The first week has been quite an experience. We have had lectures on language development, traditional festivals, Traditional Chinese Medicine, practical Chinese speaking, and active classes on folk arts, qi gong (similar to tai chi) and traditional dance. We have been fed wonderfully. We had the welcome banquet, a mongolian barbeque lunch, an authentic Peking duck dinner in one of the premier duck restaurants in Beijing, dinner and entertainment at the famous Lao She tea house, wide selections at the school cafeteria, and a few excellent lunches and dinners out in the local shops (the kung pao was great). Our Chinese student volunteers have been extremely gracious and helpful. We would all be lost without them. “Leonard” and “Cookie” are to be commended on their efforts to make our stay enjoyable.
The weather is hot and muggy. The sun looks nearly like an eclipse and you rarely see shadows because of so little direct sunlight. Fortunately is has mostly rained only at night. However, last night many of us on excursions to the Silk Street or artist district ended up getting soaked on our journeys back to the hotel.
We visited the Hanban / Confucius Institute Headquarters. Their China Exploratorium is impressive. Besides their interactive displays, they have a lot of fantastic artifacts. We have already been to Tian’anmen Square, the Forbidden City, and the Lao She Tea House.
Our group is a great mix of people. Everyone seems to be getting along well and helping each other. Each is getting their own perspective of Chinese life and society and finding ways to compare it to the USA and their own lives.
There is so much more to come in the next two weeks. Time is going quickly.