Guest blog by Kevin Paes, Water Safety Program Advisor for the Canadian Red Cross in Western Canada

Beginning October 20th, four Red Crossers touched down in China as part of a technical exchange between the Canadian Red Cross and the Chinese Red Cross. The goal: to train 20 new local water safety instructors and help reduce drowning deaths in that country. Kevin Paes is one of four delegates, including BC–Yukon Provincial Director Kimberley Nemrava, Water Safety Master Instructor Trainers Paula Thulin (Delta, BC) and Anne Porteous (Nanaimo, BC). In Dispatches from China, Paes shares his experiences of this unique partnership.

Dispatches from China: Hello from Beijing

Guest blog by Kevin Paes, Water Safety Program Advisor for the Canadian Red Cross in Western Canada 

Greetings from Beijing. We arrived safely in Beijing on Friday and were warmly received by the Chinese Red Cross. After a delicious meal and good night’s rest, we met up with Yunhong Zhang, a Canadian Red Cross Project Manager for China, as well as a number of translators and boarded a flight to the city of Xiamen where we will be conducting our technical exchange.

As we touched down in Xiamen, we were welcomed by the Xiamen Red Cross. After settling into the hotel we were given a tour of this fast-developing sea port city.

Sunday was our preparation day. The pool selected for the project is a fantastic city-run centre, open to the public for an annual fee. There is one 25 meter indoor pool, one outdoor 50 meter pool, a children’s play pool, a therapy pool, and multiple hot tubs. The facility also boasts a great weight room and spa. The preparation of our hosts is evident. Now that we’ve seen the facility, the whole program is beginning to take shape.

The entire team reviews Monday’s lessons and activities with the help of our translators. We go over new concepts for our partners like the difference between an accident (unpreventable) and an incident (preventable), and how this perception can influence water safety. It will be exciting to see how these concepts will be accepted by the participants in the program tomorrow.

One of the most interesting aspects of translation we have been working through involves sorting out the meaning of words that exist in one language, but not in the other. It’s a great exercise that has us all thinking about the meaning of our terminology. But it’s also hard work for the translators! We’ve had to learn when our concepts are making sense, when to stop talking, and when to take a break. I’m sure this will get easier as the training progresses!

Tomorrow, the opening ceremonies for the project start at 8am. We are all looking forward to it, and to seeing everyone come together on this project as we start what we hope will be our life saving work here in the beautiful port city of Xiamen, China.

Paes (right) and Paula Thulin wait for their flight to Beijing.
Paes (right) and Paula Thulin wait for their flight to Beijing.
Paula Thulin hams it up at airport.
Paula Thulin hams it up at airport.
(from left): Anne Porteous, Kevin Paes, Paula Thulin, and Kimberley Nemrava.
(from left): Anne Porteous, Kevin Paes, Paula Thulin, and Kimberley Nemrava.
Yunhong Zhang (left) and Kimberley Nemrava (right) chat over a meal.
Yunhong Zhang (left) and Kimberley Nemrava (right) chat over a meal.
The skyline in Xiamen.
The skyline in Xiamen.