September 2, 2006 - Guyuan, China
The call came at 1:00PM.
Ms. Wang would like me to meet her - in full uniform - at the school, ASAP. The officials had been seen near Guyuan.
Queue movie clip with hilltop sentries and spotting scopes posted on all roads into Guyuan. Air raid sirens blaring.
On my walk towards the school my stomach dropped.
I remembered the mudpit that was the main driveway - the school had hoped that the officials would show up much later in the day - and give the workers a few more hours. Just yesterday two red bulldozers were tearing through the mud, leveling and pushing and clearing.
It’s only been a little more than a week that I have been here, but I feel a strong connection to Yi Zhong already. This inspection reflects on VIA and myself - albeit in a small way - but reflects none-the-less. The preparations leading up to this inspection have been feverish, and I’ve been rooting for success the whole time.
As I neared the gate I saw a great swarm of workers bustling back and forth, carrying sheets of plywood from a waiting flatbed truck. The driveway way was being covered in plywood. Better than mud I suppose.
But wait - coming closer the driveway revealed new concrete! The plywood was merely a temporary walkway. Turning into the gate I saw a stretch of paving stones reaching from the gate and down the entire entrance.
They had done it!
A few regularly spaced holes were missing pavers - but quite the show. Workers were still running around - sweeping, filling holes and leveling newer concrete.
At 1:30PM the teachers lined up. Myself right behind Ms. Wang. Before I could settle in, I was dragged off by one of the directors I had met at a banquet. I was placed closer to the front gate and closer to the director.
This happened once more. I ended up the first teacher in the row - right next to the Vice Headmaster and the band. Imagine that. Me the pretty face. Ha. Or a trophy. Either way I got a front row look at the activities.
The band struck up.
But no officials. False alarm.
Two false alarms later a string of firecrackers went off at the gate and a convoy of SUVs rolled up.
The band struck up again - with no less enthusiasm. The students marched in place and chanted. The teachers stood at attention. The directors fretted.
And the officials walked by with Miss America waves.
We waited as a group in the sun during the tour and saw the officials off with another round of chanting, marching and band revelry.
I hear it was a brilliant success.
Hurrah for us!
Tumbleweeds... and no comments. How 'bout livening things up?