Today was quite the experience. We got to visit a little bit of everything. We went to the Children’s Village and then we went to the Great Goose Buddhist temple.
In the morning, we drove to the Children’s Village and got to spend time with the kids there. This is where kids could live while their parents are in jail. We first started off with a tour of the facility and this experience was extremely humbling. Each residence building housed 16 kids and there was one “parent” in charge of the resident. The rooms were pretty decent sized in the residence hall, but there were 4 bunk beds in each room and barely any space for the children to study. Other than that, the Children’s Village was quite big and it was apparent that the Children’s Village is well-funded. There were so many people there. It almost seemed like the kids were a way to get funding too. I know it doesn’t make sense, but we were all gathered into a main room and they had the kids perform different dances and sing and I could tell that they didn’t want to. I know it might be super small when compared to the fact they are given shelter, food, and everything they need, but it was sad. I attached a clip of this below.
After the performances, we were supposed to be split off as guys and girls in order to play with the kids. Guys were supposed to play basketball with the boys at the Village and the girls were supposed to participate in something else. We heard about this earlier on in the trip (Beijing) and were wondering why they would split it like that, but as a foreigner, respecting the cultures and traditions in China is important even if things aren’t like this at home. But, PLOT TWIST! We were all sent to the basketball courts and the girls were never taken to the handicraft place. This was a little awkward because Francis (one of our Asia Institute Guides) made sure to emphasize that we should respect the wishes of the Village and not break the guy/girl rule, but the girls just stood there on the side while the guys played basketball, but we did get to interact with the little ones that were playing with like soccer balls and stuff on the side and it was really fun. It was really hard to communicate with them because I don’t speak Chinese, but I am starting to learn how important hand gestures are. My pointing skills have never been better!
After eating lunch at the village, we were off to the Great Goose Temple. I was soooooo excited for this because I have a weird obsession with Buddha and really wanted a jade Buddha. Going to this temple was so serene. It was really green and well taken care of. There were a couple really big Buddha Statues that everyone bowed in front of and the rest of the Temple land was bonsai trees (I think) and outdoor Buddha statues and stuff. Athena and I got to rub the laughing buddha’s tummy, so I am hoping that I am quite lucky very soon!!!
Athena, Maddie, Jordan, and I decided to get dinner and walk through the Muslim Streets again to find food. As I walked through, I realized 2 things: 1) People really don’t care if they run anyone over and 2) Chinese natives have weird English words on their shirts that make absolutely no sense at all!!!! We almost got killed maybe 10 times! We were at an intersection and vehicles literally skimmed us as they passed. I also passed a guy wearing a Baltimore, MD Under Armour Shirt and I am sure he has no idea what is written on his shirt at all. Jordan and Maddie found some really good phrases on shirts at dinner like “It is very expensive”. Like what’s expensive? The dinner? Something else? Some questions of mine will never be answered on this trip haha, but it’s so interesting.
That was it for today! More culture shock with a mix of goodluck.