Scott Dwyer (UK, UWC AC 2010-2012)
Originally posted on Scott Dwyer’s personal blog: http://scottdwyer.wordpress.com/.
Upon arriving in Hong Kong, it was a shock, it was completely different to what I’m use to. I live in the north of England in a city called Liverpool. Hong Kong is a sort of western oriental version of New York and you could see the left behinds of the British colonisation. After visiting various places around Hong Kong you could see how land is so valuable here and efficient living is a must for the majority of people. With China’s growing economy I just wonder how dependent Hong Kong will eventually become on China and how long it’ll be until power of the HK Government dissolves completely. So after exploring the island of Cheung Chau and the high-rise complex jungle of Hong Kong and various other touristy things it was time to leave.
After leaving Hong Kong and travelling to Guangzhou, we were met by students from AC who live there. We then stayed at a friend’s farm, which turned out to be more of a hotel. We woke up early the following morning and flew to Lanzhou airport at several different times in different groups before catching a coach with the rest of people (there were around 60 in total – I think) working with the charity we were working with, 3 of us decided to avoid waiting for the rest of the AC people and go straight to the hotel in Wuwei City. We boarded the coach and immediately made friends with the Chinese people around us (as AC people tend to be sociable like that) and before we knew it we were playing crazy card games and discussing how we got to be involved with the charity. There was a group from Toronto, Canada, then a USA group and people from China itself (all Asians of course), then finally the AC group (people from everywhere). The 6 hour journey seemed to fly by!
From the 13th to the 17th June, we stayed in Wuwei City, we visited various schools and helped children practise their English with us as well as visiting schools the organisation we were working with had donated money to in previous years to follow-up what the money had been spent on. The schools were amazing and the children were so CUTE. And we took some new books and crafts for them as well. We also did some home visits which involved visiting certain families that might be struggling with paying for their child’s education (such as books etc) and we provided money for them to do this. In one family we visited the woman cried: she was so grateful, it was really overwhelming and to think that less that £30 funds education for a child for a year and look at what we spend money on makes you question what you are spending your money on and if you really need it. On the 18th and 19th we moved to a more rural area of Gansu were we stayed at the “Yellow Sheep River convention centre” – which was a hotel in a rural village. It was part of project set up by a man to provide internet to poor rural areas in order to develop them. The village we stayed in was all connected to the internet, yet it was still very poor and sanitation wasn’t what you’d see in the UK. We also practised for a show for the following week in which we were going to perform at one of the schools we were visiting. We also went to this mountain area and had an asian-style BBQ, which were huge pots and a fire underneath them; the scenery was amazing.
The following week we split up into three schools and the AC group was spread out through these in order for there to be an equal amount of English teachers in the schools. The school children at ZhongLu Middleschool were amazing. I had never seen so many ‘happy’ kids. Although, I was suprised by the shyness of the children when answering questions, and when asking someone to come to the front of the class, volunteering seemed like a hard thing to do, whereas in British schools it was a sort of fanfair of hands asking to be picked. I guess this just showed a cultural difference on stepping forward or opposing what everyone else is doing. While at the school I got ill: a 40C temperature and vommiting and all that. I thought I was fine until 2 Chinese girls convinced me to go the clinic, the policeman (who happened to live at the school and also doubled as the chef) drove us to the nearby town. After a needle in the left arse cheek and three bottles down a drip later, I was fine! However, someone told me a joke and I laughed for ages. The sanitation in this village wasn’t much better, and the squatting toilets at the school soon found replacements. We also performed to one of the schools this week, the whole school was there plus people from the village and education representatives, performing a dance to “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga and singing “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz to lots of chinese children who’d never even heard of these artists or left their town was quite strange, but they enjoyed it, that’s what counts.
Following the stay at the schools, we travelled to Xianyang/Xi’an and we were part of a youth exchange in which 8 countries (being us) visited Xianyang. We visited the terracotta warriors and various tombs and historical sites and the Horticulture Expo in Xi’an, had the entourage of the Xianyang Municipal Committee and the Xianyang Youth Federation and then on our last night in Xianyang we had a meal with the mayor before departing the next day.
We then arrived in Shanghai and visited my friend’s city which was close by and boated around the river.
After Shanghai we went back to Ghangzhou and stayed with my other friend and we explored the city. After that it was back to HK for my flight home.