Me, posing from the Great Wall of China
I bought an new pair of flats and was loaned a very thick overcoat and a pair of insulated socks. I’ll be darned. I had no idea the temperature on the Great Wall would be that cold but I was prepared.
I woke at the crack of dawn and pulled the blinds hoping to see the blue skies that I had gotten used to. I was dumbstruck. I couldn't see the building which was 20 feet away. It looked like peas soup.
My spirit was dashed, but my hopes were high. I told myself that there was no way I am going back to the States without going to the Great Wall. I had told everyone that I was going to send them a picture from the great wall. “I am going to the Great Wall.”
My ride was delayed by a couple of hours but I was on my way to the Great Wall. As we rode along my Guide gave me a quick lesson on the history of the Great Wall. We finally arrived at the Wall.
It was still overcast but clearing up. We rode the lift to one of the stations on the wall from which we were to continue the WALK. As we walked up the Wall the clouds just rolled away. An amazing view of clear blues appeared in the horizon as far as the eyes could see. The Great wall is truly one of the world’s AMAZING WONDER.
I hoped you enjoyed the series on China. Please share your feedback or comments, I'd love to hear from you. View more photographs of the China Trip in the photo gallery.
The above video by CNN gives an overview of autism in China.
I had a chance to visit Stars and Rain which is another school on the outskirt of Beijing. This school provides parents with training & strategies on how to deal with their Autistic children. “Our mission is to help people with autism reach their full potential, improve their quality of life, and enjoy equal opportunities. We strive to be a bridge between society and children with autism.” – Tian Huiping, founder.
The hall at Stars and Rain was packed with parents, teachers and students when I arrived. I was greeted very warmly . The audience cheered as I entered with the Principal and my interpreter. They were welcoming and gracious.
The children and the parents attend classes for two hours daily. I was informed this was because the parents had to pay part of the cost for the children’s education and the cost was an issue for most parents. After my presentation, I had a question and answer session with the parents.
The concerns were universal:
I made some new friends and as usual I wanted to take the little ones home. Children are and people are more alike than they are different.
Next post: One of the Great Wonders!
The following day I visited Beijing United and met with some of the nurses and doctors who work with children from the surrounding Beijing area. Some of the children were on different levels of the Autistic Spectrum. The discussions were from a medical point of view but I was able to present my views from an educational model. I later gave a Power Point Presentation to a group of Professionals which consisted of doctors, Teachers, parents and other therapists who work with Children affected by Autism. The presentation was well attended.
Next Post: More Presentations on Autism
I visited Peking University Hospital and met with a group of doctors who treat Autistic Child. I was able to discuss what was being done from an educational model and what were some of my experiences as a Teacher of Children with Autism. I was able to present my book, Children With Autism Inspire!
The group was rather impressed that my book was translated in Mandarin.
They were also impressed that I was able to speak a few words and phrases in Mandarin. I was invited to lunch at the restaurant across from the hospital. I was told by my interpreter that they served delicious duck. When I told her that I was a vegetarian, the whole group ordered vegetarian. I was very touched and honored by their hospitality. This indeed exemplified the scripture in the bible (I am paraphrasing,) which states to this effect, if your eating meat offends your neighbor, you should abstain. The Chinese are polite, gentle people. I will forever remember this hospitable act.
Later in the evening, I visited one of Peking’s University Hospital affiliated schools for children with Autism. I spoke with a group of teachers and parents. I then gave a presentation on the some of the signs of Autism and are some of the ways to help teach children with Autism.
Next post: My presentation to Beijing United Hospital
I was ready for my next day’s appointment. Today I did not have the luxury of a private chauffeur. I had my contact written in English, and Mandarin. I was to go to the lobby of my building and ask one of the attendants to call a Cab and explain the direction in Chinese to the driver. I emphasized to the Attendant that the driver needs to be aware that I was going to Building #2. There were other buildings with the same name differentiated by numbers.
My cab arrived in minutes. Thedriver came out to help to put my bags in the booth. Did I say booth? I say booth, you say trunk.
