Thursday, September 10, 2009

Climbing Mountains & Learning How to Prevent Fires & Disasters

It is a well known fact that I cannot read a map, fold a map, or navigate in just like early day explorers, I too think I am in the East Indies :p

I was informed by notification (one that was mostly in Chinese) that I needed to attend a mandatory Fire & Disaster Prevention Workshop, or face getting kicked out of the dorm.

Not wanting to risk getting kicked out, I asked around and found out that the workshop was taking place in the Performing Arts Auditorium on the mountain. Oh fun. Now something to keep in mind is that NCCU has a river (or two) running through it and part of the campus is on a mountain (the part where the boys live and apparently where the performing arts auditorium is as well). So I was told by my German neighbor that the auditorium was over the bridge and up the mountain on the right...thinking nothing of it, I left my room at 9:40am to go over the bridge and up the mountain to fulfill my obligation to prevent disaster.

The bridge is rather close to Building 9 (my dorm) and my neighbor said it wasn't very far up the mountain, so I decided to walk it instead of taking bus. I took my ipod with me and was listening to inspirational mountain hiking music as I passed signs saying things like "danger, go in groups when going up the mountain" and "lookout for poisonous snakes!" I thought that the signs were a little odd, considering the boys live up there, but it didn't really seem too weird since it was pretty much jungle on either side of the road. After a bit, I found it strange that no one was walking up the mountain behind me or in front of me, and for a mandatory workshop for all dorm would think that there would be tons of little students rushing around.

So after walking briskly for 15 mins, I came to a do not enter sign and what looked like erosion control repairs and a large fence. I kind of suspected I was lost and had missed something, so I consulted the campus map and realized that I had taken the wrong bridge over the river and was now on another part of the mountain- far away from where I needed to be.

I trotted down the mountain, walked beside the river, went over another bridge, climbed up the mountain, and walked past a less jungle-ish area with more college buildings, and arrived at the Performing Arts Auditorium. Success.

So upon arrival, I walked up to the girl at the info table and she said something in Chinese and I flashed her my now perfected look of confusion and said hello to her in English and she handed me a blue slip of paper with blanks and only Chinese characters on it. She pointed to a line and there I stood until a group of us were taken up the stairs to the 3 floor. I listened rather attentively to a long lecture in Chinese, which probably told the students something about in the event of fire or smoke in your building do this, and then we entered what I thought was just another hallway.

Imagine my surprise and the other international students surprise as we entered a room full of manufactured stage smoke and darkness. We were being tested on what the proper procedure for smoke in your building was and we weren't really sure what to do since all the instructions had been in Chinese and we couldn't see what the Chinese students were doing since it was dark. Finally some nice Chinese boy behind me (who had run into me several times) told me to follow the wall and duck my head. I eventually made it out of the "smoke" filled darkened hallway and got a stamp on my blue slip of paper.

We filed downstairs where I made friends with a kid from Germany and a kid from Mexico and we asked Info Girl if we were finished, or if there was more fun to be had. Unfortunately for us, Info Girl didn't speak much English and had to call for backup on her cell phone. Adding to the unfortunate experience, Info Girl's English speaking backup was unavailable, thus leaving us unsure of what to do next.

After sizing up the situation, we decided to head downstairs with another group and found that we had luckily stumbled upon Part II of the preventative measures workshop. In the basement, we were lectured (still in Chinese) on the finer points of using a fire hose to put out a fire and watched brave volunteers get wet while trying to use said fire hose. We got our stamp and were turning to leave when the Fire Guard miraculously started the English version of his lecture for the next group! We stayed. We listened to him tell us to flip things that weren't switches, touch this like this, put the pieces together softly, etc...until we just couldn't stand it and the entire English speaking group was giggling like little kids. Needless to say, we were highly amused at that portion of the workshop and were rather glad we stayed to get part of our training as volunteer fire brigaders in English!

It really is too bad that US colleges don't put together a Fire and Disaster Prevention Workshop for their was kind of like going to a disaster themed amusement park!

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