Thursday, February 24, 2011

Day 3

We toured the Western Academy of Beijing on Wednesday--a 1,500-student international school attended by students who hold foreign passports. It’s a progressive school with a 1:1 computer program, and we were able to visit with the technology director as well as the elementary and secondary technology integrators.

We visited a 10th-grade web design class, stepped into the food technology lab (home economics kitchen for those of us who recognize that term) where students were making healthy breakfast foods, and toured the Tri-Caster control room which controls the electronic scoreboard and cameras/microphones located in various venues. They find streaming athletic events, fine arts performances, etc. to be very much appreciated by the students’ families.

This was the third day in a row when students were not able to go outside to play because of the smog. We’ve noticed that even though there is a visible yellow ball in the sky so we know the sun is shining, it seems to be perpetually foggy and gray outside. Some people wear masks to avoid breathing in the smog. Ray, one of the teachers at WAB, said that later this year the grey air will turn to red because of sandstorms from the Gobi Desert, or it will turn white when the wind blows the fluff off the numerous poplar trees. In the meantime, there’s continuous smog from all the factories in this industrial city---“the physical manifestation of $1.99 Wal-Mart.”
We had lunch at a French restaurant in the Lido area, and enjoyed lingering over our delectable dessert. I’ve noticed that we’re usually the noisiest group in the restaurant and hope we’re not irritating the quiet Chinese with our boisterous banter.

Late this afternoon we met Dr. Zeitz, Julie Lindsay, Vicki Davis and other conference presenters such as Bernajean Porter at Beijing International School for a briefing on the conference plans and our role in it. They are all incredibly gifted and gracious individuals who are passionate about what they are doing. Interestingly, Bernajean is originally from Avoca, Iowa.

All the organizers and presenters went out to supper together afterwards and tried things like sweet and sour fish (see photo) and tofu noodles with sweet pea greens coated with a sauce that made my tongue numb (Szechuan peppercorns, which just might be a suitable substitute for novocaine)—another remarkable experience because it’s not often that we Iowans sit around a table with people from Iran, Shanghai, New Zealand, Japan, and China!

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