Monday, May 27, 2013
Today we went to breakfast at 8:30 in the morning, where the food choices continued to look familiar to us. Our plates were full of xiao long bao, soup, carrots, other vegetables, and bread. Our cups, full of what we refer to as Tang. We ate with each other and the six Chinese student volunteers who have been with us the whole time. After breakfast, we met with two other students, Elana and Amanda, who joined us on our adventure to the Panda Research Base.
On the bus ride to the Panda Research Base, while we sat amongst our new Chinese friends, we heard from our friend, Panda Sam, who presented to us about where we were going. From Panda Sam, we learned that there are 83 pandas in the Panda Research Base, and there are about 1800 pandas in the whole world. We also learned from Panda Sam that this research base is the largest semen bank in the world for Pandas, and that this bank increases genetic diversity. Elana, a certified tour guide of the base, chimed in with her extra wisdom and knowledge teaching us interesting facts about pandas, including that Panda came from a French man, Priest Armand David, the first Western Man to discover Pandas. She also taught us that in Chinese Pandas are called da shan mao for big bear cat and that all pandas have nine black parts on their bodies: one for each ear, one for each eye, the nose, and then one for each of their four limbs. It truly was quite helpful to learn so much about where we were going.
Once we arrived at the Panda Research Base, our faces were full of excitement. While we were here, we saw juvenile pandas, one of which who sneezed, making Panda Amanda’s day, and 8 month old pandas. The pandas were truly adorable, as we all swooned over them with excitement and camera shots. We then listened to, and watched, a video about the beginning of life for pandas, learning that the mother pandas are not very good with their cubs at first, and that pandas do not begin to grow their fur until they are one month old. Form this video, we also learned that baby pandas imitate their mothers when they are young, and once they get old enough, they then live on their own with other pandas their age. As we continued to walk the pathways of the panda reserve amongst the large bamboo and trees, we saw some red pandas. These pandas are much smaller than the giant panda, and we learned, and observed, that these pandas are much more active than the giant pandas. We watched along side other eager people as the red pandas climbed up trees and ate food out of bowls. After seeing the pandas, we visited the brand new museum in the panda research base where we saw more pictures of pandas, as well as other things such as their skeleton. Right before we left, we visited the gift shop, where many of us bought souvenirs for our family/friends and ourselves. Alas, we were done with our panda adventure, but the memories will stick with us forever through our pictures and each other.
We got so caught up at the panda base that we were running extremely late for our next planned activity, the Sichun museum. However, a few days ago, we also replaced one of our shopping trips with a party the Chinese students held for us. So, we negotiated on the bus, and decided to replace the museum with a rest period, as all of us were exhausted by this point, and to go to Chunxi Road after dinner instead.
At Chunxi Road, which resembled a mini Times Square of New York City, we all split up into small groups with two or three of us with at least one Chinese student. We all held different shopping experiences. Amanda and I went with Eva, a Chengdu Sport University Senior and past host of Ithaca College students, to the normal store she shops at ending the night with great bargaining successes. It was quite interesting to experience the different shopping habitats and rules. For instance, in one store Eva took us to, there were at least 50 shops within the space of one department store, or less, in the United States, and many of these stores held one size for the people of Chengdu. We also were not allowed to try any clothes on, not even over our clothes, in some of the stores, which was so different than the United States. Overall, all of us students came to the conclusion that in the United States we are pretty much waited on while shopping, but in China, we are almost tricked into buying everything we touch and that the workers have one sole purpose, to make sales. This shopping experience is definitely something that I will remember for a very long time, and it was extremely intriguing for me to experience the shopping of a Chengdu local.
Overall, I would call this day in China a success. I personally learned so much about the national treasure of the panda and got to experience so many unique opportunities. It means so much for me as a Chinese adoptee to be able to connect with more of natives of my culture, and I am gaining such a better understanding of the culture I would have grown up in if I were not adopted. I feel that this day brought our group so many great memories, while giving us a better chance to experience part of the daily life of our Chinese friends. Even though we did not have classes today, I believe that we learned so much just by being enriched, and involved, in more parts of the Chinese culture. With our close connections that we continued to grow with our Chinese friends, I think that all of us students are learning more, not only about the Chinese culture and global connections, but also a lot about ourselves and daily lives.
- Emily Quinn
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