Hello to my most faithful of followers!
Given the limits of a "free" site, I feel quite accomplished in creating and "maintaining" my first true blog. Please see the "button" Group Pics, as I tried to capture some pivotal moments. I still have my student feature pages to finish not to mention my selfie page! My heart aches a bit as I go through these photos which capture a rare and unique opportunity I will cherish forever. Stay tuned...
April 24, 2017.
Monday we said goodbye to our Calligraphy Teacher, who also teaches politics, Mr. Yu Aosen.
We discovered Calligraphy – more than “beautiful” writing in China
In China calligraphy is a valued art form of self-expression and a sign of refinement. As a matter of fact how a person writes holds more value than what that person wrote. During the Han dynasty the basic materials were combined that are still used today; brush, ink, paper, and inkstone. The flexible brush is made from a bundle of animal hair from black rabbit, white goat, or yellow weasel. The hairs are cut to different lengths and sizes and taper to a point. The shaft is most often made from wood. The ink is made from a sooty residue left behind after pine resin is burned. This is called lampblack and is combined with glue and hardened into a cake; however, modern day ink bottles are the most convenient way to practice calligraphy – especially for novices like us!
Many of the characters on the Chinese language have a long history dating back to the invention of paper in 105 B.C. For example the character for horse, sun, and moon began as pictograms, which were modified over time into elegant strokes of the brush.
The SHS students practiced the art of calligraphy with patience and poise. Each two hour session left us all a bit drained and filled with awe at the power and concentration necessary to produce this elegant language art.
After our Easter Egg coloring session, Mrs. B had a very busy week visiting host families and getting a glimpse of the daily life for our Sharon students. All of the families served a delicious assortment of traditional and seasonal dishes.
Students continue to work on their Chinese calligraphy and painting to create lovely Chinese fans. Also students discovered the fine art of making tea with our Thursday visit to a tea shop. We had our last embroidery class on Friday - this is bittersweet as the students adore the teacher yet struggle with the craft.
Saturday's field trip began with a trip to the famous "snack" street and shopping stalls in the Muslim quarter of the city. Next we climbed the Drum Tower and the Bell Tower then a dumpling lunch followed by a walk to rent bikes for our adventure ride around the city wall.
Xi'an Ancient City Wall - Saturday, April 22 - Earth DAY
We were so impressed by the size and history of this famous destination. It is one of the oldest, largest ancient city walls. It was built to today’s grandeur in the 14th century under the rule of the Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang, the first Emperor of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), as a military defense system complete with rampart architecture, including a drawbridge. The original more humble wall protected the imperial city of the Tang dynasty (618-907); today, the wall encloses neighborhoods with thriving businesses in an area of about 14 square kilometers surrounded by the city moat. The wall is more than 15 meters thick, 12 meters high, and 12-14 meters wide, so its broad walkway is easily accessible to countless locals and tourists each year.
The origin of the practice of coloring eggs can be traced back to ancient times – there are many symbolic references tied to the egg from fertility to the hard shell representing Christ’s tomb. Also the first colored eggs may well have been red to symbolize the blood of Christ.
There are many views on social media sights of the adorable Scottish lass asking her Da about the connection between bunnies and eggs?!? Legend goes that in 1700 or so immigrants to America from Germany shared the children’s tale of the great and magical “Oschter Haws”, the fabled egg laying hare. Children gathered to create straw nests for the creature to lay its colored eggs. In my childhood home, we left carrots out for the tired bunny much like leaving cookies and milk for Santa.
Regardless of your beliefs, the colored eggs welcome Spring and bring families together with this enjoyable activity. In China, we learned that red colored eggs are gifts that symbolize the birth of a child, which further supports the significance and importance of family.
This week I have been invited to visit all of the host families. Yesterday, I spent a relaxing day with Summer's family. Her father, Chen Hai Jun, is a tea master. He also is a talented craftsman who designed the rooftop teahouse and garden area of their beautiful, feng shui home. Her mother, Yang Xiao, is a gracious host and always has a smile on her face. I felt blessed and honored to spend Easter with them.
Xi’an - April 13, 2017
Today we learned about the important festivals with Kelly during our Chinese Culture class today. There are five major Festivals beginning with the Spring Festival, which is celebrated December 31st to welcome the New Year. During this time there is a month long break from school and many people return to their villages to be with family. Fifteen days later the Lantern Festival is celebrated with red lanterns lining the streets and dragons parading through neighborhoods. This year we arrived in time to witness the Tomb Sweeping Day, which is also known as Qing Ming Festival (information about this special festival was posted on one of our earlier blog dates). Next is the Dagon Boat Festival, which occurs in May around the time of their Labor Day, and everyone enjoys a short break from school and work – three days. The last festival is the Mid-Autumn Day Festival, which we will learn about next class. All of these holiday celebrations follow the lunar calendar with a long proud agricultural history.
While our host siblings take exams this week, we continue our study of the Chinese language. Right now the teacher wants us to learn the characters and tones. After our dictation test, we corrected each other's work - The picture tells the story of how we did!?!
Keegan finished her Chemistry work today! Hooray! She has been working very hard, as all of the students put several hours a day into completing their Sharon High School work. I am so very proud of them all!
Dana, Keegan, Greg, Lili, and Sam making it all look easy! Quite impressive!