Summer Tour in Shanghai

Summer Tour in Shanghai

This month ushered in the first day of summer and an array of exciting experiences in China.
Several months ago I began taking an online Chinese course. One day I received an email from the course administrators to take part in an educational and culture tour of Shanghai and the surrounding areas. I applied for the position and to my delight, I received an invitation to join! In about two months, I would be heading to Shanghai with about 29 other students to learn about Chinese language, history, and culture. While so much has happened in the last week, I will hilight a few experiences below.

Gathering of Chinese tourists, July 29, 2017

At the core of the summer course is Chinese language, which takes place every morning for about three hours. Students were placed in one of three classes to study reading, writing, listening, and speaking. A few of the very advanced students are in a class where the instructor only speaks Chinese! I am enjoying having a review of the basics as well as practical topics, such as prepositions, going to the doctor, and ordering food!

First day of class, July 24, 2017

Speaking of food, lunch time has been an experience in and of itself. At noon each day, the group gathers together in the campus restaurant to dine on some divine Chinese dishes. I was quite familiar with dishes such as xīhóngshì chao jīdàn (scrambled egg with tomatoes) and hóng shào ròu (braised pork), but lately I have been sampling many new and tasty foods.

A typical Chinese lunch, July 28, 2017
Tasty Chinese food, July 27, 2017
Lunchtime, July 29, 2017
Tasty sushi from the gourmet deli, July 28, 2017

Each day after lunch, we delve into Chinese culture. So far, the group has learned about traditional Chinese paper cutting, painting, Caligraphy, and Taiji. Each activity seems better than the one that preceded it!

Paper cutting, an ancient Chinese tradition, July 24, 2017
Results of the paper cutting, July 24, 2017
Chinese painting of bamboo shoots, July 25, 2017
Chinese characters lesson, July 26, 2017
Caligraphy painting with my roommate, Astou, July 27, 2017
Learning Taiji from Laoshì (teacher) Wang. Laoshì Wang instructed former President Obama and other leaders during the G20 Summit last year. What an honor! July 28, 2017

While traditional Chinese culture was emphasized during the week, the razzle dazzle of Shanghai shimmered during our weekend excursions. Saturday was a whirlind of visits to the flashy Pudong area and a cruise on the Hangpu River. Harmony and tranquility were not forgotten however, thanks to trips to the Yu Garden and neighboring Suzhou.

Lovely church, pretty rare to look upon churches in China, July 29, 2017
Tourist spot in Shanghai, July 29, 2017
Scary guy, protecting the garden, July 29, 2017
Lovely Yu Garden, July 29, 2017
Peaceful fish, July 29, 2017
Patricia and I in Yu Garden, July 29, 2017
Fascinating painting at the China Art Museum. Why is it the only woman in the photo is serving drinks? July 29, 2017
“Spring” by Wong Yang, July 29, 2017
Posing with Irene and Claudia of Romania, July 29, 2017
Waiting for the boat cruise in the line, July 29, 2017
Tourists above head, waiting for castoff July 29, 2017
Pudong at night, July 29, 2017
Tiger Hill Pagoda in Suzhou, July 30, 2017
Detailed sculptures, July 29, 2017
Me posing with the statue, July 30, 2017
A silk worm is inside! July 30, 2017
Handiwork of the silkworms and factory workers of Suzhou, July 30, 2017
Lovely old house, July 30, 2017
Sweet old mule, July 30, 2017
Boat ride in Suzhou, July 30, 2017
Beautiful home on the river in Suzhou, July 30, 2017

One of my favorite parts of this tour so far has been learning more about my group mates. Within our tour group, nearly every continent is represented. Folks from Africa, Asia, Euroasia, and Europe were all present to learn more about Chinese language, culture, and heritage. Whether we were working on our pronunciation of the four Chinese tones or trying to get directions for a local foot rub, there was always different ways of thinking and plenty of laughs to share.

Group mates from the tour, July 30, 2017

While the tour has been going strong for over a week now, we still have a few days to go. Later this week we’ll have an evening at the circus, a Shanghai eating tour, and a final get together. It’s always a peculiar feeling to bond with people from different walks of life and cultures, only to say goodbye within a few short days. This experience reminds me that we are all more alike than we are different: each person wanting to learn, make new friends, and fulfill the desire for a more enriching life.

On the bus, July 29, 2017
Surya, Patrica, and I posing, July 29, 2017

This country is full of surprises. Right when I thought I was getting to know China pretty well, I was once again humbled by the beauty, diversity, kindness, and complexity of the people. So far, moving from Central Eastern China to Eastern China has been a real blessing. I’m looking forward to all the experiences the rest of the summer has in store. Next month, I’ll discuss my summer job in Wenzhou, China. Stay tuned!

Posing with our Taiji teacher. July 27, 2017


13 thoughts on “Summer Tour in Shanghai

  1. Amazing photos and what a fabulous experience. I really enjoy your posts with all the great photos and commentary.

  2. Wooooow!!!!! Sierra, I love the photos. You are really having a good time. I remember those days in Accra, where you visited most regions in Ghana. Our outings were so cool (I miss all of that). Now here you are in Shanghai. You look really good. Enjoy your stay and have fun. Hoping to see more pictures, so that I know more about Shanghai and other places you’ll be visiting.

  3. Hi Sierra! So happy to have our wonderful experience in Shanghai so well packed &delivered . Ur blog is fantastic and thank you for sharing. Keep in touch!

  4. Sierra – I was with Lou for this year’s Ambassadorial Scholar interviews last weekend and he brought me up to date on your news. Such fun to read about Shanghai – Tom and I remember the city so well after a brief visit 10 years ago – such contrasts between new and old! My news is that we have put our house for sale and when it sells will be moving back to Syracuse, NY to be closer to family. We are excited but also will miss all our wonderful friends and Rotary family here! Hope all is well with you! Pat

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