We left the hotel at 8:30 am and rode an hour and a half to the children’s village. When we arrived, one of the teachers took us on a tour of the village. There were three bunk beds in the girls’ room and the boys’ room, both attached to a common area with a table and books. The teacher explained that once the children are 10 years old, they have to do their own laundry and wash their own room. Independence is vital for living here. Throughout the rest of the village, there was a dining hall, an activity room, basketball court, and a stage area.
Next, we were introduced to another teacher who told us about the history of the village. The village was originally founded in 1996 by a prison officer. She established this organization so the children of inmates could go to school and be properly educated for a better future. These villages are called “Sun Village” and gain financial support from local companies and policy support from the government. There are 9 different locations across China and the villages have helped about 10,000 children. Currently, this location in Xi’an takes care of 54 students ranging from 4 years old to 20 years old. They all go to a local school for education. The Sun Villages are non-profit organizations, and the teachers thanked us for our time and donations profusely.
After the educational session about the village, we performed “Baby Shark” for the children. I think the children were more excited for the Hershey kisses we gave them than our performance, which is understandable. We taught them how to play knock out, some boys played soccer, and Dr. Li showed off his ping pong skills. The language barrier made it difficult to communicate with the children, but overall, we had a fun time.
After the children’s village, we traveled to the Greater Wide GoosePagoda. First, we watched China’s biggest musical fountain. The main music played during the fountain performances is from the Water Phantom of Tang symphony.
The Pagoda was the tallest building in Xi’an until the 1980s. It is approximately 64.7 meters high and it is the most famous Buddhist temple in Asia. The monks believe it is a way to heaven. We saw many monks who live there walking around the Pagoda. They pray to Buddha in hopes of a better incarnation. Kevin, our tour guide, explained that Buddha is fat because he keeps his anger in his stomach, and he smiles because he is laughing at stupid people.
I lit an incent in front of Buddha for good fortune. After we attended a calligraphy class, I got my Chinese name written on a red canvas, which is supposed to give good fortune. Hopefully I have enough luck to last an entire year ;).
Tonight, Dr. Li bought us dinner tonight and we went shopping on Muslim street, which is where many street vendors sell their products. I bought gifts for friends and family and became an expert bargainer.
Goodnight from Xi’an!