Trip to Zhengzhou

Feb. 9, 2015

Today we went to Zhengzhou to complete the requisite medical exam for my wife’s work VISA. You need to be at the facility before 11:00 a.m., since the process takes 1 hour and all the doctors and nurses call it quits at 12:00 noon.

We took the G train, a fast train, from Xinyang. The ticket price was about 148 CYN. (The exchange rate is 1 USD : 6.1 CYN). It is a bit of an extravagance, considering most of China travels on slower train. The trip took about 90 minutes and the cost was similar to buying a small tin of famous Xinyang black tea. We took the subway from the train station and then walked about 2 km to the medical facility.

There were a lot of Chinese men getting their exam. Evidently, workers need exams when they cross provincial boundaries or work out of country. (I need to verify the provincial boundary requirement).

We met a friend of the family (our colleague, Yang Guang) for coffee. She is a computer science teacher in Zhengzhou but is recently returned on holiday from a special, one-year, school-sponsored, leave of absence assignment to teach middle schoolers in a poor rural village called Dancheng in Henan Province. A village which progress and modernization have seemingly forgotten. She lives in a one room apartment where she does her cooking. There are only dirt roads with poor drainage during rain season and there is no heat in either the one-room apartment or the school. In fact, the school room has no glass panes on its windows. The kids are exposed to the elements from the outside. There is no heat. The walls consist of deteriorating brick and plaster and broken concrete flooring with chalkboards. The children, however, are so grateful to have a teacher in their one-room school house.

Her story greatly encouraged and inspired us. We, too, are here to offer our services and expertise to children in rural areas surrounding Xinyang. Both my wife and I are teachers. I was glad that Chinese hearts are also moved by the plight of their own countrymen and are doing something about it. Her example has challenged our own thinking regarding the USA. What if we all gave 1-year of service to the rural or urban poor? Could we make a difference? Or, is this just a fairytale dream? Fu Juan, the woman teacher, is doing it to become a better person and to serve her country. This, I think, is a new definition of patriotism.

We are back at the hotel, each of us struggling with colds. We have not been in the country for even a week, and, already, there is so much to tell.

– Jeff & Mim

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