This morning we embarked on a service learning trip to the Children’s Village, which is essentially a group home for children whose parents are in jail. Although the premise of the Village is a sad one, the children there seem happy and well cared for. There are around 100 kids there, and they’re all between the ages of 3 and 20. Everyone is separated by gender, and around half of each gender (for example the 3-7 year olds) has one “mother” to watch over them. In total, there are 4 surrogate mothers to watch over and care for the children.
I expected our service learning to be more hands on than it was. We got to the Village and immediately lined up behind another college group who was visiting. These students were Chinese, but that didn’t stop us from making friends. Some of the guys had many Chinese friends by the end of the day, and these girls eventually posted pictures of them with the guys with captions that essentially said, “We should work harder on our English because there are plenty of cute guys!”
Although there were plenty of us who socialized with the other visiting college group, there were also a bunch of us who played with and interacted with the kids. There were a few games of pickup basketball going on at once, in addition to a haphazardly organized game of knockout. There were also girls jump roping with some of the kids from the Village, a few soccer balls being kicked around, and a game that involved kicking a feathered weight around in a circle, which was much harder than it looked.
After playing with the kids, we ate a simple but delicious lunch. I don’t really know what was in it, but there were definitely cabbage, noodles, and rice. It was by far the simplest and quickest meal we’ve eaten thus far, but it was also one of the most delicious.
In the afternoon we went to the Greater Wild Goose Pagoda, one of the sites that we had to research way back in April. The Pagoda isn’t really the main attraction there, because it is structurally unsound and is such closed to the public. However, there are many smaller Buddhist temples scattered throughout the complex, which you can enter. These have magnificent depictions of Buddha, and there were many people praying in these sites.
After we walked through the complex of temples and shrines, we entered the gift shop and took a calligraphy class. I thought that we’d be able to actually do calligraphy, but it was just a linguist briefly showing the evolution of Pinyin characters and then telling us to buy prints, which was slightly disappointing.
Tomorrow we see the Terra Cotta Warriors, which I’m very excited for.