This message summarizing our day is going to be a tad less detailed, despite the day being filled with amazing places and adventures. We’ve hit the midnight hour and I need my rest to keep up with this enthusiastic group.
Everyone seemed to be especially high spirited today. That might be because we were able to start the day an hour later to make up for the plan to stay out until about 9:30 at night. Some students used the extra hour to sleep longer, others to eat more, and some to explore the area. But everyone was ready to hit the Art Zone once the bus arrived. I think we were all surprised by how much we enjoyed the Art Zone. The two hours we spent there zipped by and left us wanting more. There was so much to explore and we could have easily used up an extra hour or two and would probably have craved more time still. The creativity was engaging and inspiring. Our hunger for more of the art community was redirected toward our lunch plans and the afternoon appointment with local community leaders.
The Senior Community Center and the Senior Residence for those with no family in the area were fun visits, not only to seen how culture influences services for seniors, but also because of the interaction with some of the residents who were kind enough to let us visit their rooms, show us their skills at billiards and let us observe a friendly, yet animated match of Mahjong. We even met a random community member on the return to the bus and one of the students took a photo with her that I feel captures our mood on this day (see above).
Our smiles were wide upon leaving the Center and excitement escalated as we realized the earlier rain had given way to blue skies just in time for our visit to the Temple of Heaven. Built in 1420 and just a huge area to traverse and explore, with many meaningful symbols dispersed throughout, the Temple of Heaven was full of stories and history surrounding the Ming and Qing dynasties. I was impressed to learn that the building style and architecture were designed to help temper the effects of any earthquakes. We tested out echoes created by the design, stood on a stone meant to connect us to the heavens, and leapt with joy for a group photo blurry with motion.
Upon unanimous decision earlier, we opted for a hot pot dinner at a local restaurant frequented by our guide, Danny, before heading out to an impressive kung fu show. I think everyone is going to have the urge to visit a Shaolin temple after seeing that show. Tomorrow, we’ll switch back into our business casual attire as we visit a medical college for a lecture explaining Tradition Chinese Medicine while also describing health care in China in more detail.
We’ve been learning some fascinating things about Chinese culture, health care, community services already and there is much more to come. It is amazing to think that in just a few days more, we’ll be heading back to San Diego, appreciative of some basics that we used to take for granted and curious about some things that we observed in China that might be interesting to transfer to our lives in the US. Now it’s time for me to recharge for tomorrow’s explorations!
This post is part of a series of guest blogs from Ine Williams, Study Abroad Advisor at the International Student Center and group leader of the spring 2015 HHS 350 course to China.