First Week–Teachers work in China!

  1. Xuizhou is one of four districts in greater Jiaxing. We live one block away but directly behind the massive government complex that seats the local government offices and has extensive meeting rooms, an auditorium and, as I saw for the first time, food services for government employees.

About 65 people attended the meeting, which as near as I could tell is like our Chamber of Commerce. The room was relatively small and the seating arrangement allowed all to sit facing one another in a square formation, with two additional rows on two sides. First, I counted the microphones to get a sense of how many would be speaking but was thrown off as they were passed along to the next person. Then I counted the women in attendance: 10, including me.

The district leader spoke last, which is how it generally works in China. In my school meetings with the Chinese Principal, he first listens to all my agenda items, and only then does he comment and open his own agenda. So, we first hear from about 10 reps from different groups. Mr. Zhao translated for me but I managed to remember 6 of these:

1. the ‘No-party’ group–like independents at home?
2. young people–the government gives them grants to get them started in business
3. Chinese ex-pat education parents–people who have sent their kids overseas for education, reporting out on trends, e.g. are they returning to China to live and work? what level of education have the reached? Economic impact?
4. Taiwanese factory owners–not sure but I’m guessing they reported on numbers of business connections locally exist between the two countries. I was curious about this (since Taiwan is blacked out on atlases). Mr. Zhao told me that China wants to invite them to rejoin the country. Hmmmm.
5. private companies (versus government operations)
6. religious groups–a Buddhist monk and a “Jesus man”. Mr. Zhao told me that not many people in China have religion but it seems that there is a growing need and that the government is willing. I asked about reports in Canadian papers that in our province of Zhejiang, they have recently knocked down several Catholic churches and what that meant but he didn’t know about that. Would they be saving the relic of a Catholic Church in downtown Jaixing? The government will do its very best to preserve it as part of a large square.

Finally, the chairman spoke and laid out the goals of this district:

1. grow the economy
2. improve the lives of the common people
3. clean the water (local waterways are heavily polluted)
4. improve education (reading levels) and health care
5. reform policy and working style of government

These goals are absolutely in line with the government of China, as one might expect. Once the meeting portion was over, we were reminded that in the past, we would have had lunch with alcoholic drinks but as the head government has stipulated, there is to be no more alcohol or large parties on the gov’t ticket. Don’t kill the messenger! Off we went to a large lunch with far too much food and a Chinese soft drink or milk with which to toast everyone several times. For our time, each of us was given a certificate for moon cakes at Meilijia, a local chain bakery.

With the first week down, we are looking forward to the Mid-Autumn weekend, a long weekend without having to make up any time. Saturday, Mr. Zhao is going to take us for a drive into the country where we will have a BBQ in an old (traditional) town. (Ed. note: First we must go to Walmart to buy something to take to the BBQ.)  Sunday, we are going into Shanghai to meet my cousin Bruce and his wife, Nikki who are up from New Zealand for Bruce’s work. Can’t wait to take them to Tianzifang where we will hit Lapis Thai for a fabulous meal, then overnight and home again in the afternoon.

(Ed. notes: Some things I have seen this week:

  • We have shown you photos of people on scooters and motorcycles with a shirt on backwards to protect their clothing from whatever is in the air. Yesterday I saw a woman driving a new Lexus with all of the windows up – but with a shirt on backwards to protect herself from who knows what.
  • Last night we were going out to dinner and had the audacity to be halfway across the street in the middle of a crosswalk when another Lexus came barrelling down the street and honked at us to get out of the way so that he could make a left turn through our crosswalk – and he had a 6 or 7 year old kid fully reclined in his lap with feet toward the pedals. I was some pissed off .
  • Starbucks’ baristas are very glad to have me back at the office. They missed my happy smile although a number of them have felt compelled to tell me that I am fat.)

The Shoe Blog

I have made it a practice over the history of The Shoe Blog NOT to use photos of shoes from stores, on the premise that just because they were created did not mean anyone had ever bought a pair. However, a good friend – Dave Mickie – sent this photo to me and how could I not include them.

No caption - they speak for themselves!

No caption – they speak for themselves! (Look closely as I missed it at first)

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