Dr. Lomino in China: February 10
February 10: Celebration
I woke up really cold this morning so turned on the heating unit. Within about five minutes I hear a loud bang and the electricity goes out. The smell of hot wiring frightens me, and I mentally plan my escape in case of fire. Fortunately there is no smoke. I call Jecky to tell him what happened. He comes right over to check things out, then contacts the maintenance man to meet us here later.
Upon arrival at school, I am told that Danny and the new company investor are coming sometime in the afternoon to meet with the staff, and I should be sure to be present to meet them. This is going to be a full day—but it turns out to be even busier than I imagined!
My teacher meetings continued with Dandy, a young man who grew up in a farming village with six siblings; then Zhu Xiang, also from the countryside who got his degree in early childhood education and Jeff from Inner Mongolia. Jecky has been doing a masterful job of translating—I can’t imagine how I could manage without his assistance, not just as translator, but as protector and advisor. He is a remarkable young man.
We receive word that the two dignitaries have arrived earlier than planned, so we join the group to hear what they have to say. The meeting lasts over two hours, with both men sharing their vision of expanding Forest Kindergarten by four more this year, with the goal of establishing 30 new schools in three years. It is a very ambitious plan, but they sound determined to make it happen. This is a business venture, to be sure, with the objective of making a good profit, but Danny has a heart for education, so hopefully it will be successful in both regards. These men are convinced that Forest Kindergarten is important and that it will appeal to many families. Maybe I can play a role in making their vision a reality. I would like to do that. I was introduced to the investor and handed him the gift I have been giving to everyone—a photo of the Wauhatchie School Forest Kindergarten children and teachers. He seemed genuinely pleased to meet me.
After a quick lunch and meeting with the maintenance man—who replaced the burned-out fuse, Jecky and I headed back to school to finish the teacher interviews.
Archer, Boss Yuang, Walter and Yo Yo completed the list for today. Each one had a unique and fascinating story to tell me. Every teacher I’ve met so far has expressed a desire to grow in their teaching skills, and they so inspire me with their dedication. I am honored to be working with such a wonderful group of people.
I thought my day was over, but as I am leaving Jecky wonders if I would like to join the staff for a celebration meal this evening. Of course, I want to be with them. He and Walter meet me at the apartment gate at 6:30 and we take the bus to the restaurant. It is in an older part of Guangzhou and I’m glad I’m with two strong young men in the dark. The restaurant is a traditional one and I know I’m in for quite an experience. We all sit at large round tables with glass turn-tables in the center. The first thing everyone does is to rinse their glass and chopsticks with tea and pour the tea rinse into a large bowl. This is to clean them, Jecky tells me.
Then the food comes out—lots of food. It is served family style, with everyone using their chopsticks to eat from the bowls. Duck soup is the first course, followed by many meat dishes, rice and vegetables. My favorite food is bozan—a large dumpling stuffed with a vegetable mixture—delicious! Of course Jecky is concerned that I’m getting enough to eat so he orders a special dish for me—cashews, stir fried with celery, rice-stuffed dates and other vegetables. The crowd is jovial, and I am entertained by Flying Pete who sits on my left and speaks a little English, and Jecky on my right. Toasts are made, and there is much laughing and talking. I have had a great time being with my new friends! It has been a very full day and I am ready for bed when I arrive back at the apartment around 9:00.
Today’s Insight: Shared vision unites people, but even more uniting is joy and laughter.