There’s a Buddhist temple at the top of a mountain called Tiantong Temple. In this temple, there [are] more than 100 monks. A boy named Yuan was sent to this temple when he was 5 [years old]. When he was 8 years old, he started to learn to chant sutras [and to] pay respect for Buddha with the other monks.
We will soon be welcoming in the Year of the Dragon. In Eastern philosophy, the Dragon, a divine beast, is said to be a deliverer of good fortune and a master of authority. Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, begins on January 23, so we are now in the time between the solar and lunar new year.
[The Tempest poster advertisement]
Our last update was about a month ago…It feels in some ways like a year. The Tempest showcased the talents of 16 English majors who all dedicated the past three months of their lives to this production. Their work paid off in two successful evenings of Shakespeare at Guizhou University.
We spent our Thanksgiving Holiday on a 25 hour train ride from Guiyang to Hangzhou. We traveled with three student actors and our Chinese colleague, Cathy. While we are doing the full version of The Tempest, three actors are eligible to participate in the Chinese Universities Shakespeare Festival with a 20 minute cutting of the play. A very wealthy Hong Kong business man set up a trust about ten years ago to support the learning and performing of Shakespeare throughout China. To this end, each year universities send three actors and a teacher on an all expense paid trip to either Hangzhou or Hong Kong to meet with a Shakespeare specialist. This year our students worked with Elizabeth O’Connor from Christ Church, New Zealand’s Court Theatre.
Our train rolled into the station at 12:30am Monday morning, after a long weekend in the Northwest Corner of Guizhou province. We spent the weekend on Caohai Lake watching birds, visiting a temple, and eating marvelous food!
[Dong women toast us]
October 1, the Chinese National Day Holiday, is one of the busiest travel days in the country, and it is also the day we traveled back in time. We arrived at Guiyang’s train station mid-morning along with the population of an entire US city. After swearing off traveling on this holiday last year, we found ourselves on a crowded train heading toward the ethnic minority hub of Kaili, just southeast of Guiyang. Our group was eight strong, so we filled up one seating section of the train making the ride easy and comfortable. We were heading to the Dong minority region of Guizhou to see drum towers, hear cool music, and see the mysterious villages we’ve heard so much about. This is one of the spots we’d been planning to visit since we found out we were going to China.
It’s nearly October, and we’re lost somewhere between Tibet and the Autumnal Equinox.
Note the allusion to the heartbreaking line from Bill Mallonee’s song “Julian (It’s December and I’m Lost)”. Perhaps it’s not that dire, but how did we get to October?
I glanced at an article last night defining the first day of Autumn as equal hours of light and dark. I suppose I’ve never really thought about it in those terms. Life is full of surprises and discovery like coming back to campus after a fantastic summer of travel and adventure just in time to wait another month for classes to begin.
As many of you know, we spent all year gearing up for a big trip into the Tibetan borderlands of NW Yunnan. The trip was one of those that leaves you struggling to tell the stories in any sort of concise way. A 7-hour bus ride that turned into a 36-hour bus ride, hiking across the border into Tibet over an almost 16000 foot pass, Laide village, yaks, yak butter tea, making wicks for yak butter candles, sampling Tibetan “Nose smoke”, the list goes on. We decided this was best told as a photo essay. This is the first of two posts. Next time… videos.
The first week of August we took on the Sichuan summer heat to hold the second annual ECO Leadership Camp. Peace Corps volunteers from the provinces of Gansu (Lindsay), Sichuan (Chris), Chongqing (Elizabeth and Jason), & Guizhou (the two of us) along with about 25 students from all across SW China joined together for four days of environmental education, project planning, and fun.
We are in the middle of a summer of activity from teaching to hiking to summer camp to pilgrimages. Five of us from Guizhou (Nick, Alicia, Gerald, Beka, & I) spent the last two weeks of July in the small town of Libo leading a teacher training workshop for primary and secondary English teachers. We had around 80 to 100 teachers participating in four different classes. Our mission was to share American teaching methods, teach Oral English, and further enhance the friendship between China and the USA. Continue reading The Libo Project