[I’ll be blogging from Asia for the rest of the summer, as I teach English and learn about the Church’s missionary efforts here. For more information, see my previous post detailing my summer plans.]
Actually, I’ve been back in Hong Kong for almost a week now. Our teaching program was a success. I had some great students, and I learned a lot! I’ll have plenty more to say about all that in future posts, but for the moment I’ll just give a brief update on my travels.
We arrived in Jilin about five days before the teaching program was to start so that we could spend a few days in Beijing. We visited Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City on the first day, and had a nice meal in the evening.
On the second day we took a tour of the Great Wall and the Ming Tombs. That was an experience! The tour was fairly inexpensive because, as we soon found out, it was subsidized by the Chinese Government, and so it also included tours of various government-owned “cultural” endeavors (read: tourist traps). So we were subjected to tours of a jade factory (which immediately became a punchline for our group), an enamel factory, and a teahouse, where I bought some over-priced Chinese tea. But we got to climb the Great Wall, so the day was a success. The only problem was that it was so hazy from all the pollution that we couldn’t see more than one or two sections of the wall in either direction.
On the third and final full day of our trip, we went to see the Temple of Heaven in the morning. Then the rain came. You may have read about it in the news. There was some pretty serious flooding, and a number of people died because of it. Fortunately, our group got back to the hotel safely, if soaked. That was the end of our adventurousness. We left the following morning to return to Jilin.
I spent the bulk of my time in China in Jilin City, where I taught English to about 150 students at the Medical College, most of them English Nursing majors. I’ll have more to say about my experiences there in future posts. In the mean time, here are some pictures from the farewell dinner we had before our departure.
Philippines/Singapore Trip Cancelled
Towards the end of our time teaching in Jilin, we got word that Manila was flooded and badly damaged after a recent typhoon, so we decided to forgo that leg of the trip. That also meant cancelling our trip to Singapore, since our flight there was out of Manila. Oh well, no big loss (besides the non-refundable airfare). It turned out to be a blessing, as it has given us more time in Hong Kong.
Day Trip to Macau
On Tuesday we took a ferry from Hong Kong to Macau, where we met up with a classmate of ours at the Gregorian. He commissioned a very generous local Serra Club member to drive us around the city to see various churches and casinos. The first thing we saw was the historic façade of St. Paul’s “Without the Walls,” followed by a few other churches, including one at the top of Penha Hill overlooking the city. After a nice lunch at a dim sum restaurant, we briefly visited a few of the bigger casinos before stopping by the seminary. After meeting the Rector and getting the grand tour of the seminary, we made our way over to the Cathedral for evening Mass (in Portuguese). Before Mass started, however, our guide took us to the Chancery next door and introduced us to the Bishop of Macau! After Mass we walked around the historic town center, where we saw the first Western-style hospital in all of Asia, among other things. We had a quick dinner, and then we headed back to the ferry terminal for the trip back to Hong Kong.
Back to Rome
Our flight is scheduled to depart Hong Kong on Friday at 11:30 PM. However, it looks like a typhoon is headed this way, so it remains to be seen whether or not we will be delayed in our return to Rome. Not that I would mind staying here a few extra days…
A Word of Gratitude
Of course, I owe a great debt of gratitude to many people for making all of this possible: first to my bishop, Most Rev. Kevin J. Farrell, and the people of the Diocese of Dallas for sending me to do missionary work in China; to the Maryknoll Society for graciously hosting me in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Hong Kong; to my friend and classmate, Cyril, and to Mr. Kuan, the Serran who helped me see more of Macau in one afternoon than I could have seen in a week if left to my own devices; and to my students in Jilin, whose thoughtfulness and attentiveness in class (as well as generosity in showing me around the city and taking me out to meals) made me feel most welcome. God is good!