Our first weekend in China, and we were lucky enough to get invited on a tour to Anji, hosted by the Cicely Language School in Taicang. Wolke, friends with Cicely and an employee of Schaeffler, invited a group of her coworkers to join the tour among which our very own Patrick. We soon learned that the Chinese – well, especially this group – are a very inclusive people, ready to share their customs, language, and land with all who are interested.
So at 5:00am on June 9th, we proceeded to drive to Taicang where we were met by a bubbly Cicely handing out name tags and jaozi (breakfast food in China: dumplings). The energy level of Chinese at the crack of dawn is just astounding. I don’t think these people really “rest” – that is, in the Western sense of the word – from the moment they wake till the moment they sleep. There were at least 6 different martial art/dance forms being practiced in the park where we met the tour group, from taichi to kongfu to a special folk dance with flags (still have to learn the names). As soon as we entered the bus, there were ice-breaker games, team activities, and singing. It was easy to build group rapport, as the Chinese members were proactive and so authentic in socializing with complete strangers. I think I am beginning to understand why socialization, groups, etc are so invigorating for them – they really bond with each other instantaneously and become friends. There was an incident at the end of Saturday night where a few people got hurt during a competition. The feelings running through the group were so human – I had this wonderful sense of global love for all people understanding that no matter where we come from, we are all alike and have the same sensations.
So as can been recognized by my portrayal, I was much more affected by the people and cultural incidences on the trip than the sights we saw. Those were of course interesting as well. The bamboo forest was especially beautiful. I will never forget the evening grilling among the bamboo trees – frog legs, heads, and all. But much more than that, I will never forget the kind and generous Chinese friends with whom we shared our first weekend.