Wonderful to catch up with Gary, his wife and his daughter.
Dec 1, 2017
|I had a pretty slack sort of a day, sleeping, reading, crocheting, and generally just hanging out. I was to meet Gary at the front of the college at 5.15, and I was really looking forward to that. He was one of my favourite colleagues, when I worked here. A lovely, easy-going sort of a guy.
When he got to the gate to meet me, he told me he had an activity to attend, before we headed off for dinner, with his wife and daughter. I was a little intimidated at the whole family thing, as I was unsure of language difficulties.
The activity he mentioned was on the basketball courts, and a joint venture between the college and the Zhaoqing Health Bureau. The aim was to educate the students about HIV and how to avoid the risk of infection. I was surprised to know from Gary that HIV is an increasing problem in China.
But it was very good to see how many volunteers there were, to provide information to the students, and also how enthusiastically the students were flocking to gain that knowledge. A far cry from how I remember the students when I was working here. They were so very naive, and unworldly.
Gary has recently moved into a new house on the eastern end of Zhaoqing, and drives a Honda City. I am constantly surprised by the increase in wealth, for so many of the Chinese population. And, I had no need to worry about Denise's English. She studied and worked in the UK, so conversation was very easy!
Denise has worked in foreign trade, until she came to work in the library at the medical college, which gives her a much more stable income.
Their daughter Qian Yu, or Qianqian, is nearly six years old is in kindergarten. Her life has not been without struggle for Gary and Denise. She had breathing difficulties at birth, and was in ICU, and after a few months they discovered that she is deaf. Luckily they found out early, and was assessed by doctors in Guangzhou as a great candidate for a cochlear implant. Denise said that with today's technology, she will need the implant for life, but who knows what the future will hold for her. Her hearing is fine now, with the implant, and because they discovered her deafness very early, her speech is fine, and should not create issues for her in the future.
Gary and I picked Denise up at the front of the college, after being at the health promotion for a while. Gary now works in Student Affairs, rather than teaching, hence the need for his presence. From the college, we headed to Qian Yu's kindergarten to collect her. Denise invited me to go in, and have a look around. And, surprise, surprise, it looks just the same as Cruz and Jack's kindy in Treendale.
She was not happy with Denise when we picked her up, because she was the last kid to be collected! Typical five year old - in charge of all decisions in the family - or she would like to think that she is!
We had a slow journey through the city centre. Six o'clock is definitely peak traffic time here. But patience is all it takes.
Gary and Denise took me to a lovely restaurant on the side of the lake. It is a pigeon bar, and all their meat meals are pigeon. The roast pigeon is delicious, although there is not really a lot of meat on them!
It was great talking with them, about their lives, and being able to communicate freely with them.
Little Qianqian had a good meal, although she would have liked to dominate the conversations, of course. But they appear to parent her sensibly. When she had finished eating, Gary allowed her to play a game on his phone, but she got only ten minutes. They believe that too many children have too much screen time, and it is great to see that they limit her time staring at a screen. And she knows the rules, and does not fuss when her ten minutes is up!
We went for a bit of a walk, after dinner, and then drove right through the lakeside bar area. It is very nice. I told them that they could drop me at a bus stop, and I could get a bus home, but they would not hear of it. When we got here, they came upstairs, so Qianqian could meet Hugo.
He was an instant hit, and after sitting for a little while, I put him on his lead, and let the little one take him for a walk with us. We did not go far, but she thoroughly enjoyed the experience. And I am sure, so did Hugo!
I had had a great time with them, and really look forward to catching up again soon, when they have time.