Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Part 1 of our journey has come to a bittersweet end as it was our last day in Chengdu at Chengdu Sport University. After our last Chengdu breakfast, we kicked off the day with some tuina--Chinese massage. After all the intense dragon dancing and kung fu we've been learning, practicing tuina with each other with guidance from the students majoring in Chinese medicine was exactly what we needed at 8:00am.
Although we could have continued with tuina all day, we were excited to briefly watch a volleyball practice where coaches and fellow Americans from Alabama State University were training the CDSU team. While slightly skeptical that our day could get any better, we were not disappointed. Our last wushu class at CDSU gave us the opportunity to add swords to our skillful martial arts movements. We probably won't be getting any calls to act as stunt doubles in any kung fu movies in the immediate future, but we can say we were trained in China by someone who did, which is pretty awesome.
The grand finale of our Chengdu experience was lunch at a local "huo guo" (hot pot) with the CDSU foreign affairs department and the professors that opened our minds to Chinese culture, as well as the Chinese students who volunteered to help out with our visit. Raw meats and vegetables were brought to our tables, and we put them into the built-in hot pot of boiling water and spices in the center of our tables to cook, which turned out to be the spiciest food we've had yet. It was a fun lunch in which we all celebrated our time in Chengdu and how much we've learned about Chinese medicine, culture, and language in just one week. The first round of farewells began and we were saddened to part from the wonderful staff and students of CDSU whom we are now proud to call our chingaida peng yao (dear friends).
Goodbyes (for now) continued upon our return to campus as we packed for our flight to Beijing. It was emotional for all of us. Some shed tears and all exchanged email addresses and hugs, as we assured each other we'd meet again in the future. The staff presented us each with a laminated group photo we took on our first full day in Chengdu, as well as a certificate stating in English and Chinese that we completed study of Chinese medicine and culture at CDSU. After a brief dinner, we boarded the bus for the airport. Our hearts were heavy but we were excited for Part 2 of our journey in China at Beijing Sport University to begin, where we will surely make more friendships that will be hard to leave behind after the coming week.
After a two and a half hour flight from Chengdu to Beijing that was delayed an hour, we landed around 11:30pm and made it to our new rooms at Beijing Sport University around 1:00am ready for a few hours of sleep before our 7:30am breakfast.
It's hard to believe that half of our trip is over already. Thinking back to one week ago when we boarded the 15 hour flight from Newark to Shanghai, we didn't really know what to expect. We knew how to say ni hao (hello) and that we were going to eat unfamiliar foods and learn about Chinese medicine. We didn't know that we would create so many friendships--with each other and with the Chinese students. We can now count, introduce ourselves, say some other key words in Chinese (like "ping zi ling" = ice cream), and we've mastered the art of chopsticks. I think it's safe to say we all have a new found appreciation for Chinese culture and a desire to learn more over the next week, ultimately becoming more culturally competent individuals, academically and professionally.
- Coty Wardwell
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