Wednesday, October 22, 2008 ;
The stark side-by-side contrast
I remember the first time we were heading for the kids' school, we thought the cabbie brought us the wrong way. Cos he was travelling down a bumpy dirt road that seemed to lead to a more and more rural area.
However, the school was really there. It was a modern campus beside the slums. There was also a golf course there, obviously for the rich. And an international housing development, because I saw many nations' flags hanging alongside the wide, long paved road. There were most of the European flags, USA flag, and wealthier South-east Asian flags. Spore's flag was there too.
Another occasion, the cabbie on that day informed me that the 3.5 storey bungalows there are very very expensive (of course I can tell) and that right now, many of the Airbus employees are housed there. More will be coming.
I did see a lot of billboards advertising Airbus' latest fleet. Initially I didn't know Airbus' Chinese name, 空客, so when the cabbie was telling me about it, I didn't seem like I knew about it, and he said, "so famous, such a big company, how come you don't know?". After he pointed out the billboard, which has both the CHinese and English names on it, then I realised it was Airbus he was referring to. The local Tianjin accent is quite difficult to catch at times too.
That is another reason why I am keeping my ayi because her accent is more like the Beijing one, which I can understand well and which I want the kids to model after.
Anyway, about the big divide between poverty and riches, here are some pics.
Below shows the Meijiang South area. A lot more greenery than the rest of the city, better-planned developments, not congested. The roads are wider and have less traffic jams too. We chose this area to live in because it looked cleaner, and it is near the school. We didn't expect to suddenly become one of the "wealthier" people around. It is totally new to me, this status.
Oh, in case you think, what a terrible photo this is, so blur, and unattractive... It can't be helped. Tianjin's skies are grey most of the year. Now that is is Fall, it's worse, there is a fog almost everyday. The air smells burnt and when I inhale, I can physically feel dust particles entering my nose, they are that big.
Below shows the area where I live in. The teachers of the school live in this estate called Lake Park and it faces the lake. That area is very pretty. A lot of high rise condos are being built there, as well as villas.
The teachers in school live in 3.5 storey villas. If you count the split levels, there are 5 levels. Even for single teachers, they are given one villa as accomodation. The financial package offered by the school is very attractive. If not, how else to attract and uproot good teachers from their home countries, and get them to come here?
I was telling my colleagues back home to apply for international schools abroad. Not only is the package better, but you get a more global outlook, make friends from many other countries, get to teach students of different nationalities (very interesting to teach), and get to travel during school holidays very cheaply.
Furthermore these teachers tend to get sent to conferences and workshops at many different countries, since international school conferences are all over the world.
I have one such close friend who taught at Shanghai Intl School and loved her experience. She has travelled and backpacked all over China already. She got involved in volunteer and community work as well, and got to plan the IB Biology curriculum for the school, how challenging and satisfying.
Most of the teachers here have been in Intl Schools in Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Columbia, Venezuela etc. I think it would be cool to travel and experience all the different cultures! The teachers said they prefer to choose intl schools in less developed countries. This is because the standard of living is lower and it is very cheap to live there, hence they can save up a huge chunk of their pay and use it to live it up and travel extensively.
Not a bad idea at all. Some of the teachers have grown kids already, so this is their 2nd career, like ds1's teacher. So maybe, when my kids are grown, I could do this together with Dh, it'll be very fun, I think.
Even more condos being built as this area is being developed as a high-class residential area.
I took these series of pics on the school bus, when I followed the kids to school one day.
Our place is just 10-15 min away from the school, and we'll pass this long river. A lot of people like to fish there, as shown below.
All along the way to the school, this is what we see, after we cross the river.
Many people sell their produce or wares on the road, some on carts pulled by donkeys. I was so surprised to see all the donkeys the first time.
And there are various kinds of vehicles here, very interesting shapes and sizes.
rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow