Day One

Our bus started punctually at 1:40 pm on February 2. Driven smoothly all the way, we arrived at the Xinxing Hotel of Shanghai at 6:40 pm. The hotel, like a "designated hotel" of ours, took good care of us. Early the next morning, we headed directly for the Shanghai Pudong International Airport.

At 9:30 am on February 3, we boarded the Flight NW026. After 3 hours' flying, we got to the Narita International Airport in Tokyo. Unlike the weather of last year, the Tokyo we saw this year was sunny, with no snow whirling.

We finished the procedure for the connection very quickly and boarded the Flight NW012 for Detroit of the USA. The airplane landed at the Detroit International Airport as scheduled after 12 hours' flying. Because of the time difference, the local time was around 11:40 am on February 3.

Detroit was the first station of our entry into the USA, so the entry formalities were needed. At the customs desks, some of us including me were asked some questions, such as: For what purpose do you come here in the United States? How many people are there in your group? What is your (contacting) address in the United States? I was also requested to show some documents relating to the exchange program. Luckily, I had made everything ready for that and I satisfied the US customs officer for all her requests. I also told her that there were still couples of people waiting behind me. She nodded, smiling. Later on, we came to the luggage claim hall to wait for our luggage and we got our luggage before long.

We had a very smooth flight this time. The security check at the airport nowadays is different from ever in that the beverage and the colloid like toothpaste and skin-protecting cream are prohibited when you take them with you, but they can be packed for checking. Some of our students, knowing nothing about the rules, were told to throw the stuff away entirely. That should be what we must notice about the international travelling in the future.

We would have one more connection to Albany in Detroit. At about 2:00 pm by local time, we boarded the Flight NW1516 for Albany and, after about 2 hours' flying, arrived in the Albany Airport successfully. As it was a domestic flight, no more procedure was needed when we landed. We quickened our pace towards the exit.

The teachers and the students of the American sister school were already waiting at the airport; each of the hosting students was holding a board with his or her Chinese student's name on it and some of them were carrying bunches of fresh flowers which were ready for the Chinese teachers. We saw from far away Ms Pogoda and Ms Sherman-Farley waiting at the exit. We walked up to greet them, and then we went up to the luggage claim, where we had a group picture taken before we got our luggage.

Two school buses were waiting at the doorway of the airport. We put our luggage on one bus very quickly and got on the other.

At the airport I also ran into Mr and Mrs Jones and immediately greeted them. Mr and Mrs Jones, both hospitable and friendly, hosted me twice when I visited the United States in the previous two years. Mrs Jones told me that they had just returned from their holidays in Mexico.

After a while the school buses left the airport for Pine Plains. It took us about an hour and 40 minutes to get to the school. The hosting parents were waiting in the school. After a short welcoming presentation, we were all taken home by our hosting families. We four gentlemen got into our hostess Suzan's car which would take us to her house.

I have been to Pine Plains many times and know Suzan very well, but I have never had a homestay at her house. Mike, Suzan's husband, greeted us at the doorway, shaking hands with us one by one. I was lucky enough to stay with the Porters (Her husband's full name is Michael Porter) for the first time.