My next trip to China was with Global Volunteers (a terrific travel/work group in MN) whose local contact was a wonderful man named An Wei, founder of a Chinese-American society to build bridges between the people of the U.S. and China. We were to be placed in classrooms or businesses to help students and employees to better understand us, and we them.
The chalkboard in our initial meeting room listed elementary schools, high schools, colleges, and a hotel, with the number needed for each group. We were to select where we wanted to be placed. As we muttered and murmured, I heard someone say: in the elementary schools’ restrooms, the kids peer over the low walls to “be sociable” as we are using the restroom. I have no idea if that was true or not, but I could “picture” it—so my eyes focused on the hotel—but only one person was needed. When we broke to sign up for our choice, I made such a beeline for the hotel, that I may have actually been “pushy”….not my usual self.
At the hotel, a lovely one, of course, I “talked” with desk clerks, “talked” with people who cleaned the hotel rooms, and “talked” with the stiff men in black suits who supervised the lobby. One of the questions I kept getting—you’ll never believe it—was about the behavior of men guests—and their habit of throwing their shoes about their rooms. How could I explain something I’d never observed happening—even at home. I was not successful, but kept smiling and nodding. And I received some jealous comments from other volunteers, especially at the party “my” hotel put on at the end of that three week session.