It seems like only yesterday that we welcomed Mandy and Rita to Brisbane - and last night it was all over as they departed via Singapore Airlines to return to their families. Changed people no doubt. I think any travel changes one, but for these two young ladies to experience life in the freedom of Australia after the cloistered life in China will change them in many ways.
Apart from improving their English, and learning much about another culture, I suspect that they will question many things about life in China now. They did find out about Tiananmen Square and the events of 1989 - not from me - but someone thought they would know, and then on finding out that they did not, chose to tell them.
One of them saw the movie "Mao's Last Dancer" and this made her ask a lot of questions. Why did Li Cuxun not return to China? He should have!!! One of the girls bought the book in a second hand book store, so I suspect they will both have the opportunity to read it and read ALL the story - not just the abridged version of the movie.
One of them learned some cooking skills, and we learned that there is little interest in cooking, and that they don't know much about "Cook Books" though I know I saw them in the shops in China. Many people do not have much in the way of kitchen space - nor do they cook much at home. One of the girls said that her parents have a cook that comes into their workplace and cooks for her family, in conditions that even she felt were unsavoury!!! She'd like to cook at home. One issue is that they do not have the tools that we do - and I sent one of the girls home with a set of measuring spoons and measuring cups. I will send some recipes, and I know I will have to make sure that the recipes are simple - and the ingredients can be measured in measuring cups. Kitchen scales are available - but not in many homes.
It has been an extra ordinary learning curve for us all. Wonderful experience - but now I am not as time poor for my own endeavours as I have been in the past few weeks, so I can explore the study that I have committed to at Swinburne University.
My course materials arrived this week - I was expecting a large parcel - but a small packet arrived with 6 CD's which contained the welcome lecture, and course information on the subjects that I am studying. I though I only enrolled for 2 subjects, but I find I have 3 - will have to decide in a day or two if I am going to take on the whole 3 - or bail out of one.
I am fascinated at how well it is organised using the new technologies which were not in use when I was last at university. How amazing it all is!!!
I am glad I did not commit to returning to Shaoxing this semester, and that I can focus on the study. I am really looking forward to it.