Saturday, October 17, 2009

Greetings from Shanghai & Hangzhou

Six of the group came two days early so that we could meet with the directors of a special education center in Shanghai. The connection was made a few years ago when meeting with members of the Shanghai Minnesota Club which is surprisingly quite large. The school is run by Monte & Sherri Rosen, U.S. citizens most recently from Seattle, and currently serves 20 special needs children in a school like setting. They also consult with many international schools in the area. Both of these programs serve the ex-patriot community. This past summer they held a day camp for autistic Chinese children and at the same time held classes for their mothers. They employ occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech therapists, and many aides. The professional staff are American and European citizens.
The meeting was successful and it was decided that our two organizations have a lot in common. We are looking into having some of their professional staff visit Hangzhou periodically to do training. Sherri and two of her staff will be spending Sunday with us in Hangzhou.
The second extra day in Shanghai covered extremes. We started with a large Buddhist temple, then moved on the French Concession where we found a nice park with great adult exercise equipment, and we ended with the Barbie Wa Wa store! Yes, the largest Barbie store in the world is right in Shanghai! Five floors of Barbie plastic, the majority of it with blond hair! We had a fun time, walking the runway & checking out the displays!
The rest of the group arrived in Shanghai on Thursday night. Friday morning most of us went to the Yu Garden. An amazing garden built by a government official for his mother in about 1500. Of course, it is surrounded by a maze of little shops for all the tourists!
We all left for Hangzhou in the early afternoon and are now at the orphanage, about to spend a very full day checking all the children that are currently living in foster care. Hangzhou is the capital of Zhejiang province and this is to be the premier orphanage for the province. They just moved into a new set of buildings a year ago. They have two guest houses on the orphanage grounds so that staff can come from the smaller provincial orphanages for training. We are lucky to be allowed to stay in the guest houses which are very nice and helps with the commuting time since traffic in China is awful!
Right now as I am writing this it is early morning & I am listening to the sounds of young children & Chinese music. The nannies are busy feeding the children and starting the day. It is a very peaceful setting.

link to RTC 2009 photo album

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