Day 7: Children of the Sun Village

Today, we visited the Children’s Village, also known as the Sun Village. The village was located outside of Xi’an, we ended up in a more rural area up the mountainside. We learned that this village finds, locates, and takes in children of imprisoned parents who can’t take care of their children themselves. The village was created and supported by generous donations. First, we toured the village. There were dorms for boys and girls, further split by age group. There is also a school where teachers educate the children that stay here, so they can attempt to attend university or have a better chance to find a job. We went to the main auditorium where six kids performed a dance for us. With two other people, I played charades with three boys. We acted out cats, brushing teeth, and elephants. Finally, our whole group sang heads, shoulders, knees, and toes for the children. After our performance, we went to play with the children. The boys took us to the basketball court, but interestingly enough, volunteers were doing some outdoor activities on the court. We decided to play ping pong with the local boys. It was fun to connect with the local children. I ended up taking out my ultimate frisbee disc, and I showed two boys how to throw a backhand. It was time for lunch, and I noticed that some of the older boys were installing solar panels on the roof of the cafeteria. The solar panels looked like painting easels. For lunch, we ate noodles and soup. It was heartwarming to see some of the local children eating with some of us college kids.

After rounds of high-fives and saying goodbye to the kids, we left for the Greater Wild Goose Pagoda. The pagoda was used as a library where monks translated Indian texts to Chinese. We saw the Bell Tower, but we were not able to go up the pagoda due to risks of the tower tipping over. The Wild Goose in its name refers to the Buddha. According to ancient Buddhist stories, there were two branches in which one branch ate met. On one day, they couldn’t find meat to buy, so a monk said a small prayer upon seeing a group of big wild geese. Suddenly the leading wild goose broke its wings and fell to the ground. They believed that Bodhisattva showed his spirit to them, and so they established the pagoda where the goose fell and stopped eating meat.

Soon, we had a calligraphy class where a lady showed us the ancient pictographs for Xi’an. “Xi” meaning west and “An” meaning peace. Chang’an was Xi’an original name, which means everlasting peace. There were many beautiful paintings for sale to support the pagoda. A painting of peonies, China’s national flower, caught my eye, and I bought it for my mother for Mother’s Day. Later in the day, Dr. Li hosted dinner for us. By tradition, there is significance is even numbers so 4 cold and 8 hot dishes were ordered. Dr. Li explained to us that good hosts make sure everyone regardless of any conditions is fed and satisfied. I loved eating the spicy noodle soup that is special to Xi’an. Afterward, I went with a group to go back to the Muslim Quarter. With Jane by our side, it was much easier to communicate and barter with the street vendors. I started picking up how to barter after seeing Jane. After a pretty successful run of bartering, we went back to the hotel.

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