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Daniel's China Adventure

Day 9 can you say kung fu?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I don't think anyone would classify getting whooped by kung fu master and having sore legs the rest of the day fun, but I personally had the time of my life. We can talk about that later. To start the day off, we woke up at six thirty and headed for breakfeast at seven fifteen. As my roommate drew and I woke up, we found that the toilet and the shower were in the same area. When you took a shower, the toilet was right next to you. The whole floor becomes a swamp of water. I have never seen anything like it. I guess the Chinese wanted their guests to kill two birds with one stone (cory key). Anyways, breakfeast was another American treat. We had cereal, fruit, eggs, and the best of all-sausage. The food situation is very funny when you spend two weeks in China. You get used to the same meals every day and then when you get the opportunity for American food, there is no hesitation. One night our group was informed by
Our guide that dinner was to be served at mcdonalds. The best part was that it was all you can eat. I don't usually eat much fast food but this was heaven.

After breakfeast, we headed to the dragon kung fu school. We were introduced to our instructors and we began our lesson. We started off with a warm up run around the courtyard outside. It was about fifteen minutes straight jogging. After the warm up we began our routines. I did martial arts before this experience, and let me tell you that this kung fu style is different than anything I have ever seen before. We started off in positions and we had to follow what our instructor demonstrated. Some positions were strenous on the unstreched appendage. It was very tiring and it was the most I have sweated in a very long time. (Water polo-no sweat in pool). Our instructor seemed like a nice guy on the beginning of the lesson, but jeez don't ever judge a book by its cover. He was probably one of the most intense people I have ever seen in my seventeen years of life. If someone didn't do the position right, he would clap his hands and give you the death stare until you fixed it. He was beyond intimidating. As the lesson went on, the true colors of this master came into play. He laughed with us and smiled occasionally. The intense face just shows how serious the people take their sport. He shows no emotion when he bends his body like no other. This experience really had a huge impact on me. As stated before, I live for the physical things in life. Martial arts is a hobby of mine that I wish I could do more of, but unfortunately there is only so muchj time in one day. As others wanted it to stop, I begged for more. It was absolutely breath taking.

After the battering of the quadriceps for two hours, we explored where the students live. It was said that the living arrangements range from two to twelve people in one room. It is based how much the student pays. These students lived a very simple life. They practiced kung fu and went to school every day. This dynamic duo of physical and mental progress really mends these children into a bath of discipline. The school teaches them morals and standards to live by. They are excellent at what they do and the love ot do it. That is something I want in life. To love what I do in society and be the best I can be at whatever that may be. I respect all these students and look up to them. Next, we went into a classroom and observed their learnin. We actually intruded and talked with the students. Then we exchanged songs. Ours was twinkle twinkle little star. They seemed to really enjoy it. We then taught them some english and they said I love you do you love me? It was very cute I must say. Once we saw the institution as a whole, we went back to the inn for a well deserved rest. We had five hours to relax and shower.

Dinner was actually really good today. We had some sort of spicy beef with salad and and other plates of food. We once again sat with our chinese staff as opposed to the other girls. Learning about their past is like looking through a time warp of China. I get so much information about the communist country just by listening to their pasts. I asked ping (wonderful tour guide) about how the society feels about being communist right now and whether it will change in the future. She explained that the older generation living right now would find it devastating to change it because when they were living, they faught for a new kind of government. It was a revolution against the old repressive government. The people don't want to change because it was what they fought for when they were younger. She explained that kaybe in future generations, change might come. I found it interesting to see how the communism has changed over the years. It has become much less strict than in the past. What also was very interesting was that she said communism is just a label but in truth, China is becoming more and more like the western world. We also talked about health care and how it has gotten better, but still needs a lot of work. These conversations with the insight of the Chinese really interest me. You learn so much just by talkibg with the locals.

