Farewell for now…

After 11 beautiful days, we have reached the end of our trip. I can speak for everyone when I say that this trip has taught us so much more than how to say 你好 (ni ha- hello). China has revealed so much of itself to us, and in turn, it has peeled back our own layers. I have found more of myself in China. Before going to this trip, I visited our Intermission Bulletin Board and saw a quote posted: “There is a saying that someone who visits China for a week will go home and write a book about it, someone who spends a month there will write no more than an article, and someone who remains for a year or more will be unable to write anything.” When I read the quote for the first few times, I truly had no idea what the author was trying to express. It didn’t make any sense to me. Wouldn’t staying in China for longer give the write more to write about? How can more to say limit one’s words? Throughout my trip to China, these words and questions lingered in the back of my mind. For the first half of my trip, I still didn’t agree with the quote and didn’t understand it. However, as the trip continued I began to get a much better grasp of the quote. I had the realization during one of our reflection conversations at the end of the day. Someone was trying to talk about how they felt about China and their observations and said, “I’m honestly so confused, it’s like every time I finally feel like I have a grasp of what China is, it slips from my fingers.” This is what the author is trying to tell us, and also what I now have to try to tell other people. China is a paradox, and it does not fit one narrative. It is both a country of traditional methods, and economic and technological advances unlike any other. It is infused with the rush of billions, and the patience and steady pace of years of labor used to craft intricately, beautiful buildings and artifacts. It is both the past and the future. They strive for both industrialization and cleaner air with vibrant trees. And I could not begin to explain or understand why this is the case. I have loved trying to figure this country out, but I believe that it was never meant to be understood. The varying facets of this place allows any kind of person to find themselves here, and there is true beauty in its welcome. I cannot wait to come back to China when I have the chance to further investigate its mystery. China is an enigma, a contradiction, and a haven, and it has rendered me speechless. -Gabby Lowe

 

Today, to start off our final day here in China we had a nice sleep in and headed out for the day at 9. Hosted by Angela Yuan’s parents, we toured the National Museum of China and explored the history of this complex, beautiful country. After spending time in the museum, we enjoyed a delicious meal at Sue Cuisine, where some students , and Mr. Weathers, sampled some interesting parts of a fish served at lunch. The best part of the meal was the tiny mandarine oranges that were absolutely delicious. We then headed to a cultural performance center where we received an outstanding performance in traditional Chinese music and art. Afterwards, we were given the opportunity to try the different traditional instruments and meet the musicians. Although most of them did not speak English, we were still able to communicate through body language and began learning the techniques of these different instruments. Something I have started to gain a deeper understanding of is the universal language of the arts. Whether it be with my dancing, Clara’s drawings, Gabby’s musical abilities, Sofie’s amazing photos, or listening to the traditional Chinese music today, they have a way of calling to people from all over. Today was an amazing opportunity to once again connect with new people over the language barrier and appreciate the beauty of the art they produced. I have learned so much about China and myself on this trip, and look forward to continuing my discovery of the importance and influence of the arts in my life and how it relates to others. I am sad this trip has come to an end but am extremely grateful for the amazing experiences I have had the past 11 days. I look forward to coming home to share what I have learned and anxiously wait for another opportunity to travel here again! -Anna Murray

Lunch

Dinner

National Museum

Lunch at Sue Cuisine

Dinner

From Stomach Infection to Smiles

After climbing the Great Wall Sunday, I realized my stomach was not feeling normal. After a surprising episode having to do with my intestines sunday night vera and I knew it was time to go to a clinic. Six hours at the clinic provided us with the information that I had a fever and a bacterial infection in my stomach. We came back to the school and for a day and a half and i treated myself with an entire season of Hart of Dixies and multiple bathroom trips. This morning I felt ready to embark on the adventures China had in store for us. At the National Museum I spent a lot of time gawking at many outstanding paintings of Mao. Then I perfected my museum walk in attempt to fit in. After we went out to lunch and ate eyeballs and tongues of fish. I got lost for 20 minutes on my way back from the bathroom, but Sofie and Anna found me eventually. Then we traveled to this Arts and Culture Center and listened to some very inspiring traditional Chinese music and learned to play the instruments. After we went and had a very good relaxing dinner in this beautiful space on a roof full of plants. A huge thank you to Angela Yuan’s parents for hosting us! -Sonali Butensky

