Monday, June 11, 2012

Baby's Day Out!

One of the downfalls (though I hesitate to use that word) to living on the campus of Da Guanghua is that we don't get to experience some of the intimate details of the Chinese Culture that one may get to experience if they stayed with a host family. On Saturday, however, I got to spend the entire day with the sweetest Chinese family and see life in China through their eyes. One of ILP's students, Monica, and her parents invited a few of us to spend the day Cherry Picking, but our morning at the orchard turned into a whole day of adventures. We met the family at 8:30 in the morning and we ran errands with them (the bank, the supermarket and the gas station) before driving into the foothills of Weihai and spending the morning in the middle of a beautiful cherry orchard. We picked a ton of cherries, and ate even more! After, Monica's parents and their friend, Larry (who speaks very good English and did a lot of interpreting for us) took us to a Buddah temple at the top of a mountain (It roughly translates into the "Temple of Happiness for Everyone) and we got to tour around it and learn about it. Then, we met up with a bunch of other families and had the Chinese version of a BBQ (they basically put meat on sticks, rolls on sticks, chicken legs on sticks, chicken necks on sticks, peppers on stick...everything, on sticks over a small smokey pit). It was really funny, because Monica's mom set us up a little tent and put all four of us Americans in it and said: "You will rest." We think that she was just being nice and saying we could hang out in the tent, but it was really funny to see all of these families running around outside, cooking and the four of us just sitting out of the way, in a tent. After we ate, we walked around the village a little bit, before we got in the car and drove to the beach. We spent a few hours there in the late afternoon sunshine, were we proceeded to bury Monica's feet at least 20 separate times. We talked with Larry about American Chinese food and how different (and better) it is than the American version. The Chinese are convinced that all American's eat are hamburgers, so we explained told him about tacos, spaghetti, and the American version of BBQ. Then, the family took us to dinner at a restaurant that served a ton of different veggie and tofu dishes. Monica's mom and dad were so excited for us to try it, that they kept on dumping things on our plates...and some of it was good...some of it was not. (Steaming tofu soup, for example...not a winner). We had a blast talking about teaching, America, China and everything in between. Larry was an excellent interpreter, but it was so amazing to me to see how little we needed him. Communicating with a language barrier can be tricky at times, but you don't always need to speak to get a point across. We spent 12 hours with Monica and her family and we didn't speak a lot to them, but we communicated just fine. And seeing what life was like in China for one family was really eye-opening; there was a lot of minor differences, but the love and care and generosity that I see in my own family was all there in theirs. It was a huge comfort, and it was one of my most favorite days I've spent here in China.

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