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Jingzhou (pronounced “jing - jo”) was the capital of Jing, one of the nine great regions into which Emperor Yu, founder of the Xia Dynasty (2205-1776 BC), divided China. From Jing Zhou the emperor received as tribute exotic gifts of gold, ivory, cinnabar, silver and feathers. The city is situated on the north bank of the Yangtze, and its cotton mills are supplied with raw cotton from the rich Jianghan Plain on which it stands. The city's population of 240,000 (small city) is principally employed in its many light-industrial enterprises, machinery, durable consumer goods, printing, dyeing and textiles.
Just at the bottom of the gangway, there was chaos. Trucks and bicycles laden with goods attempting to get out of the area in total grid lock. Of course, our waiting busses were part of the problem being so big and taking up so much space. It is really too bad that still photographs do not convey the activity that was present.
Viking River Cruises initiated a project to support one of the local primary schools in Guanyindang Town in the suburb of the Jingzhou City. Formerly the Guanyindang Central Primary School of Sha Shi District, the Viking River Cruises Primary School is one of the district's major primary schools. In the first 30 years since it was established in 1974, almost 2,200 students have graduated from the school. In 2003, an enrollment of more than 800 students from grades one to six were taught in 16 different classes by 40 teachers and staff.
With Viking River Cruises' financial support, upgrading and improvement of the school was begun in August 2003 and the school was renamed Viking Primary School. In several stages, Viking River Cruises' investment will be used to renovate the school's current facility and to provide modern teaching equipment. Viking River Cruises hope that Viking Primary School will become a model for outstanding education in this district.
Official statistics reveal that there are still some 40 million students from poor families nationwide that need aid, including 34 million primary and junior high school students. Viking River Cruises believes in giving back to the communities that play such a large part in enriching the lives of its passengers, and the school serves as a token of friendship and cooperation between China and its visitors from others countries.
In addition to a box on site for monetary contributions, passengers were told in advance of the school visit and asked to bring supplies that might be used in an elementary school. We took with us boxes of crayons and pencils. Others brought similar items and writing tablets and paper. These items were not given to the student directly but they saw what was being given to the school administrators and teachers and were certainly happy about it all.
We were greeted by the “school band”. The “music” was simple but they were having a good time entertaining us. But there was more to come. Little did we know that they had a dance show prepared for us. The show was fun to watch.
After the performances, we went to one of the classrooms. The children had taken their seats and we were able to see the conditions under which they studied. No air conditioning, maybe little heat during the winter. On the chalkboard were many very complicated Chinese writing characters. Mieko, knowing kanji remarked that for the grade level these kids were in the characters were very difficult. Songs were sung by both the visitors and the kids. One little girl wrote a note and folded it into the shape of a boat and gave to Mieko. I took pictures and like most little boys, they like to get their face in front of the camera. Outside, our bus was waiting and nearby was this water buffalo taking a drink of the water.
Arriving in town we had the opportunity to go inside an Catholic Church. Inside we would find that the statues and carvings would appear as Oriental.
Between the church and the landing, were a number of shops. It reminded both of us so much of the small country towns in Thailand. The Century Sun, our home on the river waited tied to the dock. In this last picture, I think that perhaps I have photographed the original wheel.
The kitchen staff gave us a demonstration in fruit and vegetable craving. It was fun to watch and those who wished to try were given their turn with the knives.