We traveled to the country side today to go on a service visit to the Children’s Village. The Children’s Village is a small village for children whose parents are in prison. There was a main gate and the buildings inside looked worn down. The walls were painted which added a vibrant and happy look to the village. The organization and village is not government owned and runs 100% on donations. The workers(called “mothers”) are responsible for feeding, clothing, teaching, and looking after the children. The first thing we did once we entered the village was go on a tour. We went into the girls house and the boys house, the cafeteria, and the basketball court. We then went into the main room with other tour groups. There was a stage and a projector. A woman came up and (I assume since she was only speaking Chinese) gave some background and information about the organization. Then we watched a video that told more about the organization. The video stated that without organizations like Children’s Village, children whose parents went to prison would be neglected and would be forced to raise themselves. The children in the organization range from 3 to 20 years old. They also had many branches all over China. The organization also leads yearly visits the prisons where the parents are. The video was heart wrenching and difficult to watch. Once the video was over some children gave dancing and singing performances and representatives of different tour groups went up to speak a few words. After the festivities in the main room were over we walked to the basketball court to play with the younger children. Some played basketball, others jump roped, and danced. One girl was very good at a certain foot game with a metal weight and feathers. There was another tour group that was with us that was all girls. They were majoring in teaching so they were frequent visitors. Many of them were fascinated by the boys in our group and some of them even exchanged We-Chats! After about an hour of free time we ate lunch in their cafeteria and then headed back to the bus. The kids were very well behaved and seemed to do all their personally assigned chores.
We then bused to the Greater Wide Goose Pagoda- a Buddhist temple. Our tour guide told us about how Buddhism was introduced to China by monks who went to India and then came back. Each building had a different kind of monument honoring Buddha. On our way to the back of the site we each rubbed the laughing Buddha statue for good luck. We then walked into a small tourist shop/museum and learned about Chinese calligraphy. The paintings in the room were very pretty and the lesson was also very informative.
For dinner Hayley and I attempted to find a McDonalds because we were craving “authentic” American food. The hotel concierge told us that it was only 15-20 minutes walk but after walking for an hour around the city without finding it we gave up and settled on the hotel’s pizza.