Monday, November 24, 2008

A Time for Giving . . .

Good afternoon all,

Well, I'm gearing up for my trip home, and I've been out shopping as well. It's not nearly as cold as it is in The Burgh - it was 59 today - very overcast but the sun did come out for a little bit.

Today I purchased some of the gifts for my Giving Bag. I needed to do this because the bag is due to be returned tomorrow.

In America, we'd call this - our Angel Tree gifts.

This bag is a program of the Shanghai Community Center in Partnership with the Shanghai Charity Foundation. The children who benefit from these gifts are migrant workers' children. They go to a migrant workers' school. I know that my friend, Jane was looking to volunteer to teach in a migrant school. I don't think the government supports these schools.

As I understand it, in China if you are a migrant worker and your family moves with you, your children cannot go to the local schools. The school across the street from Shama is where children who are residents of Shanghai attend. I think the migrant workers schools are pretty far out in the suburbs.

If you don't want to shop, or can't shop because you are too busy OR if you are afraid to shop, then you can give the coordinator 150 RMB and they will do the shopping for you. I was afraid to shop until I talked with my Chinese friends here at Shama. They helped me a lot in what to buy.

The migrant workers' children are poor children. I understand that migrant workers perform some of the jobs that we see everyday on the streets of Shanghai. Maybe the street sweeper or a cleaner in a store or a restaurant. I think that migrant workers might also sometimes be ayis (pronounced EYE EES) too; which is what we would call a "maid" in the US. Lots of my friends here have ayis. Mike and I do not. We live in a "serviced apartment" where they come every day like a housekeeper in a hotel. I wanted to shop and cook for us myself.

I have a girl whose name is Wu Ling. She is 14 years old and she weighs about 110 pounds. She is about 4 feet, 9 inches tall. She wears a size 24 shoe.

So, I bought her a winter knit hat (black/white/purple), similar to the ones the skiers wear in the US. I also bought her some black gloves and some socks. I also had some shampoo and soap and a shower scrubbie so I tossed them in too. Then I bought her a pair of red (because red means good luck in China) Converse All Star tennis shoes. Tomorrow, I'll run by the Pearl Market to pick up a sweat suit.

When I see Converse All Star tennis shoes, all I can do is think of my cousin, Ellen. A little story about this.

Many years ago, I was visiting my Chicago cousins and my cousin Ellen was a star runner on her high school track team. She so wanted a pair of running shoes and my uncle told her he would run downtown to Maxwell Street in Chicago to buy her a pair of shoes. I knew she didn't want the black high-top shoes that my uncle was suggesting. She wanted a pair of sleek shoes that would enable her to run faster and leap buildings in a single bound. So, when I saw these shoes, Ellen is who I thought about.

Anyway, Wendy at the Concierge Desk said I did a good job. I put the hair things in some little bags and tied them with red ribbon. I hope she enjoys these items. I just hope she gets all the items I put in there.

Also, today - I took the minutes at the November American Women's Club meeting. I called Malone's American Pub two days ago and tried to explain to the young lady there that the American Women's Club would be there at 9:30 am this morning. She kept telling me that the restaurant didn't open until 11:30. Of course, I knew that but Lisa, the former recording secretary, told me to let them know a few days before the meeting so I did call them. When I wasn't sure they would be prepared for me, I asked one of the concierges at the desk downstairs call them yesterday. He told me he would take care of it. This morning when I arrived at 9:15, they were all ready for me. With coffee and everything!

I set up the laptop and Kathy and I waited for the others to join us. Usually these meetings take about 2 hours but today there was a skeleton crew and we were done by 11. I had asked our driver to come for me at 12:15 but I had to call back and request an earlier pick up time and a change of location. Kathy and I walked over to The Ritz Carlton Hotel and had a Starbucks there. You know, I don't know what I'd do without him. The laptop is so heavy and I just knew I couldn't carry it all around Shanghai with the other errands I had to do today.

He dropped Kathy off at her place and then we were off to the Fabric Market to talk with Ball about the skirt I had made. Guess who I saw there? Yep, you guessed it - Margaret and Lisa. Margaret helped me convey my concerns to Ball about the skirt. Poor Ball - she thinks I'm 25 years old! I told her we needed to lengthen the skirt considerably and she will have it ready for me on Friday. She also said she can drop it off at my hotel (giggle) so we'll have to see if that happens. She has a friend in our neighborhood so it is not a problem - Mei wen ti! Then we stopped by the lady who has silk scarves and met a lovely Chinese / American family from New York City. We also met a lovely British woman who only had Pounds Sterling on her. She was wondering where she could get her money changed and we had to give her the bad news that she needed her British passport to do that at the bank - any bank. She would have to go back to her hotel to get it. It has been suggested to us many times to keep your Passport or a copy thereof with you at all times. The authorities have the right to ask you for it. I keep a copy as I'm so afraid of losing the original thing. Especially after Jane had her purse stolen. But I digress, again. . .

Then we went to the Commodities Market over by Yu Yuan Garden. This place is AMAZING! It's got a little bit of everything and a lot of anything you'd like; Christmas decorations, jewelry, clothes, socks, hats, hair ties and barrettes. We had 50 minutes to look around and purchase everything we needed or wanted - as Margaret says. Needless to say, it was my second time there and I could not find the cards for the places I had been to before. Thank goodness I still have my wits about me and was able to remember the general vicinity of the second floor. I purchased some more jewelry items so now I am good to go!

1 comment:

Alison said...

Happy Thanksgiving Annie! I'll be at my sister Lisa's house in Beaver, going to see Spamalot in the burgh on Saturday. I remember Thanksgiving in Nansha and our hotel's very gracious attempt at a turkey dinner. Not quite right of course, but it was much appreciated. I hope you have a wonderful meal with friends today.