Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Going Rural

Wednesday, July 16, 2008. Last day in Guiyang, have some free time to prepare for our departure to Kaili and Xijiang. Xijiang is where our 5 night rural homestay will be-we'll be living with the Miao, one of China's ethnic minority groups in Xijiang (the biggest Miao village in China). We've been told that Miao in this village are notorious for their particular way of greeting guests- basically singing, dancing and copious amounts of mijiu! Mijiu is a type of rice wine/liquor that is famous in Southern China. I've told all the students that it would be a polite gesture to accept a cup of the mijiu, but no one needs to feel pressured to drink it!

These past few days in Guiyang have flown by. I've had a really busy schedule everyday, often times not returning back to the hotel until about 10:30 or so at night. We've visited several parks, museums, and historical relics. A couple days ago we went to the Huanguoshu waterfall which is pictured above. It was pretty incredible! The Chinese students all accompanied us and kept saying they wanted to check out Niagara Falls but I don't know..I'm pretty sure this waterfall topped that! Even "Ithaca's Gorges" were no match (sorry Ithacans). Venders sold ponchos all along the trail to the waterfall but I neglected to buy one. The mist got us pretty wet at times but felt nice. Took several group shots at different spots along the hike- hopefully I can put some up soon!

Last night went to karaoke with all the students. They had a blast, and while at first it seemed like the American students would hog the stage, the Chinese students quickly got over any anxieties. Some of the most memorable parts of the night for me were when 1) Ben (one of my American students) did his own rock version of U2's Elevation, which was HILARIOUS. Air guitar, "rock" facial expressions, and the works. Secondly was when the entire American group (including myself) performed to ABBA's "Dancing Queen." Somehow, out of nowhere, we all got really into it! Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears were other popular favorites (I skipped out on singing along to these.)

So far the exchanges between the American and Chinese students have been pretty good...awkward at times, but to be expected. The language barrier is killer, and is more apparent in some "pairs" than others. Just trying to encourage everyone to stick with it and really be as open as possible with one another.

*Backstreet Boys just came on the radio in the internet bar.What's with them anyways?

Oh yea, we got to make batik the other day! We visited a batik factory and I was pleased to find they had one spare piece of cloth so I got to make one as well. Very different style than what I was used to doing in Bali, but fun none the less. While I wanted people to design something of specific Chinese cultural relevance, not everyone had the same idea. Examples of those who followed my advice: dragons, fish, butterflies, Chinese characters. Examples of those who didn't follow my advice (ie- Ben and Alex): a jack-o-lantern and an American dude (probably Alex's self portrait). I attempted to design a giant butterfly with each section depicting different fish, and detailed designs all around. Turns out my drawing was a little too elaborate and I couldn't fill the wax in all the way. Oh well! We'll be picking them up in a week or so, anxious to see how they come out.

Yesterday marked the half-way point of the trip. Two weeks down, two to go! Rural homestay will be quite a challenge for everyone. Conditions are said to very poor, with little running water, few available showers in the village, and lots of bugs! I'm counting on everyone being able to handle it though- it will certainly be a new experience for many of them. Activities planned so far include a welcoming party by the Miao, a morning doing farm work with local villagers, a chance to make our own tofu, and lots more. I won't have internet access for several days but I'll check back after the trip and give updates on all that we did. All for now! *Below is a picture of the village in Xijiang we'll be staying in.


ransomgr said...

Hi Katelyn,
How I would have loved to make tofu with you......a bonding experience missed. Alas, I guess I will have to do pizza carryout.
Keep of the blog, it's great.

Smaps said...


THanks for the post. Don't know if you heard, but we didn't end up making any tofu! I don't know whether you or I are more disappointed. I promise not to return home until I've mastered this skill.

Keep reading!

Love, K

Smaps said...
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