Lisa's Year in China - Life in Chong Ren So Far
11 September 2016
We got the 11am train from Beijing to Nanchang, for that whole morning we were under the impression that the train journey was 12 hrs, Nothing compared to the boys and their 24hr train to Heilongjiang on hard seats! This was until we caught up with our country rep Mike approximately 1hr before we were to board the train. He happily announced that our train was actually 23hrs... ... we were not impressed.
Our first challenge was trying to put everyone's luggage in the overhead storage, as you can imagine, trying to squash our huge bags into this tiny confined overhead was quite the challenge.
We managed to recruit a team of Chinese men in the bunks below to help us. I must admit they coordinated beautifully and finally our bags were tucked away. Our next challenge was working out which beds were ours. Everyone tries their luck and sits on a bed, even when it is reserved. We had to break it to the people on some of the bunks that they were actually in our beds. When we were all settled in our bunks we checked the time and realised we only had 22hrs to go! Looking back I don't know how everyone managed to fill the time. Luckily I was exhausted from summer camp and climbing the thousands of steps up The Great Wall(blog post to come) so I slept all in all a total of 16hrs! 16hrs out of 23, not bad.
The images above are Joe helping coordinate the task of storing the luggage, and me 1 hour into our 23 hours...
When we arrived in Nanchang our host (Mr Zhu) picked us up. We then travelled to Chong Ren, a 2hr journey by car. When we arrived we were shown our accommodation, which we are pretty chuffed with. We both have our own room, bathroom and study area. We also have a sitting room and kitchen.
Arriving in Nanchang
We arrived on the Monday and had Tuesday and Wednesday to rest and sort out visas until we started teaching.
We took this time to check out the school we are teaching in. The school is huge and is a real pillar for the community here with over 7,000 students attending and literally hundreds of teachers. The school has a 400m running track, ping-pong tables, basketball and tennis courts. It definitely sounds better than it is, all of these facilities have without a doubt seen better days, nevertheless they are still a great asset to the school.
After we checked out the sports facilities we got a tour of the school buildings. We were also told we will be teaching 8 junior classes and 10 senior classes, each class with around 70 pupils.
Below is a picture of the junior building. The junior building has 18 classrooms arranged in a square shape with grass on the inside of the square. Me and my partner Lynsey are quite confused by this patch of grass as it doesn't appear to have any particular function or purpose, it is also littered with bottles and empty packets so nobody sits there.
The next couple of days were spent exploring Chong Ren by bike, which was terrifying (sorry mum) The roads are crazy, seas of mopeds and bikes,any type of carts you can think of, not to mention trucks and cars. There are two bridges in Chong Ren that go over Chong Ren river. One of the first things we noticed is the contrast between the two sides. The side we are on houses the school and a small village. The village is very basic and most houses are small and cramped.
While the other side has three huge towering apartment blocks that light up, a mall, endless shops, shoe shops, beauty shops, a cinema, gaming centres, karaoke, supermarkets, a huge square and market ... ...
Lisa Burns, S6, Shawlands Academy, City of Glasgow (Project Trust 2016-2017); Member of SCEN Youth Committee