May 12, 2018
We had something very awesome planned for today: it was our day of service. We hopped on the bus and headed to a more secluded part of Xi’an to a place called the Sun Village. During the 1900’s, many people were being arrested and sentenced to long periods of time in jail. The biggest concern for these people was what to do with their children. There was no place for these kids to go. Most were either left on the streets alone or given to grandparents to be taken care of, who usually need to be cared for themselves. So, an officer at the jail overheard these people talking about their kids and decided to create an outlet for them, a new home while their parents were in jail and finally named it Sun Village.
This is a place that serves as a home and a school for these kids. When we arrived, it gave off an inviting vibe. I believe there were around 50 kids ranging from the ages of eight to fifteen there. We were guided into the main room where a group of younger kids performed a dance for us. Then, we performed “Head, shoulder, knees and toes” for them on stage. It was a little embarrassing, but fun for the kids. Afterwards, we split up and followed the boys to hang out with them. We played a mixture of basketball, ping pong and playing catch. The kids were so energetic and excited to play with us.
This was a great experience for me because it was my first time doing something like this, especially in a foreign country. Playing and meeting the kids was a lot of fun and it made me feel fortunate to grow up in the environment that I did. These kids seemed to be happy in Sun Village and realize that they are all in the same boat so they need to take care of each other. They have created a close-knit community and were very inviting. I am glad these kids have a place like Sun Village to come to because if not, who knows where they would be. This is truly an experience I will never forget.
After eating lunch with the kids in the Sun Village, we left to go to the Greater Wild Goose Pagoda. We learned that “Wild Goose” is another name for Buddha, so it can be translated to Greater Buddha Pagoda. It was built during the Tang Dynasty and was originally used as a place to collect Buddhist materials. It then transitioned to be a holy place for Buddhists to go to and pray. Today, it attracts lots of visitors who want to see the Buddhas of the past, present and future. While we were there, we saw many people go up and pray to the Buddhas, which was interesting to see. We then sat in on a calligraphy class and were able to try it ourselves.
As night-time came around, Dr. Li treated us all to an authentic dinner at this restaurant. This meal included region specific dishes such as one that looked like tofu but was actually made of corn as well as a special type of noodle. We ended the day with visiting the Muslim Quarter again to do some shopping. My friends and I went to almost every shop on the street to see what kinds of deals we could get. I ended up finding some cool shoes and a new pair of sunglasses. It was a successful night at the market.