Tencent

Our last day with Tencent was an exciting way to end our visit in China. We were first shown a presentation describing the process of Tencent’s Penguin Pictures making a film or TV series, using its upcoming series The Message as an example. After a replenishing cup of coffee at the Sculpting in Time Café, we were driven to the countryside of Beijing, where a not-yet-released tv series called The Golden Eyes was being filmed. The producer’s assistant led us around the set. Although we could not take pictures, we were amazed with the elaborate and realistic sets made to look like archeological sites. Then, we watched the scenes being filmed, which allowed us to see the difficulty in getting a movie scene exactly right. Personally, my understanding of the filming process was limited before today. I never took into account the conditions that the environment provided (being the cold) or the amount of time it took to manage a scene with skillful acting and precision of the cameras. Finally, after waiting in the cold warehouse building for over an hour, we were able to take a picture with one of the actors, a Chinese celebrity called Wang Yuexin. Today we truly experienced the extent of Chinese hospitality and generosity, as we were hosted kindly by Tencent and guided by friendly and funny employees, Nana and Rime. Later in the day we were treated to a musical performance and dinner by Porter’s parents Mr. and Mrs. Yuan. Though we are sad our time in Beijing has come to an end, we are happy to have ended our trip with a fun day and we will certainly remember this moment forever. We have been left with a wonderful impression of China thanks to the people we have met, and we definitely hope to return someday. – Marisol Carty

Another day at Tencent

Another incredible day at Tencent in the books! We started off with a brief presentation of the history and complexity of the company in one of their many Beijing offices. The entire presentation was super high-tech and most of the information was on a huge wall sized interactive screen. I even got to activate one of the screens by hovering my hand over a remote sensor! We learned so much impressive information about Tencent which was founded in 1998 and has been dramatically growing ever since. Learning more about how a major, modern Chinese corporation functions, especially just days after visiting ancient temples, climbing the Great Wall, and experiencing the deep cultural history of this nation gave us so much more perspective and insight into this complex, and at times almost paradoxical, country. We enjoyed a truly lovely lunch with a Porter’s parent who was so incredibly welcoming! We were so thankful for the experience and really loved getting to know her and also learn more about China! After, we headed to another Tencent office to continue working on our website designs and our discussion of the newly launched “mini-game” aspect of Tencent’s app, WeChat. It was another great day and we are all really excited for what tomorrow has in store-hard to believe it will be our last day in Beijing! -Katie Guyer

 

Beijing University of Chinese Medicine pt. 2

I have always been passionate about medicine. I’ve always thought there’s something magical about healing  a body and fixing it. Of course, i have watched every single medical tv show, and know the symptoms and treatments to the most basic diseases thanks to Dr House and Dr Shepherd and I myself, aspire to be a doctor. Needless to say that I was really excited to start the traditional Chinese medicine track, and I have not been disappointed. These two days learning from young doctors at the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine have only reinforced my desire to become a doctor. But more than that, it made me want to create a new form of medicine that combines the technology of Western medicine and the theories of the traditional  Chinese medicine (TCM). TCM offers a more gentle and human approach to healing. Instead of using aggressive medication such as antibiotics and pain killers, it relies on establishing balance in the body, such as balance between yin and yang or the five elements. To do so, Chinese doctors stimulate accupoints to optimize the circulation of blood and chi and heal diseases. These techniques, such as acupuncture or moxibustion, have already been proven to be effective as they become more and more popular in western countries. Today, more than ever, I feel like I know what I want to do in my future and I will cherish the memories of these two days at the BUCM forever. -Soraya Lahlou

I have fallen in love with Beijing. I love the people, the food, and the city itself. I’m having trouble believing that our time here is almost over. The past two days we have learned about TCM(traditional Chinese medicine) which has made me love the country even more. Chinese people have been perfecting the methods of TCM for about 5000 years, and though it may seem odd and abstract to people coming from a western point of view, the more I have learned, the more I have found it fascinating. I came into this course with an open mind because I have never had an affinity to medicine, and I don’t often get sick, I just wanted to learn about the culture and I signed up for the art and medicine track for the art part. Despite this, I now wish I could continue to study this elusive science. I still feel no need or want to go into medicine as I begin to look at college but I certainly want to learn more about TCM. Many of the TCM practices shed light on the culture of China and because of the last two days, I am going to be leaving with a much better understanding of this beautiful country.  -Clara Landon

 

A Day at the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine

Ah, Monday.  We met our tour guide Lynn at the bus in front of RDFZ and headed off to the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine. The research university has seven affiliated hospitals, and is said to be “the best in the country”. With this in mind, we sat down for our first presentation. Many traditional Chinese beliefs were presented to us, such as Qi, a feeling of inner energy that can not be medically observed, and the Yin and Yang division of everything in nature. Yang is the bright, warm, dynamic side of nature, such as the sun, and Yin is the darker, colder, static side, such as a shadow. We also learned about the five natural elements: earth, metal, water, wood, and fire. After this, we had a two hour break where we were encouraged to nap and recharge our Qi. Not going to lie, Sofie and I didn’t nap. Our Qi is naturally way too high. Presentations started up again at 2. We were given a brief outline of several treatments for pain: Drinking different herbs/animals/minerals in tea is a common treatment as well as Tuina (a massage) and Moxibustion (burning moxa and mugwort leaves to heal pain- pictured below). We will head back to the school tomorrow, check in with us then 🙂 – Alyssa Landry

你好黄老师!我们爱你。- 中文三在中国

 

Moxibustion

A Day at Tencent

Today we visited Tencent, one of the largest companies in both China and the world. What we found was truly incredible. We were able to go behind the scenes of a basketball game broadcast and see how they use VR and AR to fulfill their number one priority of enhancing the viewer’s experience. Afterwards, we learned all about the company. Before we mostly associated Tencent with WeChat, but we quickly learned that they are responsible for much more. They have also invested in a variety of other industries including video streaming, ride sharing, mobile payment, gaming, and social media. After learning about the company, we used software developed by a young Tencent employee to design a mobile website (linked below). Overall, we really enjoyed our time at Tencent and we look forward to what the next couple of days hold.

