Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Flat Classroom at The W.A.L.L- We All Learn and Lead

Incredible.  Glorious.  Amazing. Inspiring...................My faith in our future has been restored. These kids really do CARE about the world and other people that are less fortunate as them.This youmg man, Younis from Oman, along with AnisaJohn and Yuxi who were from China and Indonesia were kids I was lucky to be able to work with at the conference...they came up with a project called X-out Poverty. Their idea was to have teens "walk a mile in their shoes" by living in another county for a week or so, in order for them to be able to relate to them, and then to
go on to blog about their experience on a wiki/website created for discussing poverty. Their idea is by experiencing poverty, and educating others, they can slowly eliminate it.
Younis and 3 of his friends from Oman created a digital project about recycling in their country. 
I am so glad I was fortunate enough to be able to go to this conference. I learned so much, it is hard for me to put all into words. I learned about the Chinese culture and history, I witnessed kids from other countries, can just hang together for a few days and become lifelong friends. I also learned that we as Americans, should NEVER take our freedom for granted, we are so fortuitous.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Rickshaw Ride and Hutong Tour on Our Last Night in Beijing!

A typical entrance to a siheyuan in a Beijing hutong - note the decorations by the door. This hutong has 2 posts over the doorway meaning the owners were kind of important. Also, note the small pillars on either side of the doorway, these show the importance of the owner also...Some hutongs have 5 posts over the door, and lions that sit atop the pillars! one more important thing:the little beam that runs across the bottom, this is for good luck: keeping the evil spirits out! Men must enter with their left leg, women with their right!

Our group with Mr. Wong in his hutong
Ok, It was a bit chilly for a rickshaw ride, but I am SO glad we went! This historic tour is up there with The Great Wall for me. For those that don't know what a hutong is, it is like the very first "gated community!" The hutongs are 500 year old residential neighborhoods in the heart of Old Beijing.There are only 25% of these "neighborhoods" left, as many many have been torn down. 6 million people live in the hutongs!!!!  They are formed by narrow streets with each hutong sharing a courtyard, restroom/bathhouse and kitchen/dining area.  We rode in a rickshaw (see video)  to visit their neighborhoods.When you are on the bust city streets, you don't even know these exist! They are tucked into the alleys of shops. Hutongs represent an important culture element of Beijing city.  Once upon a time only the wealthy lived in a hutong, but over time, anyone could live there. The one we visited, has been owned by Mr. Wong's family for 5 generations! He was very proud of this and he proudly served us tea and crackers. Their living room was about 6 foot by 9 foot. We are pictured in it. They have 1 separate bedroom, but basically, this is it!! I cannot imagine living in such a small space. They also raised a daughter in this space. When asked where his wife was, he told us she needs to get out of the house, so she works part-time (I think I would too, its soooooo tiny!) 
These hutongs are on the "endangered list" in Beijing and have been designated as protected areas in an attempt to preserve this aspect of Chinese cultural history

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Sacred Way and The Ming Tombs

This was an interesting tour. All for some famous emperors! The Chinese are kind of superstitious. The Sacred Way means "the road to heaven." The road is lined with stone statues which are important decorations of the tomb. These statues are 12 human figures and 24 animals that all represent something different. Once you get down into the tunnels, they lead you to the tombs...along the way people leave money for good luck, note the PILES of money in the pictures! We went WAY down, 230 feet below the surface to see these 13 emperors tombs and their families! Again, they are buried in red boxes for good luck! 

The Great Wall of China

Wow! All I could think about was, the poor people that had to toil to build that wall! And they never finished it anyway so it never kept anybody out! During its construction, the Great Wall was called “the longest cemetery on earth” because so many people died building it. According to legend, a helpful dragon traced out the course of the Great Wall for the workforce. The builders supposedly followed the tracks of the dragon. Remember how I said the Chinese are superstitious? At one time, family members of those who died working on the Great Wall would carry a coffin on top of which was a caged white rooster. The rooster's crowing was supposed to keep the spirit of the dead person awake until they crossed the Wall; otherwise, the family feared the spirit would escape and wander forever along the Wall. Kinda creepy huh? 
Hope you like the movie! Sure was fun on the way down!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tiananmen Square and The Forbidden City

Tienanmen Square is a very famous place in China. It is the largest city square in the WORLD! Many historic things have happened here in addition to the mausoleum of Mao Zedong, a very famous ruler who died in 1976. The day we were there, there were long, long, LONG lines waiting to see his body. So many people here in this city! 23 million!!! 
The Forbidden City is located through the arch above. For almost five hundred years, it served as the home of emperors and their families, as well as Chinese government. Regular people like you and me were not allowed in until 1976. It is made of just wood, and there are 980 buildings, so they had lots of ornate pots filled with water (see above) just in case a fire started! Now, you are supposed to rub it for good luck. It took us all day to walk through it! 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

So Much to see, So Much to Do!

Kung Fu Show- we couldn't take any pic or videos, but it was really cool!

So today's videos are all about food! Which I need to add---is a little scary, but I am "trying" everything!
I will admit-we are looking forward to eating PIZZA Thursday night!

Monday, February 21, 2011

So Much to Share!

I may not be able to comment on your comments, as we are being censored here, so we get on, post, and get I apologize in advance...Chinese Acrobat Show is an 8 minute video that you must watch!
This is a picture of my UNI IT cohorts and the High School Kids that are going to be participating in the Flat Classroom Conference on Friday. We saw the Ming Tombs and Sacred Way...that is where the important emperors and their families from the Ming Dynasty are buried..It is hard for me to keep up with it all and post it to here. In a few minutes we will be heading for breakfast ( a video to come) and then on to Tienanmen Square and Peking Duck for supper. More later!