To start off, I'd like to correct myself. It seems I need to go back to US History, for Nixon didn't visit China in 1977, since he wasn't president anymore. He went in 1972. Sorry for that mixup, and thank you Wikipedia.
Today was the first day of school. I woke up at 6:10 to the sound of my cell phone alarm, shortly after which my host mom knocked on my door to make sure I was awake. I ate a small breakfast of dumplings (jiaozi, my favorite food here) and Nescafe instant coffee and I was on my way. My host mom drove me, Jimmy (my host brother), and another boy to school. We arrived at about 7:10, and I sat down in my desk behind a kid named Ricky, and close to Victor. We then went outside for an all-school assembly, and it was very cold. All the students stood in neat rows, with the American kids standing separately. After about 15 minutes, we were called up to the stage to introduce ourselves. Elias and Becky (the ones best with Chinese in our group) took the microphone and gave a short speech. Elias opened with "Nimen hao!" or Hello everyone! The entire school laughed. It was great. After Becky and Elias introduced all of us, Ms Kamerik presented our gift to the Jingshan School to Principal Fan. It was a pewter bowl full of well wishes from Newton kids written on colored index cards.
After that, we went back inside to our classrooms to begin class. Since it was the first day of school, all the teachers just gave introductions to the curriculum for the semester, like they do in America. Our class had Math first, and I didn't understand a single thing. I'm not so great at math to begin with, but when the teacher's talking in Chinese I get nothing. Next came gym. We went out to the freezing cold track and ran about six laps. Then the boys played basketball and the girls stood around. I shot hoops with Victor, Miles, and a kid named Chen. It was really fun, because we were all equally awful. English was next. It was hands down my favorite period of the day for the simple reason that I could understand everything that was going on. The teacher (Shirley, like Shirley Temple!-that's what she said :P) spoke with almost no accent. After that was two periods of Chinese, where I looked up words in my Chinese dictionary and read the textbook we're being quizzed on next week. After that was lunch. Us Newton kids ate in the teacher's cafeteria, where we eat slightly better food than the rest of the kids. Because here we get 1.5 hours for lunch, after we finished eating we went to the track area, where all the little kids were playing. It reminded me of elementary school recess. After lunch came Politics. This was the most boring class of the day, probably because the teacher literally talked to the class for the entire two periods. During the first class I heard "Meiguo" (America) a lot, and apparently he was discussing the differences between Chinese and American education. By the last period I had run out of things to do and almost fell asleep. Thankfully the school day was over though.
I went home on the subway (which is sooo much more convenient and useful than the T), grateful that I didn't have any homework to do. Tomorrow we're getting a tour of the school, so at least I'll have something to do during one of the periods. Ms Kamerik told Rebecca and me that she's teaching English to our class twice a week, which is great because we'll get to help out. I'm really excited to interact with all the students in my class.
Everyone was extremely welcoming to me today, which was great. When we played basketball they made sure that I had enough opportunities to shoot. In class, they would ask me if I understood what was happening. They asked me questions about America. In all, it was a wonderful first day, if not extremely boring. I'm really excited to get to know everyone over the semester, and I think it's going to be a fun experience.