Photos from our visit to Ni Shan (Ni Hill, where Confucius is reputed to have been born) plus some others taken yesterday. We visit the Attached Middle School today and then perform to about 1,000 students and teachers tonight. The stop in the village yesterday was an eye-opener for our students. It's hard to understand the difference between rural and urban China until you've experienced it. Tom

We’ve got a full page today folks! As you can see, we’ve received lots of photos, reports, and updates! Yippee! So, without further delay, let’s continue:

April 1, 2004

We started the first day of this part of the Journey with a bang. In the morning we took a bus to the Great Wall. Coming into the area was breathtaking and even more so when we got on top of the Wall which looked as if it went on forever. [The sky was a clear blue so we could see all the mountains surrounding us.] After “the Wall,” we ate lunch then headed back to Beijing. We rested up a bit and then ate “hot pot” at our hotel restaurant for dinner. [Hot pot is basically like a meat fondue: One dips thinly sliced beef, potatoes, lettuce, tofu and other goodies into an individual pot of boiling broth. When it’s done, one dips it in a peanut sauce and feasts. It’s famous in Beijing and in Inner Mongolia, as well. –ed.]

Right after dinner, we jumped on a bus and drove to the Earth and Heaven theatre. Inside we watched a Chinese acrobatic performance which was brilliant and exciting. It was amazing to see how flexible and acrobatic human beings can be. Well, today may have been only the first day, but it was a knockout.

-- Cody Anderson

This is the first real report on the food in China. So far, it sounds pretty good. It will get quite interesting at times and I am sure we’ll hear about the food when the kids have their home stays in Hohhot! Now, on to the next report . . .

April 3, 2004

Today we left Beijing. Beijing was a big surprise for me, in a lot of ways. It was amazing to see how many contrasts there were. Just driving around, we would see old Chinese temples next to really modern buildings. The biggest shock for me, though, was to see people begging on the streets. I never realized how horrible it could be to have to ignore them. [We’d been advised to do so. –ed.] I had heard about such situations, but it’s completely different when you’re experiencing it firsthand. [In talking with Izzy about this, we came to the realization that it wasn’t so much the number of needy people that was startling — because we didn’t encounter that many in areas we visited. Instead, it was the degree of destitution. Thus another contrast comes to the fore while Beijing is booming in preparation for the 2008 Olympics.]

Outside Beijing we went to the Great Wall of China which was absolutely amazing. It’s crazy to think that people did all of that by hand. The views were breathtaking from the towers and it was cool to see the wall going up through the mountains. It looks so tiny from a distance, but when you’re there, it’s so big. The people selling stuff at the Great Wall were a new experience for me. It was sort of freaky the way the vendors grabbed you and wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. I really like to haggle, though, because it’s fun to have a say in what price an item will be.

We went to the Temple of Heaven and the Forbidden City which were really amazing architectural structures, but all of the buildings sort of looked the same to me. I’m really excited about Qufu. I think I’ll have a great time there.

-- Izzy Bernegger

April 3, 2004

Up early in the morning and off for a short flight to Jinan, then a two-hour bus trip to Qufu. Everyone is looking forward to a rest after the nonstop pace in Beijing. Everything we saw there was fantastic, though. The bus ride took us through beautiful countryside via a new superhighway traveled by huge trucks, buses and bicycles all vying for the same lanes. You can’t be a timid driver in China.

The campus of the Qufu Teachers’ University where we’re staying is wonderful. We can wander around freely here and interact with others on campus (There are about 12,000 students on campus) who are out walking, riding bikes, playing badminton. Children, grandparents, students — all ages are out socializing and enjoying the beautiful weather. It’s sunny with a little nip in the air. Quite a few JE students talked with Chinese students and exchanged e-mails, and it was just our first day. The atmosphere feels so friendly and safe. I’m sure we’ll have a great stay here.

-- Jean McIntire, (chaperone)

NOTE: Emma Long is serving as the “staff editor” and will be submitting comments within the reports as well as reports of her own. We’ll highlight Emma’s writing in red.

If you remember the reports from the kids in 2002, they all commented on the driving styles in China. They basically said there was one rule and it was, “get out of the way!”

This is great stuff. “Seeing” China through the eyes and hearts of these students an chaperones is priceless. The kids perform “tonight” so more photos should be on their way!

Well, the group has been gone a week now. Can you believe it? For some of you it seems much longer and for others it will seem like they just left yesterday. They begin their second week now and the kids will get a chance to spend time with some Chinese students. It is the interaction with the Chinese and Mongolian kids that make this trip so valuable.

The kids are shown here practicing in the hotel lobby. They are learning to adapt to a variety of situations and conditions. Whether it is the airport or hotel lobbies, a park, hotel rooms, or waiting for the bus, these performers must constantly be tuning their show. Tonight, Joe meets Jazz meets China!

I’m with you, I can’t wait till tomorrow!

(Do you know what this says?)