Before long, the Great White Mustang had gathered a small herd of horses in like manner as the filly. They had come from Sunset Meadow and many other meadows like it and the Great White Mustang had called after horses of all ages to come with him on his journey to the Dragon’s Lair. There were some who shook their heads and turned away. There were Mares who brought their Stallions, Stallions brought their mares and colts. It was a herd of about 125 horses that finally arrived at the Great Western Water and the training corral the Great White Mustang had prepared just for them. They would live at this corral getting to know others in the herd for 4 weeks. At the end of the four weeks, the Great White Mustang promised them that they would grow wings and fly across the Great Western Water and arrive at the Dragon’s Lair. But first, they needed to learn some important things that would serve them once they arrived. And before they knew it, the entire herd was being whipped into shape by the cowboys of the MUSTANG CORRAL.
I arrived in California meeting up with a group of about 125 other people who had fulfilled all the requirements by Beijing necessary to go to China with ELIC. There were older couples in their fifties, young people like me, fresh out of college, and young families with children ranging from the ages of 4 to 17.
During our four weeks of training in California, we were broken up into the teams as we had been assigned. The teams consisted of Senior teachers with much teaching experience being paired with student teachers, such as I, having only completed minimal classroom hours and bachelor’s requirements.
During this time, we prepared together as teams. We began to learn about the people we would be living with for the next year. Some had already been to China and were returning for a second or third year. We underwent rigorous team-building exercises. We had language classes where we were introduced to Mandarin characters and sounds, as well as learning a few basic words (hey, who knew that learning the word for bathroom could be sooooo important?). We underwent refresher courses in teaching methodology as applied to ESL within China. We were introduced to our materials and the types of frustrations and limitations we would encounter as teachers. For instance, no copiers were available…only mimeograph machines. We were not allowed to use white-out. It was a government regulated forbidden substance (wonder if Michael Nesmith knows that?) Cheating was considered much differently. Here we consider it stolen material. There cheating is ‘borrowed intellectualism’. Lastly, we had cross-cultural classes in order to train and prepare us for the shock that any Westerner will undergo removing themselves from life here and attempting to live overseas for a lengthy time. (Did you know the toilets there are just a hole in the ground? And public toilets merely means that it’s elongated into a trough were many people squat at once together. Now THAT can be shocking to we who have our doors and privacy and procelain thrones in antiseptic rooms – even our port-o-potties are private!!)
And through it all, the horses began to grow wings. And soon, their wings were ready and the Great White Mustang began to gather them together for their last nights in the land where the sun sets to get them to practice what they had learned so that when the time came to fly, they would all take off at once to the Dragon’s Lair. And before they knew it, they were gathered on the shore. The Great White Mustang breathed on them and then one by one, they took off over the Great Western water towards the Great Dragon’s Lair.