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A visit to the Huainan Social Welfare Institute

Today was our day to learn more about baby Hayley!

sunny 100 °F
View Preston Family Trip to China on Kwpres's travel map.

Once again, we let the girls sleep in a little and it almost cost us! We had a quick scurry upstairs to the rotating restaurant here at the Holiday Inn Downtown in Hefei, and had a quick (pre-paid!) buffet breakfast.IMG_0667.jpg I have become partial to the meat buns and breads, and today even tried the eggs and leeks. The girls are finding enough that they know they like so that we could quickly down our meal and run down to meet Faye in the first floor lobby. I say "first floor lobby" because a few years ago, the hotel did a major renovation which turned the 5th floor into their meeting room/check-in area. They also added a second/third floor mall of ritzy stores (Gant, Chanel, Gucci, etc). Finally, some restaurants were added and we have found the noodles place on the second floor to be tasty, as I posted last night.

Faye and Mr. Chen quickly took us out of town during the morning rush on our two hour jaunt to Huainan SWI. IMG_0306.jpg The billboard are most unusual. From "Don't drive with tired."IMG_0297.jpg Or "don't cel and drive". Most interesting is that nearly 15% of the billboards were like this:IMG_0305.jpgIMG_0301.jpg It's a local booze that must be popular by those driveing AUDIVOLKSWAGENMERCEDESLEXUSBUICKS. Yes, the number one American car here is the Buick. Go figure.

You can tell a lot about the culture by the billboards. Drive through Tennessee and you would think that the state's economy would depend on your seeing Rock City. Here, the police are lauded as the savior of the province of AnHui. IMG_0309.jpgIMG_0310.jpglarge_IMG_0311.jpg Perhaps they are...all that booze and bored managerial types who are on the phone looking for more cranes to build more buildings like here,IMG_0313.jpg and here,1C782F152219AC68173B83A64AFE1982.jpg

It leads to some of the most awful life-strangling dust and chemical coating all over the vegetation.IMG_0316.jpg Ugh. No problem, no EPA to go after you. In the middle of this concrete-coated land is the Huainan SWI. These people are doing the work of angels. We got a tour of the grounds with an assistant who was probably here when Hayley was here, and the kids in the classes were...well, wonderful, as all children are born to be. 1CB092EF2219AC6817355612F6BF7E49.jpg It was moving, but also inspiring in seeing how children are created equal in his image. If you saw things as they truly are, it was a great moment of clarity.large_IMG_0334.jpg

Hayley watched with little comment during this early portion of our visit, later, she agreed to have her picture taken by her dad where he had a picture of her as a toddler. IMG_0321.jpg Looking in on all the different age groups showed how these people can rise above and see that perfect child in each one there.IMG_0319.jpg

We met in a beautiful conference room with a fine wooden tableIMG_0337.jpg as the director of International Adoptions for the HSWI let us go through the file. Faye translated and relayed Bruce's questions and we got a glimpse into little Hayley. IMG_0340.jpg The reports written by the staff reminded me of the kinds of things I would say about my students in their home reports. It was helpful for Bruce to know that she got a full set of vaccinations while here. That could come in handy someday at a public school or college. The director had watermelon brought in and cut up so the girls could relax and refresh 1CFFD30F2219AC6817DED0D9797738CB.jpgwhile we went through the file and got answers to all the questions Bruce had. Hayley really brightened up by this time which I think made the director and his staff very happyIMG_0345.jpg. In the end, that's what they want for all their children.

We made our goodbyes, and thank yous, presented little tokens of St. Louis and our Cardinals as a gift for the director and his staff (Chinese tradition) and headed back to Hefei. ON the way, we took an American style "pit stop" and took care of biological needs. It's funny how much this looked like the same buildings in the Midwest. IMG_0352.jpg In fact, much of Anhui Province reminded me of the Midwest. Farmland, hot, flat, and big long straight highways.

We hit a little squall on the return home to the Holiday Inn; it was unclear if this were just a small summer burst, or an advance piece of a typhoon that closed the Hong Kong exchange today. Whew, missed that one.

Faye helped us get some groceries and go around and look at some of the local department stores. It's fascinating to see the similarities and differences. It has floors for each item and many of the same brand names. What is different is that Chinese stores are full of people who county on the need for plenty of floor help for their employment. Not sure they all look happy in their job, but I sense that they all know that they NEED that job. Interesting contrast...

We said goodbye to Faye until tomorrow and went back to relax in the room again. At one point, we looked down below us and saw a number of men in hard hats sweeping clean the dirt in a newly demolished area. They were preparing the ground for a new building. Suddenly, one of the men started sweeping the dirt on one of his fellow workers. Words were exchanged (good thing I can't read Chinese lip-reading) and the work went on.IMG_0376.jpg It was one of the most obviously individual actions I had seen on a job site so far...and it was not appreciated. Comon. Lighten up Francis!

We went up to the rotating restaurant again for our dinner and had a marvelous buffet dinner. I loved the sushi, and several other dished (fired noodles, chicken cacchitore, banana pizza (surprisingly good), lasagna (asian style. The Italians stole it...and didn't do as well) meat buns, stir fried vegetable, and ice cream flavors like green tea, mango, and vanilla tea. We don't eat lunch these days, so it worked out well.

After another hour or so repacking in the room, we went to the swim pool and I joined the girls for a little horseplay before we settled down for the night.

A post note. We had a few issues getting the AC to work in my room with Bruce. The asst. manager came up to make sure we were satisfied. We also saw him later when he came up to us in the lounge as we waited to go up for dinner. Finally, Hayley left her camera at the restaurant and he brought it to our room. . There are dozens of hotels in Hefei, and he wants to keep his hotel's reputation are pristine as possible. American hotels would do well to keep the same concept in mind. Well done, Mr. David Wang!large_1D533BD82219AC6817BEEF6D28478F8D.jpg
See you tomorrow,

Keith

Posted by Kwpres 07:13 Archived in China

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Comments

A good one. So much insight shared. I have many questions now. I saw boys at the adoption center. Is that new, or are those the "flawed" children you spoke of in your letter to me? You said that they were being adopted by foreigners. Do Chinese people ever adopt? Wouldn't farmers need help on their farms? I know my grandparents had eight children because they needed the help! It's not that they didn't love all their children, it's just the practical aspects of family that we don't really think about today. Who has children for practical reasons today?!
I am so glad to hear that foreign adoptions are still allowed! The man who runs that adoption center does sound like an angel. What an honorable mission he has.

by gloria preston

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