From Kirsten (mom)

Tomorrow, several of us are taking cooking classes (www.thehutong.com) to learn how to make dumplings and some dimsum dishes, though a number of people were already treated to either a jiaozi/dumpling lesson or a welcome dinner on the first night of the homestay. Our family took us out for the local specialty Peking Duck on the first night and the two boys will have their own "private" dumpling lesson with grandma today after school as it is an early release day at 3:30.

Before we know it, we'll be picking our transformed children up from school on Friday and bidding farewell to their host siblings and families, off on the next part of the adventure; the part that requires no planning, no frantic cell number exchanges, just getting up and showing up as we are supposed to.

On the school and family front, our family is experiencing the "no-to-low news is good news" version of the week. I did finally get a call last night to say hello, but I think it was the host mom's doing way more than it was our son's request. He was ready to see me go on Sunday, ready to have his adventure with his new friend and family.

They live close to the school, which is a blessing as it doesn't mean waking earlier than at home, though bedtime is much later due to--you guessed it--homework. The kids are terribly tired overall, and faced with unusual foods, not to mention the exhausting true full-immersion in Chinese, all of which draws down the defenses to be sure. It is so clear however that, once they make it through, they will emerge different people. It will be a triumph, there's no doubt in my mind.