Day one in Beijing, the group and I settled into this beautiful Chinese hotel with traditional architectural style. That night, we had dinner at this really nice restaurant and they served Peking duck, something I was looking forward to trying. Ariel, our anthropology expert taught us about dining rules. She told us how sticking a chopstick in the center of rice is disrespectful because it is like a memorial ritual for the dead. She also told us that it was really important to eat every grain of rice because farming families work really hard to grow the crop. Something else we learned is the oldest person at the table gets served first by the youngest person.
The visit to the Temple of Heaven was absolutely magical. We got to do Tai Chi with the locals there, a yoga-like dancing focused on centering and balancing the mind and body. The locals usually meet every morning from 6:30 to 7:00. It was their way of socializing and it really gave us a beautiful sense of community and peace in that area.
For my anthropology On Assignment project, we had to observe the people of China and I noticed how many different people were gathered near the Temple of Heaven—there were groups of men playing cards together, laughing and shouting, and women in knitting groups. I also noticed groups of people exercising, and families.
Early morning hikes to the Great Wall to watch the sunrise were breathtaking. We also walked around to explore the little village surrounded by this beautiful and vast mountainous range.
I’ve enjoyed getting to meet and talk with the locals and ask them questions about the development in the area. A kind elderly woman invited us to her and her husband’s bee farm where she offered us the best honey I have ever tried in my life—I had to buy two jars to take home for my family to enjoy.
Our stay at this little house in the middle of this beautiful place has been so nice and this trip has been so worthwhile already. So far I’ve learned so much and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to explore the most unique parts of China with the most amazing, dynamic group of people; connections that will last a lifetime. I can’t imagine it without them and I am so excited for what’s to come.