So, I’m not in America. Every once in a while that becomes incredible clear how different China is. The culture is very rich, I very much desire to better understand the daily life of the Chinese people.
Yesterday we sat in class for 3 hours. That wasn’t so bad, but I cannot explain how uncomfortable the chairs are. I must change positions every minute and I have yet to find a comfortable position. There is NO chance of sleeping in class like those nice lecture halls with cushy seats!
The classes are really interesting. Our professors speak English fairly well and used Power Points. We learn about culture, history, rural development, and agriculture. I do spend a good portion of some of the classes having no idea what is going on and day dreaming about where to go next in Beijing.
The cafeteria is no Kennedy Commons. Let me tell you East/West has got it all wrong! The Chinese don’t really eat rice except on the side. It often comes at the end of the meal and there is little mixture of the meat and sauce with it. The cafeteria was so intimidating…the food kind of gross, but I enjoyed eating as the students do. I made friends with Jackie and he some how misunderstood something I was saying to mean that I wanted coffee. He insisted on taking me to Starbucks, so I went with him enjoying the opportunity to get away from the Americans for a bit and soak up the Chinese life. The drinks are the same price as the States: meaning the equivalent of two to three meals here!
And let me tell you the dorms were a little shocking. On our way back we ran into two of his friends and one insisted on giving me a drawing. So these two girls, Jackie and I went and hung out in her room. There are four loft beds in a room with no mattresses- they sleep on a mat and plywood! We had a very enjoyable chat and laughed a lot. They don’t believe in any Higher Being. I could tell this wasn’t a usual topic of conversation. One girl asked if I feel really bad doing wrong things because of Papa. I got the amazing opportunity to share about love and forgiveness. They responded that this ‘hero Friend’ I talk about is very kind! Jackie said there is one guy in his dorm that believes. I hope to meet him!
Can you picture your entire Middle and High school doing Tai Chi twice a day? I loved our visit to Beijing Beyi High School; it was very impressive. The students were all smiles as we walked around the campus. This is one of the best schools in Beijing. It has it’s own museum and stuffed giraffe…seriously; they have the largest taxonomy exhibit of animals I have ever seen including a giraffe!
We then went in a large lecture hall and were bombarded with students eager to practice their English with native speakers! Some of the students’ first questions were: where can I go to medical school, what do I need on my SAT, and how much do you study? My heart broke as I saw the tremendous amount of pressure these children are put under; and they know it, and they know we don’t study near as much as them. The 15-year-old girl I talked to was clearly head of the class, she was the first one in with a notebook and spoke wonderfully. I think she was surprised to hear me say at the end of the conversation that she is loved regardless of how she does in school. Most of these students don’t believe in anything more either. She is my special friend. There were also many silly questions by the students about UFOs, ghosts, and every Hollywood movie and TV show!
I’m feeling a little sick after an amazing Olympic bus tour…I’ll post those pictures. I’m eating the comfort food of oatmeal and peanut butter. The PB has little crunchies in it…I was so confused at first!