What an eye-opening experience. Today, we visited the Xi’an Children’s Village. The Children’s Village is a 100% donation funded home for Chinese children whose parents are either in jail or otherwise currently not able to support their children. We were there to deliver Pitt’s donation, and to partake in several activities with the children.
First, we toured their homes. Over 15 kids would be placed into 2 rooms filled with bunk beds. They shared a common area for work and play, as well as communal restroom. I couldn’t imagine living in such close proximity to that many people with that little privacy. But, it was certainly a preferable alternative to living on the streets, the sad reality many of these kids would otherwise face.
Next, we got to play basketball with the kids. We split up teams, each being half Pitt students and half kids from Children’s Village, and played 5v5. It was a blast, and some of the kids were quite good. After that, we got in a circle with some of the kids and juggled a soccer ball. We may not have been able to communicate with the kids because of the language barrier, but through sport I felt we really connected with them and made a difference in their day.
After we said bye to the kids, we were off to visit the Greater Wild Goose Pagoda, an important religious site for Chinese Buddhists. It was constructed to honor Xuanzang, a Chinese monk who traveled the Silk Road to India to translate and take back many Buddhist texts. While there, we were treated to a presentation on Chinese calligraphy. We learned about the history of Mandarin, and how over time the pictures morphed into the modern Chinese characters used now.