Saturday, March 21, 2009
March 19, 2009
Today was a much easier day. It was slower paced and it was just a day of fun and not a day of intense emotions. We started our morning at 9:00 and went to a park/zoo that is right behind the orphanage. There were a few of the older kids and nannies there. The zoo is in a beautiful park and the fact that many of the trees were starting to bloom made it seem very far away from Alaska. We walked to the panda exhibit. There is one giant panda and several red pandas. I was so happy there was a panda there for Josi to see since we opted not to go to the zoo in Beijing.
After a short time there we walked to a different park of the park and in a large open grassy area we were entertained by puppeteers, a lion dance and several other dances, and men demonstrating the Chinese yoyo. There was also an elderly man there who had made these remarkable blown sugar lollipops for all of the girls. After those presentations the girls got to go to different areas to try the various activities. Cadi also made a handprint that will be placed someplace in the orphanage along with the handprints of the other girls.
For lunch we were served Yangzhou fried rice and a delicious sweet and sour chicken along with bananas, lychee, and various sweet breads. Then after lunch there was time for the girls to try to fly the kites they received in Beijing as part of their welcome bag.
After this time we made our way to the Beijing Oriental Language school. This school is a boarding school with 3500 students from grades 1 through 12. There we were greated with another program of music, dancing, and an inspirational speech by the principal. He also was one of the torch bearers for the Beijing games and he had the torch he carried so all of the girls got to touch the torch! After the program we were paired up with a student who showed us through various parts of the school. We then met her mother and went home to have time with their family. Their apartment is located in a beautiful park-like setting and the walk through the grounds to get through their building was beautiful. Their apartment is on the 6th floor. I can’t imagine carrying all of my groceries up all those steps. I think Josi said there were 96 stairs! Their apartment is very modern and not at all what I was expecting. It was a very sharp contrast to the apartment Delleen and I visited in Beijing 10 years ago. A volunteer went with us which made the conversation go so much more smoothly. The grandmother was making dumplings for us and we were given a little lesson on how to make the dumplings. She was a very warm and welcoming person and even though we couldn’t speak each other’s language, we communicated fairly well. She was worried that I would be too cold in my short sleeve shirt. Anyway we had the best taking dumplings I have ever eaten and I learned how to fold a dumpling (kind of). We were also treated to some delicious goose and tofu that were prepared in a traditional Yangzhou style. Not sure how they were prepared, but they were delicious! They gave us gifts of a CD of yanzhou music, Chinese flags for the girls and some boxes of sweets. The girls exchanged addresses and I hope we can keep in touch with the family. It was such a nice break to be out of a hotel with a family doing regular family things. At the end of the evening we took pictures and then the dad drove us back to the hotel. It was a great day of fun after our rather draining day yesterday!