Saturday, June 20, 2009

Arrival instructions have arrived

Arriving at an airport in another country -- especially one that speaks a foreign language -- is always an adventure. You just never know what is going to happen! This trip holds special promise because of the concern over the H1N1 virus. I've heard of an entire plane being quarantined because of someone coughing. Maybe a rumor, but you get can an idea of the level of concern. Here are some of our instructions, based on government requests:

For the first 7 days, we will take these measures of precaution by staying together as a team, living and holding training in 2 buildings (attached with interior access) on campus. We will keep ourselves from coming into contact with the other students on campus (these are Peking University students, not our TIP students. Our TIP students will arrive after the 7 day isolation period). We won’t do any site-seeing or city exploration until after these 7 days, as we want to stay away from crowds. If we do need to leave the campus for any special reason, we will go as organized and planned groups, but when we are out of our isolated area, we should keep a distance from others outside our group of about 5 feet.

Also, some specific practices that we will be encouraging each other to do in those 7 days are the following:

  • get lots of rest after travel
  • take vitamins and drink lots of fluid
  • exercise
  • wash hands at least 6 times a day (2 in the morning, 2 in the afternoon, 2 in the evening)
  • use paper towels on public doors and faucets
  • bring your own tissue supply
  • don’t touch your eyes or nose
  • don’t shake hands
  • do not sneeze without covering your mouth
  • wash your hands right away after sneezing
  • use disposable plates and utensils
  • keep record of body temperature
  • report any cough or discomfort immediately, and go to hospital/doctor
  • wear mask when in doubt
  • sterilize the dorm twice a day

That is, if we get out of the airport without being quarantined.

We will be leaving home about noon today. Our first stop is in LA to pick up 5 cases of Uno cards, then on to Irvine, where we will be staying tonight. Our flight leaves LAX about 1pm tomorrow. We are flying All Nippon Airpines and will have a very short stop in Tokyo -- just enough time to change planes. I think I can add Japan as a country I've visited, though.

Getting the Uno cards have been quite an adventure, too. I know our students will appreciate the cards, even if they don't realize the effort to get them there.

Next stop -- Beijing!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

We are getting ready to make our next trip to Beijing and will be flying out of LAX on June 21st. We decided to fly Nippon Airlines this year so we will be making a short stop in Tokyo -- just enough time to find our outgoing gate! We will be part of a team of about 50 Americans, Canadians and Dutch who will be working with about 500 Chinese to help them improve their English skills. We did this last year and had an amazing experience, so decided to go back again this summer. The program is called TIP -- Total Immersion Program. This means that for three weeks, our "students" will speak, listen, read and hopefully think in English only.

We will be at a different campus this summer, the Yang Ming Yang campus of the University of Peking and will be in Beijing itself, right next to the Summer Palace. The living facilities will be quite different from last year and most of us will be housed in Chinese-style dorms. We have been told that the dorm rooms are air conditioned, which will be helpful in the heat and humidity, but the bathroom facilities will be typical Chinese dorm. Meaning "squatty potties" and open showers. There are a few apartments with western-style facilities, and rumor has it that they will go the married couples and older teammates. Since that's us, we are hopeful!

One of the things we discovered last year is that Chinese people love to play UNO (one of the TIP activities) but Uno cards aren't available in China. We therefore thought that UNO cards would be a great gift for our students. The only problem is that there will be 20-30 students per class, and the cards cost $5-$6 per deck. After investigating lots of possibilities, we found a guy on Craig's list who had what we needed and was willing to sell 10 cases (12 decks per case) for $100 -- but we had to find a way to get them from Phoenix, without paying postage if possible. After much prayer and many Facebook postings, we found some friends of friends who are make the trip from Phoenix to LA at the end of this week and are willing to bring the Uno cards. The Craig's List guy was even willing to deliver to the people in Phoenix. We delight in a God of creative solutions!

We expect to have internet connection while in China, but there is some question about whether we will have access to Blogspot because of censorship. If possible, I hope to update while we are there. But if not, I will post a report when we return.