••• tiff firth photography •••

Sunday, November 1, 2015

annie's china trip

With long awaited enthusiasm, Annie flew out last night to head off on her trip to China. She and 3 other students from Port Lincoln and the two teachers stayed in Adelaide last night and the entire group of 10 students with the same two teachers all gathered at the Adelaide Airport International check in desk this morning at 6am.

Annie and I have had lots of discussion, ideas, tips and thoughts about her trip. About keeping her passport safe, how to spread her money in different areas around her so if one lot goes missing/stolen then all is not lost. How to use an ATM, an eftpos machine, keeping her backpack safe while in a country who's people's personal spaces are much smaller than Annie is accustomed to. About brushing her teeth using bottled water, about not having ice in her soft drinks, how to use her phone with WiFi while in Flight Mode, so her data is not used at all during her travels. Which app we can use to communicate with - no such thing as Facebook messenger, Viber, Skype and other such apps in China. The communist government prohibits any use of it. And most importantly how to use a Chinese squat toilet with confidence.  I hope she comes across this experience at least once just so she can say she's had a go. Other things like taking photos with her phone as much as she can, and to make sure she's in some of those photos to place her on location. To buy postcards of the places she has visited for her Powerpoint talk when she's back. To write all her impressions in her travel journal for reflection later in her life.

Her group travels together for 6 days, then she goes to her host family in Zibo City (15 million people.) This is where Sophia lives. Sophia stayed with us back in August as part of her School trip to Australia. Annie's visit to Sophia's family is part of the reciprocal program. I've been chatting with Sophia's Mum via WeChat and they can't wait to have Annie stay. I'm so happy about that. Sophia goes to a middle school that has 3000 students. They have classes of upto 60 students. Everything is regimented, there is no room or time for individualization. School starts at 8am. They return home at 11.30 for a two hour lunch break/siesta, return by 1.30 and finish the school day around 4.30

After the 6 days with Sophia, the Aussie group goes travelling again for another 6 days before coming home. Beijing, Shanghai, Zibo City, Great Wall of China, Terracotta Soldiers, Panda Sanctuary, the Olympic Stadium and much much much more are in store for Annie.

As she left I said to her "No regrets Honey, and stay safe."
One of the parents took this photo and sent it to me after Annie had left. What a gift. I can't thank him enough.

The Facebook post that accompanied this picture has had so many wonderful empowering messages for Annie. Thank you to all of you for them.

There she goes. Bon Voyage Darling. Soak up every second of it.

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