During the weekend, students either spent time with their homestay families or got to experience life with a Chinese family for a day. The day-stay students got to spend time with a different family each day this weekend and did a range of activities, from learning to make jiaozi (Chinese dumplings), to zip-lining, to climbing a waterfall, to visiting the caves beneath Guilin, to hanging out with teenagers at local hangouts, to learning to play the ukelele! It has been fun to catch up with each student at the end of their day to find out what fun activities they got to experience or new sights they got to see. The weekend is quickly coming to an end, but even when classes resume, we still have more fun activities to come!
Monday (7/11): After another helpful day of classes, the group feasted on more traditional Chinese food (including adorable baozi with shapes like apples, mushrooms and pandas) before departing for Daxu, a local ancient town that is undergoing the restoration process. We toured a family home that was being turned into a museum of traditional artifacts that had survived the Cultural Revolution in the late 1960’s to mid 1970’s. The owner of the house was a son of the original family that lived there for several generations — due to the traditional architecture and culture associated with the old ways of China, the government confiscated the house and the son has since been able to reacquire it. The owner took us on a tour of future exhibits and showed us some jade pieces (since that is his trade now). Afterwards, we went browsing in the market before taking a small boat over to the local farming island. There, we picked & ate fresh Asian Pears straight from the tree before returning back to Guilin to recover from the heat with a massage and dinner.
Tuesday (7/12): Students completed another morning of classes at their respective levels. Afterwards, we at lunch, then went on to a tea house to relax, drink tea, and learn about traditional Chinese instruments. We heard some music majors play the guqin, one of the oldest traditional stringed instruments. With the help of our music majors, we tried to master the art of the different strokes used to play the guqin. Our musicians made it look so easy, but the students persevered in trying to master the strokes.
As we wrapped up our music lesson, we went to a shopping street to buy gifts for teachers and friends. Some students even bought traditional Chinese dresses called qipao! Very beautiful, and (if you know how to haggle) quite reasonably priced.
We capped off the day by eating spicy Sichuan hot pot. In the center of a round table, there were pots of broth — at this particular restaurant, one was spicy and one was not. While we did order other dishes, the main items were different vegetables and cuts of meat that are cooked in the broth at the center of the table. We didn’t put too much spice in the spicy broth, but all of our lips were burning a bit from the famous numbing spice of the red peppercorns. Once we had eaten our fill, we all decided this might have been one of our favorite meals so far!