Once more onto the bus
We met at school at 8am and shared stories about the weekend. Molly went to a driving range and hit golf balls, there was plenty of shopping, visiting with grandparents, karaoke, and more tasting of new and delicious food.
We set out for the Panda Center first thing, and were fortunate to see the pandas having breakfast. Our first sighting was a group of red pandas-small, raccoon-like animals who were very interested in us. A few peacocks paraded around for us, and Mrs. Baker considered raising a few in Bethel, but the group was 100% opposed to the idea once they heard them SCREAM.
As we were leaving we met the other Chengdu group, hugs were exchanged, and we were back on the bus.
Each day the chaperones select the restaurant where we will eat, and today they selected a small open air spot by the side of the road. It had begun to rain, and, for the first time since we arrived, it was cold. The hot food tasted especially great and helped us forget about the gloomy weather.
After lunch, it was back on the bus for a short drive to the Dujiangyan Irrigation Project. Of all the things I’ve seen in China, this one is the most astonishing to me. Two thousand years ago the Chengdu Plain was constantly flooded by the Minjiang River, a tributary of the Yangtze. Li Bing, a local official decided to construct an irrigation system that would control the waters without a dam. In order to make an irrigation system that was self-cleaning, and could be used to divert water flow at different times of the year to supply water to more than fifty cities downstream without the danger of flooding, a MOUNTAIN was moved. This was accomplished by first burning the vegetation on the mountain, then pouring water on the hot earth, causing the rocks to break into movable pieces. (!) Two thousand years ago! The irrigation system still works, and to stand before it and gradually understand the enormity of it, the genius, and it’s enduring importance, and that it was created one bucket full at a time two thousand years ago…
Once again onto the bus, and back to school for English Corner. You can tell that everyone is comfortable with one another at this stage of the trip- people sit in their seats or walk together, and people are perfectly at ease with one another- singing, humming to themselves. When we described English Corner- you stand in the courtyard and students will come up and try out their conversational English with you- a look of fear came across everyones face. “Really? What will we talk about?”
We gathered in the courtyard and they surrounded us, and just started talking! Everyone was smiling and chatting, and having a great time. One of our students received an extraordinary amount of attention- seems he looks a great deal like Justin Beiber to them!
After English Corner we went to a restaurant for a farewell dinner with our host students and a few teachers. Another delicious meal and many toasts. Everyone returned home with their host students to pack. We will meet again tomorrow morning and head, once more onto the bus, to the airport.
We’ve had a great time, forged new friendships, tried new things, and we are ready to let it all sink in because we know that our experiences will change over time, and right now they are so fresh in our minds, and our journals and cameras and heads are so full!