Friday, May 15, 2015

Day 4, A Relaxing Day

            Today was probably the most relaxing day of our stay in Beijing so far, but it was also very worthwhile. We began our morning at 8:30am when we boarded the bus to visit the most beautiful temple in China, the Temple of Heaven. The temple is truly a piece of art, and the entire area around the temple is gorgeously landscaped and is very serene.
            While we were admiring the temple grounds, we realized that we could hear a chorus of singing coming from not too far away, so we decided to investigate. There were hundreds of people gathered under an area of trees singing songs about the Temple of Heaven. We joined in for a couple of songs, which really put a big smile on everyone’s faces. When we explored more of the area around the temple, we found a couple of men playing a game of what seemed to be a cross between tennis and lacrosse. They were using tennis-like rackets, but were cradling the balls in the rackets like in lacrosse, and not hitting them like in tennis. We joined in, and gave our best attempts at cradling the balls and doing tricks with them like spinning with them and throwing them from under one leg. As soon as the men realized we weren’t going to buy the rackets and balls, however, they made us stop playing. It was a lot of fun while it lasted!
        The second thing we did today was visit the Dandelion School, a middle school for the children of migrant workers who came to Beijing from all over China to find better paying work. Our visit to the Dandelion School consisted of a tour around the campus, lunch and basketball with the students, teaching an English class to the students, and then a visit to the near-by home of one of the students in order to meet her parents and learn more about their lives as migrant workers.
        During the tour, we got to visit the dorms of both the students and the faculty, and we also got the see the beautiful library of the school, which was designed to be the best part of campus in order to encourage the students to read in their free time. The students served lunch to us in the classroom, and it included rice, tomatoes, potatoes, and a tofu dish, and after lunch we split up to teams and played an intense game of basketball for the duration of recess. Teaching the students went much better than I expected, and each of us were able to confidently teach them how to use the suffixes –er and –est when comparing nouns, for example, a high mountain, a higher mountain, and the highest mountain. The home visit was a very unique experience, as we got the amazing opportunity to actually get a glimpse into the life of a migrant working family in Beijing. Everything I had previously known about migrant workers came only from readings I had done in textbooks and in our coursepack, and meeting this family allowed me to ask any questions I had about their life and put real faces to the name of migrant workers.
        ​Overall, today was such a well-rounded and nice day. We got to explore the beautiful Temple of Heaven and the surrounding area, and we got to meet and teach many amazing students and get to know their teachers and families. My highlight of the day was definitely getting to spend time with the students I taught at Dandelion, and how their faces just lit up when they were able to practice their English with me and learn something new.  Pictures: The pictures I included with this post are a group of us in front of the Temple of Heaven, three of us with the students we taught at the Dandelion School, and the amazingly sweet thank-you card given to each of us by the students in our class at the Dandelion School.

- Sierra S.

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