I flew back this afternoon from a hectic (4 hour meeting) but comfortable (5 star hotel) Lattitude Conference in HangZhou. The 40 or so attendees included the Heads of the Provincial Education Departments that work with Lattitude (except for Yunnan, tut tut! Hence, I was introduced as "representing Yunnan", all of the 45 million population, presumably?). There were ex-volunteers and current volunteers, Lattitude Programme Managers and the new head of Lattitude [see photo] on his first visit to China. The early (Chinese!) 10-minute speeches were taking 20-30 minutes each and by the time my slot came along, we were already overrunning by an hour. So I ditched my planned (and much practised!) attempt to speak in English and Chinese, and left the Chinese to the professional translator. That meant I finished in only 8 minutes, doing my bit to get things back on schedule!
It was good to make new friends and meet folk I'd only ever contacted by e-mail before. It was also really nice to catch up with the volunteers I last saw tentatively flying off to their projects after our training course. And perhaps the highlight was seeing Helen again [see photo]. We last met three years ago, in a Hani tribal village, singing and dancing with the locals (long story!). Then, she was "just" the mother of a Lattitude volunteer living in my town and I was "just" a VSO volunteeer. Now though we've both ended up working for Lattitude part-time! Strange world!
About the blogger
Past blog entries