Across Continents

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Back to school

August 18th, 2010

"Never tire to study – And to teach others" – Confucious

Explaining the relationship between terms like UK, England and Britain probably wasn’t the simplest of topics to tackle, but I was pleased we’d avoided plunging further into ethnicity, my knowledge of Angles and Saxons hazy at best. I’d been invited to give a seminar at Zheng’s English language school.

Back at school - group - web version

Some had studied English at University, keen to polish their skills, others still grasping the rudiments of the language. But all hugely enthusiastic. And joined by a couple of Pakistani medical students, studying in the city.

Back at school - blackboard - web version

Lots of questions. Curiosity. Why had I come to China? What did I think of the country? Except for the medical students, and Zheng who’d previously worked as an interpreter, none had ever been beyond their own borders. That, I was told, was not easy to do. Red tape.

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City out of sand

August 17th, 2010

A small pavement cafe. Few hours after sunrise but already quite warm, the sun bright in my face, but not yet blinding. I’d joined Zheng and his daughter for breakfast. Steamed dumplings, some filled with soybean paste, others chopped herbs. And soybean milk. Pleasant tasting, refreshing.

I’d reached the city of Shihezi the previous evening, meeting up with Mao who’d translated my map a few days earlier. We’d been joined by Zheng. He ran a local English language school, and they’d both offered to act as guides the next day.

Guides

Breakfast finished, joined once more by Mao, we wandered amongst a few of the city’s parks, some of its many open spaces, along wide boulevards. Ordered. Not just a grid layout but a city with sharply defined edges. Rectangular.

Inside the museum - one

And then a visit to the local museum. Outside a nondescript municipal building. Inside the story of the city’s creation, just sixty years earlier amongst the desert sands, retold with great aplomb. Static exhibits, audio-visual presentations, of a standard more readily associated with a national institution.

Inside the museum - two

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