For breakfast today, I tried tomatoes with cheese on top, and it was delicious. Then, we went as a group to Sun Village. It felt a bit weird for me that we were just walking through it watching them – it felt a bit like inaction, but it was educational to see. From the video I learned that they actually tracked down children of incarcerated persons, which I think is amazing. While we were there, we had to sing in front of them, which was very unexpected. There were also lots of other Chinese-only groups there volunteering, bringing very large food donations. One little boy in another volunteer group actually wanted to speak with us because he had been learning English for half a year! According to the staff at Sun Village, there’s a cultural difference in regard to donations. The Chinese are more reluctant to donate, so it’s particularly impressive that a place like Sun Village is able to be made. The children there are incredibly well behaved. They do their own laundry, are super neat, and all either learn to draw or dance. For meals, all 55 of them eat together as a community. They also planted fruit trees together in the village and once they grew, they picked the peaches to eat. Later that day I made origami with one of the girls. It was much more intricate than any origami I’ve done before, and it was hard to communicate so I resorted to hand signals and Jane as a translator.
Afterwards we visited the pagoda. I found it interesting to see the different religions in China like Islam yesterday and Buddhism today. It seems like these eastern religions are more of a culture and even an ethnicity whereas western religions like Christianity are solely religious and there’s less of a cultural identity. It was interesting to learn about the 6 levels of Buddhism, where in the afterlife you can go up and down. This explained to me why they don’t eat meat, because in a previous life the animal could’ve been a human.
Later that night we explored Xi’an more and took the subway. It was only 3 lines, yet it was so much sophisticated than any in the States and functioned just like Beijing’s. In the US, the DC metro is different from the Boston T, but over here all of the public transportation is unified in both fares and organization. I really like the doors that close in front of the platform to prevent people from falling or stepping off. When we were out, I noticed some differences in Chinese fashion from a small store we went to. There are a lot more weird saying in English that don’t completely make sense, such as “am so tood” on a shirt we found. Overall, the clothes are more modest with legs as there are flowy skirts, but there are small, shorter skirts. Everyday wear definitely seems to be louder than in the States, with sparkly purple sequins popping up in a variety of pieces. I’d love to buy clothes here, but I don’t know if I could bring myself to wear them back home!