Who is Chuck and why does he like to travel?

I was born to be a writer and when I wrote my novel Wild Point Island, Chuck, my orange and white recently rescued feral tabby, got it in his head that he wanted to travel to the island and see the place for himself. Well, of course, Wild Point Island, can only be seen by revenants (you'll have to read the book to find out who they are) and Chuck is no revenant so instead, I concocted a plan to take Chuck with me when I travel around the world, which I do frequently. Not an easy task. First, I have to deflate the poor kid of all air, stuff him in my carry-on bag, remember to bring my portable pump, and when I arrive, I pump him back up. Ouch. But he's used to it by now and given the choice to either stay home in his comfy cat bed or get deflated, he pulls out his passport, ready to travel, every time.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Chuck Goes to School in China

When we first arrived, we were greeted by the students, who were very excited
Outside view of the school buildings we visited in the countryside of China
Inside view of rural school in China
Some of the younger students who attended the school who came out to greet us

           If cats had to go to school, I don’t know if Chuck would have made it.
He’s stubborn.  He doesn’t like to be bossed around.
The thought of Chuck sitting in a classroom for six hours, doing classwork in a notebook, writing on the chalkboard, or spending time on homework . . . well,  knowing Chuck as I do, the only thing I could imagine was he’d be great at playing hooky from school.
So when we were in China, and we had the chance to see a school in action, I said to Chuck, “What do you think?  Would you like to see what a school looks like?”
Chuck nodded his head, which I took for a yes.
I have to confess.  Years ago, on my first trip to China, I’d been a guest of the Wuhan School District, which is considered one of the wealthiest school districts in China.  I’d visited an elementary school that had marble floors and a wide-screen video display in the classroom that was more upscale than what I was used to seeing in the states.  
But what I’d seen in Wuhan was not typical for China.
This time, as we drove down narrow bumpy dirt roads, somewhere in the China countryside, we were going to visit a more typical school setting-- a small elementary school that served around 60 students.  This school did not have running water, nor electricity.  In the winter, the classroom was heated with coal.  
This is the look of a typical rural classroom in China--very basic.  No electricity.  No running water.
Stone floor.  Chalkboard in front of the room.  

          The students were dismissed at noon and they walked home for lunch.  There was no cafeteria nor gymnasium.   They were studying reading, writing, arithmetic and ENGLISH.  

Outside view of the school building that we visited

When we approached the school, the students, ranging in ages from five to ten, were gathered outside the building.
         They had planned a performance for us.  They sang some traditional Chinese songs, and then they sang a song in English. 

        A welcome song.  They also moved around, their movements totally synchronized.

They had practiced for our visit.  
We then followed the older students-the fifth graders-back into the classroom.  The teacher tried to engage them in conversation to “show off” their English, but the sight of visitors standing in the back of the room was too much of a distraction.  
Plan B was more successful.  We mingled with the students, with the goal of speaking to them in English.  I approached three fifth grade girls.  

“What is your name?” I asked.  “My name is Kate.”
Each of the girl’s responded.  “My name is ____.”
         “What is your favorite food?” I asked.  “I like pizza.”
“I like _____.”  Each girl responded between lots of giggles.
Of course, they stared at my blonde hair.  They also wanted to touch it.  It seems that blondes are very rare in China, and they don’t often see that hair color.  They were also fascinated with my camera and wanted me to take their picture, which I did.
We were having a great time until Chuck peeked out.  
I don’t know what the girls thought.  Was it normal in the United States to have a cat stuffed in your bag?  
They laughed and giggled.
“This is a cat,” I said.  “His name is Chuck.  Do you like Chuck?”
“I like Chuck,” they repeated back to me. 
“It was nice to meet you,” I said as I was leaving.
“It was nice to meet you,” they said, giggling some more.
We said goodbye.  
As we drove away, I said to Chuck, “Do you realize, Chuck, that in the middle of nowhere, sixty Chinese children are learning to speak English at a school that has no electricity or running water?  That’s pretty amazing.”   

To read more of Chuck's amazing adventures, log onto www.katelutter.com

Wild Point Island, my paranormal romance, has recently been published by Crescent Moon Press and is available at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com.   E Book Reviewers gave it a 5 star review.  To read reviews or to order, go to Amazon.com.

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