Today was our last for the girls as a group and our programme finished on a high note. The day was spent on a tour of Zhujiajiao, a quaint and lovely ancient water town in the outskirts of Shanghai. We were blessed with great weather and uncrowded streets which made the whole day vey pleasurable. We visited lovely gardens, temples and ancient buildings and then enjoyed a free hour in the narrow shopping lanes where there was lots of fun to be had bargaining and buying those gifts for the families. There is going to be lots of fun unpacking those suitcases back in Wellington!
The girls were definitely tired today but revived after an enormous lunch, in our own private dining room with purple plush diamanté chairs!
Back in Shanghai we gathered together with the teachers and host sisters for a small farewell party. There were speeches from all the girls on both sides, followed by some lively singing and dancing. The Marsden girls did themselves proud and left a great final impression. They go off now to spend the weekend with their host families and we re-convene at Shanghai airport on Sunday. It's been quite an adventure!
The girls enjoyed the intricate art of paper cutting this morning, as well as going to classes with their buddies. At break times they share unusual stories about classroom goings-on. There are the occasional students asleep at their desks, the snack food that gets constantly passed their way under the tables, the English teacher who taught her class that Justin Bieber was 'a dish'. Classes can be anything from completely incomprehensible to odd.
The girls were nervous about the scheduled volleyball game against the school volleyball team, but bravely made an appearance on the volleyball court, in front of lots of onlookers. It was a very one-sided match but good natured and the teams soon mixed themselves up and the girls enjoyed the afternoon. Later in the day they watched the folk band rehearse before heading back to their homestay families. It was the last full school day, with a whole day outing planned for tomorrow. There has been lots of praise from the school for their attitude and I have been told on more than one occasion that the girls are very smart! (Which of course we knew!)
A very full-on day with the girls really showing the confidence they have developed, from the trip to school in the morning, to finding their way around the large campus. It was another lovely summer spring day, ideal for the outdoor exercises which started the day and the martial arts that followed shortly after. The girls also enjoyed carving their own seals from rock - an ancient art where people used seals and ink in place of signatures. These two programmes were run especially for the Marsden girls, and in between times, they were in regular classes with their buddies.
In the afternoon the group took a trip into the central city on the Metro to visit the Shanghai Museum. With some artefacts up to 4,000 years old, it was impressive indeed. Just as memorable was the crush on the metro train and the brief interlude at the little market on the way back where Annabelle took out the prize for her champion bargaining skills.
We are now six days into our ten day tour and the girls are proving a lovely group to travel with. They look out for each other, are consistently good natured and friendly and always positive. Such great qualities to possess as travellers.
At last the sun came out today - and what a difference! It's been quite chilly up until now with lots of rain, but Shanghai in the sun - with blue sky even - was a real treat. Today we shared food stories to start the day:
For breakfast Amy had 8 bean porridge and Emma had rotten salty duck egg, which she chose not to eat. She is, however, looking forward to making dumplings for dinner tonight. Annabelle has dinner each night with Iris's grandparents and gets taught about Shanghai. Bria is enjoying speaking a lot of Chinese to her new mama (don't worry Leigh!). She had fifteen different bowls of food for dinner last night. Kate had a kind of chicken risotto dumpling for breakfast but porridge for dinner last night. It's an upside down world! Samantha has no idea what she's eating but she's enjoying it anyway! Anna has been to lots of Japanese BBQ restaurants. Her family is amazed by her capacity to eat rice!
This morning the girls painted Chinese opera masks. They might have got them finished if they'd talked a little less and focused on the painting. They're a happy bunch of busy girls making the most of every opportunity.
The girls spent a wonderful weekend with their homestay families where they enjoyed a range of new and exciting experiences. One thing they all had in common was much eating and shopping - definitely the favourite pastimes in Shanghai. Even the simplest things have become a cultural experience, such as the head massage Bria received from her homestay Mum after washing her hair. Hopefully the girls will have the opportunity to get online and share some of their individual experiences soon.
This morning they re-convened at school for a 7.30 am assembly. Watching the school jog onto the athletic track in orderly class groups for the start of assembly gave the Marsden girls some new ideas to take back home. I'm sure Mrs Field would love it! After a very formal flag raising ceremony and anthem singing, the Marsden girls were formally welcomed into the school and invited onto the podium to address the school. Kate and Amy's speech went down extremely well, especially their Chinese greetings - even though there were a few giggle from the crowd.
We were taken on a tour of the school and there was much to impress, such as the five storey lab building, although the line up of chemicals out on the benches definitely wouldn't be allowed at Marsden!
The girls went with their buddies to their respective classes of Maths, PE and Chinese and then it was time for our special programme. we met with Principal Li and presented him with a gift from Marsden which is already up on the wall in the library. Ms Han gave us a lesson on the charm of Shanghai and then just before lunch it was time to make dumplings. This was perfect timing as the girls were starving from their long morning. Lunch was enormous - and the dumplings were the perfect centrepiece. In the afternoon it was back to class. Already the girls look so much more relaxed and confident than they did on Friday. A lot can happen in three days!
Eight tired travellers arrived at Pudong International around 8am after a twelve and a half hour flight. We were warmly met by Adele, an English teacher from No 3 Girls Middle School and whisked away in a mini bus, through the centre of the city and out to our new school - an elegant campus, in lovely green surroundings. It's quite an oasis on busy Jiangsu Rd.Our host Ms Stacey Han took us off to get China SIM cards but it proved to be such a mission, we decided not to get them. It made applying for a Chinese visa look straightforward! The girls enjoyed some Chinese snacks and bubble tea, before returning to the school to meet their smiling hosts, who were just emerging from a morning exam. There were friendly greetings and nervous faces as they headed off to meet their homestay families.
The weather in Shanghai is not great - wet and overcast and not particularly warm, but it won't dampen our enthusiasm!