Tuesday, June 17, 2008

9/11/07 "Week 2"

Da Jia Hao, 大家好!Hello everyone (lit. "big family"),Last weekend our group was split up into mini groups of 3-4 people and given a piece of paper with a location written in characters. Our task was to translate the characters, figure out where the location was (somewhere in Kunming) and then figure out how to get there and go and come back with a presentation of our experience. I learned very quickly that there are so many resources to help you and you just need to utilize them. As soon as we walked out of the academic building we asked a Chinese student what our characters were. Then we asked if he knew where it was. He didn't, but he informed us that it was a tourist park. Then we went to our maps, but they weren't very helpful, so we just got in a taxi and told the driver to take us to Mingzu cun "minority village". Then we found out that it was kind of far away and that the taxi driver could take us to the bus station that would take us and that we should take bus 44. And so we did. The bus was packed, people holding on to bars overhead, armpits exposed. Because of our distant destination though, people got off and the bus thinned out and aired out and it really wasn't that bad. When we got to the minority village park it was somewhat amusing somewhat disturbing. Let's just say going through the park is a lesson on Chinese tourism. The recreated minority villages, which represent the various 26 minorities and their villages residing in Yunnan province, were overwhelmingly fake. Even trees were fake. It was an Epcot center with villages instead of countries. Perhaps just as comparable. But somehow, because the real villages are within the province that the park is in, with their people struggling, living on very little, while Chinese tourists (mostly) are "enjoying" a fake, far from representative recreation as a substitute, was a bit disturbing. There were large "Chinese lanterns" lining the streets with advertisements on them. I couldn't read all of the Chinese, but the images caught my eye: tanks in fields with mountains behind, oil rigs in agricultural fields, and more that I can't remember at the moment (I took pictures though, so I'll get those up soon). The park also displayed a circus elephant show. It looked innocent enough until the trained bashed the elephants head with a hook on the end of a stick. I was horrified. It's amazing how the elephants still prance around with distinct smiles on their faces. I suppose getting fed fruit from the audience however many times the show recurs is sufficient. One trainer dropped his hooked stick and the elephant voluntarily picked it up with his trunk and returned it to the trainer. It was an odd display of obvious affection between the trainer and elephant and the violent bash that occurred twice. Hard to reconcile. The one undeniably beautiful part of the day was when I ordered fresh squeezed pineapple juice for lunch. It was incredible. Also, someone at lunch asked if we thought our parents were spiritual people, did they think in spiritual terms. That spurred an incredible conversation about our views on spirituality. Every one of us believed in the power of consciousness and that there is Spirit which ultimately overrides everything. Though, some believed that they didn't have the ability right now. It was truly fascinating and it gave me a chance to talk about Christian Science and give them a good sense about it before they hear about it from someone else. I got the ol', "oh, Scientology?" Everyone was so excited about what the other had to say. The day before we had been given a talk about Taiji (an eastern relaxing exercise for longevity) by a Taiji master, gearing us up for our daily. He definitely geared his talk toward a medically minded American audience and talked about scientific research that could back it up and specifically how Taiji helps specific organs or slowly heals diseases. He kept saying, "I am 86 and can do all these things. I am living proof that Taiji works!" There were many ideas that could be translated for me to give it meaning to me. And there was some of the talk that I blocked out. Every thing can be translated into a thought and taken to its highest level. So in my required Taiji, I make it my own. That's all from here.
Zai jien 在见 (Goodbye, lit. "until next time")

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