Friday June 15, 2018
Everyone safely arrived yesterday (Friday)!
Today (Saturday) so far we have talked about the cultural differences and introduced the program during orientation. We went to a local park near by for ice breaking activity and made sure everyone knows how to use a squat toilet. We’re all currently on the ride to the stone forest and everyone is excited!
Friday June 22, 2018
We visited the stone forest, a collection of unique rock formations that were once underwater millions of years ago. We got to climb on the rocks and see amazing views of the formations, such as “heavenly gate” and “the two lions.” It allowed us to view the beautiful nature of China.
For two days we worked on mud bricks that will be used to restore a local temple. Making mud bricks involves mixing the mud, moving the mud and molding the mud into bricks. We work together to make the workflow. It was hard work but we were very productive. Also at the temple, we worked on polishing pillars with sandpaper. In the end the pillars will be painted to create a museum showing Shaxi’s involvement in the tea and horse trade route.
We traveled to a local kindergarten. The walk was a little long but the views were nice. We joined them in their daily morning dance and played with them. We led group of kids in classrooms and in playground. The language barrier made it challenging to communicate with the children but we came up different strategies to work with the groups.
We went to a local middle school on Tuesday afternoon and got a chance to play basketball against the students there. We also got to see a classroom and learned that this particular middle school had a dorm for the students to stay in. We got to see the differences between Chinese and American education.
On Thursday afternoon, we worked at a local farm to remove weeds from the bean crops. We finished with a huge pile of weeds. It was quite satisfying. The views from a farm overlooking the valley were beautiful. We could see all of the different corn and rice fields worked by different farmers. The landscape in Shaxi is very green. It is in a valley surrounded by hills. There are plants and farms in all directions. Sometimes it is hard to tell where one ends and another begins.
Today (Friday) we went to the local markets. May people attend the local market to buy food and other household items. In addition the local farmers sell the produce from their farms. The fruits looked really fresh and pretty inexpensive so all our teammates bought some.
Written by Abel Zukerman, Isaiah Behnke, Ryan Price
Here’s recap of the last week of activities, written by Arun Kukreja and Jack Tulauskas!
Learning paper cutting
During this activity, we were met with paper cutting master, Ou-yang laoshi (teacher). He was able to teach us the different traditional cuts and artworks of Chinese paper cutting. Guided by Ou-yang laoshi, he led us step by step to make 双喜， an apple, and at the end of class Ou-yang laoshi presented one of his master pieces, a butterfly accompanied with many small and difficult cuts on the inside.
Visiting Shibaoshan (Stone Treasure Mountain) Baoxiang Temple, Shilong Village on Saturday 23rd June
Through this excursion we went on a one hour hike through the mountains to reach the 石宝山 or better known as the Stone Treasure Mountain. Through this hike, we witnessed astonishing views accompanied with many monkeys. At the end of this amazing hike, we reached the 宝相(Bao xiang) Temple. In this temple we experienced the three main religions of the region, Taoism, Buddhism and local Bai religion.
After having a good time with the monkeys and viewing the breathtaking Buddhas, we hiked down the mountain and were able to go through the village of Shilong. Here, we went to a restaurant that served a scrumptious local fish BBQ accompanied by a talented Bai singer-most of the local people in this region of China are Bai. Later we traveled through the farms and up a hill to see another temple accompanied by more breathtaking views. Finally, we walked through the village to experience the viewpoint of a true local.
Learning Bai dance
When we first met our Bai dance teachers and when they presented the dance, it was very beautiful. At first, it looked bewilderingly complicated but as they broke it down step by step, we slowly mastered the traditional dance and further practiced it to be able to perform it to the locals on the last day of Shaxi.
More community service at Chenghuang Temple
Thursday marked the last day of community service at the Chenghuang Temple. Although being the smallest group of only seven people (normally 15-19 people), we finished polishing all wooden pillars in the temple. With a combination of American, Singaporean, Indian and Kiwi muscle we are also able to smash the record of amount of mud bricks made by any GLA group, amounting to an astounding amount of 315 mud bricks (record of mud bricks made by GLA).
Learning silk flower making
In this activity, we met Shi laoshi. Once again, many of us students had trouble with this challenge; we came out victorious at least making one beautiful silk flower. Some of us may even be taking home two silk flowers.
Activities such as bucket of dreams, food challenges
Each night we have been doing more activities just as challenging as the paper cutting, silk flowers, and Bai dance. One of the activities, bucket of dreams, was all about teamwork. Two people had to explain the rules not being able to touch or grab any of the tools, two people who are completely blind and can only touch things and talk, and then three people could talk and tough the blind people.
Although there was a major challenge trying to grab the bucket using ropes while not entering the circle, we were finally able to achieve the challenge and collecting the bucket. Another activity we did was the food challenge. This tested our abilities to try different foods without hesitation or judgments.