Sunday, April 20, 2008

Village life, Exciting meals

This morning we greeted each other at our hotel lobby, fresh from spending a night with our host families around Xi’an. We spent the morning at Pang Liu village, a place with close ties to Primary Source. The Pang Liu village school library was built with the help of Primary Source and more than 1,000 teachers from the United States have visited the village school and volunteered there. There are now more than 170 students enrolled at the school and some begin kindergarten at the age of 3.

Even though it was a Sunday morning, we were greeted by the children from the school. After a tour of the school, teachers from the study tour divided into groups of 5 and 6 and spent an hour teaching the kids songs like “Bingo,” “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” and “I’m a Little Teapot.” They also played games and worked on English numbers and colors with the kids.

Next came lunch at local houses. Again we divided into groups and enjoyed delicious meals of fresh cucumber, green peppers, garlic shoots, lotus root, and Chinese pancakes. As we left Pang Liu village, we wished we could stay longer and talked and laughed about our time spent with the children at the school and our short glimpse of village life in China.

We returned to Xi’an and visited the Hong Wen Guang Art School located near the Muslim Quarter of the city. The Art School provides instruction to children ages 5 and up in calligraphy and painting. It is only opened on Saturdays and Sundays for children to participate in the arts as an extracurricular activity. We were so impressed by the beautiful paintings and extraordinary talent we saw.

Our evening was filled with new experiences including a Chinese hot pot meal. Hot pot is a way of cooking meats and vegetables in boiling water or oil, similar to fondue. Each person can choose from a variety of ingredients such as tomatoes, eggs, bok choy, noodles, beef, or lamb and create their own hot pot meal. Following this adventure in eating, we wrapped up our night with a foot massage. Our foot massages were like nothing any of us had experienced before and we all came back to our hotel happy and tired from a great day!

Today’s interesting tidbit: Pang Liu village has a population of 2,570 people. The average yearly income is 2000 Yuan, approximately $300.

Photos: 1. A shot of Pang Liu village. 2. Children at the Pang Liu village school. 3. Betsy C. with a student at the Hong Wen Guang Art School. 4. Kathy M., Maureen B., and Sally L. enjoy a hot pot meal.

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