“Why not try it?” – Day One in China with Casti

Day One – by Josie Furbeshaw

We started out our day by taking a bus to Fudan University, Shanghai’s best college. First, we listened to a lecture by Professor Chen about women in China in the past and present. She discussed the changing roles of women in society, from traditional stereotypes to the Mao era to modern times. One statistic that struck me was that in current day China, 62.8% of the laid off workers are women, while women only make up 39% of the workforce. We also discussed the One Child Policy and how there are currently 119 boys for every 100 girls. After a question and answer session with Professor Chen, we broke up into pods and chose one of seven sightseeing excursions, including visiting the Street of Love, an art district, and a Communist museum, all guided by women students from the university. My pod went to Tianzifang in downtown Shanghai, which is a collection of shops and galleries in narrow alleys. We visited a tea store, where we tried the most amazing peach tea (which most of us ended up buying, myself included). We also visited a shop where we tried calligraphy. Before leaving, we tried a surprisingly delicious pearl milk tea. When all the pods regrouped after their activities, we listened to a lecture given by the director of the Women Federation. We then met up with some male students and talked about women’s jobs in society, specifically what job they would want their wives to have. Finally, we ended the day with a dinner with our pods and our new university friends. At our table, our conversation ranged from polite table manners and driving licenses to the Spring Festival and the origins of Santa Clause. I am proud to say that I tried everything that was on the table– about ten dishes. I can now say that I have tried pig skin and deep fried pumpkin covered in duck yolk. After all, a couple of us decided on a motto for eating on this trip: “Why not try it?” Well, now I’m off to bed, and who knows what adventures and food tomorrow will bring.

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