Day 6: The Sun Village & Greater Wide Goose Pagoda

We started off the day by going to Sun Village which is a community for children with incarcerated parents. The village is basically a nonprofit organization that runs on donations from other people. On Saturdays a lot of the donors come with their families to visit the children, so when we got there, it was quite busy. We first went to a larger room with a stage where we watched a video about the Sun Village. It was founded by a police officer who noticed that the inmates were always worried about their children. It was really sad to see the children’s situations before coming to the Sun Village, and it was hard to watch the part of the video where the children went to visit their parents in the jail. The end of the video showed how far the children had come since coming to the village and how multiple villages had been constructed in other cities.

After the video, some of the children did a dance for us which was really cute. Then a few people went up on stage to play charades with some of the older children. They asked us if we wanted to do a dance or song for the children; we had nothing prepared, but we all went up and sang “Head, Shoulders, Knees, & Toes”. After the performances, the guys went to play sports with the boys, and the girls went to do some crafts with some girls.

They gave us paper, and we attempted to make origami shapes. I sat next to a girl named Yang Li; she was pretty shy, but she showed us how to make little shoes with ears on them. I got lost midway through, and she ended up finishing my shoe for me. Jane showed us how to make origami hearts, and I made one of those successfully. Another girl made a really intricate origami that looked kind of like a lotus flower; I got about halfway before she had to finish it for me. They were also making fortune tellers, so I made one, and Yang Li wrote Chinese characters in it for me. I roughly wrote my Chinese name on the back of the heart that I made, and Yang Li wrote hers on the other side. After the activities, we had some noodles and soup in the dining hall with the children before leaving.

The Greater Wide Goose Pagoda was our next stop for the day. The Pagoda was beautiful; there was very intricate artwork throughout all of the buildings, and there were giant figures of Buddha as well as the different figures representing different life stages of Buddhism. Then within the Greater Wide Goose Pagoda, we had a calligraphy demonstration, and we looked at artwork by local artists. I bought a painting of peonies, which are China’s national flower, for my mom, and I got a painting of my Chinese name. After looking around the gift shop some more we left and were done for the day.

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That night, Dr. Li took all of us out for dinner. We had a nice family style dinner with four cold dishes and eight hot dishes because serving dishes in even numbers is good luck. We had really good food that was unique to the Xi’an area. The best was probably the fried chicken, large doughy, golden pancakes, and noodles.

After dinner, we were all so full. I went back to the Muslim Quarter with some people to look for souvenirs. We brought Jane with us to help barter. I mostly just looked at items as other people bartered. I wasn’t super interested in anything, and I knew we would have time tomorrow; I am also really bad at bartering. If I was ever looking at something without someone else American near me, the vendors would try to talk mandarin to me, and I just couldn’t understand. I knew basic phrases like, “How much?”, “Too expensive”, and numbers; if I really wanted to play it off like I knew Chinese, I would try to talk as little as possible. For one vendor, I was looking at chopsticks, and I asked, “How much?” in Chinese. He started at 45 yuan; I just shook my head and started to walk away (I genuinely didn’t want chopsticks). I ended up getting him down to 20 yuan, but I still didn’t buy the chopsticks, but I really thought that was a successful barter. Our group shopped more before it got late, and then we went back to the hotel to go to bed.

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