Yesterday I arrived in Kunming! My flight was 3 hours from Shanghai.
I decided that I would try and only use Chinese on my flight. Because of this, I made another friend! The man sitting beside me (his name was Chen Er-jia) saw that I was a foreigner but speaking Chinese so he began to talk with me. I told him why I was traveling to Kunming and how I got a full scholarship to volunteer and study for 6 weeks. Chen Er-jia told me that he is the Director/Manager of a large Biology company that does importing/exporting from New York to China. His son just finished his first year of college studying Landscaping in Europe. Er-jia gave me his business card and contact information. He told me that if I needed anything while I was in Kunming, I could ask him.
I am actually surprising myself with how much Chinese I can understand and speak!! After we talked for a little while, he let me borrow a Chinese comic book called “Facebook.” The “Social Network” was one of the stories in the comic book. I wonder why there would be a story about Facebook in a Chinese magazine but still be blocked...hmmm. But anyway, I began to review/practice my Chinese on the airplane while reading this interesting comic book.
My Keats School Chinese teacher picked me up from the airport. She immediately began speaking Chinese with me. My brain began to literally hurt after a while of using Chinese so much... Now I really appreciate the fact that I do not need to think while speaking English.
Today (Monday) I began my first 4 hour Chinese Lessons (8:30am-12:30pm, Monday-Friday). I really hope to drastically improve my Chinese by the end of 6 weeks!!
I also learned that I will permantely be volunteering at a “School for Special Kids” (that is what the Keats School called it, but it is a school for autistic children). At the moment, this is the place that requires the most need in Kunming. I have never worked with autistic children before so it will definitely be a challenge. I am ready, though! This school is actually on a short break until next week. So during this entire week, I will particularly focus my Chinese studies on communication with children. Since they will be autistic children, it will be especially difficult to interact and communicate...hopefully a week of preparation will allow me to better assist them and be their friend.
Keep watching my blog for updates on my volunteer work with the children!