Webpages:

Marisol – http://cy.qq.com/cy/CybEHJVl.html

Sophie – http://cy.qq.com/cy/XcQZBvjl.html

Katie – http://fan.cy.qq.com/page/proxypreview?name=k8P4&file=eRZPuBhU.html

Matthew – http://cy.qq.com/cy/sKxNbOvi.html

-Sophie Mohindra-Green

Tencent

Tencent

Tencent

Tencent

Tencent                               3

The Greatest Wall

Masks on, polluted smoggy air, sun shining through and one big wall to climb. As we arrived to the base of the wall, all I could do was look up and breathe. One of the 7 wonders of the whole world right in front of me. I heard once that it takes 40 minutes for a professional hiker to hike the wall, so my goal was just around that time right? Well I began walking up – I mean walking vertically up stairs the size of my calf. I took my mask off because it was too hard to breathe and the air became fresher. I made it to the first small building, a place to rest the knees and up and up again. There were different sized steps and we peeked through the windows of different shapes and sizes with the views of mountains that looked like they went on forever and the wall that wrapped around each mountain. Up and up the stairs and then a steep ramp. I stopped to look through the windows and then the wall and mountains that encapsulated me. One more big flight of thick stairs and I’m at the top. The top of the Great Wall of China. The pathway opens up wider and the last building. We high fived the wall, thanked it and then thought, “what has nobody done at the top before?” Or “we don’t know exactly what anyone has done” so Alyssa and I rolled down the stairs at the top. Every roll felt like we were falling off the wall into the abyss of mountains. -Sofie Brandt

Today we visited The Great Wall of China. I never anticipated that my experience there would be one that will forever hold a place in my heart. When we arrived, our group was awed by the breathtaking view and of course the wall that stretched as far as the eye could see. Our tour guide, Lin, told us that we would have the opportunity to climb up the steepest part of the wall, and that we would have three hours before we had to return to the coffee shop at the bottom. I had anticipated that the walk, or climb, as it turned out to be, would be leisurely— boy was I wrong. Every step of the wall differed in steepness which forced you to focus on walking only rather than the impeccable view. By the eighth gate I was completely winded, my calves were on fire, and I was about to give up. However, my friends pushed me to continue and we all eventually made it to the twelfth gate, the last gate, which was thousands of feet high in altitude. Standing at the top provoked so many powerful emotions and instigated a feeling of zen that was unlike no other— my stress, fears, and worries dissipated. The feeling of conquering only a section of The Great Wall was incredible and I am so grateful to have had that experience. So excited for the rest of our endeavors! -Caroline Palmer

The Beauty of Beijing

This morning we departed campus at 8:30 AM for one of the most memorable excursions yet. Our plan was to be transported to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, followed by the Temple of Heaven, a walk down Liulichang Culture Street, and a visit to a Chinese tea house. Many of us had previously studied these locations in class, so finally getting the chance to see them was extremely fulfilling. Tiananmen Square provided a true characterization of China. The combination of traditional Chinese architecture and modern monuments dedicated to the people of China allowed us to genuinely see that we are in a nation where the citizens take pride in the ideology that comes from their history and also in the people that share their culture. We saw evidence of this multiple times during the day. For one, in the Forbidden City, we came across a room where pictures could be taken in garments the Chinese emperor would wear. The people were very happy to see some of us American students wearing the Chinese outfits, even stopping to take pictures and talk. Some rules in the Square also showed the importance of maintaining Chinese culture. Our tour guide Lynn told us that it was illegal to take pictures there holding a flag from any other country except China. After another delicious lunch, we went to the Temple of Heaven which was located near a park. In the park, we witnessed the liveliness of elderly citizens in Beijing, who were exercising and taking part in card games together. The Temple itself was grand and richly decorated. Yet, one of the most enjoyable moments of the day was in the afternoon when we went into a tea house. Exhausted from our long walks, we were pleased to sit down and relax with some tea. Many of us ended up purchasing some tea to bring to our friends and family. We are happy to share the culture of China with our homes through the tea and other experiences we had today. The beauty of every building we visited was a symbol of the rich history of China; a history that we explored today and will be exploring tomorrow at the Great Wall. -Marisol Carty