Last day sadness set in very quick. But it was an eventful day, so my mind was somewhat distracted from the fact that we were leaving that night. After our last 5-star hotel breakfast buffet, we headed to the Yu Garden. The garden was first built in 1577 during the Ming dynasty by Pan Yunduan for his parents to enjoy a carefree life. While I was hearing about the history, I was thinking about how I will never be able to show my love for my parents to this magnitude. But I will continue to try with my DIY birthday gifts. The Yu Garden has 3000 years’ worth of history and like everything in China, the name has a significant meaning. Yu means to please your parents or to make your parents happy. One of the more important buildings in the garden was used for ceremonies and family gatherings. However, we could not see it because it was out of service for renovation. Along the path, the ground had fishes carved in the stone in hope of good luck and good life. We also visited the biggest koi fishpond in the garden. The fishes were HUGE! I’m sure the fishes were almost as big as one of our shortest boys. Our guide said that the fishes loved to eat, and it certainly showed.
After we toured the beautiful garden, we went to the shopping district right next to it. We were all able to get in some last-minute souvenir shopping and I finally tried a dish that had been recommended to me: pan fried dumplings. They are dumplings with fried bottoms. They were delicious and I realized that this food would be one of the things I’d miss the most about China. Our cultural site visits came to a close after lunch. Now it was time for the moment that this trip has been leading up to: our presentations. Although I have had an amazing time visiting China, this trip is still a class and it was time to show what we learned. We all were placed in groups prior to leaving for China. Throughout the trip, my group and I have been trying to come up with a company and product that solves a problem we have experienced in China. For my group, we chose to focus on the vast amount of different foods here and the growth of artificial intelligence. Since I’m not an engineer, I credit this group idea to the two engineers in my group. Using AI technology, we presented an idea for an app that would allow a user to scan their dish and have their phone produce information and nutritional facts about the food. As I’ve said in my blogs, we usually eat banquet style (the roundtable style) and many dishes are presented to us. Every time we would eat, we would need either Dr. Li or a member of the Asia Institute to sit with us to tell us what was in the food. One time during a site visit, they couldn’t even identify some dishes. Our group was the first to present and I thought it went very well. My group researched a lot into this topic, and we felt prepared. Watching all the other presentations made me proud of all of us as a group. We have been through a lot together and our work is being shown during the presentations.
Afterwards, it was time for our farewell dinner, and it did not disappoint… but does anything actually here? Dora, one of our Asia Institute guides, made a slideshow with baby shark playing in the background. If you don’t recall, we performed baby shark in the Children’s Village. They also presented us with gifts: scrolls with different designs on them. On the way to the airport, the Asia Institute guides played traditional Chinese farewell/goodbye songs. They were beautiful. But then, they also played “See you again” by Charlie Puth and I almost cried. I’ve come to love this group of people and they’re my family. As the boys waved their phone flashlights back and forth in the back of the bus, I realized that I have been given an absolutely incredible opportunity and I’m very thankful for it.