Physically, the school is just as I left it in June of 2008. Here’s a small bit of the school’s history, makeup, etc. My informant is Li Hui, who will hereafter be known as Annie. Most, if not all, of the teachers and administrators have adopted English names to make it easier on us poor English-as-a-first-language folks. I attempt to remember the real names, and mostly I do. However, it’s the pronunciation that sends them into paroxysms of giggling and laughter. (And, believe me, this is one of those times that paroxysms fits into the meaning.) Annie is my coordinator for this trip, and seems eager, confident, and competent. My next installment will profile the teachers and some of the administration, and you’ll meet Annie in more detail. But back to the school.
The school was built by the Yantai government in 1999 as a private tuition school. It consists of 5 grades of Primary School, 4 grades of Middle School, and 3 grades of High School. The classes within each grades level are formed on the basis of year-end government examinations. Thus, High School Grade 1 is equivalent to the US 10th grades. Grade 1, Class 1 is made up of those kids who have scored the highest on the annual exam. (I have no clue how they draw the line between Class 1 and Class 2.
On or about the same time Qingquan School was built, a Senior Technical School was constructed next door. The students there are, at least, Middle School graduates, and study about the same trades as in our vocational schools. Last trip, I had one class from the tech school. It, as I may have mentioned, was made up of girls who were studying to be air, plane, train, bus, and ship hostess/attendants. This time around all 16 of my classes are in the High School.
In 2007, Mr. Zhou Jun (the schools Superintendent) assumed responsibility for both schools and began to move them to a more integrated semi-private status. (Zhou’s title and the titles of others are my approximation of their status/responsibilities and not the titles they use, e.g., Annie uses “Leader” for both offices that we would call “Superintendent” and/or “Principal”, etc. It’s just less confusing with hierarchical titles that I’m familiar with.) So, we have two schools, Qingquan School, a high school, and the Business and Training Senior Technical School with an integrated administration and support services (housing, food, janitorial, etc.). More than 7,000 students are in both schools and they are tutored by 300+ teachers.
Both schools are located west of Yantai University and can be seen on this satellite overhead. Qingquan is the larger track oval in the bottom left-hand corner and just north of it is the oval of the Tech School. Yantai U is the area to the east. All are located on the west coast of the Bohai/Yellow Sea.
When I arrived, I presented Mr. Zhou with a Texas flag that the Sargeant-At-Arms of the Texas House certified as having been “flown” over the Texas Capitol. I’m thinking that “flown” means that assistant Sgt.-at-Arms tossed them back and forth on the roof of the Capitol. In any case, he was delighted and countered with a case of tea. (Chinese tea merits another posting later on.)
Zhou’s High School headmaster is Cong Gang Zi, a personable gentleman (and even though he’s filtered through Annie, a pretty funny guy) in his late thirties or early forties. When I first arrived in Yantai, Gang Zi and his assistant, Lu Shao Jie (Lily Lu) hosted Annie and me at a late dinner. Lily Lu (always both names to distinguish her from Lily, one of the English teachers) has become my guardian angel as far as the school’s personnel is concerned. Annie makes sure that my day-to-day questions are answered. Lily Lu makes sure that my unusual requests/needs are addressed.