This week’s reflection is from Betty B.
The one thing that stood out to me most about Chinese culture was how everything meant something. My host family was very traditional. For my first morning in China, they took me out to eat a traditional Cantonese breakfast. While we were eating, my host father examined my face. Through translations from my host student, Jean, I learned that every feature I had described a part of my personality; my face would dictate my past, present and future. According to him, I had intelligent eyes and an artistic nose.
Later on that weekend we went to a traditional Chinese doctor, who read my qi. In traditional Chinese culture and medicine, qi is a person’s life force: It is the energy that controls his or her being, made up of the more commonly known yin and yang (negative lunar energy and positive solar energy, respectively). It is essential to keep your qi balanced. If you are not balanced, you are either have too much water or too much fire. Although the doctor was impressed by my body’s strength and muscle build (which he accredited to America’s obsession with sports), my qi was slightly off balance. I had a little too much water in my system, which he decided was due to the fact that I, as an American, drink iced water rather than the typical hot water the Chinese drink (which is actually better for your system).
I was greatly intrigued by traditional medicine in China and how deeply many people believed in it. I got acupuncture and cupping done with Jean, neither of which resulted in a major difference I could feel, but it was a great experience nonetheless! In the US we don’t think so much about balancing the small things in our everyday lives, so it was refreshing to see how in my host family’s house, everything was laid out to follow feng shui. Every piece of furniture was placed in a particular place to maintain balance in the home. However fast-growing and highly-developing China is, tradition plays a crucial role in the heart of homes and of the people.