictures the scale of this project. It's huge and they work 24-7, so I won't be surprised if they are finished before the school year is over.

My inexperience with drinking alcohol is now visible to all...Apparently sissy beverages (think: Mike's Hard) don't have enough pure alcohol not to freeze in cold temperatures. Live and learn I guess (notice the very broken nature of the glass, they didn't just open to release the pressure, they full out exploded!)

Still left to report on: The trip to Shanghai and the ping pong tournament, plus tomorrow's adventure--A Chinese wedding! To quote my dad, "Stay tuned, more to follow!"


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