Day 3 in China

Our third day in Shanghai was spent in Jinshan, a suburb about 90 minutes out of Shanghai. With our Fudan University buddies helping as translators, we made our way to the elementary school in the early morning. Upon our arrival, we were met by a band and a spectacular dragon dance put on by the teachers of the school. At the school, we observed the 8th graders’ English class, in which they discussed environmental issues and the importance of sustainability. The class was very entertaining; the teacher passed around a flower while playing Gangnam Style, and whoever had the flower when the music stopped had to answer a question about environmentalism. After the class, we had the chance to discuss issues like clear cutting, water pollution, air pollution, and plastic usage with them. It was really surprising to watch students who are as engaged with protecting the environment as we are. Although separated from us by language, culture, and an ocean, the students were interested in and affected by many of the same issues we face back in the United States. After the discussion was time to play with the elementary school students! They introduced us to many playground games that were new to us, and most of us participated in the activities. The children were shy at first, but warmed up to us after a few fun games.

Our visit at the school was followed by lunch at Auntie Fu’s Inn. Auntie Fu is renowned for her amazing food, almost all of which is organically and locally grown. The food was delicious, and we had the opportunity to discuss food sustainability with Auntie Fu herself after the meal. We also surprised Alice with a huge cake (Happy birthday Alice!!).

After lunch we headed to a small art gallery in order to meet with an artist, Mr. Yan, and receive a personal painting lesson. The art was beautiful, and many of us bought framed copies to take home. The art lesson was very fun (even for the less artistically inclined!), and we all left with a painting of either a horse, snake, or dragon.

We ended the day with a home visit, the first of two during our trip, and my favorite part of the trip so far. Along with our Fudan University buddies, we split into groups of three or four to have a home dinner with an elementary school student and her family. The families were incredibly warm and welcoming. In China, guests are highly encouraged to eat everything they are served, and at my home visit, we were served about 15 dishes. It is safe to say that none of us left hungry! The language barrier did not prove to be very much of a barrier at all; although the extent of my fluency in Mandarin is “I am vegetarian” and “I am lost,” we were able to talk about different Chinese holidays, the best places to shop in Shanghai, and the history of the China-America relationship. We were sad to say goodbye to our wonderful host families, but so grateful to have had the opportunity to spend time with them.
The day was both fulfilling and stimulating; I was glad that we both learned about environmental issues and experienced a home visit. We are all excited to spend more time with our Fudan buddies and for our next home visit on Friday!

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