By Ely Schosek
Not everyone will have the opportunity to travel to another country during their lifetime, but Gerry Czemerynski is not just anyone.
A physical education teacher at Springville-Griffith High School, and known to his students as Mr. C, Czemerynski recently had the opportunity to travel to China.
One of his daughters, Brooke, teaches English to children there.
Students of Marianna Krolikowski and Diane Waterman were lucky enough to recently hear about Mr. C’s trip.
“Anything that can get you out of Springville, even for an hour, and help you see the world is priceless and valuable,” said Waterman. “Let your mind experience what it’s like to be in China through him.”
Also in attendance for the presentation were Superintendent Kimberly Moritz, High School Principal James Bialasik and Vice Principal Joe DeMartino.
Mr. C started off his presentation by talking about the setting, saying there were both bamboo trees and palm trees but he “didn’t see any pandas.” He also noted that it was 85 to 90 degrees consistently throughout the two weeks they were there over spring break. “Lots of rain too!”
When it comes to food, that’s different in China too, he said. There are many outdoor open markets. In regard to dining, there are small amounts to be shared. Each meal starts with hot water that is used to clean the utensils and dishes even though they are brought to you clean. Although this may seem strange to us, it is customary in China.
After showing the audience an image of a meal he had in China, Mr. C said, “I was in my glory there because the vegetables were awesome,” earning a laugh from everyone in the room.
“Starbucks is opening a store in China every 15 hours,” Mr. C. mentioned. “It’s almost like you’re at a photoshoot at every Starbucks,” in that there are many young girls taking photos and then getting paid for posting them online.
While taking a train ride through some of the more rural parts of China, he noticed one thing: rice. “I knew it was a different land because of the rice patties,” he said. This led to Bialasik’s question on the proper way to eat rice with chopsticks.
Also during his train ride, Mr. C. noted, “Everywhere I looked there were mountains.”
While showing some pictures from his trip, Mr. C. showed a photo of the Port of Hong Kong and stated, “The picture doesn’t really do it justice.”
Additionally, he discussed what Hong Kong looked like at night. A large crowd gathered every night to watch the light show on the water projected from the tops of the buildings. During the day, his family took a double decker bus through the back streets of Hong Kong.
After a short flight, they arrived in Beijing. “In Beijing, you see a lot of military. They’re all over,” Mr. C. said. “Definitely a huge military presence.” But despite the pollution, “Beijing was beautiful!”
Among the sights they saw was the Forbidden City, which he noted was “never ending” and the Great Wall. While walking along the wall, he said, “Every time I thought I was at the highest point, I saw another higher point.”
In regard to the economy, Mr. C. mentioned that everything was extremely cheap in China. Socially “on one hand they have all that technology, but on the other hand they don’t have social media,” which results from the communist government and the censorship that goes along with that.
The cities were extremely crowded but well organized, he said.
Mr. C. explained how big of a decision it was for his daughter to make to go live and teach in China. The family had talked to a couple who lived in China for 10 years before they made any decisions.
Safety was another key component of the trip. The use of chopsticks to steal was apparently very common and if you were to catch them they would apologize and give it back.
“They fear that if they were to hurt you or worse, fatally harm you, they would be haunted for a thousand lives.” The incident would surely end without any violent confrontation.
Mr. C. said that it was very important for them to plan before they went because “the Chinese government is very suspicious” and you would not want them to think you had ill-intentions.
In respect to communicating in Chinese, he said that he had created a basic list of Chinese words and phrases on his phone spelled phonetically which helped tremendously.
Next week, look for part two of this story to see what the students’ opinions of the presentation were.