I’m on the search for the real China. While my classes are great…sitting in a room just isn’t doing it for me. It is honestly hard for me to comprehend that I’m in another country. I feel sheltered in this program. We have very little free time and every day is structured. I guess this is what taking 15 credit hours of class in 6 weeks should be like!
Friday morning we went to the U.S Ministry of Agriculture. I am beginning to realize just how important and interesting agriculture is. This is the business of feeding the world! As all eyes are shifting to the rising power of China, they are in a significant catch 22 when it comes to food sustainability. Peasant farmers are given their own land (only a half hectare!) even if it would be more productive for farmers to work together and use large machinery; it is a matter of security to keep peasant farmers investing in the land. The urban movement cannot handle any more people. This is opening the door of opportunities for countries, such as America to get in on importing foods to these 1.3 billion people.
I love parties. Friday the CAAS students hosted an ‘English’ party for us. We were told to prepare a few acts; but in normal American college student fashion, we thought of a few ideas and decided to wing it. Bad idea. They were prepared with Tai Chi and kung fu routines, traditional Chinese instruments and a special welcome song. We taught them the national anthem…it was really awkward. Then we taught them some ballet moves and I finished up the night teaching them the Cupid Shuffle. These events are fun because we are treated like celebrities. Everyone wants to talk to you and get his or her picture with you!
Saturday was a great tri p to the Summer Palace. I didn’t know I could find that much green in Beijing! It was truly remarkable. I just cannot comprehend that they could build these huge palaces for the emperor’s…it’s ridiculous!
Sunday, when I set my eye’s on the huge Haidian Chrstian Chrch I began to tear up. This is home to me. They have five services that are filled to the max. There was standing room only in the English service I attended. It was very much like a contemporary service in the states. I knew all the songs and enjoyed the message. I was just so refreshed to worship again. I made quick friends and went to lunch some students from the University of Florida that are studying here for three months.
I enjoyed this little adventure by myself as the rest of the students in my program went to the zoo for the day. I felt kind of free for the first time!
Elaine met me in the afternoon and went shopping at Off-Price. It’s owned by the same people as TJ Maxx and Marshalls. She is a great shopper and helped me pick out a few things I’m really happy with. Their shopping process is really weird; I never would have figured it out without her!
Afterwards, her husband (who I later gave the English name Shawn), picked us up and took us to their apartment. It was really neat to go to the fifth ring and see where the majority of the residents in Beijing live. It is definitely different than the commercialized touristy look of the rest of the city. We hung out for a while then she and her husband treated me to one of their favorite restaurants. It was some of the best food I’ve had yet! I was so humbled by how kind they were to me the whole day. They really took care of me and I had a blast!
So the search for the real China continues as I make plans to hang out with students and venture into the city. I feel like I got a fresh breath of air from this weekend; getting to worship and get a break from the loaded program. I begin and end every day exhausted. I’m trying to live up this time to the full!