It was a weird morning. I woke up at around 5:15 am this morning and couldn’t fall back asleep, so that was a good time. Really happy about that. After getting ready, I went down to breakfast, and they had chicken nuggets for breakfast because why not.
Anyway, once we all finished breakfast, we went to the Children’s Village and did service for the day. The Children’s Village is a village for kids who have both parents in prison, or one parent in prison and the other passed away. I think this is a genius idea to help kids in situations that they can’t control. This village is giving these kids an opportunity they wouldn’t have had otherwise, and I think that’s such an incredible and a selfless thing to do. When we got there, some kids did a little dance routine for us which was very cute, and they asked us to do something for them. Since none of us were prepared for this, we just decided to do head shoulders knees and toes.
After our Oscar-worthy performance, the boys went to play basketball and ping pong while the girls went to fold origami. These girls were so good at it. They had memorized all these different designs and patents while I would always need to look up what to do no matter how much I practiced. None of us knew Chinese and they had a limited vocabulary of English, so it was difficult at first for them to teach us what to do for the origami. They were very patient with us, and we got there eventually. They also showed us some Chinese characters for a few words like cat, dog, and other animals. From this, I learned I am terrible at drawing Chinese characters, but this whole experience in China has made me really want to learn how to at least speak Mandarin. I think it would be very helpful if I were to ever come back to China and to communicate with others in general.
In the village, some of the people there that were also volunteering or donating supplies started taking pictures of us. This wasn’t the first time we’ve had people take pictures of us, but I still don’t understand why we are that fascinating. I understand Chinese culture is very different from American culture, but it doesn’t make sense to me why people would want to take pictures with us just because we look different. It’s just a part of Chinese culture I will never understand.
Anyway, while we were in the village, we had lunch at their cafeteria, which wasn’t bad by cafeteria standards. It was noodles with some onions, green beans, some meat, and other things in it. I’ve learned that in China I may not know exactly what I am eating, but 9 out of 10 times, it’s delicious. After lunch, we said goodbye to the kids, got back on the bus, and headed back into the city to go to the Greater Wild Good Pagoda. On the way we passed at least 20 different stands selling cherries. They were all the same cherries, so I don’t know why it was necessary for there to be so many stands (great example of perfect competition thanks MCE).
Like I said, we were traveling to the Greater Wild Goose Pagoda. This was the location my group and I presented on before we traveled to China, so I was excited to finally see it in person. This pagoda is a representation of how Buddhism came to China. Long ago, a monk traveled to India where he learned Buddhism and read many books about the religion. He then came back to China, translated the books he read into Chinese, and made a few modifications so people in China may practice this religion. In addition to the Pagoda, there were also several smaller buildings depicting some of the important figures in Buddhism. They were all beautiful, and it was very interesting to learn about Buddhism while being in the presence of these figures.
While at the pagoda, we were able to see some Chinese paintings and Chinese calligraphy. They were all very beautiful and intricate. We were also given the chance to try writing Chinese characters ourselves. My characters may not have been as beautiful as the calligraphers, but it was still fun to use the brushes and ink that they did. From there, we left the Pagoda and got back on the bus to go to the hotel.
After an hour of relaxing and exploring the hotel, we went out to dinner at a nearby restaurant. The food was again family-style and as always, it was incredible. They had these huge pieces of fluffy bread that was the size of my face, and those were absolutely amazing (Thank you Dr. Lee for buying us dinner!) During dinner, we were able to get in contact with the people that were still in Beijing. They’re all doing much better, and everyone is out of the hospital. They’ll be joining us in Shanghai instead of coming to Xi’an.
Once we finished dinner, we all dispersed throughout the city. A few of us wanted to try the subway, so we chose a random stop and got on. We got off the subway and explored the area for a little bit. There were many different shops, so we went in a few and looked at the clothes. Chinese fashion sense is similar yet different from American fashion sense. I’ve noticed Chinese people tend to dress more conservatively than Americans. What I mean by this is Americans tend to wear more revealing clothing while Chinese do not. I personally like their style of dress, and I thought the clothes in the shops we passed were all something I would wear.
Once we were done browsing, we wanted to try to walk back, but our GPS wasn’t working and it was getting late. We took the subway back instead and it was no hassle. We walked around the Muslim Quarters for a bit just to see what’s around, and then went back to the hotel. I slept very soundly again, and I was very happy with how the day went. Why can’t I just permanently vacation in China? This is awesome.