“Ni Hao,” I said to the Driver. He shot off a rapid fire of Mandarin, good thing the attendant had waited with me. She stepped in to bridge the translation divide then off we went!
My goodness! This ride is more than the thirty minutes I had expected. He was whizzing in and out of traffic. I had to close my eyes on a few close calls.
My phone rang. It was my party who was waiting at Building # 2: “I have been waiting outside the building, but I have to go back inside, call me when your cab gets here.”
Why do I get the feeling that this cabbie is lost. He finally pulled up to the building but there was no number two written on it. “ jianzao liang sou” Is this building two? He went off speaking rapidly in Mandarin again. I understood as much that we were not at building two.
He took out his cell phone and called someone. After the conversation, he pointed in the opposite direction. Finally, after whizzing in and out of traffic we arrived at building two. The number was written clearly in English as well as Mandarin. My host was standing on the step. I waved and he immediately hurried down the steps to meet me. My experience riding in a cab in Beijing was like riding on a roller coaster. It is not for the Faint of heart.
Next post: The Best of Chinese Hospitality
I woke early the following morning. I jumped out of bed and pulled the blinds. The skies were blue and the sun was shining. What smog? I had read and heard that Beijing was usually foggy and overcast. Well !there was not a dark cloud in the sky! After breakfast it was time for my first engagement.
I was a guest of MOPS. Mothers Of Preschoolers in Beijing is an organization mainly for foreign mothers. They convene twice monthly to focus on different topics that are common to mothers and preschoolers.
It is a place where the mothers from different countries can meet other mothers while the children meet and play with children of all different nationalities. On the day I visited, the focus was on how mothers can find time in their busy schedule to apply makeup. The mothers were being taught how to make time for themselves while taking care of their children, how to find and apply the right makeup for their skin type and other pertinent beauty tips. I tell you I am going to get rid of all the old make up and wash my brushes more regularly.
Next post: The Cab Ride
Lena McCalla Njee
One of the things that immediately caught my attention as my car drove from the airport, was the sight of a uniformed guard at every corner.
As I entered the city of Beijing it seemed as if we were going around in circle. It was explained to me that indeed the city was constructed in a circular manner, thus the third ring , the fourth ring and so on an so forth. My eyes were glued to the car window.
The architectural structures were fascinating. The building that is shaped like a pair of pants took my breath away. I was told that it hosts a Media Center. Then there was the line of people who were covering the plants on the highway. Everyone seemed to move with a purpose. Everyone seemed busy.
Next post I'll talk about my meeting with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers).
I'm on my way to China!
I had taken long flights in the past to Europe and to the Greek Island of Cyprus. However, I had not flown nonstop for thirteen and a half hours before. The thought of sitting on a plane for such a long trip was a bit daunting. I had several things planned to keep me occupied in-flight such as a variety of books and magazines, my laptop and a small travel size scrabble. Yes! I packed a scrabble set. I had no idea who might engage me in a game.
Anyway, I was given what turned out to be great advice. Do not sleep the night before the trip to Beijing. Stay up and pack and do whatever last minute chores needed to be done in the house before departure. Thank you K.
I woke up during the flight to discover that several meals had been served and eaten and I had three hours before my flight touched down. My trip through Custom was uneventful. The trolleys for pushing the luggage are FREE! Seriously!
The trip to China was an education from the start. I was on the train to the Chinese Embassy in New York feeling a bit hesitant. I was not sure what to expect.
I had an image in my head that I was going to be a standout among the applicants for a visa to China.
Boy was I wrong!
A crowd of people from all nationalities lined up, filling out their applications, seeking how to fill out their application and picking up their applications.
Whey! I was not a standout after all. I was just one of the thousands of people of different shades, different races who was seeking to visit China. Talk about a lesson in assuming.
- Lena McCalla Njee
Lena McCalla Njee is the author of "Ivan Gets A Dream House" and "Hope As a Mother's Savior". She teaches children with autism in the Irvington School District, New Jersey where she received the 2011-2012 Teacher of the Year Award. Read more