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Amesbury School

Amesbury Digest - 4 November 2019

Ni hao from China

Our Shanghai leg

We travelled to Shanghai on the bullet train which travels at 350km per hour. It is the fastest train in the world and apparently they are working on a train that will go 600km per hour! That will make it a 2.5 hour trip from Beijing to Shanghai. 

We spent six nights at Shanghai - currently the biggest city in the world (24 million or so). Our time in Shanghai began with another experience that reminded us of what it must be like for new immigrants to New Zealand (or any country, for that matter), when you cannot speak the language. We hopped into a taxi and gave the address to the driver which we thought was written in English and Chinese, but he could not read it and had no idea where to go. At that precise moment my phone happened to run out of battery so I could not use it to help the situation. The security guards were telling the taxi driver to get moving because he was holding up the other taxis but he did not know where to drive. We expected at any moment to be told to get out of the taxi and then what would we do? Fortunately, the security guards decided to try to help. It took twenty minutes but eventually we were on our way. We were not sure whether the driver actually knew where to go and, as it turned out, he obviously wasn't really sure either, because when we finally arrived at our hotel he was so relieved and excited - just as we were. Needless to say, we gave him a big tip. 

This trip has often put us out of our comfort zones and at times we have experienced fear of the unknown, but it has been a great learning experience for us, and, in actual fact, everything has come together really well in the end. Coming from New Zealand, the "bigness" of the country and cities is overwhelming at times.

The trip to Shanghai was the original purpose of this trip. We attended the International Federation of Principals' Convention. There was a great line up of internationally acclaimed educational speakers, researchers and writers. It is not often you have all these speakers at one conference. Jack Ma of Alibaba (China's version of Amazon), who started out life as a teacher and is now a billionaire many times over, was the opening speaker. He is very passionate about education and gives a great deal of money to ensure more equitable educational outcomes. I will share more about the content of the keynotes in a separate editorial, but we particularly enjoyed one entitled "Imperfect leadership". 

Urs and I gave our presentation to a largely Chinese audience. We shared our slot with a local primary principal who also spoke about leadership. Fortunately there were interpreters present so we were all able to hear the presentations in our own languages. Our presentation seemed well received.

Needless to say, we enjoyed the food of Shanghai. The hotel we were staying at served the most amazing dumplings which we ordered several times. One night we were privileged to have dinner with Klein, a parent of one of our international students. The food was divine and the company excellent. 

Once the conference was over we moved to a hotel near the Bund and enjoyed a weekend of sight seeing and walking the Bund. On Friday evening we did the Bund Lights River Cruise. It was amazing - the lights were so beautiful. The next day we did a coach tour which took in a range of important historical places including the Jade Temple and the ancient city. 

A wonderful week in Shanghai and then on to Ganzhou via Guangzhou. More about this later.

Lesley & Urs


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