Our next destination was a kung fu show at a mountain side near Shaolin. There were monks meditating on rocks, lights, action scenes and many more. Overall, I enjoyed the show a lot but what I am going to write about is not so much the show itself but its philosophical side. During the show, there was a rock with a projector on it. It displayed different messages from monks and the buddhist religion. One message said that the universe is populated with nothing but mere visuality. At first, I thought this seemed like more of a transcendentalist remark, but then I realized that the monks are very fluid. They stay calm when they live and they live deliberately. They focus on the element of water and how its very important that they use it to keep calm. Thois remark on the wall just makes you think that everything is a visuality its just how different someone perceives it. Two people can see the same thing but it can mean totally different things in opposing eyes. There were several quotes that the monks live by that were bizarre, but once I thought about them, they made sense. The other day when we met the master monk, he was very serious. He rarely laughed or smiled. I asked at dinner why? Ping answered that they do this to keep calm. We Americans on this trip are so full of emotion that sometimes we let it take over us. The monks try to repel this emotion and live very simply. It is a copmmon goal of all of them. I am going to end with onr last idea I got from the show. One monk sat on the rock the entire show. It was ridiculous how long he just sat there while the backround was full of action. Towards the end of the show, he pulled out some beads and just kept on soinning them in his hand. He continued this motion even after we left. I thought this symbolized the eternal after life the monks strive for and why they live such an intricate and both simple life here on earth. The never ending beads in his hand illuminated the reason why they live such a simple and good deed life. They strive to reach nirvana and eventually the heaven that is in everyones heart. I really enjoyed the show and can't wait for some more kung fu tomorrow. Zhi ten

Riley. The iniverse is populated with nothing but mere visuality circl beads

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Karen Wells said...

Daniel, I almost don't know what part of your blog to start with. You have touched on so many subjects and shown such maturity in your thinking. Were you always this way or is part of this level of maturity tied into DSA China? I loved your statement: To love what I do in society and be the best I can be at whatever that may be." You will go far with that attitude. I also find it truly amazing that you get to discuss communism with the in-country guides. What an awesome opportunity! It reminds me of the videos my students made when discussing the Apartheid laws with the South Africans who had lived through that era. Are you doing personal video interviews? Please consider it if you are not already doing it.

Harv said...

Saw you in the video, nice moves. Love to read your thoughtful posts. -Megan

Changing Connections said...

Ug. I just lost a huge comment I was working on; let's see if I can reconstruct it, remaining calm, thinking simply, learning from your philosophical discourse.

Your shower experience reminds me of the Prince of Wales Hotel in Grasmere in the English Lake District. We had to call the desk to find the loo, hidden behind a closet. Similarly, in a good Italian hotel, a similar experience. I think it depends on the construction era, economics of the time, and a host of factors that contribute to the lack of modernization. I don't know if I would call it "charm," but it's these moments that you remember for their scatological humor.

Each day I look forward to your posts; it is through your eyes that I both see the details of the places but more importantly understand the cultural immersion as best as any vicarious experience can. Perfection is a hallmark of the new China (perhaps the old China as well). Do you begin to wonder how we will match their country in economic, academic, and athletic areas. Meticulous dedication permeates their culture, or so it seems. And yes, always wise not to judge a book by the cover.

Since I've read both of Schlesinger's books (you need to read Fast Food Nation), I cannot imagine reveling in breakfast at McDs, but then I would have to walk in your footprint to relate.

Speaking of footprints, you are creating an impressive digital footprint, one that will serve you well as your new permanent record.

Beyond intimidating but with time, a master's true colors. How would you paint him, given a wordless canvas? Your comment about schools teaching morals and standards to live by--how do American (public) schools measure to the China standard? I commend you for knowing what it is you want to do in life, that you love what you will do (so critically important), and that you will aspire to be the very best: BRAVO!!! I suspect this is who you really are, but that China cemented your philosophy. What an inspiring trip!

Your conversations with and queries to Ping impress me with how much unlearning I have to do regarding China. Partially, it is a product of my generation, my history teachers/texts, and the wars. I would never have considered a new v. old China, and how generations would hold onto what they fought for (their Communism), versus several generations removed, more Westernized, making Communism a working label (still I do not trust that). However, not all of what I have to unlearn is negative, thanks to the Flying Tigers )

Fluid monks who transcend visuality, use water to maintain simplicity, repel emotion, the search for an eternal life within a personal life both simple and intricate (always interesting dualities)--so glad you chose a philosophic approach. I would have gladly been a part of the Shaolin experience; it may just be what brings me to China in the future.

To live a life of good deeds, to reach nirvana and eventually the heaven that is in everyone's heart--what a beautiful approach to living.

Thank you for an inspiring post that will keep me thinking long after I close my laptop for the day.

RJ Stangherlin
PA DEN Leadership Council Blog Coordinator

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Essential Programs Details

Duration 15 days
When August 4th - 18th, 2009
Focus History/Culture
Martial Arts
Modern/Ancient Architecture